Luka Esenko is a pro photographer based in Ljubljana, Slovenia. You can find his spectacular travel and landscape photos on 500px or his Facebook page. He is also the co-founder of a travel photography app called SNAPP Guides. In this tutorial, Esenko shares his best tips and tricks for shooting an iconic travel destination — the magical, fairy tale-inspired Lake Bled in Slovenia. Read on, and plan your next getaway here!

Lake Bled never fails to disappoint. This picture-postcard perfect place is a photographer’s dream. Whenever I take my clients there, its beauty never fails to blow them away. A medieval castle atop a steep cliff, a glacial lake overlooking the snow-capped Julian Alps, traditional Pletna boats crossing towards a fairytale island and its 15th Century church—what’s not to like?

Iconic by Luka Esenko on

Yet for all its obvious beauty and the photo opportunities Lake Bled offers, I am often asked where to head to get the best shots of the castle, island, and church. Sometimes, a little help can make all the difference between a good shot and your best shot ever! It may be a question of shifting a few meters to get a better angle. Or a change of position to eliminate clutter from the background. Or knowing where to park easily to get to a location in time for sunrise. Or just a few tips to get the creative juices flowing!

Never get tired... by Luka Esenko on

Below, I’m sharing one of my favorite spots from my SNAPP Guide to Lakes Bled & Bohinj. It’s just one of the many “classic” shots you could try at Lake Bled.

My advice is, by all means, enjoy creating your own iconic Bled image (it’s a must!), but don’t just limit yourself to the obvious to capture the spirit of this wonderful place. Say to yourself, “I’ve got the classic shot in the bag. Now, what else can I try?”

Experiment with framing using the Pletna boats. For example, walk the boardwalk to look for new angles. Or hike up to find an aerial viewpoint, and make sure you return at different times of the day to experience the lake and its changing moods. Happy shooting!

Lake Bled at dawn by Luka Esenko on

Shoot Classic Lake Bled Like A Local

Screen Shot 2016-04-28 at 4.44.20 AM

Getting there:
Spot location: 46.360501, 14.084712
Zaka car park: 46.362355, 14.081490
If arriving by car, park at Zaka car park by Bled campsite at the opposite side of the lake to the town. Head to the lake and continue right for about five minutes. You’ll find steps leading to the boardwalk.

About this spot:
The boardwalk along the lakeside offers the shortest shooting distance between the shore and the island at about 500m.

When to go
The best time is in the morning. Ideally, at least half hour before sunrise. In winter, there are often beautiful mists that allow you to capture the emerging silhouette of the island. Afternoons are also great, because of the angle of the sun on the island with Stol Mountain in the background. With luck, you’ll catch the Alpenglow reflected in the lake in the evening, and snow on the mountain (usually around December-April).

What to shoot
Landscape photography, views of the lake, church, castle, and the mountains behind. Wide angle and normal lenses are best. Tripod and ND filters are recommended. Calm mornings are the best time to get the reflection of the island. Experiment here with long shutter speeds.

Good to know
Avoid the peak season parking fee by shooting early in the morning before official parking hours. The tourist train circles the lake, and stops at 7 points including Zaka.

To enjoy this, and more incredible locations in and around Lakes Bled & Bohinj, or to search for more destinations, get the SNAPP Guides app. (Coming soon on Android).

Got any more tips you want to share with me or any questions for me? Leave them in the comments below!