Lesnicke Sedlo, the Place of Infinite Inspiration

I certainly do not remember when exactly my fondness for this place evolved, but for more than 20 years I have been taking there everything I loved at a time. It started with my bike when I was a teenager, followed by couple of girlfriends that qualified worth showing them around. I then drove my first car there to see how well it can handle the steep curved road that leads up there. In recent years, I have spent endless hours wandering round the place with all my cameras I owned so far. And finally, few weeks ago I brought my kids there to witness a joy in their eyes that would help me recall my first visit thus the beginning of my passion. Well, they stayed absolutely calm and uninterested but perhaps because it was heavily raining... Lesnicke sedlo is the mountain pass (710m above the sea level) in the Pieniny National Park (PIENAP), Slovakia. It's roughly 1km long, flat and treeless saddle with amazing 360-degrees views at Pieniny hills, Spisska Magura and High Tatras if the visibility permits. You can find beautiful solitaire (mostly pine) trees on its slopes, especially the southern one. The weather can get nasty and unstable, many times quite different from nearby valleys and mountains, most notably High Tatras that lie some 30-40km bee-line. The combination of the designs and views available, and the weather in different seasons simply provides for unlimited ways of photographing the place. Many times I thought there was not much more I can get from there and exactly so many times I remained surprised. Hence whenever I visit my parents in Kezmarok (which is unfortunately not as often as I would wish), I can't wait for one or two mornings to go see what is going on there. Even if nothing, the short walk would always be an aesthetic experience of great vistas and an exploration exercise for visits to come. And Lesnice sedlo will pay on for plenty of them, trust me.

I wish I know more places like this. I wish some of them are closer to where I live than this one. I have been returning to many other spots but for some reason, none connects to me the same way. Not even close.

Below is the collection made over couple of years with all my cameras...

Lesnicke sedlo & Tri koruny: View towards Tri koruny, the icon of Pieniny. Photographed in May 2005, during one of my first photographic attempts. I had no clue about RAW then. Camera: Nikon D70, Lens: Sigma 80-200.

Lesnicke sedlo & Tri koruny: View towards Tri koruny, the icon of Pieniny. Photographed in May 2005, during one of my first photographic attempts. I had no clue about RAW then. Camera: Nikon D70, Lens: Sigma 80-200.

Lesnicke sedlo & High Tatras: View towards High Tatras. The early morning in October 2006 has been spectacularly colorful, with mists slowly melting under the sun rays. I would perhaps used some drama in the sky but at the end of the day, the empty one fits the calm mood of pre-dawn shot. Camera: Mamiya 645 Pro TL, Lens: Mamiya 80mm, Film: Fuji Velvia 50

Lesnicke sedlo & High Tatras: View towards High Tatras. The early morning in October 2006 has been spectacularly colorful, with mists slowly melting under the sun rays. I would perhaps used some drama in the sky but at the end of the day, the empty one fits the calm mood of pre-dawn shot. Camera: Mamiya 645 Pro TL, Lens: Mamiya 80mm, Film: Fuji Velvia 50

Lesnice sedlo & Autumn Tree: In early November 2007, the place surprised me again displaying this amazing solitaire in contrast to the rest of colors and leafless trees. I have tried to catch the same moments in later years with no success. Camera: Mamiya 645 Pro TL, Lens: Mamiya 80mm, Film: Fuji Velvia 50, Filters: Lee ND Grad 0.6 & Singh-Ray Warming Polarizer

Lesnice sedlo & Autumn Tree: In early November 2007, the place surprised me again displaying this amazing solitaire in contrast to the rest of colors and leafless trees. I have tried to catch the same moments in later years with no success. Camera: Mamiya 645 Pro TL, Lens: Mamiya 80mm, Film: Fuji Velvia 50, Filters: Lee ND Grad 0.6 & Singh-Ray Warming Polarizer

Lesnicke sedlo & Winter Tree: Christmas 2008, some minus 20 Celsius hence the crisp visibility. One of the moments when the first light does not work that well, mainly for the empty sky. But few minutes later when the tree got illuminated, it was the right time to push the trigger. Camera: Mamiya 645 Pro TL, Lens: 80mm, Film: Fuji Velvia 50, Filters: Singh-Ray Warming Polarizer.

