Slovakia (9): Back to Hrebienok waterfall

When we woke at 4am to check the weather, it was immediately clear that there would be no photography. Not only was there a howling gale, but looking out of the window, there was nothing to see, except the snow which had settled onto the glass. Otherwise, white, white and more white.

Given the discomfort of our sleeping arrangements (5 of us crammed into a room for 4, with Chris on the floor and me on the very small sofa), not to mention the furnace like heat, we were all up and about early nonetheless. We decided to take the first gondola back down, at 8.40am, and until then, kept ourselves occupied by brief trips out into the snow to cool down.

The gondola ride down was rather faster than the trip up, and in no time at all we were tucking into our breakfast, in the canteen at Skalnaté Pleso, a good selection of pastries, combined with slightly greenish scrambled eggs, and large quantities of frankfurters. Breakfast over with, it was time to take the cable car down to the bottom, and make the short drive over to Starý Smokovec where we would take the funicular up to Hrebienok.

Well, if only life was so simple. In the end, we waited almost 2 hours whilst the cable car was started, stopped, started, run a little and then stopped again. Watching the webcam, we could see Erik waiting in the van in the car park at the bottom for us! Just at we’d ascertained that there was a viable walking route direct to Hrebienok, and decided to take it despite the snow, we were finally ushered into the cable car, and with much jostling, crashing and getting stuck in the doorways with camera backpacks and tripods, we were off.

For a little while, all seemed to be running smoothly, then all of a sudden the system came to a standstill and we were flung violently backwards and forwards. Well, I have to admit that I did let out a somewhat undignified yelp at the moment. But I wasn’t the only one. For a person that has never been particularly comfortable with cable cars, this wasn’t really the best sort of experience. For the next five minutes we got going a little, stopped suddenly and swayed back and forwards a couple times, and then finally managed to make the final stretch into the shed at the halfway point. We were all ushered out of our cars, and bustled into new cars for the final run, which continued without a hitch.

Finally, we headed off to the waterfall, and tried to make the most of what we had learned from the critique of our earlier waterfall shoot. My focus was on the patterns within the water, and also trying to be very strict with myself about spot metering the exposures. The shoot didn’t up end lasting very long, as yet again we were defeated by the weather. A light rain quickly turned into a persistent snow, and we decided to call it a day.

Back in the valley, the weather was a little more clement, and we continued with our plan for a sunset shoot at the spot we’d visited on Tuesday night. I decided to travel light, and emptied out the contents of my camera bag. As soon as we arrived, I realised my mistake – the tripod adapter for the camera was back in the chalet, still attached to the 20D. Making the most of the situation, I decided to try my hand at some motion blur shots, generally larking around, and doing stupid things like sitting down in a bog, to get an interesting angle. Whilst most of the resulting shots are not worth much, there’s a few that I was rather pleased with.

Even though I couldn’t use the tripod, I also continued with my plan of taking some more practice HDR shots, in order to work on the post-processing stage. This was also a good test of the new custom settings I had set up on the 5D MK2 for generating multiple auto-bracketed exposures, and enabled me to discover a couple things which I hadn’t set up properly.

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