2020.06.27 10:00

Misty mornings and mystic forests. Photographing undiscovered Lithuania

Viktorija Lideikytė, LRT.lt2020.06.27 10:00

Photos by the 17-year-old photographer, Darvydas Kilmanas, reveal the nature of Lithuania in its mysterious, hazy beauty. Feeling completely at home when meandering the nearby woods, Kilmanas believes we are all just visitors here.

Based in a rural location near Vilnius, Kilmanas has always been curious about and loved nature. Having trekked every little path in the area, the teenager knows it like the back of his hand. And yet nature reveals something new to him every day.

Tender images of nature untouched by man have become a source of inspiration for Kilmanas. He made his first nature shots at the age of eight and now his photos, shared on social media, are admired by Lithuanians as well as people from overseas.

It is hard to believe that the images are taken in Lithuania and not some far away exotic land. Kilmanas says he has tried photographing urban settings too, but that didn’t bring him as much joy as capturing the natural landscapes – woods, lakes, rivers.

“Everyone can take pictures of amazing quality with their phones, but I wasn’t putt off by that. I bought my first ‘serious’ camera on my 13th birthday having saved up for it and was able to use it on day one thanks to all the videos I have watched beforehand," he says.

"But despite that, I think that camera is just a piece of equipment, it doesn’t necessarily make you a photographer and it doesn’t mean that your pictures are the most attractive."

Lithuania may not be surrounded by the snow-covered mountain tops or live on the coast of a turquoise blue ocean but Kilmanas believes that the forests and seasons filled with amazing colours are no less impressive.

“I simply love the old woodlands with fallen trees which are rotting away, with soft moss covering the ground and the trees,” says Kilmanas.

His minimalist photos are dominated by cold, grey shades, they often capture rain and fog and centre around a moment requiring focus and patience – such as a little bird perched on a nearby branch or a rain drop hanging off the blade of grass.

Kilmanas says you do need to be patient when taking photographs and, in his case, fishing has been a good practice.

Having experimented with shooting sunsets and red skies, Kilmanas realised that misty images and blue shades are closest to his heart.

“I love rain. I love watching it, I love listening to it. Hearing the rain before going to sleep is like hearing a lullaby. And going for an early walk into the woods when everything is covered in raindrops is simply wonderful.”

Early mornings, before the sunrise, is the time when Kilmanas takes his best photos, including images of mist he loves so much.

“I don’t often take pictures during the day unless it is overcast – you can create some interesting shots then. Sometimes I photograph the stars at night in which case I tend to spend several hours for the best results,” he says.

“My favourite seasons to take photos of are spring and summer – the days are longer then, I feel well, I don’t need to wear lots of layers, although all seasons are picture-worthy. Spring allows you to watch nature awaken: flowers burst into bloom, trees become green, birds return home.

“As I am still at school, summer holidays is when I have the most time to take photos. But autumn is special in its own way too, that’s when the fog is also the thickest. Mist and the amazing multicoloured leaves are the perfect combination. And in winter you can capture snowflakes slowly falling, frost everywhere. Afterwards I get home and have a hot chocolate – a fantastic feeling,” says Kilmanas.

When he is not taking pictures of nature, Kilmanas enjoys his other hobbies – playing basketball and football, fishing, watching films and TV series, riding his bike. Some days he cycles as far as fifty kilometres.

Love of nature also means that Kilmanas is respectful of the living creatures around him. “I enjoy learning about animals, I often watch squirrels and birds in my garden. I hope to one day collect all the images I have taken of birds into a book. But I always observe the animals from a distance. I wouldn’t ever want to scare them or interrupt their feeding time. We are all only visitors in the world of nature."

Kilmanas shares his images on Instagram and is currently planning to launch a website.

Until he is old enough to drive a car, the photographer explores the surrounding areas on his bike. But as soon as he is able to, Kilmanas hopes to take his camera to the woodlands of Dzūkija in southeastern Lithuania and other remote corners of the country.

“My aim is to show something special and previously undiscovered through my photographs, to reveal the beauty of nature in Lithuania,” says Kilmanas.