Imagine the Alps wrapping around a small idyllic town called Bled. Imagine crystal clear turquoise rivers rumbling below your feet. Imagine an adventurous hike that would lead you to a magnificent waterfall. Imagine being lost on a hillside in a forest but  rewarded with a breath-taking sunset. Imagine taking photos in the crispy-cold morning to catch the first rays of sunlight and the rising mist over a blissful lake. Sounds splendid, doesn’t it? Now imagine we’re going to Slovenia.

It was quite a while ago that I set out to visit two marvellous locations around the Triglav National park. Now it is freezing cold, snow and ice covering Vienna’s streets. Back in November it was only the smell of winter approaching. Unfortunately, being way too busy at work stopped me from putting anything online since then. I do hope I can make up for the lengthy gap with this post.  But let’s get back to Slovenia …

The North of Slovenia, where we are taking this trip to, is a place full of impressing vistas and picturesque rural scenery. The photo-savvy’s heart will instantly beat higher at the sight of a landscape that readily offers itself to stunning compositions without having to try too hard. Whether you carry a DSLR or take photos with your iPhone or smartphone, you can’t go wrong. Bled and Slap Kozjak are the place for taking amazing landscape photos.

Words of wisdom about light

However beautiful a location is, light conditions throughout the day will either be to your advantage or ruin a nicely framed image. So before you head off to do some outdoor photography in Slovenia, make sure you’ve done your research about the sun’s position at different times of the day in relation to your object of interest and, of course, sunrise and sunset times.

Beyond question, it will increase your chance of getting a great shot. Capturing something in daylight might be nice, but more often than not, the light will be too harsh and parts of your image might be covered in unwanted shadows. Unless that is what you are looking for, do check twilight, golden hour and blue hour times. It’s good for you. It really is. You can compare daylight, sunset, and sunrise photos of Bled below. I’d love to hear which one of the images you like best.

I could never get tired of taking photos during the golden hour, which – mind you – is rather a golden minute or two depending on the time of the year. As many of you will know and as I’ve pointed it out a in a previous post, these are the best conditions for remarkable photography. If you like the dramatic, that is. Capturing the sunrise might be somewhat more challenging for the night owls among you, but believe me, it’s so very worth the effort.

You can read up on how the different times of the day affect your images on the blog of Elia Locardi, one of my absolutely favourite landscape photographers. There’s also excellent though somewhat more technical explanation of the light phases based on the position of the sun on PhotoPills. Once you have the light sorted, discover these locations.

Alps and towns, nothing more beautiful than Bled

The region just below the Austrian border is marked by the majestic Alps. The little village of Bled – and many other less well known but just as picturesque places – are surrounded by towering Alpine beauty. There is nothing as pleasing as watching dramatic clouds float over snowy caps as far as your eyes can see. Take a hike up a hill to one of the many hidden lookouts and a breathtaking vista will offer itself to you.

From up there the mountains will seem endless on the horizon. You might think, well this is nothing unusual and you might well be right. But the small island in the middle of the lake and the church on it are absolutely unique. I loved it. So much so, that I’ve tried to capture images from a dozen perspectives. Got a bit carried away there I guess.

If you decide to visit one of the outlooks, be ware of the rather intact hiking roads uphill and the somewhat scarce and at times confusing sings. When I say intact, I literally mean untouched by people for quite some time and accordingly full with potential dangers for the attentive but still clumsy hikers like my humble self. Also, take my advice and don’t use Google maps for orientation. It will lead you off the beaten track through paths labelled “danger and no childrens [sic!] and dogs”. Of course, you’ll only find the warning once at the top which then makes perfect sense in retrospective. Before reaching the lookout, I was crawling up a quite slippery hillside covered in golden autumn leaves, clinging to whatever my hands could find.

The only issue being there was not much to hold on to. But, to my greatest pleasure, I did manage to find the Osojnica (lookout), which later on proved to be the higher peak, i.e. Velika Osojnica, instead of the smaller one I aimed for (Mala Osojnica). Despite all the crawling and initial issue with orientation, I was delighted. I was rewarded with an astonishing sunset-vista. I can assure you though, there is an easy way up; found it the next morning. Well, they say it’s never too late; I do think it is for some things though. Sunsets, for example.

The bottom line is, it’s worth the hike, whether you choose the easy way up or feel like burning a few more calories. But let the photos speak for themselves. This is so common place, I know, but it fits here so well: A picture is worth a thousand words. And indeed they are, six of them (i.e. 6000 worth in words).

If you’re not entirely satisfied with a this charming little lake, you can drive to the other side of the national park and visit somewhat wilder waters as well.

Rivers and waterfalls

What this part of Slovenia has surely enough of is rumbling rivers and dazzling waterfalls. For one, all the rivers I’ve seen were this absolutely unreal turquoise colour. The Soča is the ultimate example of picture-book Slovenian rivers. The waters are so crystal clear and inviting that you’d consider a swim even in the cold autumn weather. The only problem then is, you don’t quite have the guts to have a splash because that wind is pretty chilly after all.

So you go for a hike to find that magnificent waterfall, Slap Kozjak and, almost a déjà vu, you end up off the beaten track as you decide to walk down to the river for a few shots. You again take some less walked path with no signs, but just when you are desperate finally find the right way to the grotto and start hearing growling water as it crashes on stone.

And then, a fairy tale spectacle opens up to you. A cave filled with crispy coolness, soft afternoon light entering through a crack in the roof, the refreshing smell of a mountain spring, and that majestic waterfall – a spectacle of elements revealed by the interplay of shadow and light. Amazing. It is almost unbelievable how perfect Slap Kozjak is. It’s one of those places you’d find in a fairy tale.

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