Well, things have been a bit quiet on here of late. I figure there’s no point posting unless I have something to say. That, plus work and bad weather here in the UK keeping me from getting out with a camera much. But I’ve had chance to install the DSLR Controller app (Canon only!) on my Galaxy S2, which I shall be playing around with more when I get the opportunity. And purchased the Nik Collection of Photoshop plugins for what seems a bargain-basement price: Used the Sharpener Pro 3 tool and started trying out the Silver Efex Pro 2 (b&w) today, and very impressed so far.
So, the main event for today is the photo-set from Bulgaria: It has been two years since my last visit, way too long to go without seeing my friends both human and animal. Plus, the added draw of the second Spring Fair in Kresna. I had seen photos from the previous one, and wished I could be there. It surpassed my expectations, with so much to see (and hear, smell, taste … in fact, something for all senses here!). Once I saw the traditional dancers in the Karakachan goat outfits, I knew this was going to be something a bit special, and I wasn’t disappointed.
My first day there saw a visit to the Large Carnivore Education Centre, in the tiny village of Vlahi, by some school-kids from Sofia. I love being there for these visits, watching the kids explore the exhibits in the Centre itself, and then head up the hill to meet-and-greet Vucho and Bayto, the wolves, and Medo, the bear. This will hopefully have a positive effect on the view of such creatures, which – as in many countries – have not fared well, even today with the additional protection which EU membership should offer. That is a whole other posting.
It was also the longest time since seeing the wolves, and wondering if they would remember me, I headed up the hillside ahead of the kids to get reacquainted. It took a couple of minutes, but we were soon back on our usual, friendly terms. I spend more time with these guys than any other wolves habituated to humans, and as a result, I trust them. That doesn’t mean I push it or take risks, but it does mean that I can get up close without any problems, provided I respect their boundaries and moods.
My friends were, as usual, very busy. On top of looking after their animals – they breed Karakachan dogs (for livestock guarding), horses, sheep and goats (also all Karakachan breed), have many projects on the go, and were also making ready for the imminent spring fair. I do what I can to help out when there, so happily took on the task of feeding the wolves and bear, always on the look-out for photo-ops too! The feeding in the photos is on lambs which had already died on the farm, so this is a good way of ensuring nothing is wasted. No apologies if you’re squeamish, this is the way in which wolves eat. Or in the case of Vucho, roll around in it!
So, up very early for the fair, although I seemed a little surplus to requirements as everyone busied themselves with final preparations. I used the time to get some lovely early-morning shots and visit with the wolves again. I never tire of this – someone did once ask me if I didn’t have enough photos of these guys. Well … I can never resist taking more, always after some new angle, or interesting bit of interaction, so I guess the answer would be a ‘no’. Also turns out that there was no-one to help walk the two Karakachan horses the 9km down to Kresna, so I got the job of horse-leader for the morning. Rather a nice, traditional way to arrive, I thought.
Once there, I was soon busy trying to capture the sights of the event itself. So much happening, and a splendid, sunny day meant that I also had to keep finding some cooler shade. But I made sure I saw as much as possible, enjoying all the dancing and music, goats and food, Olympic-standard goat-staring, and everything else going on that day. A great time was had by all, I think, and certainly by me. But by late afternoon, when things started to wind-down, I was glad to swap the camera for a well-earned glass of wine and sit down finally to chat with friends there, as the night fell and a bonfire was lit.
Hope you enjoy this varied set. It was so very hard to capture the different aspects of this latest visit to Bulgaria, but I worked my very hardest to produce some photos which I hope will give a taste of it.