Category: Landscape photography

Landscape photography

Best Autum pictures 2021

Dear friends and followers.

It has been such a long time since I published a blog. I need to apologize. Summer kept me busy for there is always such a lot of work in the garden.
Autumn is my most favourite time of the year. No need to say that 80 per cent of my pictures are taken in the Autumn. The light is less bright. The colours are changing day by day and there are many changes having the occasional layers of fog that add so much atmosphere to a picture.

If you want to join me on my (very early) morning trips in the Autumn and discover so many beautiful places in Croatia feel free to contact me.

Here is my top 10 of the most beautiful Autumn pictures that I took this 2021 season. I focused on my own county, Karlovacka. So all my travels were not further away than the average 60 kilometres. Let me know what you think is the best picture.

This winter I will be working on a book about Karlovacka county. It will be released in November next year. No need to say that Karlovacka is the most beautiful county in all of Croatia. The abundance of crystal clear rivers and the hilly billy landscapes offers such unique photo opportunities. I just love to live here. Winter started now so here’s to some great winter pictures.

Love and greetings, René

Top 5 of riversources – stunning beauty!

There is something so powerful, magic, divine and enchanting about the river sources in Croatia. I love river sources and all of them differ from each other. You can find them all over the country.
A river source is the beginning of new life. The water just springs up from the earth below and finds its way too often beautiful valleys and canyons. River sources for me are places that I love to go to, not just to photograph them. They are a place for praying and meditation for me. I love the sound of the water coming from the earth below. I think about all my favourite places along the riverbank of that particular river. I also like to bless the river sources and the manifold villages along the river that give home, life and abundance to so many people.
I myself live very near to the kupa river and we have our very own private entrance to the river. I love to swim in her, even when her water is still cold and chilly. I love to sit on our little bench at the river and watch the beavers and kingfishers. Sometimes I take our canoe and just unite with the rhythm of the water and let the river carry me to some hidden beauty spots. Having yourself carried by the river in a boat is a form of surrender en giving in to her strength.
The river has her very own character. They differ from each other. Not just by the way they look but also by the way they behave. The kupa river is by far my most favourite river. I am thankful to her so once a year I go back to her source just to spend a few hours there.

Here is my personal top 5 of some of the most beautiful river sources in Croatia:

CETINA RIVER SOURCE -1-


My favourite of all river sources in Croatia. The place has recently been upgraded with some benches, a boardwalk and parking lots with information panels. The road heading towards the river source goes through a fascinating landscape. Heading towards the river source one can see the river lingering in the beautiful valley below. There are herds of sheep and many wildflowers to be seen.

The source itself is of crystal clear beauty and calmness before it soon finds its way to the valleys. Little cascades and waterfalls can be admired all along the Cetina river. After 30 kilometres the Cetina river fills up the artificial lake of Peruca. There are some very wonderful photo spots around this lake and a wonderfully restored monastery for some spiritual refreshing.

The Cetina river source lies in a rather desolate landscape as this was a former war zone. Not many houses have been rebuilt and there is a certain sadness sensible in the area. But on the other hand, you will have the place to yourself most of the time. The place is not yet on the list of tour operators.
Coming from Drnis you will drive across a plateau before descending to the ancient village of Vrlika. This is the village where you can have something to eat and drink.

 KUPA RIVER SOURCE -2-


The kupa river source lies in the heart of Gorski Kotar in the National park of Risnjak. Exit the highway at Delnice and drive to Crni Lug. From there on you follow curvy and narrow mountain roads to the parking lot. To the source itself, it takes about half an hour walking. The terrain is rather steep so bring the right shoes. During Summer you need to pay an entrance fee of 45 kuna per person. The kupa river source is the most powerful river source in Croatia and definitely one that is stowed away far from human civilization. The amounts of water coming straight from the heart of the earth are really huge. Brutal power of nature! The drive itself is breathtaking!

