The High Tatras
It's enough. We need vacation. Road trip? Yes! Where? Sea? Maybe Montenegro? No, not this time. Mountains? What about High Tatras? Yes! And here we go, we got ourselfs in our Mitsubishi and off we are towards the north. Our goal, the northern part of Slovakia. Maribor, Graz, Vienna, Budapest, Nitra... 7 hours later we arrived to the tiny village of Dubrava, where a lovely wooden hut was, thanks to Peter, waiting for us.
High Tatras are the smallest high mountains in the world as they say. They lay on the Slovak-Polish border between the towns of Zakopane and Poprad. The highest peak in the range is Gerlachovsky Štit. The whole area is secured as National park (High Tatras National Park - TANAP), which has very strict prohibitions inside the park. As they say, you can only walk on the touristic paths (which lead maybe on about 8-10 peaks) for the rest, you need to have an UIAA licence. As well, you are not supposed to walk in the night (or 1 hour before dark) which limits the chances for good sunrise and sunset photographs. I'm not sure how this thing work, as I didn't have a chance to test them, but some internet says there are relatively high fines for violating the rules.
Our base was close to the town of Liptovsky Mikulaš and we decided we will explore the area a bit while we are there. So we visited the towns of Poprad, Štrbske Pleso, found a nice photographic place near Važec, went on the Prednje Solisko peak and check the ways up to Lomnicky peak, which was unfortunately in the clouds all the time we were there around.
There are plenty of places to explore in the future in that area, especially in the Western and Belianske Tatras, as well as the Lower Tatras NP and the Slovensky Raj with it's waterfalls and wilderness. Till next time...
A couple of photographs made in the location scouting for the future.
A dreamy image of the Spiš Castle, probably one of the biggest castles in Europe. The location was not perfect as well as the lighting conditions, but nevertheless, we were there and we snapped the image.
The wooden house in the village of Dubrava, 15 minutes away from the Liptovsky Mikulaš town. Great place for up to 5 people, peaceful and private location, clean, a lot of space. Everything that an outdoor person needs on vacations. If you want to book it, contact Peter Jurečka via his website.
Image is my first play with high dinamic range in the total darkness, illuminated with all the street lights, but Fuji did it out well. Normally I would photograph in the golden or blue hour, this time, I did a night one on ISO 1600 with the wide angle of 10mm at f/4. The image is SOOC, with cropping of the vignette and a bit of Noise Reduction using the Nik Software.
Maybe the most iconic place in the High Tatras due to the restrictions of the TANAS is the Štrbske pleso resort. The lake, surrounded by the hotels and different summer and winter recreational areas offers nice views on the mountains, surrounding the city which is as well a good starting place for some of the hikes on the marked trails in the High Tatras NP.
The lower lake has some potential for the sunset images, but you need to have right conditions, which were not there, while we were researching the area. More luck next time.
One of the best areas, that we found for photography are the fields in lower part of the valley, which offers great views on the highest peaks of the Tatras such as Krivan, Rysy, Solisko, Gerlachovsky Štit and others. Foregrounded with the hay can be a nice motive as well as with the green fields, similar to Moravska and Tuscany region.
Tatras offer nice views on the peaks all around. Using the touristic marked trails as well as the ski center lift, can help you to reach nice viewplaces on the central part of the Tatras. Great area for outdoor photography and it can be perfect for the Astro photography at night, especially towards the north. For the sunset/sunrise landscape photography due to the TANAS restriction, it is worth to visit the western side of the Tatras.