Wild swimming in Romania

Deep in the heart of the Carpathians, Kate and I parked our van. We were in a field on the edge of some woodlands, basking in glorious sunshine, the shade of the trees beckoning us into their cool, musical light.

We had travelled there in search of Lacul Sfânta Ana (Saint Anne Lake), Romania’s only volcanic crater lake. Nobody had recommended it and we knew nothing of it apart from the fact that it looked inviting on the map and was on our route through Transylvania to Maramureş.

Heading for the lake, through the woods, guessing our way down and round some vague paths, we thought we were following our instinct – but almost inevitably it became clear we were being guided by sound.

Chatter, children playing, water splashing. We were not alone.

The lake, it would seem, was a popular destination.

Picking our way past campfires and litter, we stayed a while, riding our disappointment and taking in the sites. Then we headed back to our quieter, more secluded spot, our home for the night.

Not wanting to be chased away from such a potentially beautiful location – and not to mention, photographic opportunity – we decided to return the next morning. Early.

This time it really was our instinct guiding us. Memories of where to go counted for little in the near darkness of dawn and the only sounds second time around were the owls. And they could have been anywhere, in front, behind or above us, by the water or high in the hills.

But we found it.

And as we did, so did the sun.

It rose over the surrounding hills, warming the water just enough for a mist to rise, forming a smoky, magical curtain for us to wade through as we tentatively entered the water.

Lacul Sfânta Ana in Harghita, Romania by Toby Deveson. August 1992. Part of the West of the Sun series of LandscapesThe subtle smell of sulphur disappeared from our minds as our main concerns became the cold, the fear of what may be below us and the feeling of exultation as the mist simultaneously parted and then enveloped us.

Losing all sense of direction, I swam. Losing all sense of self, I swam. Losing all sense of what I was doing, I swam.

I was. I existed. I exalted in the now.

And I was bloody cold.

The eternal challenge for me as a photographer is to find that balance between the moment, the here and now, taking it all in on a personal level, while at the same time being able to be sufficiently detached in order to photograph the hell out of it.

Right there and then, deep in the heart of the Carpathian mountains, as I sat on a rock, shivering, drying in the rising sun, I believe I achieved that perfect balance.

And yes, at that very moment, that delicate, ethereal, finely balanced moment, I took a picture.

To this day I use that photograph as a summary, a full stop to any collection of my landscapes. It is an anomaly, a glimpse of where I am and what I feel when I am working.

My wet leg, towel wrapped around it, bottom of frame, drying off in the rising sun, mist floating over the water I had just been in.

Related Images

Harghita, Romania by Toby Deveson. August 1992. Part of the West of the Sun series of Landscapes Harghita, Romania by Toby Deveson. August 1992. Part of the West of the Sun series of Landscapes Harghita, Romania by Toby Deveson. August 1992. Part of the West of the Sun series of LandscapesHarghita, Romania by Toby Deveson. August 1992. Part of the West of the Sun series of Landscapes

Latest

Blog_Cover_Swarm_500x345

Swarm

It was as simple as ‘get to the top of Finland and turn left’.  At least that is

Blog_Odadahraun_Desert_Iceland_Aug_2015

Blink and you’ll miss it

Iceland. Never has the essence of a country so closely resembled the way in which I see the

F01-33D_blog_cover

Under the Stars in Madagascar

There are times when writing about memories from as far back as my eighteenth year feels wrong. How

Blog_Viewpoints_Cover

Viewpoints

The Rooftop Collective exhibition edition VI Tempus Fugit. So they say. Here we are again, another Rooftop Collective

Memories

Blog_F23-38A

Marjoram and Fireflies

At the end of a long day driving, walking and taking photographs around the north western mountains in

Blog_F22-45A

In Sweden without a camera

There have been many, many times over the last seven or eight years when I have been unable

Blog_F29-02C

Ablutions on the Giant’s Causeway

Sometimes you have to squeeze a trip into whatever time you have available. And if all you have

Blog_F26-35D

Bridge over the River Yamuna

India 20-03-11: We crossed a bridge. It was a railway bridge, with a small walkway to the side

Randomly Selected

Blog_Great_Sand_Dunes_National_Park_Valley_September_2016

Alter Egos in the Dunes

I have often wondered what it was in particular that attracted me to photography. What it was that

Blog_F25-16A

The Papal visit to London – September 2010

Pope Benedict XVI visits London amidst rallies of protest and support: Whatever your beliefs or your faith, the

West_of_the_Sun_Silverprint_2014_12

West of the Sun: Quotes

One of the things that has always given me great pleasure when I read a book is the

Still_from_Exhibition_2213

Welcome

Written for ‘Skills, Smells and Spells’, an exhibition held at the Strand Gallery in central London: Each image