 TOUNJSKA RIVER SOURCE -3-

Such a pretty place to visit. The Tounjska river is a short river that wells up in the small village of Tounj near Plitvice lakes. It is not a very well known place so you will hardly meet any visitors. On a hot day, this is the ideal spot for a picnic, reading a book or just relax and enjoy the sound of the little waterfalls and the birds.
There is a small parking lot and the climb into the canyon takes about ten minutes. There is also an impressive cave that you can enter. I just love this spot.
In Tounj itself are a small supermarket and some cafes.

UNA RIVER SOURCE -4-

The Una river source is another natural phenomena. The source is of extreme beauty with pure emerald and turquoise water. Here you can witness the brutal power of nature as the water wells up from the earth below and forms itself into a powerful river with many waterfalls. The first waterfalls can already be seen when you walk the 2-kilometre trail to the source. There is a small entrance fee to be paid and there is a parking lot that is free of charge. Make sure to bring your own food and drinks as the area is quite desolate.
It is well worth it to combine this trip with a visit across the border and follow the course of the river Una into Bosnia. There are some very beautiful waterfalls and wonderful places to visit along the river Una. A spectacular highlight is the Strbacki Buk waterfall that is as impressive as the waterfalls in Plitvice. I a future blog I will write more about my visits to this waterfall. The Una river is a very cold river that does not warm up very much during the Summer so swimming is not something I would recommend.

ZAGORSKA MREZNICA RIVER SOURCE -5-

The Zagorska Mreznica river source is not open for visitors. But if you walk through the park you end up at a little wooden bridge. It is such an idyllic and picturesque place. I took the picture from this little bridge and I absolutely love this spot. I will do a special blog in the nearby future about this little but impressive river and its surrounding.

My 10 best photo locations in Croatia

Croatia is a photographers paradise…Forget the selfie crowds and the trophy hunters at Plitvice and Dubrovnik. There are literally hundreds of unique places of unequalled beauty. The best time of the year is Autumn when the colours are warm and the sun is not so bright anymore. Morning mist creeps in over the lakes and valleys. Over the years I scouted and stored so many locations. I just want to share ten of my favourite ones with you.

1. Lović Prekriški
On a clear day, you can see 50 per cent of Croatia from this hilltop. After rainy days the mist fills the Kupa valley below and turns the landscape of the Nature Park Zumberak into a fairytale landscape.

2. Brinje
Just outside of Brinje there is a great viewpoint on this little village. You have it all in one picture; a castle, some churches, a beautiful landscape, great mountains and most of the time some nice layers of fog.

3. Fužine
I love this artificial lake. It has some interesting spots for photography. Autumn colours are stunning!

4. Novigrad na Dobri
There is the old castle, the old stone bridge, and the Lipizzaner horse riding school, and the local church. From the top of the castle (free entrance), you have a wonderful view of the surrounding landscape.

5. Ozalj
The view of the castle with the Kupa river is quite impressive. One of Croatia’s best photo spots.

6. Vina Gora
The hills of Zagorje are enchanting. The best viewpoint of them all is Vinagora.

7. Trakošćan
Another great spot in Zagorje is the castle of Trakoscan. In fact, the lake in Trakoscan is very photogenic. In Autumn the light is just magical.

8. Plešivica
The viewpoint at the elementary school of Plesivica is unforgettable.

9. Lokve
Around the lakes of Lokve and the outside of the village, there are some great photo locations to capture the wild beauty of Gorski Kotar.

10. Vivodina
The Church of Vivodina has been an object in many of my pictures. When the lights of the church switch on in the evening and the sun goes down the atmosphere turns into magic!

My best winter images

    Photo tips:
Wintertime is a very special time in Croatia. For the last two years, we did not have any serious amounts of snow. But 2021 started really well with more than 12 days of snow so far.
Everyone who tried snow photography came to the conclusion (or should I say illusion) that taking pictures of such scenery is far from easy. Why exactly? Because your camera is overwhelmed by the amount of light that the snow reflects. That is something that you really have to take into account. You need to manipulate the lighting a bit and preferably take at least two or three images of the same scenery with different apertures.

The best opportunities you will get when the weather is half cloudy. The diffuse light will still bring some warm colours to the mostly black and white landscape but not too much so your pictures get overexposed. The picture with the man carrying the basket to his barn is my best example of this kind of diffuse light. It was just a matter of seconds and then the sun was gone again. But as you can see the sun created the so much needed soft touch to this image and a fairytale atmosphere.

