An old metal gate taking on the appearance of abstract art with many years worth of graffiti and fragments of posters layered and torn.
On the corner of Tsar Osvoboditel and Vasil Levski the entrance to the Sofia University metro leads to an open air concourse before disappearing from view under the road. From ground level a wide angle lens results in a nicely layered image. The light and shadow of the concourse leads into the bright band of sun illuminated cladding of the station wall and then the curved facade of Sofia University, topped off by a spring blue sky.
Walking past a few days ago I was drawn to the hard contrast between the sunlight reflecting off the light coloured stone of the concourse and the dark shadows of the interior. This is another one of those situations where, having found a good spot to shoot from, it’s good to hang around for a while watching scenes unfold. So after taking the initial wide angle shot I waited by the same spot for a while watching people come and go and trying to catch them as they moved between the darkness and the light, or were illuminated by the sun against the background shadows. Sometimes it’s a waste of 30 minutes, often you will get a few decent shots, occasionally you might come away with a gem. No gems this time, but I did get a few decent shots.
As with most of my recent photography I used my Panasonic LX5 with its small and, in digital years, ancient sensor. So given the very extreme contrast of light and dark I was not at all confident about how they would turn out. So when I saw the pictures in Lightroom I was very pleased with the outcome. While the unprocessed RAW files often looked like the highlights were blown, one click of the auto tone button transformed most of the images, not only retrieving detail from the highlights but also pulling detail out of the shadows, as you can see from the comparison below.
In fact, in most cases the camera performed so well in retaining detail in the shadows that I had to darken blacks and shadows to get the effect I wanted. Here are a few that I liked.
Vitosha Boulevard is a pedestrianised zone in downtown Sofia lined with shops and restaurants which spill out onto the street. On the weekends it’s packed and probably the busiest street in the country. Despite this I find it hard to photograph since visually it is chaotic. On Saturday past while walking down Vitosha I noticed these two plant holders in the shape of stylised human heads.
I had noticed them before without really noticing them, if that makes sense, and thought they might give a little shape to the chaos of the street. The opposite side of the street where I’m shooting from has the same raised flowerbed and lamppost design that you can see here. So I sat down on the edge of the flowerbed where I was slightly hidden by the lamppost and waited for the passing stream of people to walk into my frame. Most of the shots I got were down to luck. It was too bright to see clearly who was coming before they entered the frame, and the slight delay in focus and shutter release with my LX5 makes the timing of shots difficult. Here are a few of the shots I most liked.
Even though this last shot totally overwhelmed the little sensor in my LX5 with the direct sun on those spectacular orange trousers, I liked the way this turned out. The bright colours of the two nearest the camera and that tattooed arm give it a real punch despite the technical flaws.
I think I took about 40 shots in total and deleted most of them, but here are the rest of the ones I kept.
Like many places Bulgaria has gone through a cycle of shutting down, opening up, shutting down again in response to COVID-19. The restaurants and cafes, after a long period of being shut down, were allowed to reopen at the beginning of March only to be shut down again three weeks later. At the beginning of April they were allowed to reopen outdoor areas. These folks were taking advantage of the fine weather on a weekday evening to have a drink and a snack at the Imperial Gastrohub on Graf Ignatiev Street.