Before the medieval walls of Dubrovnik became a tourist attraction, they protected an important port city. The harbor in the old town is now port to fishing boats and small tourist cruises, but it is well maintained and beautiful to photograph (though during our visit some angles were crippled by the film sets for the upcoming Robin Hood movie). The harbor calms the waves that crash against the cliffs elsewhere and give the view a much more peaceful feel. This post goes over the various angles we used to capture the harbor during our visit. View our post about the photographic opportunities outside of the Pile Gate.
Right on the Docks
The harbor itself is near the eastern end of the old town, and has a number of entrances from inside the walls. Stepping out onto the docks you'll be surrounded by gently bobbing boats. The ships are all small, and you can shoot over them, as you see fit. With the pier that juts out in the middle and the wide stone walkway that encompasses the harbor, there are plenty of angles to compose your shot so that you can have the mountains or the city walls as your backdrop.
Porporela is a breakwater pier that juts out from the city wall. We did an early morning photo shoot there as the sun rose brilliantly over the mountains in the East. In order to capture the grandiosity of both the city walls and the harbor, we opted to stitch several photos together into a panorama, with Dannie and Lisa walking down the pier toward me at the end. I stood on a bench to gain a better perspective.
I've read that during the summer this is a popular location for swimming, but it was hard to believe on the January morning when we did our shoot. I think one reason many travel photographers don't include people in their photos is that it takes a lot of energy and determination to get up early, put on makeup and dress your kid before dawn. Dannie and Lisa were good sports, but we had to call the shoot off when Lisa started shivering. Dannie's "are-we-done-yet" smile says it all.
The Ploče Gate:
Though most people enter town through the Pile Gate on the Western end of the old town, the Ploce gate provides a lovely perspective on the harbor. We took these photos on the bridge next to the gate. The bridge is lined with benches and a railing which is a great way for your family to interact with their environment while still facing the camera. In the background, the masts of ships rise up behind the palm trees. During golden hour (in the winter anyway) the light just reaches over the city to shine through the leaves.
If you visit Dubrovnik, you are likely to notice the cable car regularly taking tourists to the top of the mountain that looms over the city. We'll probably have another post about that place, but it does provide a beautiful view of the entire city. If you want to focus on the harbor, you're probably best advised to bring a zoom lens. To capture the harbor with Dannie and Lisa in the foreground, I had them pose on the lowest level of the panoramic vista while I stayed up on a higher one. I shot downward with the lens at about 200mm to compress the distance and make the harbor appear larger compared to their bodies.
Beware, the cable car and it's towers are impossible to avoid in your shot since they pass between every viewpoint and the city below. If you find a way to get around them, please share it with us so we can pass it along.
While we were in Dubrovnik we met up with another family that was spending a year abroad. They showed us this beach where we sat and shared travel stories while Lisa made friends with a young girl (and got soaked head to toe in a tide pool the size of a bottle cap). On the west end of the beach are some easily climbable rocks that give you a rugged foreground with an otherwise clear view of the harbor. We came at Sunset to get the beautiful color behind the walls.
We should note that this beach is adjacent to a hotel, so I'm not sure how crowded it gets or how easy it is to access during the summertime. During the off season though, we were nearly alone. (hence the wine glass and juice box)
From a Boat
We had high hopes for some photos of Dannie and Lisa gazing from the prow of a small vessel at the beautiful city. But our experience with boats is somewhat limited and it wasn't quite what we expected. Our boat was quite small, and I found it exceedingly difficult to compose a shot in which Dannie and Lisa were visible and the city was more than a gray sliver in the background. It is however a great way to get scenery shots if you aren't concerned about getting your family in the foreground.
Those were our favorite angles, but if you explore the city there are bound to be more. Dubrovnik is full of hidden places, and everything seems to be connected. Check out the rest of our posts about photography and travel in Dubrovnik.