Try to avoid the kind of landscape with a lot of barren trees. That means if there is now snow on the branches. The difference between the black and brown trees and the white layers of snow is too much for your camera to handle. Besides, the result will be very disappointing. Make sure that you shoot your images the morning after the snow fell. The snow is still fresh without any traces of cars and animals. All these 13 pictures in this gallery have one thing in common. The landscape does not just have snow on the ground but all the trees and other objects have snow on them.  Rooftops, churches, bridges and even ugly bushes become so much more interesting when they are dressed with a soft layer of snow.

As for almost all your photography, your best pictures will be taken before and just after sunrise. Picture three shows the castle of Bosiljevo. Taken 40 minutes after sunrise. The warm light created by the oblique position of the sun adds great interest to this image.

Churches and chapels in a snowy landscape are one of my favourite subjects. A while ago I asked the parish clerk if he would be willing to switch on the lights in the church after a fresh snow shower. It added so much more atmosphere tot my image. The picture of the old little chapel in the forest was taken one hour after sunset. There was a bright moon and I laid my cell phone in the window opening just to have a little light that would attract the eye and give some more variety in this picture.

Parking your car is very difficult when there is a lot of snow. So make sure you leave in time as you probably need some more time to walk to your favourite subject.

I really advise you to wear proper water-resistant shoes and insulation underwear. I usually have the thermos with me to treat myself on some hot tea after my photo session.

If you have some questions or comments feel free to add and to ask. I hope you like my blog. If you want to get notifications of new blogs, please subscribe. I would appreciate that.

Warm winter greetings from Croatia!

Wonderful Vivodina

   Location: Vivodina in the Nature Park Zumberak
One of the most astonishing and breathtaking photo spots in the Zumberak Nature Park is Vivodina. From the cemetery of Petrus Vrh the view is so very rewarding. Many times I went to this location and very often I was able to shoot some very diverse pictures. Especially during late Autumn days and in winter Vivodina is almost transformed into some scene from a fairytale world. Special about the Vivodina church is that when the sun sets low the church transfigures into a 3d object. That shows really well in your pictures. Therefore Vivodina is such a great location for your photography. 

   Take a walk:
There is a signposted hiking trail that starts at the church of Vivodina. You can park your car for free. Do not forget to see the view from the church itself on the surrounding vineyards. It takes you through vineyards, hilltops and villages. The hike takes about 3 hours and has a moderate level.

   Take a break:
The homestead of Frlan offers great meals (mostly meat dishes) and homemade cakes.

    Photo tip:
Vivodina is great in the wintertime. Snow on the roofs of houses and light trough the windows gives your picture an extra magical touch. As you can see in one of my pictures it is worthwhile waiting for the street lights to switch on the village. They also add this extra fairytale atmosphere. Most churches in Croatia are illuminated during the dark hours. Be in time when those lights are switched on. Especially when there is mist. You need to be in time as after one minute of switching on the lights they will get too bright and your photo object will lose detail.

Mount Stula

Location:
the little hamlet of Prvinci

This is in the heart of nature park Zumberak. The mountain that you see in the second picture can be climbed all the way to the top. I love this mountain for its pyramid size. It is quite a rare shape and a special landmark in the surrounding.
You can start your climb to the top from here

Photo tip: 
I had been coming to this location in 2017 quite a few times. I noticed the wild apple tree. But it was still without leaves. When I came back a little later the blossom started to bloom. But still, I decided to wait until it reached its full glory. That was quite a gamble. For the Spring beauty is always very short and unpredictable. I wanted it to picture the tree with mount Stula in the back. Two great elements in one picture. I just needed it a bit of a cloudy but bright evening so there would not be too much direct sunlight. I needed evening light to have that special warm grazing light effect. Then I noticed the third element. A flock of sheep that would really add even more interest to the picture. Especially since the flock of sheep somehow resembled the wild apple tree in blossom. This was a well-planned picture. It teaches us that lucky shots are just very few. You always need to plan and even wait for the right time and season. In the end, you will be rewarded!

