• Alina Cebula

The ups and downs

Some people seem to think that taking photographs of nature is an easy, pleasant job. And at times it is, and I do truly love it. A lot of the time though, I find myself jumping around my tripod to stay warm, using my coat to protect my camera in rain, while I’m getting soaked. Hiking or driving for hours to get just a mediocre shot. Going through a lot of stress to get a photo or being scared while hiking in the dark. Going through many slips and falls while on the journeys. Often feeling quite lonely. There are times tough, that all of this pays off and nature presents me with the most spectacular views that are worth every slip and every bruise. The results that landscape photographers share publicly don’t really show the struggle that they often go through. In this post I will share some struggles of my last trip to Morskie Oko. 

Keeping warm is the most important thing while outdoors, when I’m cold and uncomfortable I quickly lose my motivation. Luckily I’m quite tolerant to cold conditions. I’m usually more focused on taking photos, and I often don’t think much about myself. Until I pause for a moment. 

​Hiking long distances with camera, multiple lenses, tripod, laptop, all accessories, spare clothing and food supplies for 5 days was a difficult, long hike to say the least. It meant that not long into my hike, I was already too warm. But as soon as I stopped for a break I was too cold. 

​This is why wearing multiple layers is very important. I would wear less layers when hiking, and when I knew I would be still for longer I put more clothes on. During the coldest day, the temperature reached to about -7C, and this was the day I was outside the longest. At one point I wore ALL the clothes I had brought with me. I was sitting at the edge of the water, on the snow, trying to compose a photo of a frozen plant, it was windy, the piece of grass wouldn’t stay still. A very thick fog suddenly came with a chill that went through me like a ghost. My hands were hurting from being too cold, my nose was frozen, and I didn’t last long enough to get a satisfying shot I wanted. For the rest of the day I was too cold to be able to focus on taking photos. 

Waking up before every sunrise and taking photos all day was tiring. By the day 3 I already had enough, I was aching and cold. By that time all the snow has melted, and I felt very uninspired. To get myself back on track I did a few things: each day I had long break for catching up with sleep and eating warm, healthy food. I have saved a Pinterest board of inspiring images, and in free time I noted down what shots I’d like to get. I have also noted down what my experience was each day. This helped me to figure out what photos would complement my feelings. I have brought a book with me that I knew would inspire me to be creative. 

Being well prepared is key. I made sure that all of my equipment is fully working and functional. I know that I have problems with my Three Legged Thing, as all the parts keep getting loose after just a day of shooting, so I brought tools to be able to fix it on the go. I did have problems with my battery. I knew that batteries don’t last as long in cold conditions, but I didn’t realise that my shooting time would be reduced to about 10% of what I would usually be able to do. This meant that I needed to go back to the shelter half way through the shoot.  

Spending five days in the middle of nowhere in very cold winter conditions has been difficult. I have encountered a number of problems but none of them stopped me from enjoying the trip. 

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