There's no question that you're gong to want to strap your camera on and spend some time walking around the old town of Dubrovnik, when you're in Croatia. But if you get off the bus and head straight inside, you might miss out on some truly dramatic scenery right in front of you. In this post I'm going to take you on a small tour of the great photos you can take between the city gate and fort Lovrijenac, just a short walk away.
Standing in front of the drawbridge (yes, Dubrovnik is so cool that it has a drawbridge) you can see the ocean just to the south. Overlooking the ocean is a small promenade with a railing. From the railing you can take a phenomenal photo of the towering city walls, as well as a small bay in which waves crash against jagged rocks that rise up out of the water like small mountains. It's a truly epic landscape that belongs in a fantasy world (which is probably why so much of Game of Thrones was filmed in Dubrovnik)!
If you aren't a landscape photographer and you just want some family portraits, step back a little and have your subjects pose near the railing. There is a single small, bent tree that can be used to add balance to your image with the city walls and the ocean as the background. If you shoot early in the morning to avoid crowds, expose for the shadows (you won't have a choice) so you can see everyones face. At sunset, you could do the same, or you can expose for the sky and get a great silhouette.
Just after the promenade there is a stairway down to a lower level. Follow it and find yourself on a small pier that takes you up close and personal with those jagged rocks you saw earlier. Once again, landscapes abound, but I thought this place had a lot of really great angles for family photos. If you are into Game of Thrones, this is where Sansa and Shae stood and watched the ships sailing away.
With Dannie and Lisa I had the best success with two shots. I had them walk down the pier away from the land and I shot from the waterfront off to the side with the city walls in the background. Then, once they were at the end, I saw that A big stone and the cliffs in the background to the west formed a great negative space to guide the eye. I had them lean against a mooring and got my shot quickly before Lisa started squirming (read our tips for family travel photos with a toddler.
An Alternate Angle:
We did one other shoot involving this space a few days later. After climbing the city walls for the first time I saw that they provided a great view of this place. The next morning I climbed up again while Dannie and Lisa made their way down to the pier. The biggest obstacle for this photo was the distance. Even with my 70-200mm, we knew that Dannie and Lisa would be small, so Dannie made sure to dress in her brightest red dress. Also, since we wouldn't be able to communicate verbally, we worked out a series of signals I could send to her by waving a colorful scarf. This photo is more of.a landscape than a portrait, but someday I'd like to print out a big copy for our wall so Lisa can see herself and her mother exploring such a beautiful environment.
From there on the waterfront you can also see the stairs that lead up toward Fort Lovrijenac. Because the distance is so small, you can either continue onward or come back another time, but the route to the fort has a number of good angles as well. The stairs that wind up from the waterfront can be photographed from sea level, and they pass over some mysteriously inaccessible doors that help balance out the photo. If you don't mind waiting behind with your camera you can get a shot of your family there. There's also a good landscape of the city walls that I describe in our previous post about Fort Lovrijenac.
There's one photo I wish I'd taken while we were in Dubrovnik. The pier would have been a great place for a long exposure shot with the waves turning to mist. I wish I'd gone down there with a flash to take a really magical long exposure photo of Dannie and Lisa. If you go there and take one (or if you've already taken one), send it in! I'd love to see how it came out!