Young folklore dancer, Kavarna, Bulgaria

Folklore dancer, Kavarna

This enthusiastic young dancer was the star of a folklore dance performance I watched a few years ago in Kavarna, Bulgaria, a city of about 12,000 on the Black Sea coast. It’s also home to an urban beautification project that incorporates murals of heavy metal musicians into the cityscape and the world’s only memorial to rock icon Ronnie James Dio. Those influences seemed a world away from this energetic performance.

Today’s Pic du Jour, the 334th straight, was snapped on 06-Oct-2012.

Vegetable market, Kavarna, Bulgaria

Kavarna Vegetable Market, Instagram and a Humble Plea for Advice Please

I just made a terrific salad whose ingredients are all pictured here. It was purely by accident; this photo was taken at a vegetable stand at a small market in Kavarna, Bulgaria, in October 2012 and my salad was made and consumed just about an hour ago.

While I was tossing it, the smells were so fresh and profound that they reminded me of a photograph.

“Oddly, I’ve got a photo of this salad somewhere,” I said to myself. Yes, I do use words like ‘oddly’ when I converse with myself over the kitchen counter.

And, oddly enough, it didn’t even take very long to track it down.

I’ve never been fond of snapping pics of or publishing food porn. I’m sure I’d get more visits and Pinterest pins if I did, so maybe I’ll start. I don’t really like the term foodie either. But that’s a whole ‘nother topic that I don’t have time for today.

I’m catching the 21:20 overnight train to Zurich, so I gotta get packing. One goal I set for myself is to become a more regular Instagram devotee over the next ten days during my stay in the Swiss financial capital. That might even mean photos of meals.

So tell me please: should I, or shouldn’t I? I fear that once I start down the food porn trail, there will be no going back.

By the way, today’s Pic du Jour is the 210th (!!) straight since this project was relaunched seven months ago. Click on the image to see the full uncropped version.

Sunset near Kavarna, Bulgaria

Kavarna Sunset, and Snapwire

I should be more specific. Here in Slovenia, a kavarna is a café. This fiery orange scene was snapped back in October 2012 just outside of the city of Kavarna, a town on the Black Sea coast in northeastern Bulgaria. There was no coffee house in the immediate vicinity.

I’ve posted in the past about its urban beautification project via two-story high hard rock murals and that it’s the setting for the world’s only monument to heavy metal singer Ronnie James Dio. Today’s sunset offering, the 195th (!) straight Pic du Jour, is here to interject a little natural balance. (As always –or at least until I figure out how to change the photo size in this layout– please click the image to see full uncropped version.)

I should also mention that I added it to my portfolio on Snapwire, a fairly new royalty-free stock photo agency I was recently accepted into. Yeah! Small but steadily growing, Snapwire is building a strong catalog of work by photographers around the world and also helps put them (us) directly in touch with buyers who come to the agency with specific requests.

The nitty and the gritty is this:

Pricing: Photos are priced by size from $5-$75; those Snapwire selects as Premium photos are priced by size from $10-$100.

Requests: Though most seem to range from $10-$25, in the past week I have seen requests listed as high as $4,000 per photo.

Photographers earn 50% from photos sold through the collection, and 70% from sales derived from buyer requests. All things considered, a better deal for shooters than those offered by many others.

While any digital photo can be submitted, Snapwire is tailored best to mobile phone users. Given the way that aesthetics and style, both personal and commercial, have evolved and changed in recent years, it makes sense to encourage better quality work by those shooting with smart phones. It’s been said many times but bears repeating: the best camera is the one you have with you.

It’s new on the sales scene and I’m very new to the stock scene so I don’t expect a waterfall of sales. I do hope however that it’ll at least turn into a small stream of income. For the benefit of those interested in seeing how this evolves I’ll include updates in my monthly reviews here.

Ronnie James Dio Memorial Kavarna 4

The World’s Only Ronnie James Dio Memorial – a Six Photo Gallery

Heavy metal music icon Ronnie James Dio would have been 72 today. I don’t think he could have imagined that a 250 kilogram likeness would have been dedicated in his honor just five months after his death in 2010.

The statue, which emerges from a large rock to rise two meters into the sky, has pride of place near the center of the main park in Kavarna, Bulgaria, a city of about 12,000 on the Black Sea coast. It’s part of a heavy metal-themed urban beautification project spearheaded by the city’s mayor Tsonko Tsonev, whose missions include turning his hometown into Bulgaria’s hard rock capital. Part of the project includes a series of murals painted on the city’s apartment buildings that depict heavy metal legends. I posted a gallery here last year; check it out if you’re dying to see a two-story high mural of Billy Idol, Tarja Turunen, Glenn Hughes or Dio, among others.

The memorial, designed by Alexander Petrov and Krasimir Krastev-Lomski, doesn’t show the finger horn gesture –index and pinky fingers pointing out from a clenched fist– Dio is largely credited with having popularized. Nor does he appear to be singing. Instead he stands with a microphone in hand as though he’s delivering a lecture, or taking part in a Q&A.

I respected his powerful vocal abilities but his style never quite suited my tastes so I was never a big fan. But learning of the statue’s existence was reason enough to seek it out when a working visit to Kavarna arose. I liked what I found, a sincere memorial that’s very much at home in a city park setting. To the left, retired men smoked cigarettes and played chess. Straight on it faced a playground where children took turns on a slide. I wondered briefly why the parks of my youth didn’t include monuments to pop culture icons.

