La citta’ eterna

Venue: central Rome

Camera & Lens specs: Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100 16.5mm, aperture ƒ/2.4, shutter speed 1/80s, ISO 500

Music: Coldplay – Viva la Vida (

Today I go back more than a year ago to my days of living in Italy and just starting with my photography passion. I was In Rome on a short holiday with my family and we were exploring the ancient streets and hidden gems of the eternal city, one of my favorite places in the world. The picture on top was taken around sunset in the area between the Circo Massimo and the Colosseo, the area of true ancient Rome. The tall cypresses and the large pine trees living happily among the old ruins only add to the striking beauty and the history of the place itself. As cliche as it sounds, for me Rome does mean eternity more than any other place in the world, and I tried to highlight this by the dramatic shades of the evening clouds in the photo (I cheated slightly as I artificially increased the color contrast on Photoshop, but maybe I overdid it here?).

The photo below is also a very good memory for me. It’s picturing the “modern” architecture of medieval Rome with the walking bridge (built in 1479) from the city centre to the Trastevere area, one of the most lively neighborhoods with the best pizza and “suppli” options.

Ponte Sisto

Another wedding in Sofia – R&S

Venue: Sofia city centre

Lens: Nikkor 50 mm f/1.4

Music: Mikis Theodorakis – Zorbas (

I was recently at another wedding, this time the groom was a good friend of mine that I know since kindergarten. So I again took the opportunity to make some photos while enjoying the celebration. You already saw the typical customs for the Bulgarian weddings in my previous post (, but probably I can still surprise you with some novel things like the tradition of “stealing the bride” that was missing from the previous set of photos. So here are the photos with short explanations as usual.

As I was on the side of the groom I was supposed to help in one of the weird traditions in Bulgaria of taking the bride from her house. The groom with his friends is supposed to get to the bride’s house and take her either forcefully by stealing her, or by paying money to her defenders to open the door and let the bride out. Of course this is completely fake, especially since in this case the bride and groom live together for several years already, but one can make a fun story out of this tradition.
And here are the groom and his father, a bit stressed before all the action of the day starts. Shortly afterwards we entered the house and got to the apartment of the bride..
..that was guarded by her maids of honor. The groom ended up paying quite some amount of cash, but was finally let in without the need of us interfering forcefully. I know of some other cases of “stealing the bride” where people got carried away in the show and some doors got broken, but in this case everything went smoothly.
Here the bride is already “sold” and the couple is entering the first part of the official ceremony – the signing at the municipality.
The first wedding toast after they have signed the legal documents.
And then the procession is moving out of the municipality for some photos and candy before the next step – the religious marriage in the church.
People gathering in the church..
..and the priest preparing the relevant objects such as the bible and the bread and wine that will be used later on in the ceremony.
The church for this wedding was “St. George” who is depicted on this icon.
The main dome of the church colored in blue, which is not a very typical religious color.
And the ceremony is under way, with the best man exchanging the wedding crowns of the bride and groom.
A solemn moment when the priest is reading the bible and waving ritually the cross.
And the official part is over, everyone gets out in front of the church waiting for the freshly legalized family to let the white pigeons fly away.
The bride is faster!
And the celebrations can begin, with the kids already playing around the church.
But the real party starts a bit later in the restaurant where everyone gathers to celebrate. The best man has the important task of leading the “horo” – the traditional rounds dance. He is well-prepared for the task helped by the nowadays very rare object “buklitsa” – an old-style wooden flask for alcohol (usually rakia)
The traditions go on even at the party, here the groom and bride compete about who will break and end up with the bigger portion of the round bread. The bride wins, and will be the “boss” in the family.
And then it’s time for some real professional dances! There was a small crew of two boys and girls hired to show to everyone different dances – they started with Sirtaki dressed in the appropriate Greek traditional clothes..
..and moved on to some typical Bulgarian songs and costumes. There was even a guy playing the backpipe, one of the traditional Bulgarian instruments from the mountain regions.
The next music theme and costumes were from Ukraine I think..
..and eventually they ended up with a gypsy theme and the appropriate bright costumes and cheerful music.
Back to the Bulgarian traditional theme with some dance games, where the best man and maid of honor had to dance and steal the pies from the professional dancers.
After the dancing lessons it was the time for the wedding cake, and some of the kids were so eager to try it that they stole some bits of the (edible) decoration.
Here the cake is already cut and given around to people, but the small bride and groom on top are still surviving.
One of the last wedding rituals that lead to quite some excitement – the single men line up trying to catch the bridal stocking that the groom is about to throw. The winner will be the next one to get married!
After all the tiring rituals and traditions have been successfully completed, the bride and groom finally have some relaxed time for a dance together. And the night goes on..


