Lukáš Holásek – Into the Carpathian Mountains

Posted at: December 7, 2023

Slovakian photographer Lukáš Holásek prefers spending time in nature over the comfort of his home. Being in the wild with his camera appeals to his instinct to hunt, see beautiful aesthetics, and create. Together with his friend Jakub, he now takes his work to the next level with the production of a film about the magnificent lynx.

“Thanks to my parents, I spent my childhood in the countryside, playing in the fields. I took an interest in photography when I was 15, initially documenting fish, shrimps, and parts of my aquarium. Today, 13 years later, wildlife photography is my lifestyle and part of my job.”

Carpathian lynx

“The Carpathian Mountains are deep in my heart”, Lukáš says. “You can still meet a wild wolf, bear, or lynx there. You can spend a night under the stars in the primeval forest, far away from humans. It’s a magical feeling. These mountains have a soul and make me feel at home.”

The Carpathian lynx is found in the Carpathian Basin of Romania, Slovakia, Hungary, Ukraine and Bulgaria. These solitary creatures avoid humans and hunt at night, which makes them difficult to spot. Once common throughout Europe, the Carpathian lynx population has become rare in Slovenia, as it has trouble spreading beyond the western boundaries of the Czech-Slovak border. The animal absolutely fascinates Lukáš.

“I have been tracking and photographing these cats for almost 6 years. I volunteered on the project, where I learned more about these secretive animals. It took a long time to finally see and photograph my first lynx. It resulted from long-term monitoring in the field, a lot of snow tracking, many trail cameras, and many disappointments. However, it is a feeling I will never forget. It felt like I had found the ghost of the forest.

If you want to photograph a lynx, you need a good location and knowledge about lynx ethology. Then you must find places they frequent, like marking spots, family spots, or resting places; this takes a lot of work. A good quality photo hide, mirrorless camera, and telephoto lens with a low aperture are also very useful. And then it’s down to waiting, waiting, and some more waiting.

It’s very time-consuming, but the Eurasian lynx is a highlight of European wildlife photography. I photograph them mainly during the autumn and winter. I can wait in the hide for 5 to 7 days, usually without a single photo to show for it. But it’s all worthwhile once the cat comes and I finally see this magnificent animal. What a fantastic feeling!

During the last lynx mating season, I was only 3 meters away from the animal while lying in my sleeping bag during the night. My heart was beating so hard, I could really hear it … I’m very excited about my film project about lynxes, which I hope to release in 2025.”

Call of the hoopoe

Another animal that has caught Lukáš’s attention is the hoopoe, a colourful bird found across Africa, Asia, and Europe, notable for its distinctive crown of feathers. They are found in many habitats, including heathland, wooded steppes, savannas, grasslands, and forest glades. But lately,  they are declining in intensively farmed areas.

“At first, the hoopoe was just a beautiful bird I wanted to photograph. However, I discovered it is relatively rare in my area when I researched and monitored them. So, I made a lot of nest boxes for hoopoes, and I kept looking for them.

When I finally succeeded after 3 years, I couldn’t believe where they nested. I photographed hoopoes at my favourite countryside location in the middle of a cow meadow, with other fields and meadows in the surroundings. I experienced many beautiful mornings and evenings there and made a vlog about photographing hoopoes. Today, the hoopoe is not just some bird for me. It symbolizes a declining rural landscape that was once common around here.”

Down with Mr Jan

Jan found my videos on YouTube. He liked my work and contacted me. We met in a little coffee shop and discussed photography gear for a few hours. I was surprised that there is a company for photography gear in Slovakia. Over time and after testing some gear, I can really attest to his brands’ quality and approach. I shared several ideas with him, and he incorporated some of them into the products, like the lens carrier system and the Mursu. I use several products from MrJangear, and there will undoubtedly be more!

All images © Lukáš Holásek

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