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Why not take a few moments out of your busy schedule to take a quick photo tour of Sri Lanka?
The slideshow below includes my favourite photos of Sri Lanka (bottom right icon for full screen). I hope the photos go some way to conveying the beauty of this vibrant, energetic and fascinating country.
My top 20 are included in this post below.
What? Burrowing Ghost Crab, building its home
Where? This photo was taken on Negombo Beach, Sri Lanka
Not being the most patient or subtle person when it comes to wildlife photography, my initial attempts to stalk a Ghost Crab ended with the frustratingly consistent disappearing of the crab down its hole. Residing myself to a more level headed approach, I found the most confident crab I could and waited for it to emerge with clawfulls of sand, just 6 inches from my camera.
Nikon d600 and 24-70mm f/2.8 at 70mm | f/7.1 | 1/200s | ISO 50
What? Fisherman washing skinned fish!
Where? This photo was taken at Negombo fish market, the largest fish market in Sri Lanka
When it comes to photographing action; the closer the better. By getting as close as I could to the subject and shooting at 24mm, the widest focal length I had available, it brings a lot more energy to the photo. As a travel photographer, I always try to engage with my subject. The 24mm focal length therefore works well as it makes the viewer feel a part of the scene rather than a mere observer, lloking on from afar.
By the end of an hour photographing this fisherman and his work mates at Negombo fish market, I am in no doubt that they thought I was completely raving mad for being so interested by skinning, washing and drying thousands of smelly fish!!
Nikon d600 and 24-70mm f/2.8 at 24mm | f/2.8 | 1/800s | ISO 100
What? Old, wooden, catamaran outrigger fishing boat at dawn
Where? This photo was taken on Negombo Beach before sunrise
Using a three minute exposure allowed the clouds to move just enough to create the bright streaks in the sky. Using a 10 stop filter enabled me to extend my shutter speed by ten stops (i.e. halve the shutter speed ten times) from 1/8s to the three minutes I was after.
Being prepared to revisit a subject or destination is sometimes an important part of getting the exact photo you want. A fairly cloudless sky the morning before had rendered a very similar photo comparatively static and lacking in atmosphere. This photo was taken during ‘the blue hour’, which occurs as the first lights fills the sky about an hour before sunrise.
Nikon d600 and Tokina 17mm f/3.5 at 17mm | f/22.0 | 174 seconds | ISO 100 | Hi-tech 10 stop filter
What? Thuparama Dagoba seen through colourful Buddhist flags
Where? This photo was taken at Thuparama Dagoba, one of many temples at Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka
With the flags flapping around unpredictably in the wind, I put all my settings to manual in order that I wouldn’t have to worry about focusing, exposure and framing the shot. This freed up one hand to hold the flags in place. As well as framing Thuparama Dagoba, the Buddhist flags meant I didn’t have to include much of the drab overcast sky that would otherwise have filled the top half of the photo.
Nikon d600 and 24-70mm f/2.8 at 24mm | f/2.8 | 1/4000s | ISO 100
What? Cloud trails over Kiri Vehera Dagoba
Where? This photo was taken at Kiri Vehera Dagoba, the best preserved Dagoba in the Ancient City of Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka
In order to obtain a long enough exposure to catch the movement of the clouds, I used a 10 stop filter. Even using the 10 stop filter, the exposure was only 30 seconds due to the strong sun shining directly on Kiri Vehera Dagoba (Kiri meaning ‘white’). I took another version when the sun went behind the clouds, but prefer this more dramatic photo, with the bright white Dagoba contrasted against the dark, moody sky.
Nikon d600 and Tokina 17mm f/3.5 at 17mm | f/22.0 | 30 seconds | ISO 200 | 10 stop filter
What? Rice fields and mountain landscape in Sri Lanka
Where? This panoramic photo was taken just outside Dambulla in central Sri Lanka
Arriving to this location at sunrise, I was hoping for some nice golden morning light on the rice fields. Despite lacking this element, a fairly colourful morning sky and strong composition has resulted in an image I am fairly happy with. The clump of palm trees and farmers hut on the left of the photo nicely balance the single palm tree on the right. I used a 3 stop hard edge filter to stop the sky from blowing out, due to it being much brighter than the sunless foreground. This panoramic photo comprises of 4 images stitched together in photoshop.
