Photos & Projects

Las Luminarias – Spanish festival of horses and fire – By Tibor Budai

April 9, 2020

My name is Tibor Budai. I grew up and live in Switzerland but originally from Budapest, Hungary. I started photography with passion about 10 years ago. I picked up a Leica M7 film camera with a Zeiss 35mm lens and since then, I have been faithful to this kit. That is to say, I haven’t bought any additional hardware since then: only maintained the camera when required. I have used it extensively with many films, including both negative and slide film, both in color, and black and white. However, due to the discontinuation of some films, I now do 100% of my work with black and white negative film.

From the beginning, my interest has been oriented towards photographing humans in general, be it on the streets, in events, traditions etc… So a combination of street photography and documentary. Although nowadays it is more a documentary-style approach that I tend to take. I carefully research and plan to join events which I think could make some great reportage. I do not consider to limit myself to one particular subject: but over time I think this could accumulate into one big subject by itself.

The reportage herewith was taken in a village during a horse-riding festival north of Madrid in Spain called Las Luminarias. Essentially, this ritual has some religious background to it. It starts with the local priest blessing the horses and the riders, then at different points in the village, the locals put up some bonfires through which each horseman will ride. This has the meaning of bringing health and luck for the coming year for both the horse and the rider. It’s a popular and spectacular event to attend and there is a feeling that the whole village/community prepares for it. When the ceremony is over and the bonfires are almost out, the locals bring out pieces of meat and drinks.

Anyhow, please see below the couple of images taken throughout this event on Ilford Delta 3200 ISO film which is my favorite film at the moment. When shooting, I always try to catch an interesting/surreal/quirky moment although it is quite an unpredictable exercise when it comes to the results. But somehow, I think that our instinct has a feeling when there is some potential in a given scene. Something that I always care about is the composition, although I like to break the rules there as well.


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  • Reply
    Steven Bleistein
    April 9, 2020 at 10:47 am

    The photos with the horses and fire are magnificent!

  • Reply
    Louis Sousa
    April 9, 2020 at 10:57 am

    Quite an event, well done!

  • Reply
    April 9, 2020 at 11:02 am

    Great set of pics, these.

  • Reply
    April 9, 2020 at 11:21 am

    Impressive set of pictures! The atmosphere from the event is fluently transferred.

  • Reply
    Marcel Zyskind
    April 9, 2020 at 11:59 am

    Great work Tibor.

  • Reply
    Richard Parkin
    April 9, 2020 at 12:00 pm

    Very interesting. I looked for information on the festival and found this article

    Their pictures are in colour of course but what struck me was that your monochrome seems to give more impression of the heat of the flames than theirs, maybe the “prettiness” of the flames and sparks takes away the feeling of heat?

  • Reply
    Michael Scott
    April 9, 2020 at 1:56 pm

    Hi Tibor,
    You can get a real sense of being there seeing them as a set of images, really well done!

  • Reply
    April 10, 2020 at 1:33 am

    The photos are magnificent!
    Really love them.
    Personal style : best way.

  • Reply
    Des McSweeney
    April 10, 2020 at 9:13 am

    this is an outstanding set of photographers, documentary but with powerful emotions. A lighter note was seeing the two Spaniards drinking whisky DYC by the neck which I remember from my student days as very cheap, made in Spain and very bad ;-0.

  • Reply
    Tibor Budai
    April 10, 2020 at 2:22 pm

    Thank you all for the comments!

    Best regards,


  • Reply
    April 10, 2020 at 7:15 pm

    These photos are just fantastic, and I keep coming back to look at them again.

    This also made me rethink using 3200-speed stock! I’d always assumed the grain would be too “in your face” and conspicuous for my taste, but it’s actually really pleasant and detailed. I’m going to have to try it out!

  • Reply
    April 11, 2020 at 9:11 am

    Some superb shots there

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