Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Big Ben Theory

I will never forget the first time I beheld Big Ben.  It was May 6, 2007 - the day I turned 26.  John and I had just arrived in London and we took our first walk around town together, trying to come to terms that this will be our home for the next few years.  We approached from St. James Park on Great George Street, and there it was in the distance, the image I've seen on hundreds of postcards and in so many movies.  The best thing about it was that it looked exactly as grand and pretty as I imagined it would be, and moreover, it was real and I was right there to see it with my own very eyes.  

I never got tired to photograph this old boy.  

Another favorite architectural marvel in London was the BT Tower. It was close to my university campus and I found it gave that little je ne sais quoi to the skyline I grew to love (regardless of the crappy weather).

Feelin' Bubbly

I'm excited because this Labor weekend we're going up in the mountain to dogsit for my in-laws.  I love the mountain, and I love the dogs, and I have the feeling that there will be a few wonderful photo opportunities.

Just like this one.  When we first moved back to the US, we stayed with John's parents for a couple of months full of gorgeous late fall sunlight and outdoors fun.  Bubbles are always a great addition to a spontaneous photo shoot; they provide spectacular bokeh and a jovial, airy feel to it.


The Mannequin Dude

A friend once gave me this drawing mannequin for my birthday and ever since I am  in the habit of photographing it in different props; here are two outtakes of a glitter shot I once did in London:

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

O, Hai!

I can't manage to doll up and organize myself a self-portrait session, so I am posting a few images of me as I used to be.  Before.  You know.  Baby.

It's A Matter Of Perspective

Life, I believe, is all about looking at it the right way, so you can see in better.

And then you might discover that even the mundane can be special and beautiful!

More old photos with new editing from my London days:

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Books and Coffee

Two of my favorite things!

Continuing with posting some forgotten treasures from the archives.  Both bookstore images were taken at Book Buyers on Castro Street, and the hipster slaying coffee machine is located at Dana Street Roasting Company, both in Mountain View.

Taken respectively with my Zenit E (film), and with my D90 (digital).

Morning Glory

Sometimes you don't even have to leave your house to find a wonderful experience.

This morning was tremendously pretty; the light fell nicely on my newly planted flowers,  and all sorts of cats, birds, and wildlife crowded my back yard for my photographic pleasure.  I clicked away without overthinking it - the best way to shoot in my opinion - while Johnny was asleep in the bedroom.  I love my home!


Monday, August 27, 2012

London in Black & White

I just realized that I have not posted even one black and white photograph on this blog!  What a shame - I underestimate the genre but there's so much charm in it to be explored.  Here are some more archive London shots, edited in monochrome.

My favorite must be the one of Tate Britain's facade, saying EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE ALRIGHT.

In The Eye Of The Beholder


When you live in a big world capital you tend to take its famous landmarks for granted. Parisians seem to almost despise the Eiffel tower, New Yorkers snub the Statue of Liberty, and the people of Rome overlook the Colosseum.  Sometimes along the way you stop seeing the beauty and you grow irritated by the scores of tourist that crowd your way, snapping photos...until you move to a place which grandest claim to fame is a suburban mall.

I went through 6 years worth of photos recently during a backup campaign and I took aside a bunch of photos representing things I used to find commonplace before - the London Eye being one of those things, and more from the archives to follow.

Friday, August 24, 2012

It's A Dog's Life

Where I come from, namely the capital of Bulgaria - Sofia, there's a big problem with homeless dogs.  

The situation is sensitive and controversial; ever since the political changes in the 90's, the stray population has been increasing, beginning with the abandoning of many pets, whose owners couldn't or wouldn't care for them in the economic crisis.  The lack of animal shelters and organized veterinarian institutions, combined with people's rather primitive culture of not spaying their dogs, led to a full blown epidemic of packs of dogs roaming the streets of most towns and cities.  These animals are starved and sick, they suffer injuries, and the poor conditions they live in often make them aggressive towards each other and people.  They pose a health hazard, traffic accident risk when they cross the streets (roadkill is not a rare sight in Bulgaria), and they are mistreated on a daily basis by people who don't have the understanding or sensitivity needed to deal with the issue.  People, agitated by the inability of the government to find an appropriate and long-term solution (such as making adequate and better reinforced laws regarding the responsibilities of pet ownership), and rendered hostile by the dangers of living among scores of dogs which, after so many generations have grown perfectly wild, are turning violent.  There were many recent reports in the press of poisoned, shot, and mutilated animal bodies found discarded on the streets.  

