Tag Archives: Croatia

Rovinj in the Evening, Croatia

Visitors to Rovinj are often struck by its resemblance to Venice, its neighbor almost directly across the Adriatic Sea. The only thing that seems to distinguish “Little Venice” from its namesake is the absence of canals and busloads of tourists.

Rovinj Skyline in the Evening, Istria, Croatia
July 2017, single image, additional exposures for highlights, focal length 24mm, aperture f/8, shutter speed 320 seconds, ISO 100, tripod.

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The similarity is not a coincidence. Rovinj, once controlled by both the Byzantines and the Franks, was regular victim of pirate attacks. Across the Adriatic, Venice eyed the city, which was then an island, as a possible outpost for their maritime empire. In 1283, Rovinj swore its allegiance to Venice in return for protection.

This arrangement between Rovinj and Venice was never an altogether happy one. Though Rovinj was part of the Venetian republic from 1283 to 1797, its citizens were never fully accepted by the Venetians, who viewed them as inferior. In time, residents of Rovinj came to resent Venetian rule, even as they prospered courtesy of Venice’s protection.

Nowadays, however, Rovinj is a Croatian city and the tensions with Venice are long-forgotten. Twenty-first century visitors to the city are the real beneficiaries of that long-ago relationship. Walking the streets of Rovinj, one sees the winged lion — the symbol of Venice — virtually everywhere. And the city’s most recognizable structure — the Church of St. Euphemia — is built in the Venetian Baroque style and was constructed as a twin to Venice’s own Campanile of St. Mark.

As I position my camera to capture the city, I don’t think of faded empires or animosities between cities. I only marvel at the beautiful hybrid created by the fusion of cultures in Rovinj.

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Spectacular Sunset in Omis, Croatia

Often in Omis with beautiful sunsets like this, you’ll see couples in love strolling along the river, but there is a story of a woman who walked the banks mourning her unrequited love.

Aerial View of Omis and Cetina River at Dramatic Sunset, Dalmatia, Croatia
September 2015, panorama from 4 vertical images, additional exposures for highlights, focal length 16mm, aperture f/8, exposure 15 seconds, ISO 250, 5-stop ND filter, tripod.

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This is the tale of a lower class “vlah” and the daughter of a noble family. During a bura, a treacherous storm, the young man, Frano, was serving as a guard. Sitting around Frano told his fellow guards he planned to see Mihaela from the prominent Didic family for a secret rendezvous.

One guard said, “You’d have to be a mad man to go out in this storm.”

Frano went anyways.

Seeing the candle lit in Mihaela’s room across the river, he got a row boat to cross. He never made it to see Mihaela that night. Rumor had it like many others Frano died during the storm, and Mihaela could not reveal the truth to anyone.

Part of why I return to Omis is the rich stories behind the exquisite scenery. In September 2015, I made a quick trip to Omis when I captured this spectacular panorama.

Arriving just before sunset, I quickly setup at Mirabella fort, a place known for the best views of Omis Old Town and Cetina River. With so many details in both foreground and background, I decided to remove details at least from the river and used a long exposure to smooth its surface. Therefore river become a prominent separation line between foreground and background and fascinating composition element.

As I was putting on the 5-stop ND filter on my lens, the sky began to glow with unbelievable colors. On the first exposure the sky become an infernal red. By the next exposure the city lights went on to add onto the scene. Shortly after the colors in the sky began to fade for the remainder of the shots. The exposure you see here is at the golden moment when the sky glowed red with the city lights on for a brief, yet perfect, moment.

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Dubrovnik in the Morning, Croatia

Before Dubrovnik, this city was under the Roman Empire and known as Epidaurum. As the Roman Empire fell, Epidaurum went through some drastic changes.

Panorama of Stradun Street in the Morning, Dubrovnik, Dalmatia, Croatia
July 2014, panorama from 3 vertical images, additional exposures for highlights, focal length 16mm, aperture f/11, shutter speed 3.2 seconds, ISO 100, tripod.

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An earthquake already had shaken Dubrovnik to ground. Now the Avars and Slavic invaders were slowly closing on the empire.

Many citizens of Epidaurum already had lost nearly everything during the earthquake. Now the fear of attack made them wonder what had they done to deserve this wretched turn of fate.

The time had come to leave. The refugees packed up their belongings then headed over Laus, a small island near the city. Leaving their city they did not know if they would ever see it again.

When walking along the streets of modern day Dubrovnik, it is hard to imagine anything bad could have happened here. Especially early in the morning, when I took this shot, the city has a feeling of purity to it.

For this photo, I chose to make the Franciscan Monastery the most prominent point rather than emphasizing the cobblestones. I hope it helps take you to the streets of Dubrovnik to experience the beauty I feel when travelling there.

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Pile Gate in Dubrovnik, Croatia

Ever watching over Dubrovnik is the town’s patron saint, Saint Blaise. His statue can be found at the top of the Pile Gate, the main entrance into Dubrovnik Old City.

