Following an unknown mountain river has led to some great findings. After walking up the river for a couple of hours, me and my brother were amazed to hear the sound of a powerful waterfall roaring. We had no knowledge of a waterfall on that river and as this was our first time there had no idea where the sound was coming from. After some exploring we managed to find it: the river was suddenly falling of a steep cliff before carving into the mountain and getting lost underground, only to reappear again a couple of hundred meters downstream.
The weather turned cold suddenly and rain began to fall so the steep cliffs were really slippery, but we knew we had to explore this beautiful place. As the rain fell the river swelled and the waterfall roared even louder. I was near the waterfall and felt it’s true force – drops of water flying through the air swept by the currents and lifted into the cold air. We climbed down as low as we could to get a view of the steep slope. Couldn’t get all the way down to where the water was disappearing into the mountain but got low enough to see the whole place from below.
I used my trusty wide 10 mm lens but it was still not enough to capture the whole scene so I made a panorama from three shots. I used f/11 at 1/2 seconds (had to use a closed down aperture to get everything in focus) and ISO 100. This shot was especially hard to get because water was pouring on to the lens from the rain and from the waterfall, but at the end of the day it was worth it. the green moss on the roots and rocks, the steep cliffs, the tall pine trees up in the distance seen from an unusual angle – all helped to create a photo of a wild hidden and dangerous world. This angle emphasizes the steepness of the place and think it manages to transmit part of my feelings from this dangerous experience.
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.
I really like taking photos in the night because it’s such a surreal and out of this world experience. I have posted before about the thrills of night photography here.
The photo above is made using a really long shutter speed – 60 minutes, so that the stars become star trails. This is due to the movement of the earth and the fact that the Northern Star (Polaris) is realtively still, so the whole night landscape is eerie, strange and beautiful. I’ve added a light source and a silhouette that could be the one of an alien so everything has the grandeur of the cosmos.
I’ve always found interesting how different people see different things in a photo. Some look at the photo above and see a man walking out of a forest, some see the man entering the forest, a person with imagination could say that this is an apparition of a ghost in a surreal forest. A sad person could say that the man in the picture is walking sadly at sunset. An insecure person could say that it’s a photo of a man lost in the woods. A single image can be interpreted differently by different people.
The way we perceive reality differs, so our interpretation of art differs too. I think art is the interpretation of reality through the mind of the artist. But the result is also subject to interpretation. So everybody takes from art what they need at a certain moment in time and space.
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.