The Master

With the new month comes a new Monochrome Madness theme and this time it is all about culture.

It was not hard to choose an image, I had it on my mind from the start. This sculpture of Leonardo da Vinci by Piero Magni is located at Piazza della Scala in Milan.

For more interesting monochrome images, I recommend a visit to Leanne Cole’s blog Leanne Cole PHOTOGRAPHY, where every Wednesday she hosts The Monochrome Madness Challenge.


Milano Revisited

I went back to an old image, from 2014. It is funny how you can find something new in a pile of old stuff. I think I took images of Arco Della Pace from every possible angle, except aerial. Yet, you can always rediscover new details.


When I was doing and AfterBeforeChallenge (hosted by Stacy Fischer), I used a trick on a couple of projects, stretching the image. I went back to that trick again, just to see how far I can push it. I managed to stretch the image by 10%, everything beyond that was too much. It was fun doing something different, cause lately I’ve been doing all the work while taking the image, with minimum effort in post-processing.

For more interesting monochrome images, I recommend a visit to Leanne Cole’s blog Leanne Cole PHOTOGRAPHY, where every Wednesday she hosts The Monochrome Madness Challenge.


50 Happy Things for 2015: Bloggers Unite in Flood of Gratitude

Few days ago Dawn Landau of Tales From the Motherland invited me to participate in an interesting event. Trying to spread positive thoughts across the blogosphere, I agreed to make the list of 50 things that made me happy in 2015. The trick was to write them down in 10 minutes or less. I thought it tricky, but in truth I managed to come up with 50 happy things in 9 minutes, which in return made me happy again. The event is going live on Monday 21 and if you want to help spread happy thoughts, you will find all the necessary details at the bottom of this post.

And now….here are my 50 happy things!!!

Berta 02.08.2015

My dearest Stefan


Writing poetry
My best friend Irena
Morning walks with Berta
Traveling to Italy
Walking over Charles Bridge in Prague

Decorating my home for Christmas
Drinking tea with my high school friend Danijela
High school reunion (first time in 23 years)
Watching movies with my best friend
Being amazed by my uncle’s trip to US (he is 61 and doesn’t speak English, but he visited Chicago, Miami, Las Vegas, flew over Grand Canyon)
Joining Instagram (I am posting photos every single day!)
Taking photos with my camera, phone, friends camera, anything I can get my hands on
Two published articles!!!
Dynamic Range, where my series The History of Women Photographers is being featured

Dynamic Range Magazine - Issue 2 Nov 2015 - cover page
My blog (one of the best things I did in my life)
Friday Fictioneers
Spreading my writer’s wings
My new notebook
Berta (again and again)
My hometown
Running wild
Chasing rainbows (even in my forties)
Knowing when to stop

Loré Dombaj ABF57 after
Dreaming big
Living large
Planning my trip to New York
Knowing I will go to New York with my best friend ❤
Visiting my family
Sharing things
Keeping special people close to my heart
Losing myself in the best way
Finding myself over and over again

Visiting Prague again after six years
Loosing weight (and not gaining it back)
Improving on my photography skills
Learning few Italian words
Walking around Milan (with the camera in my hands)

Cuddling with my Berta
Vilma, a new member of my extended family
Looking at the mirror
Packing my bags
Happy memories
Still having a love affair with myself

If you’d like to join in, here’s how it works: set a timer for 10 minutes; timing this is critical. Once you start the timer, start your list. The goal is to write 50 things that made you happy in 2015, or 50 thing that you feel grateful for. The idea is to not think too hard; write what comes to mind in the time allotted. When the timer’s done, stop writing. If you haven’t written 50 things, that’s ok. If you have more than 50 things and still have time, keep writing; you can’t feel too happy or too grateful! When I finished my list, I took a few extra minutes to add links and photos.

To join the bloggers who have come together for this project: 1) Write your post and publish it (please copy and paste the instructions from this post, into yours) 2) Click on the blue frog at the bottom of this post. 3) That will take you to another window, where you can past the URL to your post. 4) Follow the prompts, and your post will be added to the Blog Party List.

Please note that only blog posts that include a list of 50 (or an attempt to write 50) things that made you feel Happy or 50 things that you are Grateful for, will be included. Please don’t add a link to a post that isn’t part of this exercise.


We Can Make This World Beautiful

Another Friday, another ABF Forum. This is our second week in our new home, Ben’s Aperature64. It is warm and cozy, with free cookies and hot chocolate, so do not hesitate to join us.



For this week I decided to show the before of an image I published last month, as a part of the post about animals in Milan.  With the help of my editing programs I cleaned this little patch of nature, exposing the beauty that lies beneath.



Since this is a public park and I was just a visitor, I didn’t feel comfortable enough to actually do something about it. When I came back to Zagreb, I cleaned up a part of abandoned public space behind my building and I am planing to do it again and plant some flowers for spring. Neighbours usually look at me like I am crazy, some congratulate me, some smile, but in thirty years that  I am  doing it, not once any of them joined me. But that will not discourage me in my efforts to make at least one corner of this planet beautiful.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

If you are new to the AfterBeforeFriday Forum, hop over to Ben’s blog Aperature64. There you will find all the info you need and all our images in one place.