Take a break: 
There are no restaurants and cafe’s near bye. But the village of Krasic is a 15-minute drive and the main square has a variety of some nice cafes with inexpensive coffee.

10 great places for eating in Croatia

Finding a good restaurant with some new creative and challenging dishes can be quite difficult in Croatia. Besides the boring pizza and the predictable pig and lamb on the grill, there is not much variety between Zagreb and Dubrovnik. In the coastal areas, one can find great seafood dishes but prices can be a bit overdone and most menus are very predictable as well. I realize this list is far from being complete. But over the years I have found these ten places all worthy to come back to and highly recommendable….

    TIP: How to save money on your lunches in Croatia…

In many places in Croatia, a “gablec” is served during workdays (also often on Saturdays) between 10.30 am and 12 noon. These are the meals for the workers but everyone can sit down with them and enjoy a  cheap and big meal. It is a substantial hot meal, often with a choice of three or four dishes, mostly meat, fries or potatoes and a salad, accompanied by fresh bread. The price per person is usually between 25 and 40 kuna. So that is between three and five euros. Take a light breakfast,  and then enjoy the Croatian rhythm of an early hot meal.  The portions are very generous and plentiful!

And here is my personal top 10 of restaurants in Croatia:

1.  Zlatne Gorice 
This most astonishing location amidst the vineyards in the hills overlooking Varaždin is so much worth a visit. The daily menus are very affordable and the view, the high quality of the dishes and the great desserts make it all a gastronomic highlight in continental Croatia.

2. Terbotz
I love the Međimurje region in Northern Croatia. It has a great atmosphere and very promising wine houses. It is not overrun by tourists like on the other side of the border and has the great spa resort of Sveti Martin. The Terbotz restaurant is a fantastic location on top of a hill overlooking the lovely area. The food is great, the ambience even better and the waitress very helpful and friendly. Make sure the visit the Maderka hill viewpoint when you are in this area.

3. Vagabond Restaurant
A very pleasant surprise on the old road between Fuzine and the Adriatic coast. Well hidden in the forest this restaurant uses very original recipes. They use a lot of herbs and plants from the area in their dishes. Their cakes were really great!

4. Vuglec Breg
I just love Zagorje. This is such a pretty area with the rolling hills and the ancient castles. By far the best restaurant in Zagorje is Vuglec Breg. The atmosphere and decoration of this restaurant is so cosy. The view is great!

5. Karlovac castle
Karlovac deserves so much better. This city could easily compete with other great towns in Croatia. If it wasn’t for the still very visible war damage and its many neglected buildings. The horrible grey soviet apartment blocks make this city even more dreary. But it is the city with four wonderful crystal clear rivers within its city limits. So really worth a try. Try a coffee first at the Korana river and then head up to the old castle that now hosts a great bistro. The food is of good quality and the prices are affordable.

6. DP Restaurant
A great restaurant at the banks of the most beautiful river in Croatia, the Mreznica. They offer some real homemade recipes.

7. Zumberacki Raj
A fresh trout from the greek, grilled with a tossed salad and some very crispy potatoes. For just a little less than 10 euro. It is worth a visit. The location is wonderful; in the heart of the nature park.

8. Zganjer
This family-owned restaurant has a long time tradition. Their food is of exceptional quality. But take a small portion. Their Frankopan cake is an eight-layer cake that you must try!

9. Kod Spilje
A little more pricy restaurant near Samobor. They have very high quality dishes and a very friendly and welcoming owner.

10. Ivancic Plesivica
The food is nothing really special. But the view…..Charlie Chaplin was one of the famous persons that liked to have his lunch here way back in history. This restaurant and all of the Plesivica area are a promising gastronomic area. It is just a stone-throw away from the bustling streets of Zagreb. I am quite sure we can expect some really great places for eating in the near future on these fantastic hills.

20 reasons why Croatia is the best place for living

Croatia has such a great quality of life. The slow pace, the amazing landscapes, the generous people….just to name a few. I would like to share this top 20 of some great advantages of living in Croatia. 