Venue: Aleksandar Nevski square, Sofia

Lens: Nikkor 50 mm f/1.4

Music: Jeff Buckley – Hallelujah (

The autumn came suddenly in Sofia in the beginning of October and we had several cold and rainy days, which gave me the opportunity to finally realize an old photo idea of mine. So together with a few friends we decided to go puddle-spotting (or the nicer sounding lokva-spotting in a mix of Bulgarian and English) in hope of finding a nice water puddle made from the rain in Sofia city centre close to some other cool building. After some time walking around the centre and not finding anything we were almost out of hope, but hallelujah –  we finally found two very photogenic puddles right near the Nevski cathedral (which you can properly see inside and out in some of my older posts: and It must have been quite funny for the tourists around watching me kneeling in front of the puddles and almost immersing my camera in water while trying out different angles, but I think it was worth the knee-pain as I took quite a few cool shots exactly while the sun was setting and the cathedral turned pale pink with the shadow of the cross printed on it. And once again I cannot decide which photo is the best from several shots we tried, so I add two more photos with short comments underneath. And again your comments and votes are welcome as I really can’t tell which one I prefer most.

A puddle a bit further away, with a woman crossing the street in front of us with a slightly mystic feel and the cathedral shining brightly in the setting sun.
The same puddle as the picture on top. Here probably with more autumny-nostalgic feeling due to the larger amount of fallen leaves around and the slightly smeared reflection.

Ladies’ fashion

Venue: A schoolyard in central Sofia

Lens: Nikkor 50 mm f/1.4

Music: Madonna – Vogue (

It was high time for some photos with pretty girls, as lately I was more concentrated on conceptual photos or some special occasions as you see in my previous posts. So it was fortunate that shortly after the photomarathon I was approached by Radi, with whom we already had a few photoshoots before ( and – she has a fashion site that also sells clothes and wanted to make some photos advertising them. So it was also a great opportunity for me to try out some fashion photos with Radi and her sister Dorina.

Radi had found a beautiful autumn place for the task – a schoolyard in central Sofia, with the school building (more or less) recently renovated and making a nice background for the photos, so I tried to keep the background also fairly sharp instead of my usual style of focusing sharply on the subject and blurring the rest by the shallow depth of field I normally use. I like experimenting and I think we made some nice photos for the purpose, but everyone has their own opinion so I’ll let everyone decide for themselves by showing you a selection of the photos we made.

We started with both sisters (Radi on the left and Dorina on the right) in matching dresses..
..and then went on making individual shots and changing outfits and places around the schoolyard.
I was of course mostly in charge of the photos, while Radi was choosing the outfits and styling, while Dorina was the model for most of the time.
But there were enough clothes also for several double shots.


A rare occasion when Dorina was smiling. She was quite serious for most of the photos, which is probably a good thing when you want to accentuate on the clothes and not on the girl. So I was also happy with her posing style, it’s always interesting to try something different.


Here it becomes obvious we’re in a schoolyard, with the football “field” on the background. These are the type of concrete-made football fields most kids in Bulgaria (me included) get to play on.


A good example of the posing style of the two sisters: serious versus smiling.
And again..
..and again..
..and serious.
This set of photos is probably my favorite from the photoshoot because of the stark contrast between the clothes and brick wall..
..and I think the posing style of Dorina emphasizes the contrast even better!
One of the last shots for the day with a more colorful background.

There are of course many more photos and many more clothes that we tried that day, but I think this selection provides a good representative example. In the end I also gave an interview for Radi’s website about my photography passion. The Bulgarian speakers can have a look at, where they can also browse through the available clothes for sale if interested.

