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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!