The Painted Forest, Rodnei Mountains, Maramures, Romania by Susanna Patras

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Picture Story

Driving through the mountains of Maramures, a county in the Northern part of Romania, I had no idea if I could capture an image or a series to convey a sense of the place and time. It was a cold, foggy late October morning and the last colorful leaves were barely hanging by the branches. The forest looked like an impressionist painting covered in various hues and tones from bright yellow to deep orange, punctuated by greens and browns.

Before reaching the point where I was supposed to meet my local friends and guides, I got a glimpse of a stream that was winding up and down through the forest. Maramures was famous in the past for its old and dense forests, a ski resort and impressive mountain vistas, but unfortunately, the post communism regimes did not do a great job at protecting the environment. Today, half of its forests have vanished. The largest mountain range in Maramures are Rodnei mountains, home to the second tallest mountain peak in Romania, Pietrosul Rodnei. The forest I found myself hiking through that morning at the Western edge of Rodnei mountains was a far cry from the past. But still, beautiful.

I managed to find an opening so I can get to the water. The light was still good, although the fog started to melt away and reveal a white, dull sky. I only carried with me two lenses, a 20mm prime and a 70-300mm telephoto. I had to quickly find my composition in an uneven and slippery terrain and a limited time window. I found some rocks sprinkled with leaves and a few branches that were leaning in over the water that led the eye into the picture. A long exposure complemented the dreamy feeling I had photographing the scene.

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