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Postcard From Eastern Europe

Well, it was a pretty long drive back but my friend and I made excellent time. From Eastern Slovakia (where most of these shots are from) through the Czech Republic (where my friend is from), Germany, Holland, Belgium, France and then finally back home in the UK, we made it back home in just over 15 hours. And when you’re speeding along endless miles of motorways that all look the same there isn’t much opportunity to shoot anything.

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But we weren’t there for that. In between the wine tasting and beer drinking and cigar smoking and flirting and… everything thereafter, there wasn’t much time or inclination to take photos of one’s surroundings, stunning as they were. A reminder that one should and can actually enjoy a vacation without having a photographic imaging device permanently strapped to one’s hands and face.

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Having said that Eastern Europe, particularly around Stara Lubovna in Eastern Slovakia, was irresistibly beautiful, with the High Tatras Mountains accompanying us alongside in the near distance. I couldn’t help but overcome my fatigue and my reluctance and take a few shots.

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I’m sure many people will insist that landscapes must be shot during the ‘golden hour’ light around sunrise or sunset, but I’m also sure those same people probably never actually go out and shoot anything. A beautiful landscape is beautiful in any light and it must surely be up to the photographer to creatively present it as such. I’m not claiming to have succeeded here, of course, but one is obliged to try and extract a scene’s potential.

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As well as some spectacular geography Eastern Europe has no end of old fortresses and castles dotted around its undulating terrain. Stara Lubovna Castle below was literally the view from another friend’s bedroom window. In fact it was neatly framed by her window, which made the composition easy for me, but I decided not to include that frame in the shot.

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Stara Lubovna Castle.

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Keeping to our return schedule meant taking opportunistic shots from the car between bouts of laughing or sleeping, no simple feat with entire families of insects splattered over the windshield only to be cleaned off by random downpours of torrential rain under a frightening lightning storm. Plus I had to get my lethargic feet of the dash. Shooting from the passenger seat is something I had done before sitting next to either Nasim or John Bosley in Colorado so I didn’t have any aversion to it. The road gives you a convenient leading line into the distance making composition easy.

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Somewhere in Germany. I had just woken up.

But still, I hope these few snapshots will at least hint at the tip of Eastern Europe’s mountains of beauty and perhaps encourage others to go out there to visit, and unlike ourselves, with the intention of capturing its spectacle. Stara Lubovna in particular is worth stopping at to marvel at the High Tatras Mountains.

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Six image panorama of the High Tatras Mountains, quickly stitched in Photoshop.

These were all shot with either the Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8 or 60mm f/2.8 (a macro lens no less) mounted on my aging but seasoned E-M5. Shot in Aperture priority around f/4 or f/5 (depth of field is greater at any given aperture on M4/3), ISO 200 and varying shutter speeds selected by the camera. The images were processed in Lightroom to my personal taste and in my postcard style. I realise many of you will dislike that style but of course you are free to present your own.

Speeding Home!

It has been a pleasure to contribute to Photography Life and as always I wish everyone the very best in all your photographic endeavours.

“And so the adventure continues….

Warm Regards,
Sharif.

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