No matter where I’m heading travel-wise, I always make a point of doing some sort of online recce before I depart. I think It gives you a visual understanding of the geographic layout and nature of the country you’re heading to and Croatia wasn’t a country I’d travelled to before. This online point of reference gave me a general idea of what I’d like to shoot prior to departing.
My journey started in Cornwall and from there I drove down the central-southern area of Croatia known as Dalmatia County. My home for July would be the small village of Podgora, about 135 km north of Dubrovnik; far away enough so the bulk of tourism I certainly didn’t want to see. I was fortunate enough to be far enough out of that village that it felt remote enough for me, to be more precise halfway up a section of the Biokovo mountain range overlooking the Adriatic Sea.
The first thing that I was made aware of on entering Croatia was the beautiful crisp light and blue skies. I’ve never seen this type of clarity before apart from where I live in Cornwall. Our summer and winter light is second to none. The next thing I noticed was the piercing blue tones of the lakes and the Adriatic Sea, with the combination of the Croatian rock, which seemed to magnify the electric coloured tones.
My film choice here was Kodak’s Portra 160, and paired with my Hasselblad 500C/M and single-coated 80mm f/2.8 Planar C lens, it seems it was clearly the correct choice even though I’ve had little experience shooting with it. Its always been a film that others have suggested to me but I’ve never really gotten round to use it until now. My shooting style will always be real and vivid and it seems on this occasion that Portra worked. I love colour and the opportunity to shoot Croatia wasn’t going to disappoint providing I found the right content that came easy.
5/6am starts for me were key. The early morning light and the lack of people suits me fine when I’m out and about. I often get the best out of a shot when all is still. Having said that I also get to meet the odd individual or two who also prefers the early mornings.
The first guy I encountered was a fisherman waiting for his lift. He was sat down in the early morning sun. I spotted him from a distance and immediately knew that he was great portrait material, as was the second guy, the beach/landscape painter. Both were very accommodating when I spoke with them which put them at ease when I shot them. The best way to shoot portrait subjects, I believe
The stillness of the Adriatic Sea some mornings were mirror-like and the crystal clear colours were often clinical looking to a degree. By contrast, the “Biokovo” mountains looked baron, empty and lifeless but with the Croatia blue skies, the balance of the views were epic. This high up, I was able to look down on the coastal village views which were swallowed up the mass of the Adriatic Sea
For me, Portra was the perfect film stock for this trip. It offers great tones and fine grain and works so well on all levels. I will continue to use it on the portrait front Im sure. As for landscape, I’m certainly not that type of photographer and landscape’s don’t work for me. But, on this occasion, I grabbed a few shots which sort of work…I think.
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