Born Ronnie James Padavona on 10 July 1942, he was already using the stage name Dio by 1960, well before he first attracted wider attention as the vocalist and lyricist for Rainbow in the early 1970s. He left the band in 1979; a chance meeting in Los Angeles with Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi eventually led to his job as the band’s front man, replacing the fired Ozzy Osbourne.

That relationship lasted until differences forced a split in 1982; from then on he was primarily the driving force for what was simply known as Dio, a band whose various configurations recorded ten albums through 2004. In 2006 he again teamed with former Black Sabbath bandmates Iommi, Geezer Butler and Vinnie Appice to tour as Heaven and Hell, the name of the first Sabbath release of the band’s Dio era.

By the time he died from stomach cancer on May 16, 2010, he sold more than 47 million albums over a career that spanned fifty years. Six photos of the memorial below, along with a map of Kavarna.



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Glenn Hughes mural in Kavarna, Bulgaria

Kavarna’s Heavy Metal Murals

If you ever make it to the Bulgarian Black Sea coastal town of Kavarna, you’ll likely find yourself staring at this two-and-a-half story high mural of heavy metal journeyman Glenn Hughes which graces a building just up the block from city hall near one of the city’s main squares. Further up the block you’ll find yourself standing between a giant shirtless Billy Idol and a crooning John Lawton of Uriah Heep fame.

This heavy metal urban beautification is the brainchild of Mayor Tsonko Tsonev, whose primary quest since taking office has been to turn this city of 12,000 into Bulgaria’s rock capital. By any measure he’s been wildy successful.

An avid hard rock and heavy metal fan, Tsonev has attracted dozens of top metal bands to his hometown –Deep Purple, Motörhead, Manowar, The Scorpions, and Robert Plant among them– as part of the annual Kaliakra Rock Fest, later renamed the Kavarna Rock Fest.

How deep is his passion? In October 2010 Tsonev unveiled the world’s only statue memorializing former Black Sabbath frontman Ronnie James Dio. The 250 kilogram bronze, dedicated just five months after Dio’s death, has pride of place in the center of the city’s main park.

Ronnie James Dio memorial in Kavarna, Bulgaria

Ronnie James Dio memorial in Kavarna

More of the murals are below. Can anyone help with the name of the Bulgarian musician?

Tarja Turunen mural in Kavarna, Bulgaria

Tarja Turunen in Kavarna

Holy Diver Ronnie James Dio mural in Kavarna, Bulgaria

Holy Diver Ronnie James Dio mural in Kavarna

Ian Gillan mural in Kavarna, Bulgaria

Deep Purple vocalist Ian Gillan

Joey DeMaio mural in Kavarna, Bulgaria

Joey DeMaio of Manowar fame

Billy Idol mural in Kavarna, Bulgaria

Rebel Yell

David Coverdale mural in Kavarna, Bulgaria

David Coverdale

Lemmy Kilmister mural in Kavarna, Bulgaria

Motorhead’s Lemmy Kilmister

Klaus Meine mural in Kavarna, Bulgaria

Klaus Meine, frontman for the Scorpions

John Lawton mural in Kavarna, Bulgaria

Uriah Heep’s John Lawton

Can someone help with an ID for this musician?

Can someone help with an ID for this musician?



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Wind farm near Kavarna, Bulgaria, October 2012.

Wind Power – Pic du Jour

Wind farm near Kavarna, Bulgaria, October 2012.

Wind farm near Kavarna, Bulgaria, October 2012.

I came across the Thomas Dolby song Windpower earlier tonight, which led to a much-needed final look at some photos I took in Kavarna, Bulgaria, in October. Among them this quick snap of one of the area’s ubiquitous wind farms. Bulgaria boasts one of the fastest-growing wind power production industries in the world, much of it in this region along the Black Sea.

For the 80s music fans among you, here’s a live version of Windpower in what was apparently Dolby’s only appearance on the BBC’s Top of the Pops. You’re welcome. :)

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Somewhere between Bohinj and Bled, 24-Sep-2012

A Train, a Bus and a Stolen Bike

My bike was stolen today, the third since I moved to Ljubljana. It was locked but still snatched in broad daylight, ruining what was an otherwise excellent day. I’m leaving in 94 days so I won’t dwell on it. One less thing to store, right?

Chairs are this week’s #FriFotos theme on twitter to celebrate places we like to park our behinds. One of my favorites was my bike, but I’m not dwelling on that. So instead, I’ll go with what is probably my second favorite mode of transport, a seat on a train.  The one above was taken in late September, somewhere between Bohinjska Bistrica and Bled, Slovenia, on the way back from a would-be camping trip that was a disastrous washout. (It would be the last time my bike was on a train.) Below is a quick snap taken earlier this month on bus somewhere between Varna and Kavarna, Bulgaria. It broke down about a half hour later which made me wish I had my bike. But let’s no dwell on that.

Between Varna and Kavarna, Bulgaria, 03-Oct-2012

Early stages in the men's race - Kavarna 2012

2012 World Half Marathon Championships – 27 pics

Early stages in the men’s race – Kavarna 2012

I was in Kavarna, Bulgaria to cover yesterday’s World Half Marathon Championships – below is a gallery of 27 shots of some of the world’s finest distance runners.

Zersenay Tadese of Eritrea dominated the men’s race, clocking 1:01:19 to win by 32 seconds and to take the title for the fifth time. The women’s race was won by Ethiopian Meseret Hailu in 1:08:55. Complete results are here.

By the way, I really like this new gallery layout feature.

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