Magrit and I recently spent two days at Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia researching for an upcoming photo tour in May of 2016. This was our second visit to this amazing land of waterfalls and lakes.
The park features 16 lakes cascading from 2,087 to 1,650 feet elevation over a distance of five miles.
What makes this national park so unique are the naturally formed dams of travertine that separate the lakes. These dams are made from the interaction of moss, algae and bacteria. The plants and bacteria build on top of each other and grow at a rate of 1 cm per year.
What this means for us as photographers is a plethora of cascading waterfalls between the lakes that become photographic masterpieces with the use of a tripod and a slow shutter speed, ½ of a second or more. This gives the moving water that beautiful silky look. Access to this photogenic spectacle is made possible through a wonderful network of paths and boardwalks, installed by the Croatian Park Service. On many of the boardwalks you are just a fraction of an inch above the water and it is flowing all around you — truly a magical experience.
From the P2 parking lot it takes 15 minutes to walk to the entrance of the park. From the entrance you have a choice of catching a train/bus apparatus that will take you to the top of the lakes or a short walk down to the lakes for a boat ride that will take you in the opposite direction. We like to catch the train to the top of the lakes and spend a leisurely couple of hours walking along the lakes and streams leading back down to a boat dock just across from the park entrance. Your entrance ticket includes the short one-minute boat ride to the other side as well as the boat ride mentioned above.
The boardwalks can get crowded as the park attracts over a million visitors each year. As photographers we need space on the boardwalks to set up our tripods. This can be impossible with large groups of tourists stomping by. So it is best to catch the first boat at 7 am that takes you to a series of paths leading to the upper lakes. The first train is not until 8 am. Within 25 minutes of walking you arrive at one of the most photogenic areas of the park and you will have it to yourself for a couple of hours before the hordes arrive. Plus the light is softer and less harsh at this time. On our first visit to Plitvice we had bright overcast weather and light rain for much of the day which was perfect for photography. Bright sunlight in the forest, on the other hand, causes unsightly harsh shadows and very high contrast which is less than desirable (i.e. horrible) for photographers.
Plitvice will be included on our Slovenia/Croatia tour in May of 2016. We will spend three nights and two full days photographing this magical National Park.
It is not too early to sign up. A $500 deposit will reserve your spot. The deposit is fully refundable up until 121 days before the tour begins.
Undiscovered Slovenia & Croatia Photo Tour, May 27 to June 5, 2016