Street Styling

This month’s Monochrome Madness theme is Urban. That is both an easy and difficult theme. Because anything can represent urban, but not anything can really work. I like this photo, because I took it spontaneously, while I was waiting to cross the street.

The framing by two figures works perfectly and the people across the street look like they are posing for me. In reality, I took it “from the hip”, not really knowing what I’ll end up with. Things sometimes work out great.
Leanne is on her vacation, traveling across the States, so there will be no more Monochrome Madness challenges this month. Our next gathering will be on October 7, with our new theme for October – Country.

In the mean time, be sure to check our Urban collection on Leanne’s blog Leanne Cole PHOTOGRAPHY.


One Four Challenge – At The Movies

I had the time of my life editing this image, those four Mondays in June flew by in a blink of an eye. This is one of my favorite images I ever took. Probably because I really like how the original turned out, so I wasn’t concerned in improving it. I just let my imagination hop in the driving seat and enjoyed the ride.



It was a fun journey, inspired by my love for movies. I imagined Thor descending from the sky, Hulk tearing down the tower, James Cagney yelling from the top of his lungs, King Kong trying to catch that plane…

Still searching for my September image, I wish I could find one that would give me this mush pleasure.



This flower is such a mystery to me, I’ve never seen anything quite like this before. The funny part is it has lovely orange and yellow colors and I was surprised to see this transformation in black and white.


Eureka! I found it. 😀

Kniphofia /nɪpˈhoʊfiə/, also called tritoma, red hot poker, torch lily, knofflers or poker plant, is a genus of flowering plants in the family Xanthorrhoeaceae, first described as a genus in 1794. It is native to Africa. Herbaceous species and hybrids have narrow, grass-like leaves 10–100 cm (4–39 in) long, while perennial species have broader, strap-shaped foliage up to 1.5 m (5 ft) long. All plants produce spikes of upright, brightly colored flowers well above the foliage, in shades of red, orange and yellow, often bicoloured.[4] The flowers produce copious nectar while blooming and are attractive to bees. In the New World they may attract sap-suckers such as hummingbirds and New World orioles.

The Kniphofia genus is named after Johann Hieronymus Kniphof, an 18th-century German physician and botanist.

Another day, another lesson…That is my favorite motto.

As always, be so kind to check other great entries in this week’s Monochrome Madness Challenge on Leanne’s blog Leanne Cole PHOTOGRAPHY.


On Quiet Walks

I am still searching for my September One Four subject….it eludes me for now, but I hope something will surprise me.

For now, I am looking over my images, experimenting with different editing choices, trying to create a certain atmosphere. This set of images were taken while I was on my walks with Berta, it surprised me how many different animals I managed to capture.

My quest continues, I wonder where I’ll land next Monday. But I guess, that is the beauty of every journey.

By prevailing over all obstacles and distractions, one may unfailingly arrive at his chosen goal or destination.

-Christopher Columbus


One Four Challenge – Behind the Scenes

As promised last week, I am taking you behind the scenes of June and July One Four Challenge. I did not participate in May challenge, because I was too busy running around Milan, enjoying my vacation.

July One Four Challenge

My July image of this cat was taken in the courtyard of Castello Sforzesco, in city of Milan, Italy. The castle was built in the 15th century by Francesco Sforza, Duke of Milan, on the remains of a 14th-century fortification. Later renovated and enlarged, in the 16th and 17th centuries it was one of the largest citadels in Europe. Extensively rebuilt by Luca Beltrami in 1891–1905, it now houses several of the city’s museums and art collections.


The castle in the 16th century

The original construction was ordered by local lord Galeazzo II Visconti in 1358–c. 1370. this castle was known as Castello di Porta Giova (or Porta Zubia), from the name of a gate in walls located nearby. His successors Gian Galeazzo, Giovanni Maria and Filippo Maria Visconti enlarged it, until it became a square-plan castle with 200 m-long sides, four towers at the corners and up to 7 m-thick walls. The castle was the main residence in the city of its Visconti lords, and was destroyed by the short-lived Golden Ambrosian Republic which ousted them in 1447.

In 1450, Francesco Sforza, once he shattered the republicans, began reconstruction of the castle to turn it into his princely residence. In 1452 he hired sculptor and architect Filarete to design and decorate the central tower, which is still known as Torre del Filarete. After Francesco’s death, the construction was continued by his son Galeazzo Maria, under architect Benedetto Ferrini. The decoration was executed by local painters. In 1476, during the regency of Bona of Savoy, the tower with her name was built.


Main entrance

In 1494 Ludovico Sforza became lord of Milan, and called numerous artists to decorate the castle. These include Leonardo da Vinci (who frescoed several rooms, in collaboration with Bernardino Zenale and Bernardino Butinone) and Bramante, who painted frescoes in the Sala del Tesoro; the Sala della Balla was decorated with Francesco Sforza’s deeds. Around 1498, Leonardo worked at the ceiling of the Sala delle Asse, painting decorations of vegetable motifs. In the following years, however, the castle was damaged by assaults from Italian, French and German troops; a bastion, known as tenaglia was added, perhaps designed by Cesare Cesariano.