Dubrovnik Pile Gate and Draw Bridge in the Morning, Dubrovnik, Croatia
July 2014, panorama from 5 vertical images, additional exposures for highlights, focal length 16mm, aperture f/11, shutter speed 30 seconds, ISO 100, tripod.

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Saint Blaise performed many miracles, but one of the more unusual ones including taming and talking to wild animals. In one story a woman’s piglet was stolen by a wolf. The woman desperately needed this piglet for her family to survive. She did not believe in the Christian God, but had heard a rumor Blaise could tame wild beasts.

He would make a believer out of this woman this day. He called to the wolf. He lectured the wolf on the sin he’d done against this woman. The wolf feeling remorseful brought back the piglet to the woman.

When you walk among the magical city of Dubrovnik, it almost seems as if there is magic in the air. Draw bridges are always associated with fairytales, and I thought that Pile Gate and its Draw Bridge were the perfect subject to capture the magical feel of Dubrovnik.

First I tried to shoot this shot during the evening. But it didn’t work out with the huge crowds of people blocking my view.

Early the next morning I was please to find the draw bridge deserted for my shoot. I waited for the best morning light and used panoramic technique to bring viewers into this scene and make them feel as they stand in front of the Pile Gate of Dubrovnik with me.

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Holy Saviour Church in Dubrovnik, Croatia

After spending forty days in quarantine, Philipe finally got a chance to move into Dubrovnik.

Panorama of Great Onofrio Fountain and Holy Saviour Church in the Evening, Dubrovnik, Croatia
July 2014, panorama from 5 vertical images, additional exposures for highlights, focal length 16mm, aperture f/11, shutter speed 8 seconds, ISO 100, tripod.

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He wanted to get down on his knees before the Holy Saviour Church to praise whatever Lord for letting him survive his time in the god forsaken Lazareti, but it’d been so long he thought any sort of god would not have an eager ear to listen to trauma-drive his praise.

The quarantine in the Lazareti was for plague victims and anyone entering the city. All who entered the city were sentenced to forty days in this death hall. Who knew how many lost their lives inside of the walls of the Lazareti? One has to wonder how effective their quarantine method served to protect the city from the plague.

As I take this shot in the morning, it is hard to imagine this Dubrovnik in the dark ages of the plague. Disease, filth and death are not commonly what one thinks about when visiting such a major tourist destination.

When capturing this photo I selected to use a panoramic composition of the Holy Saviour Church, Franciscan Monastery and the Great Onofrio Fountain. What would these monument look like to someone who just spent 40 days quarantined? Perhaps as overwhelming beautiful yet haunted as these historical landmarks look to me hundreds of years later.

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Panorama of Luza Square in Dubrovnik, Croatia

The earthquake left the people of Dubrovnik shattered.

Panorama of Luza Square and Sponza Palace in Dubrovnik, Croatia
July 2014, panorama from 4 vertical images, additional exposures for highlights, focal length 16mm, aperture f/11, shutter speed 6 seconds, ISO 100, tripod.

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The last two hundred and fifty years of Renaissance in the city re-made the city with all the new buildings and art added to the enchanting city, but now in 1667, all of the signs of progress from the Renaissance were wiped away in an instant. The Earth had literally shaken human progress off her back.

Edgar walked across the ruin of the city. This is the place where he apprenticed as an artist since he was a boy. He’d sketched so many part of the city in the open Dubrovnik air. The only thing remaining of these lost monuments was the artwork depicting the city, presuming any of those pieces survived the devastation.

As I photograph Dubrovnik hundreds of years later, it is hard to imagine the ruin left by the earthquake of 1667. Before dawn at 5 AM, the city seems immaculate with its empty streets and polished white cobblestones.

In this photograph I capture Luza Square, Sponza Palace, Saint Blaise Church and the Orlando Column, all architecture that somehow survive the earthquake. I used the water ditch as the main foreground element. This created an interesting composition where water ditch leads to the clock tower. The lack of people in the abandoned streets of Dubrovnik made this shot easy to capture.

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Stradun Street in Dubrovnik, Croatia

It is hard to imagine on the white cobblestones in Dubrovnik anything could ever go wrong.

Panorama of Stradun Street in the Morning, Dubrovnik, Dalmatia, Croatia
July 2014, panorama from 3 vertical images, additional exposures for highlights, focal length 16mm, aperture f/11, shutter speed 5 seconds, ISO 100, tripod.

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Hundreds of years of footsteps polished these stones to a shining glow, but this could have all been changed if it weren’t for a fascinating turn in history.

Back in the days when the Venice Republic ruled the seas and surrounding lands, they were conquering cities all over this area. Dubrovnik is one of the few cities in Croatia that somehow managed to maintain its independence from the powerful empire.

