Shutterstock’s Most Viral Photos of 2016

Deer in mysterious forest with fog
Deer on road in dark forest after rain

One of my photos – “Deer on a road in a dark forest after rain” is on the list of the most liked and shared photos from the past year from Shutterstock’s social media feed.

I caught this moment a few years ago. I got to the woods early in the morning and a deer herd kept appearing and disappearing trough the fog almost like it was watching me. I got a glimpse of them running and jumping trough the air as they appeared only as silhouettes in the magical glowy light. I saw them doing this a couple of times but they were too fast for me and the light was too dim to photograph the scene. After a few hours I was following a forest road and saw the herd standing in the middle of it. I had a short zoom lens on my camera and thought there is no way I can get the shot right. As I was approaching two of the deers started to run but one stood curiously in the middle of the road watching me. I kept taking pictures and approaching bit by bit until it ran away. I said it before – for me it’s almost like a supernatural moment when I cross paths with wild animals so I was really excited to see this scene and photograph this special moment.

I have also made it available on NatureStockPhotos.net for those of you who don’t have a Shutterstock account or don’t like the subscription model.

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Land of the Mist

image of mist rolling over mountains in winter

It was a cold December day when the weather kept changing every minute. The few inches of snow made the climb harder, but once we reached the top all was worth it. A cold wind began to blow and the clouds covered the sun again. Thick mist started rolling down from the mountains and pouring everywhere. The landscape was changing right before our eyes.

The endless pine forests were engulfed by the mist and only a few rays of light managed to break trough to them. The whole landscape got a mysterious eerie beauty that was accentuated by the fact that there was no human being in sight for miles. We could really feel lost in the enormity of the landscape.
The only sound was the one of the cold wind blowing. The rush and background noise of everyday life vanishes is replaced by a calmness that you can’t find anywhere else. It always amazes me how the mist has the capacity to transform a landscape so fast and make it almost timeless. It’s this kind of mood and atmosphere, that feeling of being lost that I (and we at PhotoCosma) try to capture and transmit trough images.

I used a 300 mm tele lens to capture what was happening around me. I was so excited of what I was seeing that I realized a lot of the shots will come out blurry so I used a tripod. It proved to be a good decision as the light was scarce. The mist kept moving and transforming so I had a lot to photograph, but as the night approached I knew we still had a long way to go back again so I stopped and stared for a few minutes. The cold, the tiredness, the fact that we would have to walk a long way trough the dark – nothing mattered. Everything was perfect.

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Hidden valley exploration

hiiden valley with man exploring
Man exploring hidden valley with steep cliffs

There are a lot of hidden valleys that are still unexplored near the place that I live. I often go trough these wild valleys in search of natural wonders and inspiration, and there isn’t a single time I come back without finding something really interesting and worth photographing. You can’t access these places with any kind of transportation, there isn’t any cell phone signal and even GPS signal because of the huge steep cliffs that border the various valleys, so these places feel really remote and wild. Because of this isolation, they have managed to remain pretty much uncharted. It is always a relief to explore such places.

This is a photo take on the same tour as the macro shot here. The river that shaped these rocks and formed beautiful steep gorges still flows today and has a permanent stream of water, so advancing is really difficult. There are also fallen trees and branches that are obstructing the way, not to mention the narrow path that someone exploring this place has to follow. I remember that the first time I  was there I really wanted to go further and see new wonders awaiting me around the corner, but the water was just too high so I had to call it a day. I returned many times and every time I managed to go a bit further than the last time, finding some of the most giant caves and some of the most beautiful gorges I have ever seen. Sometimes it’s difficult to come back in one piece, and I have found myself stranded on narrow steep pieces of land because of the rain, but nothing beats the feeling of discovering new things even after years of exploration.

The photo above was taken on an autumn day, the leaves not quite fallen from the trees. The human figure you see is my brother, with whom I was in quite a few risky situations due to our desire to uncover the secrets of this valley. I needed a human silhouette so the viewer would get a feeling of the size of the cliffs, so I told him to go forward and used an ultra-wide angle lens to capture this shot. I used a f 11 aperture to have everything in focus, and the shortest shutter speed that the light and my lens allowed. This kind of photos are usually used for environmental campaigns and also – like many of my photos – for horror movies posters. I think it has something to do with the unknown, the mystery of such photos, because they give a sense that you don’t know what may come after the next corner. I really like this feeling too, so I will be taking and posting more images from this place in the future. The “hidden valley” series is always expanding.

You can license the image exclusively here: https://www.stocksy.com/987261