The Balkans Through My Lens
Arising before 6AM allowed me to take this 2-second shot of Prešeren Square in Ljubljana. With the Franciscan Church of the Annunciation illuminated and the sun just rising, this was the perfect time to capture this moment.
By Floyd Schleyhahn, 10-time traveler from Pawnee, IL
Having just returned from our O.A.T. trip to Patagonia, we immediately began planning our next adventure for the following year. As we read about the Crossroads of the Adriatic, and being able to visit six countries in 25 days, including the pre-trip to Albania and the post-trip to Serbia, we knew this was the trip for us.
Castles and bridges … cathedrals and mosques … mountains and waterfalls … landscapes and cityscapes … the Queen of Caves and a set of Game of Thrones. As an amateur photographer with professional gear, those descriptions resonated awesome photography opportunities.
I immediately began researching pictures from each of those countries on 500px and Instagram to get a feel for what to expect. And by the end of our journey, my expectations were exceeded. I had taken nearly 14,000 shots (I exposure blended several of my shots, whereby I bracketed my shots to take multiple underexposed and overexposed images, then blended those together using luminosity masks in Photoshop).
Though this sounds like a lot of shots (it is), each scene I took had anywhere from three to seven exposures, so it’s not like taking 14,000 shots of different subjects. I also took long exposures with the help of a tripod and neutral density filters which blocked out several stops of light, thereby giving moving water and clouds a smooth and silky look. For me, the times I enjoy taking photos the most are in the early mornings, getting up well before sunrise and getting to my spot long before the other tourists are even out of bed.
Though a parade of people kept walking in front of my camera while taking this 20-second exposure of the Ministry of Agriculture in Tirana, they weren’t captured on the camera’s sensor because they were moving while the building and clock tower remained frozen.
In route from Albania to Croatia, we stopped for lunch in Budva, Montenegró where I captured this panorama of the Adriatic Sea.
Using a Neutral Density Filter to lengthen the exposure time, I was able to eliminate all of the tourists walking on the stairs in this image of the Krujë Castle.
By taxi, we arrived at the Petrelë Castle in central Albania. Dating back to Justinian I, the Eastern Roman emperor from 527 to 565, the Castle is perched on a rocky hill, above the village with the same name.
Using a 10-stop Neutral Density Filter, this shot of Old Dubrovnik was taken directly into the sunlight and would have been completely blown out had I not reduced the amount of light captured by the camera’s sensor.
This shot of the Adriatic Sea in Dubrovnik was taken from balcony of the Hotel Kompas where we stayed.
The golden limestone down Placa Stradun, Old Dubrovnik’s main street, illuminates during this early morning, 7-bracketed shot.
This shot of a pedestrian free Pred Dvorum Street in Old Dubrovnik would not have been possible had I taken it any later than 6:30AM.
As we walked across the Stari Most Bridge, I captured this 3-exposure image of the Koski Mehmed Pasha Mosque.
Using a 5-stop Neutral Density Filter to cut down the light, I was able to capture a silky stream of water flowing from the rocks at Stari Most, the historic 16th-century bridge in Mostar.
While taking pictures outside the Gazi Husrev-bey Mosque, the curator, noticing my gear, asked if I would mind taking pictures inside so they could use them for publications. I gladly accepted the invitation.
This early morning shot of Zagreb’s City Center was taken directly on the tram tracks, using them as a leading line to draw the viewer into the picture.
With its right spire totally under construction, I wanted a good shot of the Zagreb Cathedral so with the help of Photoshop, I was able to replicate a mirror image of its left spire and blend it in.
Located in the city center of Zagreb, Grič Pedestrian Tunnel consists of a central hall connected by two passageways to the west and east and four passageways extending to the south. It was built during World War II to serve both as a bomb shelter and a promenade.
On our visit to Plitvice Lakes National Park, I took this 3-second exposure of a flowing stream with the help of a 5-stop Neutral Density Filter which gave the water its silky look.
Called the Queen of Caves, we were awestruck during our visit to Postojna Cave. This 30-second exposure of the spaghetti-like stalactites and stalagmites is just a snippet of what this cave has to offer.
Named after Julius Caesar, the Julian Alps stretch from Italy to Slovenia. On our free day, we hired a driver to drive us through Triglav National Park where this shot was taken.
Directly in the heart of Novi Sad sits Svetozar Miletic Square, a majestic block lit up at night with the Name of Mary Church and Magistrate Building. Both these shots were captured before sunrise.
Capture your own set of images during our Crossroads of the Adriatic: Croatia, Montenegro, Bosnia & Herzegovina, and Slovenia adventure.