As I capture this photo at 4:30 am in the morning I ponder how it is possible such a city defies all odds. There is an indescribable presence of Dubrovnik that captures one spirits – whether this is the scenery or story from tour books I cannot tell you.

This powerful feeling is what inspired me to use a panoramic technique to capture an ultra wide view. Lowering my tripod to nearly ground level I wanted to capture the cobbled floor and water drain as the main subject of the photo. This created an interesting contrast with the Franciscan Monastery bell tower appearing small when compared to the water ditch in the foreground.

The empty town, the angle and the perspective all are in the hopes of delivering the unique Dubrovnik presence to viewers who may not have the luck I do to travel to such a magical place.

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Luza Square in Dubrovnik, Croatia

For the shooting of the Game of Thrones, the city of Dubrovnik eerily transformed into the capital city of Westeros. Cersei, the actress Lena Headey, looks out at the crowd before her as she stands completely naked.

Panorama of Luza Square, Sponza Palace and Orlando Column in Dubrovnik, Dalmatia, Croatia
June 2014, panorama from 4 vertical images, additional exposures for highlights, focal length 16mm, aperture f/11, shutter speed 4 seconds, ISO 100, tripod.

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She’d just really had her hair cut off by women dressed as silent nuns in a dark room with razer blades. Still shaken from that, she didn’t know if she could stomach the walk naked in front of a bunch of hecklers.

She could have sworn it felt like a real scene during medieval times when women were forced to such acts of shame as walking in the nude for atonement. Her tears would not be faked in this scene.

The pseudo priests also felt nervous. Although they knew from rehearsal the crowd’s rowdiness was fake, how were they to protect Cersei from the crowd?

The beauty of Game of Thrones is George R. R. Martin’s capacity to show off what a fantasy world back in the times of kings and queens in the dark ages would actually be like. When I took that shot in Dubrovnik on my short detour from the Omis Riviera, it did not feel like I was transported to another time at all. Dubrovnik is very popular among tourists thanks to many cruise ships and Games of Thrones. When setting up for this shot I wanted to get the perspective of someone at the foot of the church, so I chose the panoramic view.

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Backyard of Diocletian Palace in Split, Croatia

“They say I’m the devil? “ Emperor Diocletian asked.

Diocletian Palace in the Evening, Split, Dalmatia, Croatia
June 2014, panorama from 3 vertical images, additional exposures for highlights, focal length 16mm, aperture f/11, shutter speed 13 seconds, ISO 100, tripod.

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“Not so much the devil, more like an adversary to the Christian God,” Cassius said.

As Cassius answered he remembered watching a family be ordered to death due to the fact they refused to sacrifice to the Olympian Gods. Diocletian issued an order to make families either sacrifice to the gods or die.

Cassius knew he would have made a sacrifice to the Christian God without a problem even if it meant death. The image of the family still haunted him at night, he couldn’t imagine how these people felt with their neighbors, friends and family punished by the far away leader Diocletian.

Diocletian would get to retire into the palace partially pictured in this photograph. The remnants of Diocletian Palace are merged together with the later medieval building and occupies almost whole Old Town of Split nowadays.

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Diocletian Palace in Split, Croatia

“Give up the Emperor seat? You must be joking?!“ Emperor Diocletian retorted in disgust.

The Peristyle of Diocletian's Palace in Split. Palace was built by emperor Diocletian in preparation for his retirement on 1 May 305 AD.
June 2014, panorama from 3 vertical images, additional exposures for highlights, focal length 16mm, aperture f/11, shutter speed 20 seconds, ISO 100, tripod.

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The way the other men looked at Diocletian he realized they were completely serious. So what if he had fallen ill for just a year? Some disease must have spread at the circus he attended making him collapse in front of the crowds. I’d spent a year stuck in the palace thanks to the filth of those circus folks!

Maybe one day I would give up the power, but at my peak when I just defeated the Persians? My visage brings is set into folktales to scare little Persian boys and girls into being good.

Although, a few years ago I began the palace to spend my later years in Spalatum, Dalmatia, near where I’d’ spent my youth. My palace isn’t even finished yet.

Eventually, Diocletian would be forced to abdicate his throne to the next Roman Emperors. He gave up his throne the same place where they crowned him, and his goodbye speech indicated he still had a strong desire to lead.

The palace you see before you is where he would spend the last years of his life. Located in the Old Town of Split, the Diocletian Palace offers a wonderful setting to photograph. Many parts of the palace ruins are still present today although many were destroyed since the 1,700 years it was constructed. It is hard to imagine why Diocletian wouldn’t want to retire to this estate, but he was lucky to being the only Roman emperor ever to retire rather than actually die on the throne.

History and modern light merge into Split to create surreal scenes where you see the unbelievable, yet quite common, juxtaposition of the present and past for beautiful aesthetic results. Imagine, back in Diocletian’s time, this palace would be completely dark at night rather than lit by artificial lighting which shows off the white hue of the castle in the dark for a fairytale-like appearance.

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