I don't think I've ever worked harder for any picture than this one in my whole life. Me and my friend Anze had a target of 45 minutes to reach the top of the hill overlooking Lake Bled before the sky turned dark. That was easier said and done. 10 minutes of very fast paced walk with a 25kg camera backpack on a slope that was ascending at about 45 to 50 degrees proved to be an effort beyond the capacity of my lungs. What an utterly sobering experience that was! If it wasn't for Anze's legs of steel and his ridiculous stamina befitting that of a cross-country skier, my camera never would've gotten on top of that damned hill.
When we finally got to the top, photography was last thing on my mind because my lungs were trailing about 25 meters behind me and they were looking for some air. :)

Light was lame that day; hazy, devoid of contrast and sort of murky. To make things worse, the torturous march also made me miss the last rays of sunlight which I was hoping to see on the tip of the church on the island.
Anyway, too much sweat went into obtaining shot so I was determined to save it, no matter what. A fair amount of work went into post-processing to turn the rather bleak RAW image into a photograph I could be proud enough to sign at the bottom.
I will post the before/after comparison in my Vault of Knowledge album later today. Check it out!

Bled (German: Veldes) is a town and a municipality in northwestern Slovenia in the region of Upper Carniola. The area, within the Julian Alps and alongside of Lake Bled, is a popular tourist destination.

A settlement area since Mesolithic times, Bled was first mentioned as Ueldes (Veldes) within the March of Carniola on April 10, 1004, when it was awarded by Emperor Henry II to Bishop Albuin I of Brixen. Bled Castle was first mentioned in a 22 May 1011 deed in which Henry II donated it to Albuin's successor, Bishop Adalberon of Brixen. With Carniola, Bled was ceded to Rudolph of Habsburg after he defeated King Ottokar II of Bohemia at the Battle on the Marchfeld in 1278. From 1364 until 1919, Bled (Veldes) was part of the Duchy of Carniola, except for a stint between 1809 and 1816 as one of the Napoleonic Illyrian Provinces

After the dissolution of Austria-Hungary in 1918, Bled came under the rule of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and became a summer domicile of the ruling House of Karađorđević, a tradition that President Josip Broz Tito continued, when he built his residence here in 1947. Bled became an independent municipality in 1996.

Bled is known for the glacial Lake Bled, which makes it a major tourist attraction. Perched on a rock overlooking the lake is the iconic Bled Castle. The town is also known in Slovenia for its vanilla-and-cream pastry called kremna rezina ("cream slice") or kremšnita (from German Cremeschnitte).

Naturopath Arnold Rikli (1823–1906) from Switzerland contributed significantly to the development of Bled as a health resort in the 2nd half of the 19th century. Due to its mild climate, Bled has been visited by aristocratic guests from all across the world. Today it is an important convention centre and tourist resort, offering a wide range of sport activities (golf, fishing, horseback-riding) and is a starting point for mountain treks and hikes especially within the nearby Triglav National Park.

A small island in the middle of the lake is home to the Assumption of Mary Pilgrimage Church; visitors frequently ring its bell for good luck. Human traces from prehistory have been found on the island. Before the church was built, there was a temple consecrated to Živa, the Slavic goddess of love and fertility. One can get to the island on a traditional wooden row barge called Pletna. The island on Lake Bled has 99 steps. A local tradition at weddings is for the husband to carry his new bride up these steps, during which the bride must remain silent.

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