Unspoiled Nature of Poloniny

The photograph for this week was created about a year ago when we were shooting our book 15 Treasures of Slovakia (you can browse through it online here: http://www.lightharmony.com/treasures). Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians were added on the UNESCO World Natural Heritages list on long ago, in 2007. You can find them in the very eastern part of Slovakia, on the border with Ukraine and Poland. Some of them are part of the youngest and least known national park called Poloniny. The forests are absolutely unique for being preserved in their original conditions and untouched for several thousand years. Not too many people know that they contain the world's tallest beech trees.

The image was shot from the Sninsky kamen, to me one of the most beautiful spots in Slovakia. It lies in Vihorlat, the volcanic mountain range near Poloniny. Its panoramic view over deep woodlands was totally unexpected and simply spectacular. It was raining heavily when we started climbing up. With the aim to shoot 240 years old beech forest (Vihorlat Primeval Forest), we hoped for local mists that sometimes happen after a rain stops. But this time it did not all the way up. Just before sunset, the clouds cleared out on the west and we were blessed with few minutes of amazing stormy light that was also kind enough to provide reflections on wet rocks. The rich green cast of the trees provided for a great balance to rather aggressive color of the light. I played a lot with the design attempting to communicate the line of the rocky tip to lead the view to the sun. The plant in the bottom left corner caused a small dilemma but at the end, I decided to include it for its color as well as to add some depth. I'm using a matrix set up of the camera metering system which here would get mistaken by too much light on the sky - causing underexposure of the image. Hence I had to measure the light manually. This was also best way to find out that I need the 3-stop graduated neutral density filter to hold the bright sky down.

Camera: Hasselblad H1, Lens: 35mm, Film: Fuji Velvia 50, Exposure: 0.5s, Aperture: f/16, Filters: 3-Stop Singh-Ray Reversed Graduated Neutral Density

"The unspoiled nature of this original primeval forest type, these mountain ranges, alternately covered with deep forests and meadows with fascinating panoramic views, are home to; bears, wolves, lynx, wildcat, wild boar, bison and elk. In addition, the European otter, the fire salamander, the Carpathian newt and the black stork can be found here" is what the book says about the photo and I can't describe it any better.