Cattle Herding on the Hungarian Plains

October 3, 2014

Hortobagy, Hungary

By Laszlo Balogh

I was working on a photo story about a herdsman who works 48-hour shifts on the Great Plains of eastern Hungary, where he herds 362 semi wild Hungarian Grey cattle by himself. The breed are indigenous to the country, and are considered a national symbol of Hungary.

Cattle rest during sunset at the Great Hungarian Plain in Hortobagy

The herdsman, 62-year-old Janos Bana, is doing the same work his ancestors have done for hundreds of years and represents a rare profession that is disappearing in the modern world.

Hungarian herdsman Janos Bana, 62 walks in front of his cattle at the Great Hungarian Plain in Hortobagy

To shoot the story I had to drive 10 kilometres to the village of Hortobagy in the Great Plains of eastern Hungary, which to me, felt like the middle of nowhere.

What is wonderful about the Great Plains is that it’s entirely free of light pollution. I used a small tripod and a torch to light up the grey cattle which were about two meters from me. This picture was taken at around 7 a.m. It took me 5 frames to get this particular photo right, trying different apertures, and a 32 second exposure. What really amused me is that the cattle seemed just as interested in me, and what I was doing, as I was in them.

Cattle graze at the Great Hungarian Plain in Hortobagy

Camera: Canon 1DX

Lens: 16-35mm  Zoom

Focal length:16mm

ISO:400

Aperture:11

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