Buzludzha #7 / 17 May, 2011 [click for previous image: window lights]
Buzludzha #7 / 17 May, 2011 [click for next image: Buzludzha #8]
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Title • Buzludzha #7

As I mentioned the other day we've been working on some new developments for our training site, particularly in terms of providing more information about the various photography and post-production workshops we run throughout the year. If you'd be interested in taking a look, the main page is here:


It includes details of two workshops we'll be running in September in Blackpool: The Art of Black and White Photography (on the 16th) and Creating Dramatic Images (on the 17th and 18th). You'll also find some further information on our UK one-to-one training dates for 2011, a photo tour to Istanbul in November that I'll be running with Bobbi Lane, and the Gulf Photo Plus Fotoweekend, also taking place in November.

If you have any questions about any of the new content, just drop me a line.

Anyway, back to today's image ...

Since I posted my first set of images of the Buzludzha monument, back in October 2010, we've managed to find out a bit more about it, though we're not 100% confident about the accuracy of some of what follows.

It's the largest monument in Bulgaria, located on mount Buzludzha (1441m) in the Balkan Mountains, and was built to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the Buzludzha congress – where the Bulgarian Social-Democratic Workers' Party was founded (the predecessor to the Bulgarian Communist Party).

16 million leva were collected, as both voluntary and obligatory donations, of which 14,186,000 were spent on the monument. The rest was spent on the construction of three kindergartens. It took military construction units almost seven years to complete, and more than 6000 workers and experts took part in the construction. Over 20 leading Bulgarian artists worked for 18 months in order to complete the interior decoration, and verses of "The International" and "The Worker's March" were inscribed on the entrance of of the memorial.

The interior was partially clad in marble and the staircases were decorated with red cathedral glass. In the 15 meter-high main hall a 500 sq.m. fresco was constructed, which included portraits of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Todor Zhivkov (the leader of the People's Republic of Bulgaria from 1954 to 1989). The dome of the structure was covered with thirty tonnes of copper and two 12m stars of ruby glass were built into the top of the 70m high tower. These were made in the Soviet Union, and were three times bigger than those in the Kremlin. You can see one of the stars at the top of the tower in this shot.

The monument was inaugurated by Todor Zhivkov in 1981.

On 10th of November 1989 Zhivkov stepped down after 35 years in power, the day after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Immediately afterwards the Politburo ordered the removal of his portrait from the memorial (you can see the gap in the mural in this shot). In 1991 the monument was ceded to the state, abandoned, looted and left to rot.

As for the post-production ...

If you take a look at the original you'll see the tone-mapped image (produced using Photomatix Pro) and small thumbnails of the seven original exposures. In this instance the tone mapping was reasonably conservative, as I wanted to avoid producing something that looked overly HDR-like, but I did want to create an image that captured the surreal nature of this building. As to whether it's entirely successful – I'm not sure. I do like it, but may revisit it again as I'm not 100% convinced that I made the best of this one. Let me know what you think.

focal length
shutter speed
shooting mode
exposure bias
metering mode
image quality
RAW converter
image editor
plugins (etc)
2.41pm on 15/5/11
Canon 5D Mark II
EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM
7 exposures (1/8 to 1/500)
Photomatix Pro
Photoshop CS5
Topaz Detail
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