A unique view of Planina Lake
As a landscape photographer I’m always trying to find great photography spots. There is one place I’ve known about for a long time, but it’s a seasonal lake, which means that you can only photograph it after long periods of heavy rain. Recently, after several weeks of rain, I not only got the chance but was also able to find an outstanding viewpoint thanks to a new photography location website called Photohound.
As you drive west on the motorway from the capital Ljubljana, you cannot miss Planina Lake when it’s full. You’ll see it on the right far down below. Planinsko Polje (Planina Fields) is a beautiful sight, especially from above. But of course, you cannot photograph it from the motorway. There is another great viewpoint however, which I was able to find thanks to Photohound.
I had seen many great photos taken by other photographers from an elevated viewpoint. The photos were obviously taken from a location somewhere up in the hills on the other side of the lake.
But from where?
Well, thanks a new website called Photohound, I was able to find out exactly where I needed to go and how to get there. I could also see when the best time to go was.
The west of Slovenia is characterised by an area known as the Karst. This huge limestone plateau hides a vast subterranean world of caverns, massive caves systems and an intricate network of underground tunnels where water from the surface flows freely.
On the surface above, the only evidence of this lies in the form of seasonal lakes. The most famous of these are Cerknica Lake and Planina Lake, but there are numerous others which are less well known. Visit in the summer and you’ll see nothing but huge fields of grass. But pop by in the winter or after long periods of heavy rain and you’ll see beautiful lakes. As limestone is porous, the water from the lakes eventually drains away into the subterranean world below.
You may have heard me talk about Snapp Guides, which is a smartphone app designed to help you find great photography spots all around the world. Well, Photohound was developed by the same people and has now replaced Snapp Guides. Not only is it now available both as a website and an app, it also boasts several great new features. Instead of buying guides to specific places, you can now pay an annual subscription and get access to everything. This is a great new feature, which means you don’t have to just buy a new guide each time you are planning a trip to a different country. Subscribers will also get offline access to everything. Useful if you are out of wifi range.
Should you find some great new spots yourself and want to share it with the photography community, you can do so very easily. This means there will be more and more spots added as time goes by.
There will also be a free option, which will still give you access to the website but with less features. You’ll still be able to find great spots, but premium subscribers will get access to premium spots, curated guides and more.
Free access to everything for now
Currently, Photohound is still in the beta stage. This means that everyone who signs up can get full access to everything for free until the site officially launches in early 2020. So make use of this while you can and get signed up: https://www.photohound.co/signup
Every spot is vetted by the Photohound team, so you can be sure it is not only genuine but complies with the Photohound code of conduct, ensuring the location does not promote areas which are fragile and where photographers, especially in large numbers could damage the environment. They also actively encourage respectful behaviour in certain spots which are located in small quiet communities, where large numbers of photographers can cause disturbance to the peace and tranquillity of the area. If it’s a spot that is already well known then it will likely be published with a warning to be respectful. However, should it be a location that is not already well known, then it will likely not be published to avoid being overrun with photographers and instagrammers.
It’s also good to know that a percentage of your annual subscription will be set aside for the protection of nature and the environment.
Find the perfect viewpoint
So, back to Planina Lake viewpoint. As I said, the viewpoint I had seen is available as a spot on Photohound, so I set out to test this with amazing results. Although finding the lake itself is easy, finding this exact viewpoint would have been next to impossible without Photohound. Or at the very least, would have taken lots of staring at maps and hours driving through the forested hills surrounding the lake. In essence, it saved me a lot of time and petrol.
The importance of scouting a location
Photohound is great for helping you find the exact place from which to photograph, but like any location it’s important to scout it first if possible. Of course, the beauty of a website like this is that it saves you a lot of time planning. If you really are only going to get the chance to visit the place once then you’ll be far more successful than if you just went there one morning on your own. However, particularly with tricky locations like this, it’s always best to do a scouting trip first if you can.
As this viewpoint lies in a forest, I soon discovered that in order to get there for a sunrise shoot, it would mean driving slowly through a forest road in complete darkness, being watchful for deer or bears on the road, and navigating on foot from the car park with a torch to the viewpoint. All this will have to be done well in advance of sunrise to be sure I arrive on time to setup and be ready. If this is your first time there, you will also need time to think about a composition, which will be tricky in the dark.
So by taking a scouting trip, you can see just what is involved getting there, and also plan a composition well in advance and be ready at sunrise.
Also, during your scouting trip by daylight, you might discover some other great photographs like this one:
Watch my video
So, sit back with a nice cup of tea and watch my YouTube video as I run through Photohound, how I use it to search out the viewpoint and then input the coordinates into Google Maps and use the navigator to guide me right to the exact spot. You’ll also be able to see for yourself how to find great photography spots near you, or in places where you are planning to travel to in the near future.
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