Krkonoše (in english commonly known as Giant Mountains) are the highest mountains in the Czech Republic with Sněžka mountain reaching 1602 m.a.s.l. The highest part of Krkonoše (except Sněžka) is actually flat and bitterly cold with many meters of snow cover in winter while on the edge of mountain ridge avalanches fall quite often. There is no glacier in the Czech republic but in Krkonoše you can find place where snow may remain all year round - for its shape it´s called Map of the Czech Republic.
Hranice mezi podzimem a zimou
In the Rýchory forest, you can go a little lower down the slope, where the trees are not exposed to such extreme conditions and forest cahnges again. Still the atmosphere here remains exceptional. An old uprooted tree created a space in the canopy through which more snowflakes could fall to the ground. The fallen trunk is covered in a blanket of white in a perfect way. It is dotted with mushrooms, compositionally perfect.
The twisted trees in the Rýchory forest have fascinated me for a long time. The atmosphere here is at its best in autumn, with its crisp weather and fog. Moreover, when the first snow falls and covers the region with a thin white layer, the atmosphere in the forest is literally fairy-tale-like. What I like the most are the groups of beeches up to the point where they give way to the black spruces, against which they stand out with all the more contrast.
Evening brings leaden storm clouds, but the eastern horizon clears our for a moment just after sunset. The Elbe valley and the surrounding ridges plunge into bluish shadow. The waters of the Pančava fall relentlessly towards the Elbe.
Dawn in czech tundra
Personally I do not like clear skies as it does not add anything interesting to composition and everything has to rely on colours. During this dawn the Sun was rising just behind the opposing Sněžka mountain creating nice gradient. While it was still below the horizon, the light was so strong that it diffracted around both slopes of Sněžka.
Autumn in the valley
Bílé Labe creates many wonderful cascades on its way through deep valley, definitely more spectacular than this one. However I wanted to have as many colourful trees as possible included in the image to contrast with cold water as possible. When distant trees lit up with first sunshine and these colours reflected in the river, I knew I am on the right spot.
Returning to Pielgrzymy with intention to capture this composition at two specific conditions: in autumn with red rowans and in the evening when light hits both the oposing and close rocks from the right angle. However, in autumn the Sun hides quite soon below hillside nearby so to have the pots lit I had to shoot this sooner than expected.
After night spent on the ridge in altitude of 1400 meters, my steps led me down to the Mały Staw lake where I hoped for morning shot like this. However, I have never experienced wind as strong as there - even tripod stabilised with heavy backpack was moving a little so in the end it was not an easy job.
I spent many hours around rock formation Słonecznik waiting for the darkest part of night. Freezing wind which almost knocked out my tripod didn't make upcoming shooting easy. One of polish colleagues who were shooting stars there as well was painting the rocks with flashlight which suited my vision of this image. I took three shots for further stitching as I could not step backward and get the right composition directly. The Milky way and its details were clearly visible by naked eye out there 1400 meters above sea level.
Evening light made me switch lenses and focus more on lowlands of Poland with shining ponds. I based the composition on triangle formed between the lakes, stone in the foreground and sunlit hill. Rock formation Pielgrzymy is visible in the middle of the picture.
Waiting for the last light above Wieki Staw lake in polish part of the mountains. I tried to get proper composition balance between stones in the foreground, lake itself and sunlit mountains in the background. Exposure bracketing for saving the lightest part of the sky.
Autumn on Rýchory
View from meadows at Rýchory towards main Krkonoše maountain range with Sněžka mountain visible among the clouds.
As the fog started to disappear more and more light got down to the forest. Even then some mysterious atmosphere remained between trunks in this remote area. Used polariser to get more saturated colors.
With the arrival of October I started checking weather forecasts. As it promised some low clouds in the area, I expected fog to add some mystery to forests and headed to old woods on Rýchory. In reality the weather was only slightly but just enough foggy to emphasize these crooked beeches.
I went further on the way towards border with Poland to wait for the sunset second time and found this incredible place where plains seemed endless. The colors of sunset were even more vivid than the previous day and the purples were not tweaked during postprocessing of this shot. Rods marking the way to Sněžka mountain are visible on the right.
Sun was already down but reflected remaining light prepared best out of contrast on icy contours. Finding right foreground was hard though. Some areas were too scattered while others were unreachable or simply trampled. I found the best place just above Luční hut with a view to incoming dark night and Sněžka mountain. 7 stitched shots.
Shade of the mountain
The only sunlit object in the area remained pyramid mountain Sněžka as the night and cold were quickly coming. Curved shadow on the mountain cast nearby Studniční mountain while lowlands of Poland were hidden under dense inversion clouds.
This shot of Black mountain brook was mainly based on the colors of leaves in the background, fallen tree and naturally also on the small cascade. I noticed the foam circle later when I controlled the shots and found it well filling the empty space of the shot. 4 vertical shots.
Black mountain brook
Shooting this torrent was quite tricky, even getting to this location over torn stony slope was. Standing half on slippery stones and half directly in the water I decided to focus my shot on prolonged rock on the right side and to fill foreground only with foam circles (Getting some stones into the foreground I would get overall worse composition). 5 vertical photos.
As I planned I spend the evening on top of the Mužské kameny (Male Stones) trying to capture the mountains. I could hear voices from nearby mountain huts but I was absolutely alone on the summit.
The exact moment when the sun went down the Moon came out on the opposite side directly over Sněžka. Altough I missed some telephoto lens, it was ok to crop this image.
I woke up early in the morning to catch dawn in Snowy Pits in the Polish part of Krkonoše mountains. Morning sunrays and reflection on the surface of small lakes made this shot.
As I was leaving small lakes in Snowy Pits I came across this stone field. Foreground hiding in shadow and sunlit rocks of Great Snowy Pit were just ideal to capture - I shot 5 vertical photos and stitched them. As it was around 5 am there was noone except me down in the Pits.
I tougth photography was over when I was returning from the trip to Snowy Pits. Crossing ugly concrete bridge over Medvědí (Bear) brook and turning around I just spotted this nice place with old man made cascade.
Last light on Vysoké Kolo. A few moments later i got caught in white darkness.
in other words, must shoot...
Only one person before me trod in snow on this path. Somehow I felt melancholy there.