Croatia (Part 6: Rovinj)


Our last ‘home base’ in the Croatian leg of our Balkan odyssey was a peninsula called Rovinj (pronounced Roh-VEEN).  Rovinj sits at the northern bit of the country and the reason it looks so much like Venice is because it was occupied by the Venetians however many years ago.  Rovinj juts out into the Adriatic and is a haven for seafood and pasta lovers.


Rovinj has the same beautiful, shiny brick streets as Dubrovnik and Split does, but the city takes on a different character than its Dalmatian brothers.  The climate is still warm and mediterranean but where Split and Dubrovnik has palm trees, red roofs and tourists, Rovinj has colourful buildings and laid back locals.


We spend several days in Rovinj and we loved every minute there.  I had probably the best spaghetti and meatballs of my life there.

The sunsets were unbelievable.  Late September is my favourite time of year to shoot because the light is such a beautiful golden glow in the evening and I was so lucky to be in such a vibrant city at this time of year.


Another one of the things I loved about shooting Rovinj was the colours.  As you may know by now, I love shooting in bold, bright colour and Rovinj had a lot to offer, with the neutral coloured buildings, pink, orange and red sunset, the brown of the rocks and the blue and green of the water.


Ah!  If only I had brought my bathing suit I would have joined these sun bathing beauties on the rocks!


If I lived here, I would drink a press of coffee and watch the sunset at this little table.  Every.  Day.


We were lucky enough to close out our stay here with a sunset evening inlet boat cruise on the last boat of the day on the last day of the season.  I insisted we sail the Adriatic in Rovinj because we had to cancel our sail in Split, and we totally lucked out.  We headed out and the boat’s crew passed out glasses of juice and wine.  We were entitled to one glass of wine on the cruise but one of the deck hands kept refilling Pa’s glass.  We sat right up front to that I could get some uninhibited shots of the city from the sea as well as the sunset.  Then we got some unexpected guests – Adriatic dolphins!  The dolphins swam right up to the boat frolicked beside us as the sun went down on Rovinj and our time in Croatia.

Croatia (Part 5: Zadar)


Our pleasant-est of pleasant surprises on our trip to the Balkans was the coastal town of Zadar.  We decided to stay in Zadar randomly – it was a coastal town almost a straight line from the more inland Plitvice Lakes.  We read that it had a pretty old town and a newer interesting waterfront feature – the Marine Organ.


After most of our day in Plitvice lakes we decided to head into town to check out the Organ and get some dinner.  We wandered through the old town and marvelled at the beautiful Venetian stone work – it was like a miniature, less crowded version of Dubrovnik.  The city is very clean and the stones shiny, like they polish them on a regular basis.  Little art galleries and pizzerias were strewn about the town.


When we made our way outside of the old wall we were thrust upon a vision of utter majesty – the orange-red sun setting on the restless, white-capped Adriatic Sea, the sound of Nikola Basic’s award winning urban art instalment – the Marine Organ.  As mentioned in a previous post, the Marine Organ is a set of polyethylene pipes of varying lengths and widths set into the concrete seafront with slats on one end to allow the wind, waves, and water in and an opening on the other to the let the chance music out.


We sat on the steps, watched the sailboats pass by in the choppy waters and the sun set, and listened to the music.  The music was enchanting, harmonious, hypnotizing.  I could have listened to it all day.  We noticed that there were a few cafes set back from the concrete steps and decided that some day, one day, when we return, we will spend more time in Zadar and sit at one of those cafes for a day, drink the delicious coffee and listen to the music of the ocean.


Croatia (Part 3: Split)


Split.  Split is very cool.  The main attraction of Split is Diocletian’s Palace, the retirement home of Roman emperor.  Mountains on one side, Adriatic Ocean on the other, palm trees aplenty!  We stayed at a pansion whose owner may or may not have been some sort of Croatian gangster named Ivan.


Split was pretty laid back and super interesting.  The only part that I found particularly cheesy was a ‘reenactment’ of some sort of proclamation by the Emperor himself (some schmuck in a toga).  You better believe that those bedazzled, be-visored cruise ship tourists got their iPads out for that one.  One of the many things I liked about Split was that you were never too far from the sea.


The Mediterranean climate proved for some lovely, bright sunny photos, and the ancient architecture a perfect model.


It’s amazing to me to be able to photograph real, authentic, ancient bits of history and architecture, like this pillar, an original feature made from red marble native to the region.


I like to try and imagine what some of the areas that are in disrepair would have looked like in its glory days, like the above tower used to have a domed roof, according to historians.


On a more personal note, I got spend my 31st birthday within these walls.  I got some delicious pizza, Croatian cream cake and liquor, thanks to the generosity of our host Ivan.  Definitely one of the cooler birthdays I’ve had.

Croatia (Part 2: Korcula)



Korcula, Croatia

The second part of our Croatian adventure was to the island of Korcula.  Korcula is a sleepy, beach-y island, much quieter and humbler than its glitzy neighbour Hvar.  We wanted to go to one of the Dalmatian islands and seeing as Ma, Pa and I are all pretty introverted, we chose the quieter island.