Nikon d600 and 24-70mm f/2.8 at 70mm | f/13.0 | 3 seconds | ISO 200
What? Reclining Buddha at the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic
Where? This photo was taken in the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic in Kandy, Sri Lanka
The panoramic format seemed almost too obvious, but in the end I like the simplicity of the composition. The onlooking Buddhas at either end of the photo balance the shot. Its hard to go wrong really with such a beautiful, colourfully painted wall acting as a background!!
I would have liked to use an aperture of around f/12.0, but being hand held in quite low light, I didn’t want to use a shutter speed lower than the 1/25 I selected, or I the image would likely have ended up being blurry. Although I hate increasing the ISO due to increased noise, I always try to remind myself that noise is fixable, but blur is not.
Due to using a wide angle lens and being so close to the subject, I made sure that all the images overlapped by about half in order that it would blend together in photoshop. This panoramic photo comprises of 5 photos stitched together
Nikon d600 and 24-70mm f/2.8 at 24mm | f/2.8 | 1/25s | ISO 800
What? Sigiriya Rock
Where? This panoramic photo of Sigiriya Rock was taken from Pidurangala Rock in the ‘cultural triangle’ of central Sri Lanka
As soon as I found out about Pidurangla Rock, I knew I wanted to visit it in order to get a photo of, rather than from, Sigiriya Rock, the most famous spot in Sri Lanka. I did try some compositions with Pidurangala rock in the foreground, but this had the effect of making Sigiriya Rock seem like a minute speck in the distance. It was only when I included Sigiriya Rock directly in the foreground that I could find a way to convey it’s enormity and the incredible way it rises from the jungle plains that hug its base. This panoramic photo of Sigiriya Rock comprises of 4 photos stitched together in photoshop.
Nikon d600 and 70-200mm f/2.8 at 112mm | f/9.0 | 1/15s | ISO 200
What? Star trails over Adams Peak (Sri Pada)
Where? This photo was taken from Slightly Chilled guesthouse in Dalhousie, at the base of Adams Peak (Sri Pada) in the highlands of Sri Lanka
This star trail photo shows 36 minutes of the stars rotation and was created by combining 72 30 second exposures. Needless to say, due to the 2am start required in order to climb the 5400 steps by sunrise the following morning, the decision to take photos at 10pm at night was not a popular one with the rest of the people I was sharing a room with!!
Nikon d600 and 24-70mm f/2.8 at 24mm | f/2.8 | 36 minutes (72 x 30 seconds) | ISO 800
What? Misty sunrise view of Adams Peak landscape
Where? This photo was taken from the summit of Adams Peak, the highest point in Sri Lanka
There is a risk with a photo like this one that it is simply becomes a ‘nice’ photo of a ‘pretty’ view. Whenever I am faced by such a vast (360 degree), overwhelmingly jaw dropping view, I always try to isolate the elements I want to include and find a well-balanced composition. The lake works well as an overriding subject and the ridge on the far left and right help balance the composition.
While including the sun might be considered poor use of the early morning like, or maybe a little bit cliché…I started the 5400 step climb at 2am in order to watch the sun rise over the horizon. There was no way I wasn’t including it in the photo!! I used a 3 stop hard edge grad filter in order to correctly expose both the sky and foreground in one shot.
This panoramic photo, taken from the summit of Adams Peak comprises of 5 photos stitched together in photoshop.
Nikon d600 and 24-70mm f/2.8 at 55mm | f/22.0 | 1 second | ISO 50 | 0.9 (3 stop) hard edge grad filter
What? Tea plucker, plucking tea on a tea plantation
Where? This photo was taken on a tea plantation near Haputale in the Ceylno Region of Sri Lanka Hill Country
I slowed down the shutter speed to 1/20s in order to blur the tea pluckers hand as she plucked tea leaves. Also, by crouching slightly I was able to both create depth by placing tea leaves in the foreground, whilst also revealing more of the ladies face. I wanted to include as much of the tea plucker’s face as possible in order to increase the personal nature of the portrait. The Sri Lankan people, and in particular the tea pluckers and fishermen are some of the most friendly people I have ever met with the warmest smiles in the world.
