Western Ukraine Is The Place To Be For Photographers This Autumn

Western Ukraine Is The Place To Be For Photographers This Autumn

By Jason Row / October 25, 2016

Last Updated on by

Photographers! Western Ukraine Tops One Of The Best Places To Visit In Eastern Europe This Autumn, By Far

Let's Find Out Why…

Not long ago I wrote and article here on Lightstalking about photographing autumn. As I was writing it I was also putting the final touches to a plan to photograph autumn in Western Ukraine.
As most of you will know Ukraine has had it’s fair share of problems over the last three years but with the exception of the far south eastern corner, it is a safe, cheap and very beautiful country to visit.
It's no wonder I consider it one of the best places to visit in Eastern Europe for photographers.

best places to visit in eastern europe for photographers Image by enelene – Words by Jason Row
Today I would like to share with you some of the highlights of the trip and perhaps persuade one or two of you to come and visit.

Getting To Ukraine

Ukraine is a vast country, bigger than both France and Germany. It also suffers from relatively poor infrastructure. That said, improvements are happening and happening fast.
The main arrival point for most will be Kyiv’s Boryspil Airport although Europeans might find a flight direct to Lviv.
Despite its size, the locations I visited are all accessible by train. Trains are regular if not frequent. To explore more of the country it is best to rent a car but be aware the road can be in quite a poor condition in some places.
For our trip, we drove from our home in Odessa, a round trip of about 1100 miles (1700km).

Chernivitsi

Our first stop on the trip was the very photogenic city of Chernivtsi. Regarded as a cultural center of Western Ukraine the city is full of cobbled streets and beautiful architecture.
The two main highlights are:

  • Teatralna Square, and
  • The University.

The square as the name suggests contains a small but very pretty opera and ballet theater and for such a small location, has numerous wonderful locations from which to shoot.

The Theatre Square is photogenic from virtually every angle. By Jason Row Photography The Theater Square is photogenic from virtually every angle. By Jason Row Photography

The University is incredibly photogenic, especially in autumn. If you speak to the guard at the gate, he will generally let you into the grounds to shoot.

Who would not want to be educated at Chernivitsi University? By Jason Row Photography Who would not want to be educated at Chernivitsi University? By Jason Row Photography

Mykulychyn

Our next stop and one of the primary reasons for the trip was Mykulychyn. This village is at the heart of the Carpathian National Nature Park and a few miles to the south is Ukraine’s highest mountain, Hoverla.
The mountains here are lower and softer than their Romanian counterparts but the scenery, especially in autumn is spectacular. The lower slopes and valleys have many varieties deciduous trees each producing different autumnal colors.
The upper slopes are generally evergreen but with some deciduous adding splashes of autumnal color. A mountain river also flows by, adding that extra element to your photographs in this gorgeous season of fall.

Beautiful autumn colours in Mykulychyn. By Jason Row Photography Beautiful autumn colors in Mykulychyn. By Jason Row Photography

I shot predominately stills both from the ground and using my Phantom 3 4K quadcopter. Having the drone in the mountains I was able to get some unique perspectives on the location, especially at dawn, when a low mist covered the valley floors.

The mountains take on a different perspective from the air. By Jason Row Photography The mountains take on a different perspective from the air. By Jason Row Photography
Autumn Dawn in the Carpathians. By Jason Row Photography Autumn Dawn in the Carpathians. By Jason Row Photography

Driving south from Mykulychyn is a series of narrow and very photogenic valleys – this is one of the main reasons I'd say it is one of the best places to visit in Eastern Europe for photography in the fall season.
Off of one of these is the small but very pretty Женецький водоспадm, a mountain waterfall.
Although not huge, its location in the heart of the forest allowed for some nice long exposure shots in daylight, using a 6 stop ND filter.

A small but pretty waterfall. By Jason Row Photography A small but pretty waterfall. By Jason Row Photography

The village of Mykulychyn itself is also very pretty and the mixture of autumn trees, low sunlight and pretty farms is a photographer’s playground. A pure delight!

Further Learning

You could be learning Sunset Photography to get you prepared for an epic trip to the eastern parts of Europe!
So how about checking out this resource to use both abroad and when you've returned….

Kamianets-Podilskyi

Our last main stop was the very beautiful but relatively unknown town of Kamianets-Podilskyi. The old town sits on an almost 360 degree bend in the Smotrych River above a spectacular 120m gorge.
At the end of the old town sits a 14th Century fairytale castle that could have inspired Disney. The inside of the gorge as well as having houses and a river, is heavily forested, the trees producing a riot of colour.

The gorgeous gorge of Kamianets-Podilskyi. By Jason Row Photography The gorgeous gorge of Kamianets-Podilskyi. By Jason Row Photography

Our first two days in Kamianets-Podilskyi were raining but despite this, there were still some wonderful shots to be had. I chose mainly to shoot three images 2/3rd stop brackets and use HDR Merge in Lightroom to boost out the colors.
The damp overcast skies really contrasted the bright autumn colors.
The castle itself is very photogenic both from afar and inside. As well as shooting from the ground, once the weather was clear, I also flew the Phantom around the castle to give a unique perspective.
This was particularly so at sunset where the sun set directly behind the castle.

Disney has nothing on this. By Jason Row Photography Disney has nothing on this. By Jason Row Photography

Those of you that enjoy night photography will love the way the castle is light at night and there are plenty of great viewpoints from which to capture it.

Genuine 14th Century Neon Lighting. By Jason Row Photography Genuine 14th Century Neon Lighting. By Jason Row Photography

Summary

Over the last two years or so, I have concentrated on stock video rather than stills photography. The autumn colors of western Ukraine rekindled my passion for the still image, returned my photographic mojo that had perhaps been missing for a while.
If you have a spirit of adventure then a visit to Western Ukraine should really be on your bucket list of places to visit in Eastern Europe. It has a varied and beautiful landscape, gorgeous cities and is friendly both to the ground photographer and those wishing to fly quadcopters.


Western Ukraine: One Of The Best Places To Visit In Eastern Europe For Photographers – Top Takeaways

  • If traveling by car, be aware of the conditions of the road
  • Get right deep into the cities and towns to explore the culture and history behind this area of Ukraine
  • Have gear prepared (both photographic and personal) for shooting in various weather conditions and terrains (cities and mountains) to get the most from your once in a lifetime trip!

Further Resources

Further Learning

You could be learning Sunset Photography to get you prepared for an epic trip to the eastern parts of Europe!
So how about checking out this resource to use both abroad and when you've returned….

About the author

Jason Row

Jason has more than 35 years of experience as a professional photographer, videographer and stock shooter. You can get to know him better here

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