BETWEEN AIR AND WATER - BOVEC / SLOVENIA
Following the months-long quest, planning and selecting the location for this shooting, the final choice happened to be Bovec, Slovenia and the river Socha. The link between the amazing natural beauty of the Socha and one of the best female slalom kayakers, Jana Dukatova as a final result creates a tandem which words fail to describe.
We chose July in advance due to some certainty as to weather conditions, but we surely made a decision to leave three days for this shooting. The first day we met Jana, friend and her manager Robert at the Kanin hotel. Our first task was visiting the locations for the shooting itself. By favour of some information we had obtained earlier, the map and GPS, we managed somehow to find some truly amazing sites. Turquoise-blue water, untouched nature and the sun-lit sky made our feeling on the site really terrific. Our first, otherwise, preparatory day for the shooting ended with the final selection of the locations.
The surrounding mountains woke up lit with the sun rays, and this was our even greater motivation since the early morning and the challenge we were not to miss by any account.
The shooting equipment, underwater camera, two kayaks, ropes and mountaineering equipment made our preparations on the first and, at the same time, the main chosen location (the other two were much smaller and emergency) last a bit more than two hours.
The first encounter with the water spoilt a great deal of our plans thus far. The water with its 10°C simply did not allow my plans about the shooting in, above and below the water, to be easily achieved. The cold and fast water made this shooting extremely demanding, regardless the temperature outside of 30°C. I could not even feel my 3 mm diving suit. Taking a lot of breaks and making a big effort, the photos were slowly taken, one after another, and thus our plans were being achieved. Jana‘s professionalism and her ease in the kayak made my ideas and plans in the water 100% easier. Finding the right position in the water and coming to if was at the same time the most difficult part of the shooting. The only way of getting the right position and the desired place in the rapid water was by means of the ropes and the mountaineering equipment stretched between two river banks (the river can in certain places be extremenly fast and fierce in the proper sense of the words, thus the definition that "Water" is one of the most powerful things on the planet is not wrong). The third day of the shooting passed quite peacefully regarding all the things we had learn on the previous day. We were mostly focused on the "Action" shots, which was somewhat easier for me, whereas for Jana, this was the harder part of the shooting. The fierce water and rocks and the surroundings themselves made for the photos to look truly amazing. For that very reason, we were all very proud of the right location for the shooting.
Likewise, we were together more than satisfied with the final result of all the photos taken. Many of them look really unbelievable and very unique in comparison to all the former slalom kayak shots, and I am pretty sure that many magazines worildwide will publish many of them with pleasure! By the way, this is my second time to meet and to work with Jana Dukatova after the shooting we had last year in Greece (when we had been introduced to each other for the first time)… Hopefully, our plans for the next year will also come true and, hopefully, we will make something completely unique concerning the kayak shots. Big thanks to Robert, Robin and Krystina for all help and effort with this photo shooting!
WHO IS JANA DUKATOVA?
Jana Dukatova was born June 13th, 1983. in Bratislava (Slovakia). She is practicing canoe-kayak slalom for 12 years already and her first time paddling was when she was eleven year old. Jana used to do flat water kayak racing for three years and then she realized that flat water paddling is too boring for her. She liked kayak and water but wanted to do something more adventurous, enterprising and exciting. A new canoe-kayak slalom venue was build near her city so she decided to give up flat water and paddle on artificial whitewater courses and rivers. Whitewater was a big fun for her. Feeling the water stream under the kayak and driving the small boat in big waves is amazing. Sometimes she was scared of whitewater, but she had to go over that fear. She loves this sport and wants to be the best in the world. The Whitewater Canoe-Kayak Slalom is a competitive sport where the aim is to navigate a decked canoe or kayak through a course of hanging gates on river rapids in the fastest time possible. In the past, races were held on the rivers and today most of the races are held on the artificial whitewater venues.
In the years 2004, 2005 and 2006 she was three times in a row European Champion in the category up to 23 years. The 2006 was the most successful year of her sport career. Except the European Champion title and University World Champion title, she won also the most important race, the Senior World Championships held in Prague. In 2009 she became a World Cup Series winner. One of her sport dreams came true. From this moment her biggest aim are the Olympic Games. That is the biggest challenge for her and also the biggest goal in her professional sport career.
The land of Bovec is unique, full of undiscovered secrets and interesting things. The Bovec area presents a mountainous region of the Julian Alps. The meandering and narrow river valleys of the Socha and Koritnica leisurely spread out into the Bovec Basin at the confluence of both rivers.
Between the mountains and emerald waters lies a land in which everyone can find their favorite things. Those seeking different kinds of excitement, those who treasure the simple pleasures of home, families on outings, and world travelers in love with nature are always discovering places here with their very own Alpine and Adriatic climate, a land at the crossroads of Slavic, Germanic, and Romance cultures, a region that is so close and at the same time so far.
When looking at the Bovec Basin from the peaks of the Julian Alps, it is obvious that the Bovec area is in fact a kind of last Alpine stop, since further to the south the mountainous land descends steeply until it levels out at the lowlands of Friuli. This border location also brings very special climatic conditions to the landscape image of Bovec, the characteristics that make the Bovec area unique and interesting in some aspects that are not often noticed.
The Socha River in Slovenia is a 136 km long river flowing through the Western part of the country and then running over to North-Eastern Italy. The river starts off from the Trenta valley of the Julian Alps, Slovenia. Moving forward, the river enters a valley surrounded by a ring of mountains. The most well-known region within this mountainous area is the Triglav peak, which is again famous as the highest crest of the place. The river then runs through some other cities such as Bovec, Nova Gorica, Kobarid, Tolmin and Gorizia. Finally, the Socha completes its journey as it enters the Adriatic Sea. Its typical green-blue color does not fade away completely even in Friuli, as if it would tell us that its heart belongs to the mountains and that is where it reveals itself in all its beauty, childhood liveliness and original purity.
Visitors have to find out the rest by themselves from wherever they approach the river, be it by kayak or as hikers or observers, or even with the intention of capturing one of its famous Socha trout;
Visitors should always bear in mind that they are discovering a part of nature which was given to us to protect and which we have managed to preserve in almost the same state as it was in ancient times.
PHOTO EQUIPMENT USED FOR THIS PROJECT
My knowledge about underwater photography was most important part for this shooting. Also I am trying to develop new style of shoots with combination of underwater and regular flashes in the same time.
Photo equipment used for this project:
Two cameras Nikon D3. Nikon lenses 16mm/2.8, 17-35mm/2.8, 18-35/4.5, 14-24mm/2.8, 50mm/1.4, 300mm/2.8. 3 x Nikon flashes SB900, Pocket Wizzards and Manfrotto equipment. Pro Foto B2 battery generator with two flash heads, Underwater housing Sea&Sea MDXD3 with Nikon D3, Underwater flashes Sea&Sea YS250 PRO. Ropes, Mountaineering and Scuba Diving equipment.