Nikon d600 and 24-70mm f/2.8 at 70mm | f/3.2 | 1/20s | ISO 50
What? Stilt fisherman
Where? This photo was taken at Weligama Beach on the South Coast of Sri Lanka
I used a 5 second shutter speed in order to blur the waves as they crashed past the stilt fisherman. I think the 5 second shutter speed worked better than the 30 second version I tried, as it was still short enough that the spray from the breaking waves can be seen. Finding a neat composition amongst randomly placed stilts was quite tough, but the stilt that this fisherman chose on this morning allowed me to place one stilt on each of the far left and right of the frame in order to balance the composition.
Nikon d600 and 24-70mm f/2.8 at 70mm | f/22.0 | 5 seconds | ISO 50
What? Stilt fishermen seascape
Where? This panoramic photo was taken at Weligama Beach on the South Coast of Sri Lanka
Revisiting a location nearly always results in better photos. Having had time to think about the photos from the day before, I decided that I wanted to show the Weligama stilt fishermen as part of a landscape photo rather have them as the main subject.
Combining blurry water photos into a panorama is always a challenge. The key to getting this one to work was waiting for waves of roughly the same size, and releasing the shutter at exactly the same point in each of the three images that make up this photo.
Nikon d600 and 24-70mm f/2.8 at 24mm | f/11.0 | 4 seconds | ISO 100
What? Galle lighthouse
Where? This photo was taken from the city walls of the Old Town of Galle on the South Coast of Sri Lanka
As I was walking along the city walls of Galle Old Town, I saw these steps which I thought would work well as a leading line towards Galle lighthouse. I also used a polariser, which brings out the vibrant blues in the sky.
Nikon d600 and 24-70mm f/2.8 at 24mm | f/8.0 | 1/200s | ISO 100
What? Palm tree at sunset on Mirissa Beach
Where? This photo was taken at sunset on Mirissa Beach on the South Coast of Sri Lanka
Cliché alert!!! Nothing quite like a palm tree at sunset on a beach! Nothing else to say really!
Nikon d600 and 24-70mm f/2.8 at 24mm | f/10.0 | 1/30s | ISO 200
What? Sunrise at Mirissa Beach
Where? This panoramic photo was taken at sunrise at Mirissa Beach on the South Coast of Sri Lanka
There is always time for one last photo. This was pretty much a grabbed shot, as I walked directly from the beach to pick up my bag from reception and jumped straight into a car to the airport.
The sky always plays an enormous part in deciding how to compose a photo. On this cloudless morning, it was a no brainer to have the palm trees lining the top of the photo.
This panoramic photo of Mirissa Beach at sunrise was cropped from a horizontal photo.
Nikon d600 and 70-200mm f/2.8 at 170mm | f/10.0 | 1/100s | ISO 100
What? St Lawrence Cathedral at night
Where? This photo was taken from the Loggia, Trogir, Dalmatian Coast, Croatia
Frames in context always look great. Your eye has no choice but to be drawn to the subject, St Lawrence Cathedral in the centre. This image was taken not long after sunset when there was still plenty of light in the sky, and a polarizing filter was used to being out the remaining blues in the night sky.
Nikon d700 and Tokina 17mm f/3.5 at f/18.0 30seconds ISO 200
Arrived into the historic city of Trogir today, the final stop on a quick dash up the Dalmatian Coast. Seemingly as with most ancient towns and cities in Croatia, life seems to gravitate around a central square, in which resides a stunning old Cathedral (in this case, the St Lawrence Cathedral). By day the main square is a great place to relax with a coffee, and by night, the perfect location to chill out with a Karlovacko beer and enjoy the live music.