Sofia photomarathon III: Escape

Venue: central Sofia

Lens: Nikkor 50 mm f/1.4

Music: Pink Floyd – Hey You (

This is the third out of three posts about my participation in the Sofia photomarathon (scroll down to see them in chronological order). The last theme in the contest was also pretty conceptual: “Escape”. So it can be pretty much anything – a city escape to the nearby mountain, or people running away, some friends were suggesting escaping somewhere up high on a tall building..I liked instead the “escape from reality” idea making use of one of the places we went to for the previous topic in search of “silence”. I thought someone reading books in this isolated place at the library would be the true “escape” photo, but it required submitting a different type of photo for the second topic and we were happy enough with the stopped clock for this purpose.

So we headed back to the library with this idea and then wanted to try some street photos afterwards, just to try the “running away” idea and see what chance brings. And here’s what happened:

Back to the desk at the library, with my model for day.
But we wanted a darker photo where you mostly see the reader’s contour and the white curtains are  leading you away.
And this is the one that we both liked the most.
But we had to try a few more shots, changing the focus..
..or the posture.
Back on the street we saw someone else competing in the photomarathon, and she (the lady on the right, she even had a tripod) used her kids as models to run around.
So I also tried a few shots, just for fun and not to use them in the competition of course. But still the lady with the camera got pissed and came to complain, so we went on.
Another randomly spotted thing on the way – a backyard with two old and rusty cars “Moskvich” – the Russian cars that were the only option in Bulgaria during the socialist times, many years ago. An escape in different times..
And the promised tries for a street escape, but we just couldn’t get it right I think.
Another try, but we decided that’s not it, and the shots in the library are much better.
So we headed back to deliver the photos to the contest organizers, but not before taking a few shots on the way – a plane passing by is also a very obvious escape metaphor, even if this one was actually landing.
And here are some weird windows and graffiti in one of the hipstery streets in town – if you think about it pretty much everything is a form of escape from some angle.
Even this pipe was trying to escape from the sewers.

But at the end of the day we went for the reader escaping reality photo, which was probably my best shot for the day if I compare the three photos in the different topics. But surely others would think differently, so I again remind you that you can rate all the photos at by entering your email and clicking on a photo rating it from 2 to 6 (2 is bad, 6 is excellent).

Sofia photomarathon II: Silence

Venue: central Sofia and the Lozenets neighborhood

Lens: Nikkor 50 mm f/1.4 and Nikkor 24-120 mm f/4.0

Music: Simon & Garfunkel – The sound of silence (

This is the second post of the photomarathon series (you better check part I below first), where we’re moving on to the second topic: “Silence”. An important detail I should mention already here is that the time of the day allocated for this topic was between 1am and 3pm (the reason I say it here will come later). And everyone I asked was thinking first in the direction of finding some big empty space, like a theater hall, a school, a cinema. I guess people naturally associate emptiness with silence, but at the end of the day that’s not the type of picture we chose, even if we tried plenty of them. The other ideas my friends thought of are photos in a graveyard, or a public library. Meanwhile I realized I have an easy access to huge empty lecture halls at the Faculty of Physics at the Sofia University where I teach, so we decided to head that way, and then on the way back pass by a public library and see if suitable photos can be made there. As the Physics faculty building is further away from the centre of the city there wouldn’t be more time for any extra ideas and places anyway, as we already had less than two hours.

So that was the plan, and here’s the photos I took and why I chose the one you see on top:

This is one the big “aula” – the auditorium in the Faculty of Physics. Looks quite miserable to be honest, it’s part of a building from the 60’s with a typical socialist architecture.
Another photo of the auditorium, I decided to put some actual physics formulae on the blackboard to make it more realistic, but you can’t see much anyway.
A closer view to the front side of the auditorium, but it keeps being pretty ugly I think, so we decided that it was not the right place, even if the topic does fit well.
On the outside of the auditorium I accidentally spotted an old clock that didn’t seem to work and made a few pictures of it, not yet thinking properly how to fit it in the topic of “Silence”.
We checked out some smaller lecture halls, but those were as old-school as the big auditorium, so we decided to let go of the idea and check out the public library.
But right at the entrance/exit of the stairs at the Faculty of Physics we spotted a cupboard with some very old physics instruments and an old clock. They seem to have been arranged as a sort of museum exposition, which is pretty nice.
So at that point we decided this old stopped clock is worth taking a picture of for the topic. After all it shows 10:27 so it was obviously stopped as the time for taking photos was between 1 and 3 pm as I stressed in the beginning.
And after several experiments with the focus and angle we decided this is the photo that best fits the “Silence” idea.
And then we went back to the centre and entered the Sofia public library on Slaveikov square. The building and the books inside are much older than the socialist times, and for this reason way more beautiful.
And this empty desk around the bookshelves at one corner of the library was such a relaxing and silent place, that we thought we found the perfect shot.
After trying several photos here I think we decided that this is the one we want. So we were satisfied we have several good shots and decided to head back and hear the next topic.
On the way out I took some more shots of the place, which is quite nice and quiet indeed.
And these are the stairs of the library, which are also very nice and “silent” except for the mirror they put downstairs that breaks the symmetry due to its tilt.