1. Stunning natural beauty and very diverse landscapes: 
You are never far away from really beautiful nature and crystal clear rivers. Maybe Slavonia is a bit more flat and boring. But try the wonderful nature park of Papuk. Croatia has such a high amount of National Parks, Nature Parks, and protected areas.

2. Great infrastructure:
Croats have a great love for asphalt. Even the smallest villages in the mountains can be reached by asphalt nowadays. Toilets in many shopping centres and gas stations are clean and available for free.
The highways….They are among the best and most beautiful ones in Europe. Everything is fenced, no wildlife on the road.

3. No real estate tax: 
Owning your own house and land in Croatia is a great privilege. Up till now, there is still no real estate tax.

4. A very safe country: 
Whether you take a late evening walk in Zagreb or you take a hike in the countryside. Croatia is very safe. The crime rate is low. Burglary is not a common practice in this country.

5. Easy to find an affordable place in fantastic locations: 
There are plenty of houses for sale in Croatia. The great thing is that (apart from the coast), you can find your own hideaway in nature or in a little village and still have a lot of land and privacy around you.

6. Water  is everywhere: 
Croatia is most famous for its wonderful breathtaking coast. But I prefer rivers even better. Did you ever drive up to the source of the Kupa river? Experience the brutal power of nature and seeing the water coming out of the ground with such a force? There is water in abundance in Croatia. In summer the rivers warm up to a comfortable 24 degrees and you can swim, raft or row. Often times you have the place all to yourself. Why… there are just so many of these places.

7. Small supermarkets and bakeries on every corner: 
I really love that you don’t have to go to a big mall first and park your car and then walk another five minutes. It is still profitable to run a small supermarket in Croatia. So you see them everywhere and they store a lot of stuff. Bakers are all over the place. Especially in the last five years the variety and quality of bread are improving. You can just stop on the main road and buy fresh bread, a pastry, or a famous burek. Enjoy!

8. Slow pace of life:
The summers are hot and the Croats are warm-hearted. They will always make time for a talk. The stress that I so often experience in Western Europe is something that I seldomly sense here in Croatia.

9. Lots of personal services:
Whether it is the repair of your lawnmower, the fixing of your vacuum cleaner or the need for a handmade wardrobe. There are still a lot of practical and creative craftsmen around in Croatia. Knowing them personally is a great advantage. They do not rip you off and offer value for money.

10. Affordable prices:
Going to get a haircut costs me just 3,50 euro. The lunch menu in the restaurant costs me just 5 euro. When I damage my car, I just go to a local craftsman and, he fixes it for less than 100 euro. A coffee in Varazdin will cost you just 80 cents.  When you know your way around you can get things really cheap.

11. Other great places of interest within easy reach: 
Venice, Vienna, Budapest, Mostar, Ljubljana, and beautiful Montenegro. Croatia’s great road network allows you to travel fast to other great European destinations in less than half a day.

12. Small agricultural companies: 
I love to plant…So why not make a small business of it. We have almost one hectare of land around our house. So we planted a lot of trees, berries, and nuts. The government allows you to start a small agricultural business and also market your own homegrown goodies and share those healthy treats with other people and earn some money at the same time. This is something we really appreciate!

13. You can have your own piece of forest: 
Besides having a big piece of land for low money you can also own your own piece of forest. We own one as well and every year we take just two or three trees out for our own personal use. We do not have huge bills for heating. We warm our house by means of our own natural resources.

14. There is a lot of jurisdiction but on the other hand a lot of freedom:
If you want to start a business or get permits that can be quite a time consuming and dreadful experience (unfortunately) in Croatia. But on the other hand, there is a lot of freedom. For instance, we have the wonderful Kupa river behind our house. We made concrete stairs to get into the water safely. We have a boat there. The river is not ours and the small strip of land that separates our land and the river is not ours. But still, we get all the freedom in the world to make such facilities for ourselves.

15. Everything grows: 
The climate is just great, at our place literally, everything grows. Whether its kiwi’s, grapes, berries, apples, pears, kakis. We grow most of our own food and the warm summers and relatively mild and short winters are of great help.