What? Karlovacko Beer
Where? This photo was taken in a restaurant in Trogir, Dalmatian Coast, Croatia
While it is important to have overviews of the places you travel to and visit, the close ups and details are equally important. Days when it rains non stop are an ideal time to focus on the details rather than the bigger picture.
Nikon d700 and 50mm f/1.4 at f/1.6 1/30s ISO 1600
Rain! And a lot of it! While the locals were overjoyed to see the first rain of the year, the tourists were naturally less excited. Unhealthy amounts of coffee, Karlovacko and chocolate ice cream however, ensured spirits were not dampened.
What? Woman selling Red Snapper at Split fish market
Where? This photo was taken at Split, Dalmatian Coast, Croatia
Patience and timing. Whilst it is easy to get photos like this using a 300mm lens from the opposite side of the room, I don’t personally like the feel of them. The look is intrusive and impersonal. It is a great deal harder to take them using a wide angle lens such as this at 24mm, but you feel like you are a part of the scene, waiting behind the man for your turn to haggle for your dinner!
Nikon d700 and 24-70mm f/2.8 at 24mm f/2.8 1/60s ISO 200
Rain! And a lot of it! …not a mistype, just a serious amount more rain! Visiting Split as a day trip form Trogir is a great way to see the city, especially if you’re about to leave Croatia, as Split airport is actually closer to Trogir. Managed to see most of the main sites in Split today despite the torrential down pour. Don’t miss the fish market, which is a very pungent and full on feast for the senses.
What? Elevated view of Trogir Town at sunrise
Where? This photo was taken from above Trogir on Ciovo Island, Dalmatian Coast, Croatia
Having found my spot the previous evening, and being only a ten minute walk away it was simply a matter of getting there for sunrise and keeping fingers crossed for some great light. Thankfully, I got what I had been waiting for the whole fortnight. The killer combination of interesting clouds and warm early morning side lighting as the sun rose behind the mountains. This panoramic photo comprises of three images.
Nikon d700 and 24-70mm f/2.8 at 44mm f/14.0 1/6s ISO 100 0.6 grad ND filter + polariser
After two days of non-stop rain, the presence of the sun was a welcome farewell to Croatia. The clouds stuck around just long enough to rewards me with a dramatic sky above Trogir after making the effort to climb up above the old town at…yes you guessed it…5am again! Travel photography isn’t all fun and games!! Extremely sad to be heading home from Croatia. The combination of quietly overwhelming Venetian architecture, astoundingly turquoise Adriatic Sea and mouthwateringly gigantic pizzas has made the Dalmatian Coast a pretty special destination.
What? Motion blurred traditional Moreska sword dancing
Where? This photo was taken on Korcula Island, Dalmatian Coast, Croatia
I slowed the shutter speed right down and panned with the Moreska dancers as they skipped around in circles clashing swords. Travel photography is about being versatile, and finding an interesting way to photograph the ordinary. The Moreska dance is incredibly energetic and I wanted to show this is the photo. When it comes to photographing dances, it is useful to look for patterns. Between each new dance they performed exactly the same routine, so I knew exactly what was coming. This allowed me to prepare, wait for the right moment and know exactly the photo I was about to take rather than clogging up my memory card with thousands of images in the hope that one of them might be vaguely useable (which is an easy trap to fall into when photographing something as fast moving as dance).
Nikon d700 and 70-200mm f/2.8 at 170mm f/2.8 1/40s ISO 1250
With the prospect of the next 7 days island hopping up the Dalmatian Coast between Korcula, Hvar and Brac, island life took very little getting used to. The morning was spent excitedly wandering the cobbled streets of Korcula, and the afternoon spent relaxing on Prizna Beach (one of the very few sandy beaches on the Dalmatian Coast). Fortunate timing meant I was able to witness Moreska, an elaborate, deafening and sometimes dangerous traditional Croatian sword dance that originated on Korcula island.