Lesnicke sedlo & Winter Tree: Christmas 2008, some minus 20 Celsius hence the crisp visibility. One of the moments when the first light does not work that well, mainly for the empty sky. But few minutes later when the tree got illuminated, it was the right time to push the trigger. Camera: Mamiya 645 Pro TL, Lens: 80mm, Film: Fuji Velvia 50, Filters: Singh-Ray Warming Polarizer.

Lesnicke sedlo & Twilight: I was unlucky (and inconsistent) for 2-3 years before I captured this in October 2011. I was blessed with some spectacular twilight and chose the slow aperture to create the line of moving yellow grass in contrast to the static greens (as well, check out another shot a moment prior to this here). The view camera provided for the whole new perspective that is yet to be explored to its full potential if at all possible. I only had one glass at the time of taking the photograph. I'm much better equipped now so can't wait for the right time to go again, most probably this fall. Again. Camera: Linhof Techno, Lens: Rodenstock 90mm, Film: Fuji Velvia 50, Filters: Lee ND Grad 0.6 & Singht-Ray Warming Polarizer.

Lesnicke sedlo & Twilight: I was unlucky (and inconsistent) for 2-3 years before I captured this in October 2011. I was blessed with some spectacular twilight and chose the slow aperture to create the line of moving yellow grass in contrast to the static greens (as well, check out another shot a moment prior to this here). The view camera provided for the whole new perspective that is yet to be explored to its full potential if at all possible. I only had one glass at the time of taking the photograph. I'm much better equipped now so can't wait for the right time to go again, most probably this fall. Again. Camera: Linhof Techno, Lens: Rodenstock 90mm, Film: Fuji Velvia 50, Filters: Lee ND Grad 0.6 & Singht-Ray Warming Polarizer.

Lesnicke sedlo & The Village: I was leaving Kezmarok with the clear sky above me thus with no high hopes. One hour later, this is what I found just 50km farther. Shot some 30 minutes before sunrise, for one and a half minutes. The uncovered sleeping village pointing towards the land hidden below the mist, together with dynamic sky created some sort of the contrast that attracted me. Camera: Hasselblad H1, Lens: 35mm, Digital back: Phase One IQ140, ISO: 50, Filters: Lee ND 0.9, Lee ND Grad 0.45 Soft.

Lesnicke sedlo & The Village: I was leaving Kezmarok with the clear sky above me thus with no high hopes. One hour later, this is what I found just 50km farther. Shot some 30 minutes before sunrise, for one and a half minutes. The uncovered sleeping village pointing towards the land hidden below the mist, together with dynamic sky created some sort of the contrast that attracted me. Camera: Hasselblad H1, Lens: 35mm, Digital back: Phase One IQ140, ISO: 50, Filters: Lee ND 0.9, Lee ND Grad 0.45 Soft.

Lesnicke sedlo & The Mist: The same place, the same day in early May 2012, just roughly one hour later. The mist got higher and started to run all over the ridge hiding the background, opening the possibilities for much more graphical approach than anytime before. The amazing play of the mother nature mixed with the earliest light put me into a photographic nirvana (until I was totally surrounded by the thick for some minutes (?) later). Yet another face of the place that is so well known to me. And I know there are more! Camera: Hasselblad H1, Lens: 35mm, Digital back: Phase One IQ140, ISO: 50.

Lesnicke sedlo & The Mist: The same place, the same day in early May 2012, just roughly one hour later. The mist got higher and started to run all over the ridge hiding the background, opening the possibilities for much more graphical approach than anytime before. The amazing play of the mother nature mixed with the earliest light put me into a photographic nirvana (until I was totally surrounded by the thick for some minutes (?) later). Yet another face of the place that is so well known to me. And I know there are more! Camera: Hasselblad H1, Lens: 35mm, Digital back: Phase One IQ140, ISO: 50.