Since former times, especially between the World Wars, Zakopane was considered the most popular place of recreation in the country, known as Winter Capital of Poland. Nowadays still keeps its status and continues being frequented by artists. Entering the mountain town, it draws the attention of the camera the spectacular panoramic view of the wooden houses village surrounded by snowed mountains. The sunny day allows a 100 ISO and a high speed for the wide angle, 16-24mm, to catch the astonish scenery.
Wandering around the village, observing all the details of the wooden houses, it’s a pleasure to discover the unique style of its doors, windows or wing roofs, the work of the multitalented (painter, architect, writer, art theoretician, dramaturge of XIX century) Stanislaw Witkiewicz who, drawing in the motifs and traditions of Carpathian construction, created the Zakopane Style and promoted the art community of the town. Witkiewicz though that, instead of copying the Tyrolean style like it was common in Europe at that time in building mountain houses, it was much more creative, natural and patriotic to develop an own one. A beautiful example of Witkiewicz´s architecture is the Chapel of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Jaszczurówka. Prepare the camera using a 24-105 lens to take photo of the whole chapel at a 100 ISO high speed. Later on, change the lens to a 35-50 mm. ISO 200 and at a small aperture of the objective, for focusing on detail, catch the round wooden arch of the entrance, the thick rope inserted between the tree trunks for cold protection, the light wood hanging from the wall, or the woodcuts here and there, also designed by Witkiewicz.
Going downtown from the chapel, it is a must to photograp-, 24-105, lens high speed 100 ISO, the horse drawn carriages with the charioteers dressed in traditional clothing, before having a stopover in another gorgeous sample of Witkiewicz´s architecture, the villa “Under the Firs” built in Zakopianski style for the Pawlowski family by local carpenters. Both house’s interiors and exteriors follow Witkiewicz essence in its architecture and decoration, but the camera in this occasion has to focus only outside, as Pawlowski family yet live there.
In 20th century, Zakopane was the nest for a lot of Poland’s creative talents, Stanislaw Ignacy Witkiewicz, son of the famous architect, among them, as well as the painter Tadeusz Brzozowski, sculptors, composers, even Nobel Prize winners like Henryk Sienkiewicz and Wislawa Szymborska. Don’t miss the exciting paintings of Stanislaw Ignacy Witkiewicz, “Witkacy” they called him, hanging over the surfaces of the Museum of Jan Kasprowicz, allowed to be photographed, advisable taken through a blue filter for softening the yellowish light acute due to the reflection from the wooden walls and furniture. Cannot avoid shooting the stunning Zakopianski style house of Villa Obrochtówka in Kraszewskieg St.
It’s worth a visit to the Tatra Museum founded in 1888 by some friends of the physician Dr. Tytus Chalubinski, commonly referred to as the “king of the Tatra Mountains”, to grate him for recognize the values of Zakopane as a health resort and establish the Tatra Mountains Society.
The Old Peksów Brzyzek Cemetery is the resting place of many outstanding artists and historical figures of the country, as well as members of the oldest Highland families and one of the Poland’s great national cemeteries. A memorial tomb commemorates the soldiers killed in Katyn in 1940.The tombs follow the folkloric style of the Tatras, mostly wooden with sculptures of Christ crosses, Tatra Mountains behind them, good framing for a nice photography.
Krupówki is considered one of the most famous pedestrian streets in Poland. Among many other attractions, restaurants, shopping, strolling, note the kiosks of Zakopane smoke cheese “Oscypiki”, women vendors wearing a beautiful flower headscarf typical from the mountains. 24-105 lens, 100 ISO -still shine brightens- high speed, will make a cheerful photo of the golden cheese and the colourful headscarf, but to trap the sensitive facial expression of the sellers, is better to use a 200-300 range tele-objective.
If Zakopane, situated at the foothills of Gubalówka, had been always a dream for mountain lovers- Wielka Krokiew ski jump was already erected in 1925- the construction in 1936 of Kasprowy Wierch cable as well as and two years later Gubalówka Funicular, represented a step forward sport and tourism in the village. It’s lovely to go photo hunting across the mountains to catch Kasprowy Wierch cable car. Being spring, nearly summer, the green grass brightens fresh, spotted by purple crocus flower, ideal to photograph with a macro lens. Wooden huts come along the way, being part of the highland landscape suitable for a photo- 50 mm lens – full of colour contrast. Get ready the tele-objective, 35-135 mm allows a distance of 2,5-7 meters, to trap the unique and huge Polish Tatra sheep dog (Podhale) covered with a long, dense, wavy hair, uniformly white, snow nose, and gentle expression. He will be around the shepherd while he makes the smoke cheese to sell downtown, setting for a cozy picture of daily mountain life. Pine forest, snowy picks, horses, cows and flock of sheep will be the photo of the countryside along the way.
A 24-105 lens will be perfect to take pictures from the cable car up to Kasprowy Wierch, starting with green forest, followed by stony slopes ending in white snowy picks, just in the Polish-Slovakia frontier, the greater the height. Once at the top, is still possible to find some of the thousands skiers that arrive every season to enjoy snow sports at Zakopane. Ski-alpinism and Skiing is well known in the Tatras, as does cross country skiing on the flatter land below.
