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.
A couple of days ago I was editing the photo above and I wanted to give it a magical look to make the viewer “feel” as much of what I have felt the moment I took this photo. I also remembered about the whole “purists” vs “editors” war with some going as far as saying that the goal of editing a photo is to make an image look as if it hasn’t been edited.
For me this is not true. I edit my photos to make them have a special atmosphere or to make them transmit something more accurate to what I felt or had in mind when I took the photo.
It’s not that the camera doesn’t render correctly what I see, but there are a lot of other stimuli (like the wind blowing, the sound of water, the sweet smell of the vegetation in the air, etc) that don’t get trough the camera. I use post editing to make an image more vivid or to make its atmosphere a certain way. I know that some might say that the image becomes something “unreal”, but an enhancement of certain features in an image makes it more real and closer to what I saw and felt that moment.
I remember that when I took this photo I wanted to have as much as possible in focus, on the whole length of the waterfall and river that makes the eye travel trough the whole frame, from the rocks in the foreground up to the sunspot above. A dog that stayed with us that whole day stayed still for a couple of seconds, just enough to appear in the frame so I felt that it’s a nice touch to give the photo a sense of greatness. I used a 5 seconds exposure time at ISO 100 to emphasize the flowing of the river and f/11 aperture to have everything in focus. When editing it I added a subtle glow and made the rocks a bit more cold in color temperature and the sunspot above a little bit warmer to replicate the contrast between the dark cold valley and the sun shining above. It made the whole scene closer to what I wanted it to be, to what I saw and felt that day. Hope you enjoy the image. I also made it available on my Stocksy United portfolio under the “Wild fairy tale landscape with waterfall in the woods” name.
For me editing means getting access to a digital darkroom. The process is really not that different to what the great masters of photography were doing back in the days.
This photo of wild horses on a green meadow is one of my favorite spring images. It stuck trough the years and when I think about spring photos that I have in my portfolio this image always comes to my mind.
It’s taken some years ago in 2010. It was taking at the end of a day with no extraordinary conditions for photography when we were about to call it quits. We were following a herd of horses and didn’t have much luck getting close. The clouds were covering the sky and rain was approaching but as we got to a hilltop a ray of light from the setting sun started shining over the meadow and was casting beautiful long shadows of horses and trees. The silhouettes of the horses give a sense of the grand scale of the landscape. The soft light gave that fantasy landscape aesthetic that I always search for, a fine art aesthetic. I used a tele lens at 90 mm and a 1/320 shutter speed with f4,5 because I was shooting handheld due to the fact that the conditions were rapidly changing and didn’t have time to set up a tripod.
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.