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Poland is a land of contrast. You can go from quaint cities to countryside castles all in the same day.
I had the opportunity to visit this beautiful country with the Polish Tourism Board not just once but twice in the same year with some of my closest creative friends. Packing for an international content creation trip like this can be daunting, but I knew that I could come prepared for any lighting situation by packing my sets of Tiffen filters. There can be so many variables to worry about with outdoor photography in general, let alone drone photography, but Tiffen filters allow me to adjust my shots to have complete control over the exposure in any lighting situation.
Since Poland is a country littered with so many stunning castles and angelic churches that can make it hard to choose which to focus on, I’m going to help you narrow it down to three locations that I was particularly drawn to and explain how I went about capturing their beauty.
Kraków won my heart with its beauty and charm. It’s the type of city you can explore by foot for days and still not get enough of it. My favorite time to fly there is sunrise, since I like to avoid the crowds and nothing beats the warm hues found at dawn’s golden hour.
Wawel Castle is located in central Kraków and it truly is as grand as it looks online. The grounds are impeccable and its structures surround an Italian-styled courtyard.
(If you look close enough you can see my three friends walking through the entryway to give you a sense of scale!)
I used a TIFFEN ND 4/PL filter, about 20 minutes after sunrise. I only wanted to stop down the light by two steps and the filter allowed me to have complete control over my shutter speed and exposure. You can’t see it here, but there’s a river in the foreground and I wanted to cut down the glare on the water with the polarizer. I faced the camera down and as I panned up, I snapped away and then stitched this shot together as vertical pano in Photoshop. If I didn’t have that filter, I would’ve been struggling to cut down that light in post since the sunrise light was facing the camera.
This was the perfect start to a beautiful day with some of my closest friends, so I’m thrilled I have this photo to remember it by. Needless to say, I highly suggest checking out Kraków if you’re looking to visit a lively city with beautiful aerial views.
Castles quickly became my main obsession as we traveled through the scenic countryside. I couldn’t get enough of their beauty and their rugged strength.
Nidzica Castle is a 14th-century castle sitting on the edge of Lake Czorsztyn. It’s one of my favorite castles in Poland not only because it’s framed by the lake, but because behind this castle lies the Tatra Mountains. You can actually see them in the distance. The Tatra Mountains is a mountain range that forms a natural border between Slovakia and Poland. To be honest, this place is so beautiful that not even this photo does justice to its natural beauty. The drive here was absolutely breathtaking through rolling, green hills dotted with sheep.
For this particular shot, we were on a time limit and the sun was setting fast. We had about 30 minutes before sunset and there was just enough light to throw on an ND/8 PL, which cut down the light by three stops. The polarizer was a lifesaver in cutting down the immense amount of glare that lit up the water in the foreground. I was able to add some warm light in post, which wouldn’t have been easy without the filter on my drone.
Mosna Zamek Castle is a historic castle located in the small village of Moszna. There’s a pond located in the garden of the castle and a grand staircase leading up to the center of the castle. The best part? You can stay here overnight like we did! It feels like staying in an enchanted castle straight out of a fairytale.
By the time we arrived here, we were ready for dinner and wine, but I flew my drone up with an ND 16 still attached to my camera from earlier in the day. Typically I would switch to an ND 8 or ND 4 during this time of day, but the ND 16 allowed me to shoot directly towards the sun and bring down the highlights later in Photoshop.
There are plenty of variables to worry about while flying, especially while traveling. But Tiffen’s reliable filters gave me the peace of mind that I could just pack them with me for the trip and know that they would be readily available to make my life easier no matter the lighting situation. They are the tools I rely on to give me the artistic freedom when it’s time to edit my photos and finish telling their story.
Even though I’ve been to Poland twice, I feel like I have only scratched the surface of what this beautiful land of contrast has to offer. Hopefully I’ve encouraged you at least just a little bit to discover it for yourself!
Article Written by Emily Kaszton
Emily is a Southern California native, and while she loves to get out and explore other destinations, she loves having SoCal as her home base! Emily has always been passionate about visual storytelling and has enjoyed taking photos and creating short films for fun. Turning her hobby into an actual career, she set out to earn a BFA in Portraiture at the Brooks Institute of Photography. Emily’s career began in portrait and wedding photography, and soon after opened her own studio in Newport Beach.
Emily’s focus has more recently broadened to include more natural landscapes – via drone photography. She has always loved the outdoors, and having the excuse to spend even more time in nature is a dream come true for her. She purchased a Phantom 4 Pro in 2016 and finds endless inspiration from a bird’s-eye view. She lives for the thrill of the challenge of capturing images that would otherwise be missed by the human eye.
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