Slovakia (6): Spiš Hrad

We had an early start this morning, leaving the chalet at 3.45am to drive to Spiš Hrad (Spiš Castle to non-Slovak speakers). Despite leaving early, the sun was already quite high by the time we had arrived, and walked up a hill to get a good view over the castle. We had hoped for mist around the castle, but in the end it was only hazy.

We fairly quickly managed to exhaust the two obvious viewpoints onto the castle, and most of us turned our attention to the surrounding hills. Once we were all satisfied with what we had done so far, we drove about 5 minutes away to a rape field, and trudged our way through it in the hope of an interesting composition. It quickly became clear though that the most interesting shots were not going to include the castle. Being short, trying to photograph over the tall rape plants was a challenge, so in the end, my best shot was taken from a foot off the ground, looking into the field.

Back to the castle car park, and a stop for breakfast whilst we waited for the castle to open at 9am. We had hoped to have the castle to ourselves for a while, but in the half hour before it opened, the car park filled with coaches, full of mothers with toddlers, and school parties. As soon as the gates were opened, the castle was crawling with people, making photography a bit of a challenge. I spent most of my time focused on the smaller details of the castle – patterns in the stone, chains, and the shape of the archways and windows.

I also spent quite some time framing a shot through a window over onto the rest of the castle. Getting the tripod perfectly set up to remove as much extraneous clutter as possible was a challenge. With the dark wall, and the lighter view, this was a perfect candidate for HDR, and just as I finally shot my final exposure of the three, a couple children walked into frame. If you look very closely, you can just about see them, although as this was the overexposed shot they have been turned into ghosts. What I unfortunately missed was depth of field, the end result was very disappointing because the stones framing the shot weren’t sharp enough.

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