What? Sunstar at sunrise
Where? This photo was taken in the town of Korcula, Dalmatian Coast, Croatia
I used a 0.9 hard edge ND filter lined up with the horizon to keep the detail in the rocks in the foreground. As the sun appeared over the hills, I waited until the sun was in the right position to create a sunstar (fairly visible, but still partly obscured). Then as a wave filled the pockets on the rocks in the foreground, I took the photo. This, along with the suns reflection helps break up the expanse of rock in the foreground. Previous to this shot I had tried a version with a shutter speed of 8 seconds, but the sea was rendered a motionless blanket and lacked any movement or dynamism, so I slowed it down to the 1.6 seconds seen in this version, bringing the Adriatic to life. No matter how excited you are by the photo you have just taken, it is always worth taking 30 seconds to think about how it can be improved, as this second version is a far more dynamic image.
Nikon d700 and Tokina 17mm f/3.5 f/22.0 1.6seconds ISO 100 1.2 ND and 0.9 hard edge ND filter + polariser
Another self destructive, but increasingly addictive 5am start. As I watched the sunrise over the mountains surrounding Korcula Island, I knew had taken my best photo of Croatia yet. Thankfully all I had ahead was another day suffering the torturous beauty of Prizna Beach, the most popular beach on Korcula Island.
What? St Stephen’s Square with St Stephen’s Cathedral and the Spanish Fort (aka Tvrdava Spanjola or Fortica) in the background
Where? This panoramic photo was taken from the Arsenal in St Stephen’s Square (Trg Svetog Stjepana), Hvar town, Dalmatian Coast, Croatia
Once I knew that St Stephen’s Square (Trg Svetog Stjepana ) would be the key area of Hvar town to photograph, the next step was to work out when the light would be best and plan the next three days movements and sightseeing accordingly. With long panoramic photos like this, especially ones which include such a prominent foreground, be sure to overlap the images A LOT more than you think you need to or stitching them together afterward will be a nightmare!
Nikon d700 and 24-70mm f/2.8 at 24mm f/10.0 1/250s ISO 200
Having uneasily left picturesque Korcula on the 6am Jadrolinija ferry after only 2 days, arriving the find even more picturesque St Stephen’s Square on Hvar Island confirmed it had been the right decision. Mandatorily, Hvar town centre was explored, before strolling a few kilometers along the coast in constant awe of the crystal clear, bright turquoise Adriatic Sea.
What? Hvar town centre and harbour
Where? This panoramic photo was taken from the elevated viewpoint of the Spanish Fort (aka Tvrdava Spanjola or Fortica), Hvar Island, Dalmatian Coast, Croatia
Getting back late from the day out in a boat meant I had to power walk up to the Spanish Fort, which I knew would be the best spot to get a panoramic view over Hvar town and Harbour in the warm evening light. I used a 0.6 graduated ND filter to cut down the brightness and increase the contrast in the top half of the image and a polariser to remove the glare from the water in the harbour. This panoramic photo comprises of three pictures.
Nikon d700 and 24-70mm f/2.8 at 24mm f/9.0 1/50s ISO 200 0.6 grad ND filter + polariser
One of the best things to do on the Dalmatian Coast, and specifically on Hvar Island is hire your own motorboat. Just £45 per day. Not the speediest of boats, but it allows you to explore the Pakleni Islands, find your own secluded bay and swim off the boat in the beautiful blue Adriatic Sea. Visiting the Spanish Fort (aka Tvrdava Spanjola or Fortica) at sunset provided a stunning aerial view looking down over Hvar Town, Hvar harbour and the Pakleni Islands and was a fantastic way to end the day.
What? St Stephen’s Square (Trg Svetog Stjepana) at night
Where? This panoramic photo was taken in St Stephen’s Square, Hvar Town, Hvar Island, Dalmatian Coast, Croatia
As I try to do with all my night photography, this one was taken roughly half an hour after the sun went down while there is still enough light in the sky to give the brilliant blue colour. The blue is accentuated by using a polariser and the light stars are created by using a long exposure and closed aperture (generally f/11.0 and above works). This panoramic photo comprises of three pictures.