The island ended up being a vacation within our vacation.  We’d met back up with Pa on our last day in Dubrovnik and decided to take it easy on this tranquil rock.  As you can see, the waters are just as beautiful and inviting as they are outside of Dubrovnik.  IMG_8031

The climate was Mediterranean – warm, some palm trees, rocky and the architecture Venetian – lots of red tiled roofs.  Korcula was fun to photograph because of not only its stunning natural beauty, but because of the whole laid back feel there.   The locals love to talk about their maybe native son Marco Polo and you can visit his perhaps birthplace.  It wasn’t too crowded so you weren’t rubbing elbows with everyone like we were in Dubrovnik and not cursing every clueless selfie sticky-carrying doofus who ambled into your shot.


Like Dubrovnik there were plenty of laneways and staircases, just without the people, so you could get mysterious shots like this one.  I often think back to Croatia and if I had to choose only one part to go back to and spend more time, it would be Korcula.  Maybe.


Croatia (Part 1: Dubrovnik)

Croatia is becoming a pretty popular travel destination, and for good reason.  One of its most recognizable cities is the walled fortress called Dubrovnik.  Ma, Pa and I travelled there in September 2014 as part of our month-long sojourn to the Balkans.  The first day and a half that we were there Pa was holed up in the Klinika Ortopedia in Sarajevo having 13 screws put into his elbow while Ma and I explored the city.


Dubrovnik was really fun to explore.  There are all sorts of laneways, staircases, doorways, the kind of adventure that you crave when you’re a kid.  It’s also a photographers dream (when you’re not overrun by cruise ship tourists).  Every lane is different, a plethora of different colours, shops, lights, people.


The walled part of the city is a peninsula that juts out into the blue-green Adriatic Sea.  I felt like I could not get enough photos of the water.  Don’t get me wrong, I love B.C. but the waters of the Adriatic were like nothing I had ever seen.  They were so clear and enticing.  We were drawn to the outer parts of walls, not just because of the bountiful gelato shops, but because the sea was there.


The sea is a fantastic combination of being calm and playful.  A decent amount of wind makes it perfect for sailing and the smooth bits make it ideal for sea kayaking.  I like the way the water hits the rocks, like an aquatic firework.


Croatia mostly identifies itself as catholic, but inside Dubrovnik’s walls are several different churches of different christian denominations including eastern orthodox and, as seen in this wedding here, jesuit.  Although I don’t identify as being “religious” or theist or deist of any kind, I do love photographing churches and I enjoy the grandiosity of this scene.


When we were exploring we came across this: an open gate framing a green palm frond and the wall with painted blue letters “Buza ->”.  I like the mystery behind what’s on the other side of this.  A balcony?  A walkway?  Maybe nothing.

What’s on the other side of this doorway is a steep staircase leading down to a bar perched precariously on the westernmost tip of the wall where you could enjoy an overpriced beverage in a plastic cup.  Worth it.


Somewhere Beyond the Sea

Like I’ve previously mentioned, I love the sea.  I was born and raised on the west coast of Canada, so going to the beach has been a staple activity of mine since I was a kid.  Also, Ma is a sailor, and both of her parents were sailors so I feel like some of that love is in my bones.  That’s probably why I have so many shots of the ocean and why I love photographing it so much.  It’s very colourful, temperamental and unpredictable.  Profoundly dramatic.


This is the Pacific from when Ma and I went to Ucluelet last year.  We were both totally gobsmacked at the awesome power of the wild Pacific, the energy of the waves on the rocks, the sea spray, the colour of the sky reflected on the water.  Also technically speaking, this was the point in the photography journey where I stopped relying on Canon’s fantastic “Creative Auto” setting and started shooting on Manuel so that I could learn “on the job” as it were about adjusting ISO and aperture.


Here is the Adriatic Sea from Zadar, Croatia’s Marine Organ.  I love the way the water would climb up onto the concrete steps, splatter and retreat, different every time.  No two waves are the same.  The blazing red sun had just set leaving this pastel palette over the landscape.  I laid flat on my belly to try and get as far down as I good, and I’m happy with how those other photographers are reflected in the puddle.


I love that the ocean also has reflecting power, sometimes glass, sometimes a funhouse mirror.  I love that the Lions Gate Bridge’s string of lights is reflected in the harbour, and although slightly distorted, still beautiful.  I feel like the Pacific Ocean here is mysterious, inky and secretive, not letting us know what is going on in its depths.


Don’t Go Chasing Waterfalls


The Story: Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia seems to be photographed by everyone all the time these days, and there’s a good reason for it – it’s absolutely breathtaking.  It’s 16 terraced lakes connected by a series of waterfalls.  Part of the reason the water is so clear is because there is no mud – the chemical makeup of the area turns all the mud/dirt in the water into limestone, making so the water cannot be muddied.  This was my first view of the lakes, and I couldn’t get enough.  I seriously took about 200 photos of the lakes and waterfalls.

Why I Love It: This is not the typical Plitvice Lakes shot, but I feel like it’s still incredible.  My favourite part though is the colours – red, orange, yellow, green and blue feature in this.   And I really want to dive into the pool at the bottom.


The Story: A lot of natural beauty can be found in the Howe Sound area.  One day my girlfriend Brit took me and her boyfriend (and my good friend) Kurt on a tour of her old stompin’ grounds in Squamish.  She took us to the estuary, downtown Squamish and then to Shannon Falls, one of the largest waterfalls in British Columbia.  There is a pretty little hike up to the falls and along the way is more little streams and waterfalls.

Why I Love It: This isn’t the main part of Shannon falls, but I thought this little waterfall was really pretty.  I love that you can tell how clean and clear the water is, how smooth the rocks look, just unspoiled nature.