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Remains of a Different Time

Posted by
Darkelf Photography (Perth, Australia) on 30 November 2021 in Architecture and Portfolio.


Today's photo comes from a charming romantic English style garden in a small village of Arkadia in Poland. It is a place which I wanted to visit for a very long time and was finally able to do so in 2019. There are many tree-shrouded ruins dotted throughout the park but it was this old Roman style aqueduct that attracted my attention originally. When I saw it first on the internet a long time ago, the idea to visit was deeply entrenched in my mind.

The park was conceived in late 1770s by Princess Helena Radziwiłł. It was a kind of a statement against the Baroque style of garden design, common in Poland at the time. The park was ornamented with small buildings and Roman art, intended to evoke the Arcadian landscape of antiquity. The themes of the garden were described to be Love, Beauty, Happiness and Death. Unfortunately, it became neglected after the Princess' death and further suffered during the communist era. Many sculptures and works of arts were taken away to the nearby Nieborów Palace, leaving only the decaying buildings to remind us of a different time and life. I understand that the aqueduct was rebuilt substantially some time ago and this is why it is standing in a reasonably good shape, while still retaining an interesting derelict feel to it.

It was a cold but calm day when we visited and I was instantly drawn to the ponds looking for possible reflections. Luckily there was enough water to provide great mirror like surface. I walked around the aqueduct to find an interesting composition and especially to find an angle that was the least cluttered with stray branches and debris in the water. Because the reflections were so still, this was my favourite point of view and it also gives a good overall perspective on this structure as well as including some of the autumn trees around it. The sky was on the brighter side of grey and there was no texture to the clouds at all so I did not want to include any large patches in the frame. The brighter spots worked well enough for me here to provide a bit of breathing space between other elements in the photo.

In post processing, I worked mostly on the contrast through dodging and burning to give additional depth to the scene and to give a little more dimension to the aqueduct and to separate it from the background. The light was very flat with hardly any sunlight peeping through some low lever clouds. There was just a hint of mist in the air, especially around the water and that helped the structure stand out nicely. I pushed the hue of foliage tones just slightly more towards the orange or deeper yellow as I found that in this way they felt more in harmony with the reddish tones of the bricks.

Before finding out about this place, I would have never expected to find a structure of this kind in Poland (I think there might be a couple more somewhere) and have never even heard about Arkadia in the first place. The Nieborów Palace is just a couple of clicks away and can be considered its much more famous "sibling". I might have even visited it as a child but if I did, it was a long time ago and I have no specific recollections. While the park in Arkadia has fallen into decay and many of its buildings are just ruins, the air of decay only adds to the charm of the place for me and I think it looks especially beautiful during autumn months. I do enjoy walking amongst ruins of old places while using my imagination to bring life to them and to try to picture how they used to look like in their peak.

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV 2/5 seconds F/8.0 ISO 100 32 mm

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