A Morning with Martin Rak and Vaclav Krizek

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Winter Landscape Photography in the Czech Republic

Images and Words by Vaclav Krizek

Towards the end of January, my friend Martin Rak and I had plans to go for a winter landscape photoshoot. Simple and clean compositions are always a delight in the Czech Republic countryside and that is what we were hoping for. At least until a day before the trip, when Martin texted to tell me, that there was only a small weather window in the morning, and a smaller a chance of getting any decent light. Still, we could not pass up the opportunity and went for it.

Winter is usually a bit easier on us, as we can sleep a little longer before heading out. Sunrise was supposed to be at 8am, but I still needed some time to get ready and started at 4. While brewing a cup of tea I checked my gear one last time - you never know what you might forget! I made sure I had spare batteries for my camera and a power-bank for my phone, they will be essential when it gets to -10 degrees Celsius outside.

Our plan was to leave Prague at 5.30am, while hoping to be on location at half past six. Our chosen location was the Elbe Sandstone Mountains. There are thousands of compositions there and as a bonus we had fresh snow overnight. If the light comes through, we would be in for a treat.

Walking towards the mountains we are both smiling, because we knew exactly what awaited us. The clouds started to turn purple and blue and it would to continue for another hour while I shot exposure after exposure. I was already very happy!

Martin Rak walking with his  Explore 40 camera bag .

Martin Rak walking with his Explore 40 camera bag.

Time was passing by quickly, and it was only 10 minutes until the sun surfaced. I walked towards my chosen spot for my sunrise exposure. My tripod was rock steady, as my plan was to shoot multiple exposures and stack them later in my computer. Clouds were turning into flames and the first rays of sun cut through the horizon. When they did, I closed down my exposure to achieve a sun-star effect that I was after. It was a perfect moment.

Elbe Sandstone Mountains

Elbe Sandstone Mountains

Over the course of 15 minutes we spoke to each other in riddles. It is hard to describe this feeling, but it is always the same. We call it the “hunch”. A feeling based on our intuition - that we may capture a perfect image. This happens once or twice every winter and is always exciting. Even if the rest of the day does not work out as planned, we will always have these moments.

Elbe Sandstone Mountains

Elbe Sandstone Mountains

All images by Vaclav Krizek

Ian Millar