Join Jim and co-leader Ken Koskela on an autumn photo tour to one of the world's most beautiful -- and under-photographed -- countries. Romania is the hidden gem of Eastern Europe. The trip is timed to take advantage of beautiful fall colors in the dramatic Carpathian Mountains, and the landscape photography alone is stunning. Nestled into the lovely valleys of the mountains are traditional villages that, despite the modernization of Europe, carry on as they did in medieval times. The potential for classic travel portraits is everywhere, and the people are warm and inviting and quick to smile. We also visit famous painted monasteries (many of them are listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites), Bran Castle in Transylvania (Dracula's home), artisans working with simple tools, fortified towns, and a brandy distillery. The diversity of subject matter on this photography tour is quite varied, and all of your photographic skills will be called upon, from using off-camera flash to composing landscapes with a wide angle lens, and from shooting with HDR in dark interiors to capturing wonderful expressions on local people. Jim and Ken will provide hands-on support and instruction to help you bring home a variety of classic images from this amazing region of the world.
Day 1, Oct. 19, Thursday. Depart North America (or elsewhere) for Romania.
Day 2, Oct. 20, Friday. Arrival in Bucharest, Romania (airport code OTP) and transfer to the hotel. Depending on the time of arrival, you will have time to explore the old town in Bucharest, as the hotel is located in the city center. Twilight photography in the city is spectacular -- bring a tripod. Overnight in Bucharest, 5* hotel.
Day 3, Oct. 21, Saturday. After breakfast we transfer to the airport for a one hour flight to Lasi in the northern part of the country. Upon arrival we have lunch and then we drive to the famous Bucovina region. Enroute we can stop to photograph the beautiful landscapes, also watching for interesting portrait opportunities along the way. The late afternoon light on the mountains is beautiful. Overnight in Vama Village, 4* hotel.
Day 4, Oct. 22, Sunday. Bucovina region is famous for its painted monasteries. On this day you will get to visit and photograph the most beautiful monasteries in Moldovita and Sucevita. Since this will be a Sunday it will be particularly interesting to go to the churches in the morning and observe how locals attend the Sunday mass, some of whom will be in traditional clothing. You will meet and see at work a true artist at work making intricate Easter eggs which presents an excellent portrait opportunity. For the golden hour and sunset, we will shoot a great landscape dotted with quaint villages, graphic fence lines, and handmade haystacks from a mountain top. We will also have models in traditional clothes with us for environmental portraits in a natural setting as well as compelling closeups. Overnight in Vama village, 4* hotel
Day 5, Oct. 23, Monday. We explore more of the Bucovina region for landscapes as we drive toward Maramures, another area of northern Romania known for its beautiful valleys punctuated by gothic steeples on wooden churches and villagers' homes fronted by ornately carved gates. You will see a tapestry of pastureland, and you'll feel as if you were in a time machine traveling back hundreds of years. Life is very slow here, and you will enjoy capturing nuances of the culture in a horse-drawn carriage, a blacksmith, a farmer making haystacks, or flowers in the window of an old farmhouse. You will meet and photograph a local artisan and be able to take intimate portraits of her beautiful handiwork. Overnight in Viseu de Sus, 3* hotel.
Day 6, Oct. 24, Tuesday. The Maramures region abounds in great people photography as it is a place where for some locals time really stood still. We will start the day with a visit to a local market to see how locals trade vegetables, grains, clothing and farm implements. Then you will discover some of the old-style equipment still in use here such as a natural whirlpool washing machine and a water-powered mill, and you will get to know the friendly family running them. We will stop by a traditional brandy distillery, which will present a great portrait opportunity and a chance to sample the brandy. This will serve as a great aperitif for the home-cooked lunch we will have. We’ll continue our journey through Maramures with a visit to one of the most representative wooden churches which is typical of this region and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Overnight in Viseu de Sus, 3* hotel.
Day 7, Oct. 25, Wednesday. From Maramures we travel to the world famous region of Transylvania. The fame comes for the association with Dracula, but in reality it is a region rich in history and culture with hundreds of fortifications and medieval towns, warm and interesting people, and the fascinating culture of the Roma people. This minority with origins from India has settled all over Europe and beyond and still keeps its very distinct culture. You will meet some families in their homes and have opportunities to talk with and photography them. In the evening we will arrive in the medieval town of Sighisoara, a well-preserved fortified citadel that is perfect for twilight photography. Overnight in Sighisoara, 3* hotel.
Day 8, Oct. 26, Thursday. Most medieval sights in Transylvania have been built by ethnic German Saxons who were invited to settle in this region in the 12th century. They built seven fortified towns and hundreds of villages with fortified churches so the community could protect itself from invaders. About 100 such villages still exist and we will visit the village of Viscri, a UNESCO World Heritage site. We will visit the local blacksmith making horseshoes and the local brick maker for wonderful environmental portrait opportunities, taking advantage of dramatic window lighting. We will have lunch at a rural guesthouse in the village and then head to Brasov where you will have some time to explore the village on your own after getting a classic photograph from above the city. Overnight near Bran, 4* hotel
Day 9, Oct. 27, Friday. We will spend a full day in one of the most beautiful regions of Romania between the the Bucegi and Piatra Craiului Mountains which are both part of the Carpathian Mountains. At sunrise, we will shoot a very scenic village with a mountain backdrop. During mid-day you will visit Dracula's Bran Castle, which is tasteful decorated, charming medieval castle. We will use HDR techniques for interior shots of the castle. We will also get a classic shot the castle from a distance with a mountain backdrop. We will continue to photograph the area until dinner at a restaurant with traditional dancers. Overnight near Bran, 4* hotel
Day 10, Oct. 28, Saturday. We have one last morning in this gorgeous mountainous setting shooting from sunrise throughout the morning. Then we will head towards Bucharest through rustic scenery, stopping along the way to photograph before reaching the southern plains near Bucharest. Once in the capital, we will have a short tour of the main highlights and shoot the old city at twilight after an early dinner. Overnight in Bucharest, 5* hotel.
Day 11, Oct. 29, Sunday. Depending on the time of your flight, you will be transferred to the airport for the return journey home, confident that you've taken classically beautiful travel pictures in Romania's most historic and picturesque places.