And so in reality my favorite photo from the series is probably the empty desk in the library, yet in the end I decided to officially submit the old stopped clock. The reason you’ll see in my next post, as it turned out a similar library photo would fit perfectly not only the topic of “Silence” but also the third topic in the photomarathon. I remind you that my three photos from the marathon are now also part of an online competition that everybody can vote in if interested – – just enter your email address, confirm it and then by clicking on a photo you can rate it from 2 to 6 (2 is bad, 6 is excellent).

Sofia photomarathon I: One more time

Venue: central Sofia

Lens: Nikkor 50 mm f/1.4

Music: OneRepublic – I lived (

This is the first in a series of three posts, each of which describes two hours of my participation in the Sofia photomarathon ( The rules were simple – you have 6 hours and three topics that get announced in a space of two hours. So you’d hear the topic, think and shoot as many photos as you like, come back for the next topic…and in the end of the 6 hours you can only submit three photos, one for each topic. So you not only had to come up with an interesting concept for a photo, but had to choose exactly one photo, which is not so easy. Fortunately for me I had an amazing teammate and a vast group of friends giving me ideas, so I was really happy with the outcome and most importantly it was great fun! I will tell you about each topic and our creative process in a separate post to keep it simple.

And so the first topic is… “One more time”. And the clock is ticking! I think the most discussed idea with this topic was going to a bar and having someone order a cocktail “one more time”, but eventually we went for something better, I think. In any case, our three main ideas that we went on to pursue were: finding kids on swings pushing each other; finding an ice-cream place with kids ordering some at the time; going to a bar for a drink (that we’ll take a picture of). And on the way there came other possibilities as often happens, so here’s my selection of best photos on the topic:

On the way to the swings we saw someone sweeping the street the old-school way, so we thought it might also fit the topic somewhat.
At the swings in the park in front of the national theater. There were a few kids with their grandmother, and they were very relaxed and nice and were quite positive when we asked them if we can take some photos.
And the little girl was so amazingly genuine that if she keeps it up this way she’s gonna be an actress one day.
So I took quite a lot of photos as I felt that’s the real thing, that one of these will be our pick for the topic.
And the girls kept having fun and not minding the camera at all.
And eventually this is the shot we chose as you see also on top, but of course I’ll show you all the best ones so that everybody expresses their opinion.
The little girl was totally in her element.
And the last photo of the series, at which point we thought we have enough material.
But a few steps away from the swings there were people playing backgammon on one of the benches in the park, and I just couldn’t miss the opportunity. The rolling dice actually make the perfect “one more time” photo I think.
But eventually the reason we chose the kids is that they feel more alive, maybe a better executed dice game photo would have really made it to the top, so it is partially my fault.
Next stop was the ice-cream place. We went to my favorite one on Vitosha street and I took the raspberry flavour, to try out some photos with it (and then obviously eat it, it was delicious).
But there was a family with their kids and we asked them to take some pictures.
The kid was super nice and posing with pleasure, but we thought that the father actually spoiled the photo as he was too close. I was too shy to actually dare asking him to move aside for a second, so the photo didn’t make it to the top.
Yet another ice-cream place.
And a cocktail with tea and rum, it was a bit chilly this day so I felt like something warm. Anyway the people at the bar were not very understanding and were pissed at me taking photos around, so I stopped and didn’t produce anything memorable.
Just this photo with a cappuccino and the grog
And the last randomly seen shop on the street before heading back to hear the second topic.

So stay tuned for the next two topics, which I will be posting in the next two days, and let me know if you think I didn’t choose the best photo in this round and you prefer another one. My three photos from the marathon are now also part of an online competition that everybody can vote in if interested – – just enter your email address, confirm it and then by clicking on a photo you can rate it from 2 to 6 (2 is bad, 6 is excellent).