This is shocking and saddening, but above all it exposes a very profound and deeply rooted social truth: the homeless animal problem in Bulgaria is fact a serious people problem.  

The solution is strikingly simple.  It will only take time, money, and a campaign for social awareness.

1. There must be created a network of government, non-profit, and private organizations to build infrastructure and facilities for treating the sick animals, and for rehabilitating them so they can become adoption-ready.  Unfortunately, many of them will have to be put down due to the extensive damage stray life has inflicted on them, yet it's essential that this is done in a humane way.  We are talking about tens of thousands of dogs, and it will be a long process before the populations are controlled, reduced, and ultimately transformed into family pets, or guard and service dogs.

2.  Violence against animals has finally been criminalized in Bulgaria as of last year (!), but offenders are rarely brought to justice.  This should change in order for the mentality of people could also change.  Moreover, it should be made clear that hurting or killing an animal is not just an immoral and ugly act (something many Bulgarians are willing to live with), but also a punishable one.

3.  The culture of adopting must be popularized, because most people still prefer to buy pure bred dogs (which comes with its own set of problems).

4.  The law must instate clear cut rules about pet neutering.  Now people simply discard newborn puppies in a box, unable and often unwilling to find new homes for them.

5.  Pets must be registered, immunized, and owners should learn to clean after them, which is not the case at the moment.  People need to evolve past the barbaric thinking that these are "just dogs", and comprehend that their attitude towards the animals mirrors their attitude towards both the world and themselves.  Brutality and neglect  don't make a good foundation for personal or national prosperity.

Not everyone in Bulgaria is cruel to homeless dogs.  Many feed them and provide health care when needed, temporary shelter, and treat them kindly, thus giving a small but precious consolation to the forsaken creatures.  My aunt and her family are just some of those people.  I took the following photos in the summer of 2008, when I returned home for my wedding.  My aunt and I went for a walk in the fields on the outskirts of our neighborhood, and fed the dogs living there.  It was a beautiful sunset, and there was something quite magical about playing with a pack of wild dogs not just a mile away from a modern urban jungle.  

Take a minute to look up the issue online, and please give your support to trying put a stop to this senseless problem.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Bebeh Bokeh

Johnny refused to take naps at his usual hours today, so I took him in the back yard and photographed him till he got sleepy.  Shelby and Shakespeare, the neighbor's cat, kept us company. I used the heart bokeh attachment. 

I believe that these are the most wonderful photos of Johnny so far.  And it only gets better from here....

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Silver Lining

I've been down with a cold in the last week.  Not. Fun.  I'm planning to take a few selfies soon, and to possibly ambush the hummingbirds that hang in my back yard with my telephoto lens, but till then I must be content with taking instagrams and call it a day.

The silver lining is that thankfully, the good photo opportunities never end just because one is too busy to capture them:

I just love how the apple logo got projected onto the leaf!

Monday, August 6, 2012

What A Difference A Day Makes

No more rockstar hair for John... It was a great experiment and I loved having him around looking like he's on a perpetual vacation.

Also, I owe him a big huge thanks for saving the day by recovering all of my image archives from a failed external hard drive.  I would have gone mad if I had lost 6 years worth of photos!  

Hair or no hair, YOU ROCK honey.

Over The Moon

I was driving at dusk the other day and a bright big moon was staring at me from the horizon.  By the time I managed to get home to pick up my camera it has climbed much higher and the light has faded, but these are not too bad for handheld telephoto shots:

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Photo Journal: Exploring The Hood

New month, new home, new photos to be taken.

I present you a rather unsuccessful one of Shakespeare, the neighbor's cat, and a few others from my latest life in suburban heaven.

Supernatural Shelby

This is what happens when you decide to shoot your cat during a bright afternoon with the settings from shooting the moon the previous night...

It's rather awesome.

Happy Anniversary!

We were so busy with parenting and moving to a new house that we almost forgot to celebrate our wedding anniversary....!  Here are a few snapshots from the day: