The extended possibilities you get by using an ND filter as a photographer have been discussed on the web intensively and I don’t want to add anything to that. Basically, whenever you need a slower shutter speed in bright daylight: You need a filter. The wikipedia page even mentions the “wish to photograph a waterfall” as example for using an ND filter. And I had that wish: To take pictures of waterfalls. So I actually went chasing waterfalls (in contrast to what TLC suggests). To accomplish this in style, I decided to get the Canon Drop-In filter for the EOS R to be able to use my different EF glasses with it, especially the Samyang 14mm f2.8 AF and headed for the Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia.
Some quick info, if you haven’t been there or read about it: Plitvice Lakes have been added to the UNESCO World Heritage register in 1979 and the National Park consists of 16 lakes (upper & lower lakes). The difference in altitude between the lakes is roughly 130m, so many waterfalls can be found in between. There are two main entrances to the park (parking entrance 1 & parking entrance 2) and another option that I will explain later. And there is famous scene from a Winnetou movie that was shot at the Plitvice lakes.
Once you are there you will realise that the park is big. And I would suggest to plan more than 1 day to spent there, otherwise it will be only stressful. If you want to focus on the park, 2-3 nights is optimal in my opinion. The northern part (near entrance 1) is the more spectacular part with the big fall (veliki slap) and beautiful walks over the wooden footbridges. It is also the busiest part and the lovely (and well maintained) footbridges can become very crowded. Especially between 10-16h. But as a photographer thats normally easy to avoid since the light is not as good at these hours anyway. To cover longer distances in the park fast, there are two options: A bus driving from north to south and the electric boats over the lake. Just remember: No swimming anywhere in the park! And added more recently: No drones (without permit)!
The area between upper and lower lakes has many small waterfalls in the woods and a bat cave. Compared to the lower lakes in the northern part it is more quiet here, even though you will hear some water falling somewhere in the background everywhere. For me it was not always easy to find a good composition in this area, but water, trees and roots combined just look beautiful.
When you reach the southern part, confusingly the upper lake (because of the altitude), you will be blown away by smaller and very picturesque waterfalls. And I would even suggest to start here, the morning light and maybe some fog on the lakes will make up for any getting up early. The image below shows the Veliki Prštavac waterfall. Very beautiful and the sun creates a small rainbow in front of the fall when you are early enough. But it is only visible at a certain point – so also go chase rainbows in Plitvice!
And here is the trick that I learned during my stay that I can highly recommend, especially for photographers because you will not be bound to any entrance hours: You can book your stay somewhere at the very southern end of the biggest lake (Prošćansko jezero) in a very tiny village called Plitvička jezera. The places there are very simple but also quite cheap. You have to buy your entrance tickets for the park online. To have a guaranteed ticket, you should do that 2 days in advance. And if you are staying more than one night, you can also buy the a 2-day ticket. When you have arrived there you can then hike along the big lake into the park. Just don’t forget to take the online ticket with you because it will be checked occasionally and you need it for the boat or bus rides. The short hike into the park from there is roughly 5km and the area around the big lake is almost empty and very quiet. The images below might give you an impression. Enjoy!
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