Fire Over Bled - Mark Iandolo

When you’re alone, thousands of miles from home, up before the crack of dawn, and set up with your stationary tripod for a couple hours of photography, it can be pretty quiet. Sometimes, that silence is golden. It lets you appreciate the views and any subtle sounds that come along. The birds chirping. The water flowing. The daring kayaker out early in the cold.

But other times, a nice soundtrack goes a long way. And in honor of the eruption of the sky that I witnessed, I wanted to quote one of my favorite song from one of my favorite bands growing up (If you continue to read this blog over the coming months, you’ll realize I have quite eclectic music tastes):

“I Caught Fire” – The Used

In your eyes

I lost my place

Could stay a while

And I’m melting

In your eyes

Like my first time

That I caught fire

The song is about falling in love, and sure, it is about falling in love with a human being. But the song fits here. Because I could have stayed in that spot for a while. Hell, I could have stayed there forever. Standing there, I lost my place – transfixed by the unfolding drama. The sky erupted in a beautiful fire over Bled and I caught fire too. I fell in love with this enchanting fairytale of a place.


I spent three days in Lake Bled. It’s the jewel of Slovenia and it’s worth every second. Located in the northwestern part of the country, it rests at the intersection of the Julian Alps and the Karawanks mountain range – the range separating Slovenia and Austria.

I stayed at a local hostel in the town of Bled and spent the time I wasn’t photographing hiking the hills that surround the lake. On this particular morning, I forced myself out of my dorm room and walked about 25 minutes to a location I had scouted earlier. Most people choose to shoot more to the right of here to avoid backlighting issues and get the church, Bled Castle and the Karawanks all bunched in together in the frame. But I really liked this spot because it makes the church stand out more, as it peaks above the mountains in the background.

I stayed in this area and shot through the entire morning lighting event. I ended up with multiple photos that I liked, including one of my favorite photos I’ve ever taken, “Golden Fables.”

The experience was incredible. The whole scene just looks like it came straight from a Disney movie. The church, dedicated to the Assumption of Mary, was built in its current form in the 17th century. You can rent boats and row along the lake or get out on the island and walk around. Combine that with all the hiking and photography opportunities, and Lake Bled became one of my three favorite spots that I visited in Europe this past fall along with Meteora, Greece, and the Cinque Terre, Italy.

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