Before night falls it is enough time for a couple of things to do. At the foot of Gubalówka by Cichey Wody Street it’s located the house, and the studio nearby, of Ewelina Peksowa, a virtuoso of old regional Podhale tradition of painting on glass. The colourful and naïf designs of the glass paintings are a must for the camera to shoot, tripod advisable as well as a blue filter for a nicer hue. Heading to the main street of Krupówki, are noticeable the row of 19th-200th century tenement houses, holding shops, bars, galleries and restaurants in their ground floors, centre of Zakopane´s social and gastronomic life. Some steps forward, in the junction with Pilsudskiego Street, a bridge over the stream, it seems to be the official photographic setting of Zakopane, where all the visitors go for a cute picture of the mountains, wooden houses, river and bridge…
The house of the “discoverer” of Zakopane, Dr. Tytus Chabulinski stands in Zamoyskiego street, a quaint wooden house covered with overgrown trees, not far, at the junction with Chalubinskiego street the monument of the physician and his locally born and raised companion Jan Krzeptowski. Set the camera for a remembrance photo, with a 400 ISO as is getting dark. Last visit of the day, before going for dinner, will be the Educational Centre of the Tatra Mountains National Park, built after the Park was established in 1954 to protect the heritage of the Polish range. Not far, the gardens of the recreation centre for Catholic priests, features the statue of Pope John Paul II, recalling the 1997 pilgrimage of John Paul II to Zakopane and the Podhale region, were he used to go through in his youth.
Time has come to enjoy mountain food, while listening to highland music, one of the most stimulating manifestations of still-lively Podahle´s folk tradition. Lovely shuts will make the colourful beetroot soup (barsch czerwony), the flower ceramic dish offering a delicious knuckle with mashed potatoes or the grilled Zakopane trout or salmon, accompanied by a golden Zywiec beer. Take your time for this pictures, compose the table nicely, utilize tripod, set the 50 mm lens at a 600 ISO, no higher, as from 800 ISO it will appear image noise, adjust properly the white balance to highlight colour and use a slow shutter speed for a breathtaking images of the delicious plates.
- Estimated time required for this trip: proxy. 4 days.
- Traveller profile: Amateur. ( What´s this? )
- Itinerary difficulty: Easy.
- Adventure level: Low – Medium.
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- Full Frame digital DSLR bodies Canon EOS 5D-Nikon 800 (It will be a good advise to take two full frames bodies, as you won’t need to loose time changing lenses).
- Canon 16-35 mm f4-Nikon 16-35 mm f4
- Canon EF 24-105 mm f4-Nikon 24-120 f4
- Canon 100-400mm-Nikon 80-400mm f4.
- Canon EF50mm f/2,5 Macro lens-Nikon 60 mm f2 Macro lens.
- Enough CF cards to store 500 photos per day. A big stack of 8 GB cards (each holds 500 RAW)
- Polarizing and Warming Filters.
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- Chapel of Sacred Heart of Jesus in Jaszczurówka was finished in 1907 and it’s a gorgeous wooden church based on a design by Stanislaw Witkiewicz, the creator of Zakopane wooden style.
- The house of Pawlowski family Under the Trees by architect Witkiewicz represents Zakopane style in all its elements: carved wood and folk furnishings artistically employing by Witkiewicz own words.
- The Old Peksów Brzyzek Cemetery. It’s the oldest cemetery in Zakopane, built in folkloric style typical of the Tatras, where writers, artists, mountaineers…are buried.
- Krupówki Street is the main street of Zakopane full of motifs to take a good shot like the stalls of smoked cheese (Oscypiki), the hand painted flower scarves, or even the beautiful sheep dog of the Tatra (Podhale).
- The studio of the famous painter in glass Ewelina Peksowa where to photograph the colourful, naives scenes of mountain life, painted in a glass surface.
- Bridge in junction Krupówki with Pilsudskiego streets where Zakopane activity is hold.
- Kasprowy Wierch is a mountain in the western Tatras where its peek is accessible by cable car, being one of the most popular ski areas in Poland.
- Chocholow its a little wooden village 17 kilometres from Zakopane that maintains its original wooden structure of centuries, based in the mountain style by Witkiewicz.
- Monument and house of Tytus Chabulinski at the entrance of Zakopane. He was a physician who established tuberculosis sanatorium in Zakopane and was co-funder of the Polish Tatra Society.
- International Folk Festival to be held in Zakopane at mid-August where to photograph the beautiful folk dresses and musical instruments of the mountanieers.
- File format: RAW so you can fiddle with exposure later on.
- Wide Angle will be very convenient to photograph the wide scenery of Tatra Mountains, especially at the pinkie sunset, tripod, underexposing slightly-between a half-stop and a full stop to bring out the natural saturation of coloured light.
- Use the Macro lenses helped with tripod, to shoot at a slow shutter speed, the sharp colours of the flowers, as the crocuses in early spring. Take a good care when focusing, as depth of field is very limited in macro lenses when you-re close to your subject.
- To capture motion pictures of horse drawn Zakopane carriage, it will be needed to blur certain elements while focus sharply in a few subjects with 24-105 lens 100 ISO fast shutter speed.
- The faster the shutter speed, the sharper the object.
- It will be wise to use a wide-angle lens and a blue filter to cool-lit lighting effects for interiors, especially in the Zakopane wooden walls.
- It will be advisable to fully extend the tripod for landscape purposes as being the camera closer to the ground you can obtain much bolder lines and compositions. Objects will look bigger and more dynamic.
- Insure your camera gear before trip and be sure that your company includes any type of loss and that the coverage is in force worldwide.
- Have a copy of your insured equipment list.
- Go hunting landscape photos early morning for a warmer light and contrast, as being a mountain village it could become cloudy later on. Use the afternoon, when sun shines too bright for taking pictures, to concentrate in interiors and beg for a good sunset walking around the meadows, observing the mountain picks turning pink and purple.
International Folk Festival to be held in Zakopane at mid-August.