After the French victory in the 1515 Battle of Marignano, the defeated Maximilian Sforza, his Swiss mercenaries, and the cardinal-bishop of Sion retreated into the castle. However, King Francis I of France followed them into Milan, and his sappers placed mines under the castle’s foundations, whereupon the defenders capitulated. In 1521, in a period in which it was used as a weapons depot, the Torre del Filarete exploded. When Francesco II Sforza returned briefly to power in Milan, he had the fortress restored and enlarged, and a part of it adapted as residence for his wife, Christina of Denmark.

Milano 2015 679

Beautiful courtyard in full bloom

Under the Spanish domination which followed, the castle became a citadel, as the governor’s seat was moved to the Ducal Palace (1535). Its garrison varied from 1,000 to 3,000 men, led by a Spanish castellan. In 1550 works began to adapt the castle to modern fortification style, as a hexagon (originally pentagon)-shaped star fort, following the addition of 12 bastions. The external fortifications reached 3 km in length and covered an area of 25.9 hectares. The castle remained in use as a fort also after the Spaniards were replaced by the Austrians in Lombardy.

Outer castle walls

Most of the outer fortifications were demolished during the period of Napoleonic rule in Milan under the Cisalpine Republic. The semi-circular Piazza Castello was constructed around the city side of the castle, surrounded by a radial street layout of new urban blocks bounded by the Foro Buonoparte. The area on the “country” side of the castle was laid out as a vast 700m by 700m square parade ground known as Piazza d’Armi.

After the unification of Italy in the 19th century, the castle was transferred from military use to the city of Milan. Parco Sempione, one of the largest parks in the city, was created on the former parade grounds.

Milano 2015 269

I have no idea what kind of flower this is

The government of Milan undertook restoration works, directed by Luca Beltrami. The Via Dante was cut through the medieval street layout in the 1880s to provide a direct promenade between the castle and the Duomo on axis with the main gate. The central tower,  Torre del Filarete, above the main city entrance was rebuilt, on the basis of 16th century drawings, between 1900 and 1905, as a monument to King Umberto I.

Allied bombardment of Milan in 1943 during World War II severely damaged the castle. The post-war reconstruction of the building for museum purposes was undertaken by the BBPR architectural partnership.

Being one of the main attractions, it is swarmed with tourists.  So, my goal was to show you all the quiet little spots where I spent my time collecting my thoughts. And stalking poor, unsuspecting cats.

Milano 2015 107

One poor unsuspecting cat

On the north side the castle opens up to Parco Sempione, a beautiful large area full of secluded spots for an afternoon rest.  Once you enter the castle, it feels like you are transported years back.  It is very large, but inviting place, full of hidden treasures, especially in the castle museums.

The most interesting is the Museum of Ancient Art (Civiche Raccolta d’Arte Antica), which is displayed in the ducal apartments, some of which are frescoed by Leonardo da Vinci. Included in the collection are early paleo-Christian sculptures, the superb equestrian tomb of Bernarbò Visconti and sculpted reliefs depicting Milan’s triumph over Barbarossa. The exhibit eloquently tells the story of the birth of Italy’s first city commune through murderous dynastic and regional ambitions, which made this one of the most powerful courts in Europe.

On the 1st floor the Museo dei Mobile (Furniture Museum) and Pinacoteca (Picture Gallery) blend seamlessly, leading you from ducal wardrobes and writing desks through to a collection of Lombard Gothic art. Among the masterpieces are Andrea Mantegna’s Trivulzio Madonna, Vincenzo Foppa’s St Sebastian and Bramantino’s Noli me tangere (Touch me not).

Milano 2015 089

Entrance from Parco Sempione

Even after much time spent in and around castle, there is so much to explore.  For me the best were the animals…cats lazily sprawled everywhere, birds hoping close without fear…I saw a reflection of history in them. Like they wanted to tell me:

Beware, lone traveler…you are standing  in a place  of history that came  long before you and it will tell  endless  stories long after you are gone. And we…we are the guardians. So, take your memories and leave nothing behind.

Milano 2015 166
Guardian of the Galaxy caught in the afternoon nap



You Know Nothing, Snow

It shouldn’t be this hard…choosing an image for Monochrome Madness. And still, some weeks I find it almost impossible.

This week I put all my money on drama. The original image was taken on a sunny mid-day, very bright, full of sunlight. So, I went the opposite direction. I forgo the details, sharpness, clarity…everything…just to create this dark, Gothic image.
When I look at other images, I see people putting so much effort in improving, making something better, creating a visual spectacle. I am just trying to create…nothing more, nothing less. Half the time I don’t even know where I’m going, I just push the corners of my little box, stretch my imagination…hoping I will lend on my feet. I never see my images as finished, they are all half-way there, suspended in air. All I can hope is I will learn something new.

Because, if I am being honest…I know nothing.

This image is my entry to Monochrome Madness challenge hosted by Leanne Cole on her blog Leanne Cole PHOTOGRAPHY.