Inside this issue
A Waterfall Wonderland
I'm a passionate photographer (despite not being particularly fond of getting up for sunrise) and professional editor.
If, like me, you've got a penchant for photographing waterfalls, Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia is pretty much paradise. With 16 crystal clear lakes, lush mixed woodland and more waterfalls than you can count it's got a lot to offer.
It's been on my "I'd really like to go there" list for a long time, so at the end of May, I finally visited on a three day trip. And it didn't disappoint.
The forecast for Day 1 was, unfortunately, torrential rain... not ideal, even though I had packed a brolly and some duct tape to attach it to my tripod, just in case. Thankfully the gods of photography were smiling on me, and it dried up completely by the time I set out to explore the Upper Lakes, giving perfect overcast conditions all day.
The Upper Lakes area really caught my imagination – twisting boardwalks over gurgling rivers, waterfalls cascading out of the surrounding hills and fabulous blue pools edged by rushes and vibrant vegetation. Every time you turned a corner there was another astonishing scene to take in. In fact, there was so much potential is was tricky to decide where to start. I was like a kid in a candy shop and happily whiled away a few hours meandering through the area.
On Day 2 it was time to venture into the Lower Lakes area, which has a very different feel. The series of lakes and cascades are hemmed into a canyon with larger, but somehow less photogenic, waterfalls at the bottom. I spent some time at the obligatory "postcard" viewpoint (when in Rome it's hard to resist), but I got far more satisfaction from a path along the top of the canyon. From here you could look down onto the boardwalks as they wound their way across the lakes. The Sun was shining today, which really brought out the azure blue colour in the water.
For the last day, I couldn't help returning to the Upper Lakes, but with the sun blazing overhead, I had real problems with contrast. It's not often that you're annoyed when it's sunny on holiday, but thankfully I did stumble upon one of my favourite scenes that I hadn't even noticed the first time around.
Although it only gets about 1½ million visitors a year, which is small potatoes compared to many other national parks in the world, it did sometimes feel like at least half of them were in the composition I was trying to shoot! The selfie-stick brigade and coach parties are a common obstacle here, but with a little patience, it wasn't unmanageable. And certainly fairly avoidable if you're willing to get up earlier than I am when on holiday.
The biggest challenge, however, was tripod vibrations. With a lot of the path being boardwalks there's little solid ground to place one on, and every footstep from a passing visitor would wobble the whole section. No amount of careful positioning helped and I certainly did a moderate amount of (silent) cursing at the more flat footed sightseers. The space in which to set up on the boardwalks without blocking the gangway was also pretty tight – they're only about 5 feet wide. If there was a prize for how close together you can have the tripod legs while still standing upright, I feel like I'd have stood a chance of winning.
But even the challenges didn't detract from being in one of the most beautiful national parks I've ever visited. It really is a waterfall wonderland and I'd highly recommend visiting this wonderful part of this delightful country.
For a short guide covering the practicalities of visiting the park and the location of my favourite areas please visit my website.