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name and portrait Boštjan Burger

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company
website name Virtual Guide to World Landmarks
website url http://www.burger.si
city and country Ljubljana, Slovenia

personal statement

Even though my first major subject at university was in the Faculty of Electrical Engineering, and my first job was as a professional programmer in the late 80’s, my life-style and work was to be a geographer. Not by education but by my real work, as I was implementing my knowledge of informatics in geography and researching the hydrography of Slovenia, in particular its waterfalls. My main working tools were a map and later, in 1997, a GPS unit and a 35 mm SLR camera.

I have documented over 130 waterfall locations with hundreds of waterfalls and published the project on the internet in 1996 with the name “Slovenia Land of Waterfalls”. However Slovenia is not a typical waterfall country — it is the land of the distinctive limestone terrain known as karst (Kras). Over 10,000 subterranean caves were tempting and I just needed a good tool to start visually documenting them. In the late 90’s I met another geography guy, Don Bain from the University of California, who introduced me to an amazing method of documentation – Virtual Reality Panoramas.

I soon mastered that methodology and by 1999 I had created a complete virtual tour of Ljubljana, Slovenia, similar to today’s Street View. I named it the Ljubljana Open Air Museum. Hundreds of virtual reality panoramas of streets were linked together with hotspots. In the year 2000 I extended the Street View-like project of Slovenian towns to include virtual tours of museums. Eventually I created 106 comprehensive tours of museums. Encouraged by the results I started my first documentation of limestone karst and caves in 1999. The public response to my virtual tours of caves was so great that Slovenian national television made a documentary of my work in 2001. I have been invited to give many geography lectures, and my internet project was chosen as one of the best within the European Schoolnet project in May 2001.

I didn’t have a complete geographic education, so I decided to finish the university geography programme. I have specialized in karst geomorphology and in the course of many projects fine-tuned a method of light-painting to illuminate large caverns. My last important subterranean project was 500 meters below ground in the methane gas polluted environment of a coal mine at Velenje in Slovenia.  Between November 2010 and March 2011 I have documented important coal mining processes using virtual reality panoramas, and presented all the collected visual data in an e-learning “classroom”.

suggested panel layout

first image
first image title Documenting Karst Caves
first image subject Nova Krizˇna jama cave
first image place date Notranjska region, Slovenia, February 2003
first image caption

Nova Krizˇna jama is a continuation of the famous cave Krizˇna jama. This cave is a very sensitive habitat with a unique ecosystem and is accorded the highest level of protection. The two caves are separated by a natural siphon which has never been traversed, even though a depth of 70 meters has been reached.

The “breathing hole” of this cave on the surface was known in the 1970’s,  but it wasn’t until 1991 that cavers dug out the narrow vertical passageway. This shaft leads down 15 meters to the first hall, named Dvorana drobnovratnikov after the small cave beetle Drobnovratnik (thin neck beetle). Beyond the first room a vertical descent leads to the 40 meter long Dry River, which ends in a low hall featuring calcium pans and the abyss leading to the siphon connecting to Križna jama. Here the underwater part of the cave starts, 1500 meters to the final siphon.


second image
second image title Working in a Methane-gas Coalmine
second image subject Roadhead in the Velenje coal mine
second image place date Sˇalesˇka dolina, Slovenia, December 2010
second image caption

Velenje Coal Mine is one of the largest currently operational mine sites in Europe. The longwall face is 200 meters long and is the largest mine face of any coal mine in Europe, operating since May 2010. A new face is under construction. The longface is over 400 meters below the surface and the pressure is enormous —you can feel and hear the cracking of the earth around you. I had the task of documenting the complete longwall face, the construction work on the new long face and other vital points in the coal mine. The task was really very risky because of the methane and it happened that I had to stop work due to high levels of methane and carbon monoxide.


third image
third image title Sunset in the Julian Alps, HDR at -18°C
third image subject Playing with HDR at -18°C
third image place date Visˇevnik, Triglav National Park, Slovenia, December 29, 2010
third image caption It was a great sunny day, so I did some cross-country skiing in the morning. I thought it would be a waste of the day doing nothing in the afternoon so I decided to climb the nearby mountain. It was only 2050 meters high, but considering that the highest peak in my country is 2864 meters, not so bad. Near the peak I caught the sun going down and some tour-skiers returning to the lowlands. Starry night and return home in the midnight. That I call a day... and the next day was even better.

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