16. The value of cultural traditions: 
Croats on average do not like changes. That means the level of innovation in society is a little slower. They like to keep things the way they are, that can be positive and both negative. But I see it from the photographer’s point of view. There are so many old and ancient objects in the landscapes that add great interest to my pictures. When you compare that to Slovenia where most people just want nice, big modern houses I am glad we still have some blast of the past here.

17. No high population density: 
My guests are often surprised if I take them to a beautiful swimming spot or someplace out in nature. The first thing they say is ‘there are not many people here’. That is true. There is no heavy population density. You notice it on the road, driving here on most roads is rather quite relaxed.

18. There are coffee places practically everywhere: 
You will find them in the most amazing places. Even at the end of a dirt road near some lonely mountain hut, someone is making soup or coffee. This country will serve you well and most of the time the coffee won’t cost you much.

19. A streetlight in front of every house: 
This might sound a bit insignificant. But I really got to appreciate it. When you compare Croatia with Germany a lot leaves to be desired. But our streets and road are much better illuminated! Wherever you own a house there is the obligation of the municipality to put a streetlight there.

20. Lots of business opportunities:
Competition is not as heavy as in Western Europe. As I already explained, permits are not easy to get, bureaucracy puts a heavyweight on your patience and endurance here. But on the other hand, let’s get real. Who dares wins. We tried a lot… We failed in some things and succeeded in other things. I would not have liked to miss this adventure in my first seven years in Croatia. Things have calmed down now and I look back on it with great satisfaction. All these bureaucrats purified my dreams and made them even better!

21. The bonus….We recycle all our pet plastic bottles and soda cans. And that means a lot!

Great photo spots in the Zumberak

   Photo tips: 
OK, I will not share all of them and keep a few to myself. Realize that hunting the right locations for great pictures is more than half the job. A time consuming and costly process. But I simply love exploring. There is so much to discover in Croatia.

Lucky shots are very seldom. You need to prepare well and venture out to find great locations. Nowadays it has become much easier by means of Google maps. I stored more than 1100 locations in Croatia alone in them.

After finding your location take some time to see if there are no disturbing elements. Find out where the sun comes up and goes down. See if there are some interesting details that attribute to your future picture.

Then the third part begins…. You start making the visual and mental picture. That means; start dreaming of how you want your picture to look like. What season? What time? What kind of circumstances.
Be prepared for some disappointments. Be prepared to come back a few more times until you meet the right conditions. The right light, an interesting sky, some nice layers of fog and warm colours can make such a huge difference.

   Zumberak Nature Park: 
This nature park is really one of my favourite places for photography. It is actually divided in the Samborske Gorje and the Zumberak. In this blog I will be focused on the Zumberak. Here the mountains are not as steep as in the Samoborske Gorje.  You will hardly meet any tourists here. Especially the part around Vivodina is very picturesque. It is the unique combination of rolling hills, meandering creeks and rivers and churches adding interesting detail for the landscape photographer.

   Locations:
In my future blogs, I will post many more tips about the Zumberak. But here are a few great places for you to enjoy.

The road from Sosice to Petrus Vrh is very pretty and offers some great viewpoints. The best view on Vivodina is at the cemetery at Petrus Vrh. In Vivodina itself the view behind the church is also very pretty. The road is very narrow but has a hardened surface. Do not forget to stop at Danculovici ( a short sidetrack). It offers a great view of the Vivodina area. The next village of Dojutrovica offers also great views.

You can still deviate a little more from this beautiful road and overlook the little hamlet of Kast. Another great view with a church.

You will also love this special viewpoint. It is a steep drive up but well worth the view. It is about 2 kilometres from Petrus Vrh.

Another one of my personal favourites is the valley at Stupe. A very little village but with a very special hill, almost shaped like a pyramid.

   Take a break: 
Restaurant Zumberacki Raj in Zamarija offers great trout dishes with fresh salad and roasted potatoes.
Restaurant Frlan in Vivodina offers meat dishes and great strudel.

   Take a walk:
You can take a wonderful walk, indicated with signs, from Vivodina. Your starting point is at the church of Vivodina. Free parking.