Nikon d700 and 24-70mm f/2.8 at 38mm f/14.0 15seconds ISO 200 + polariser
Much like day one in Hvar, all the ‘day on a Croatian Island’ boxes were ticked. Visit ancient buildings; St Stephen’s Cathedral, St Stephen’s Square and the Spanish Fort (aka Tvrdava Spanjola or Fortica) – tick! Swim in the Adriatic Sea – tick! Gorge yourself on pizza – tick! Enjoy the local beers – tick! Great day!
What? Tourist (me!) on Zlatni Rat Beach at sunset
Where? This photo was taken on Zlatni Rat Beach, Bol Town, Brac Island, Dalmatian Coast, Croatia
I took a number of photos of the beach before this one, but felt every one was missing something. Then I realised what it needed to bring it to life…me! Particularly if you are hoping to sell your travel photography for use in magazines and brochures etc, you need to bring the viewer into the image and show them what it is like to experience a place. What easier way than to put yourself in the shot…makes a great addition to the photo album too! Thankfully this only took a few attempts, as otherwise, with a shutter speed of 30 seconds I could easily have missed the sunset completely. The polariser helped bring out the remaining colours in the sky, while ensuring my head didn’t chop up the horizon line was key to the simple composition. The 0.9 hard edge ND filter was used to keep as much detail in the foreground as possible without over exposing the sky.
Nikon d700 and 24-70mm f/2.8 at 24mm f/18.0 30seconds ISO 200 0.9 hard edge ND filter + polariser
So yes, yet again, the pizza was eaten, the beer was drunk and the water was swam in! This time on the Island of Brac, having taken the 9.30 ferry from Hvar Island. Just when the Islands on the Dalmatian Coast seem to be offering everything you would want from a European holiday destination and more…they just start simply showing off! A large shoal of dolphins joined us for the crossing from Hvar Island to Bol on the Island of Brac. Sunset on Zlatni Rat Beach, a long spit of sand about twenty minutes walk from Bol town centre is the perfect end to any day!
What? Boats in Dubrovnik Harbour at sunset
Where? This panoramic photo was taken at Dubrovnik Harbour, Dalmatian Coast, Croatia
Sometimes photos are meticulously planned and other times its simply about being in the right place at the right time. Having only just arrived into Dubrovnik, I knew I wanted to be out at sunset, but had no idea what I would be photographing. I used a 0.6 graduated ND filter to ensure the sky didn’t get blown out, while also allowing enough detail to seen in the foreground. Without it, the foreground would have been very dark, and the sky very light. The shape of the clouds being lit by the sunset helps the composition in this photo as they mimic the line of boats in the foreground. This panoramic photo comprises of four pictures.
Nikon d700 and 24-70mm f/2.8 at 32mm f/9.0 1/25s ISO 200 0.6 grad ND filter
What I learnt today; if a lady selling bus tickets says “catch the number 2 bus”, don’t presume its actually running! After settling into accommodation, just caught the sunset around Dubrovnik harbour before the first of numerous incredibly delicious and enormous pizzas!
What? Dubrovnik town center and Lokrum Island
Where? This panoramic photo was taken from Dubrovnik city walls, Dalmatian Coast, Croatia
For this picture I used a 0.6 graduated ND filter to ensure the sky didn’t get blown out and a polariser to enhance the blues in the sky. I decided to place Lokrum Island on the left and St Lawrence Fortress (Fort Lovrijenac) on the right to keep the photo composition balanced. Including as many of the red roofs in the foreground as possible helps create depth as well as simply showing as much of Dubrovnik old town in the photo as possible. I took the shot from one of the highest points on the Dubrovnik city walls in order to prevent the base of Lokrum Island from merging with the buildings, which would have made it feel a lot messier. This panoramic photo comprises of seven pictures.
