Sunset on Lake Bled and Pletna boat - Enrico Villa Photography

Enrico's stories behind the shots

Some places become such popular destinations for photographers that the sheer number of superb shots taken there makes us think it is going to be almost impossible to achieve equal or better results.

Lake Bled in Slovenia is one such popular destination and, honestly, I was drawn there more by the desire to see it with my own eyes than by the idea that I could produce something unique with my photography.

The day we arrived in Bled we missed sunset by just 10-15 minutes. While the blue hour on the lake that night did not feel particularly appealing to me, my attention was drawn by the beautiful castle right on a cliff, which was lit in a way than made it look like lava.
Below is my shot of the castle.

Bled Castle at blue hour

While I thought the composition was well balanced by the tree on the left and the castle looked really nice,  I still had a feeling I was rushing things by starting shooting right upon arrival.
It turns out I was wrong. As soon as I published the Bled Castle shot in my website, it quickly made it to my portfolio due to the high number of views. Furthermore, it received an editor's pick on

In the following days I wanted to get a sunset shot of the lake, which proved to be hard due to dull skies and poor reflections.
During the day I focused on long exposures, with the use of neutral density filters, in the aim of making the water very smooth and get a nice reflection of the church on the lake.

Lake Bled long exposure (58 seconds)

The long exposure of Lake Bled you see above is the most successful image I have taken in Bled so far. It was the most voted picture out of the about 33000 that were submitted in the challenge Vacation Destination on GuruShots, thus receiving the Top Photo Winner award.

My last day in Bled was the lucky one for sunset and in the end I got my shot, which I had to wait 5 days for. The clouds picked up a nice golden hour colour and I chose my composition including a traditional Pletna boat in the foreground.
Still... there was no snow, which I really wanted for this image and the clouds made the sky a little muddy. On top of this, I thought for Christmas they would decorate and light the buildings on Bled island, but they did not.

It was freezing cold out there. After 90 minutes shooting, my phone battery died, leaving me with no chance to tell my wife I was going to be late. Overall, this proves that sometimes we just do not get the best opportunities and all we can do is try to get the most out of what we have.
Still, we should strive to turn these less than optimal opportunities into something we find rewarding.

This is exactly what I tried to do that night in Bled and, although not perfect, I love the shot I came up with.
It has the unique feature of being my very own take of Lake Bled at sunset and the story behind it became part of my life and made me grow as a photographer.

Sunset on Lake Bled and Pletna boat

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