Nikon d700 and 24-70mm f/2.8 at 24mm f/8.0 1/80s ISO 200 0.6 grad ND filter + polariser
Today was the mandatory ‘hit it hard’ day that occurs in most towns and cities. Spent some time attempting to see past the swarms of tourists on Stradun to imagine how stunning the most famous street in Dubrovnik Old Town could be. Despite the overcrowding, the shimmering limestone cobbles, beautiful old cathedrals and interesting museums, as expected, made Stradun the focal point for the day. Unsurprisingly, the highlight for me (and virtually every other person who visits Dubrovnik) was circling the cathedral spires of the old town on Dubrovnik city walls. Lokrum Island and the Adriatic Sea provide the perfect backdrop to the panoramic views looking down on the ocean of red roof tiles.
What? Stradun, the main street in Dubrovnik Old Town at night
Where? This panoramic photo was taken on Stradun, Dubrovnik, Dalmatian Coast, Croatia
I knew the exact shot I wanted, but unfortunately I also knew that meant walking half an hour to Stradun, the main street in Dubrovnik at 5 in the morning. It is invariably worth it, however. The lines of shutters and street lights lead the eye towards the Franciscan Monastery at the far end of Stradun. In order to get the bright blue, I used a polariser and waited until the first light started to appear in the sky. Taking the shot before it gets light would result in a horrible, flat, uninviting black sky. This panoramic photo comprises of three pictures.
Nikon d700 and 24-70mm f/2.8 at 32mm f/10.0 4seconds ISO 100 polariser
Were it not for the rubbish trucks and street cleaners performing their daily rituals on Dubrovnik’s most iconic street, walking along completely deserted Stradun at 5am would have felt like taking a trip back in time. After watching the sunrise over Dubrovnik Old Town, a day on the Elaphite Islands was just what was needed.
What? Lokrum Island
Where? This panoramic photo was taken from the top of Zarkovica Hill above Dubrovnik, Dalmatian Coast, Croatia
4.49am – alarm
4.50 – taxi
5.10 – worry…my taxi driver has a confused and concerned look in his eye as he drops me off in the pitch black on top of a hill
5.11 – hundreds of stray dogs start barking as I realise I forgot my torch
5.12 – walk very quickly back down the hill I was just driven up
5.15 to 5.30 – try to scout out a location in the dark, suffering what I later found to be quite deep cuts from the angriest spiny plants on the planet
5.30 – wait…….
6.15 – take three photos (later stitched together) using a polariser and 1.2 ND filter in order to get a long enough shutter speed to create the streaky cloud effect that I was after. The blurry sky and Adriatic sea, which almost blend into one provide an undistracting background, which allows the eye to rest calmly on Lokrum Island and very fortunate boats that had slept there over night, without being pulled away.
Nikon d700 and 24-70mm f/2.8 at 38mm f/22.0 30seconds ISO 100 1.2 ND filter + polariser
Went to the top of Zarkovica Hill at 5am this morning; excited at the prospect of stunning views looking down on Dubrovnik, but slightly wary with warnings to be careful of stray dogs ringing in my ear from the extremely friendly owners of my accommodation. Feeling sad to say goodbye to Dubrovnik, the rest of the day was spent on the 4 hour journey to the Island of Korcula, one of the most popular islands on the Dalmatian coast.
What? Black and white portrait of a Moroccan teapot vendor
Where? Marrakech souks, Morocco, Africa
The shallow depth of field helps draw attention and pull the eye towards the teapot vendor’s beaming smile. I also darkened the background slightly when converting the portrait into black and white in order to remove the distractions from behind. Being critical, perhaps the teapot could be slightly more in focus, although given the level of light in the souks in Marrakech, I didn’t have much room close the aperture.
Nikon d700 and 50mm f/1.4 at 50mm f/2.2 1/60s ISO 400
Unless you are heading to the north of Morocco, Marrakech seems to be unavoidable when heading anywhere. So, before heading up to the High Atlas, I welcomed the opportunity to hit the souks and buy myself a Moroccan teapot from this friendly market stall owner. Gradually running out of space in my bag….
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What? Seagulls sat on a fishing boat, seemingly called Essaouira
Where? Essaouira fishing port, Morocco
With Essaouira being famous for its fishing port, boats and seagulls, what better way to sum a place up. Can definitely see this being used in a travel article!
Nikon d700 and 24-70mm f/2.8 at 38mm f/4.5 1/800s ISO 100
Arriving on the Supratours bus at midday, managing to haggle for half price accommodation, slightly unintentionally walk along most of the streets of Essaouira in the process and still have time for a tasty tagine lunch, all before the sun went down meant I ended the day curious about what was going to keep me occupied for the next 2 days.
What? Dades Gorge panorama in early evening light
Where? Dades Gorges, Morocco
The rocks in the foreground help give the photo some depth and late evening light always makes landscapes look more attractive. I suspect these scene may have looked more spectacular in the early morning light so the houses are lit from the front rather than the back, but I guess that is one of the downsides to organised trips such as this Erg Chebi three day trip. This panorama of Dades Gorges comprises of three photos stitched together.
Nikon d700 and 24-70mm f/2.8 at 70mm f/10.0 1/320s ISO 200
Whilst there are down sides to organised tours, with the right group of people they can be awesome! From a travel photography point of view they are very limiting. Today brought back the all to familiar and painful feeling of being stuck on a minibus watching photography opportunities a plenty pass by the window of ten hour minibus trip. On the plus side, to be sharing the three day trip to Erg Chebi desert from Marrakech with…English, Australian, Belgian, German, Moroccan, Libyan, American, Chinese, Korean AND Dutch people made for some interesting conversations, no doubt with much being lost in translation.
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What? Panoramic photo of Djemaa El Fna square food stalls at night
Where? Djemaa El Fna Square, Marrakech, Morocco, Africa
What kind of idiot tries to shoot a panoramic photo at night with a half second exposure without a tripod? A forgetful one. I jammed the lens between some metal wiring in order to keep it steady as possible….and it worked….just! Three images stitched together has left me with an image of high enough quality to submit to a couple of agencies. The panoramic photo I had planned, stretching 180 degrees around to the Katoubia Mosque, with thousands of blurry people in the foreground will have to wait for another trip to Marrakech, as hand holding a non blurry 1 minute+ exposure is about as likely as me never picking up my camera again.
Nikon d700 and 24-70mm f/2.8 at 35mm f/5.6 1/2s ISO 400
Today I walked the second 18km leg in the High Atlas Mountains from Ouanskra to Imlil. As we left the villages of Tamguist and Tinorin behind us and neared Imlil, my guide became increasingly agitated and vocal about how modern and touristy it has become. Finally, on asking the question for the tenth time…yes, it was the peak of Toubkal. That summit will have to be saved for another unfortunately.
Having started the day in a small Berber village in the middle of the High Atlas Mountains, I ended it in one of the busiest places on earth; Djemaa El Fna Square in the centre of Marrakech. This time, playing a wonderfully painful game of sardines in a shared taxi and successfully making the 2 1/2 hour journey for the locals price of 30 dirham (£2.20)! Proud!
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What? The Katoubia Mosque, the largest Mosque in Marrakech
Where? This photo was taken from the rear of the Katoubia Mosque
The palm tree shadow helps fill the otherwise uninteresting foreground and the palm tree on the right hand side helps balance the photo. Including the palm tree also helps give some context of the surroundings of the Katoubia Mosque.
Nikon d700 and 24-70mm f/2.8 at 24mm f/11.0 1/250s ISO 200
Leaving the wettest April in the UK for more than 100 years behind me made the perfect mid morning 20 degree heat on arrival to Morocco doubly satisfying. No doubt like myself, first destination for 99% of tourists who travel to Marrakech is Place Djemaa El Fna Square; iconic, hectic, exciting and bursting at the seams with street performers, music, games and entertainment. There were a number of tourist attractions on my list of things to do in Marrakech, with the first being the Katoubia Mosque, the largest in Marrakech, and a walk around the surrounding Katoubia grounds and gardens. Next stops were the Saadian Tombs, which house colourfully tiled graves from the Saadian Dynasty and then accidentally, El Badi Palace. Yes, I know, not easy to accidentally visit a palace, but I managed it. Easy mistake when looking for Bahia Palace, only a few letters difference!
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