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Montenegro

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Montenegro

The Adriatic sits as the serene gateway between Central Europe and the westerly fringes of the Balkan Peninsula, hosting some of the most stunning coastlines and countries steeped in history. Having travelled these region on numerous occasions I have always been fascinated with its maritime affiliation intertwined with a slower pace of life, all while being set amongst some of the most stunning landscapes in Europe. This time I managed to travel to something that’s been on my landscape bucket list for a long time, Montenegro.

Starting in the Northern part of the country, after a steady 3 hour windy drive from the Bay of Kotor, the stunning surroundings of Durmitor National Park rises towards you as you near. Encompassing the Dinaric Alps and hosting the country’s famous Black Lake, it is home to wild bears and wolves, this UNESCO world heritage centre provides some incredible landscapes to explore. My only regret was not organising to stay even longer than the time I had there, but I have every intention to return in the future.

Having visited the country in October, the indigenous pine laden northern landscapes were dotted with splashes of iconic autumnal hues of yellows and reds. The drive to this region from the south west is breathtaking and the serpentine roads through the mountains, particularly at autumn are something to be admired.

River Tara Canyon, the deepest canyon in Europe and the 2nd deepest in the world.

Overlooking the Tara River Canyon, one can really appreciate the serenity of this region of the less famous Dinaric Alps. Open to kayaking and zip lining or quiet get away, it is truly beautiful

One of the most immediate draws I had to Montenegro was my discovery of the Bay of Kotor. This incredible fjord region on the west coast of the country draws every visitor in to it’s incredible surroundings dotted with small villages all around it’s meandering bay.

Featuring Old Towns, chapels, man made islands and stunning mountainous views, this region was one of my favourites during my time here. Particularly relaxing was the numerous waterside restaurants where one could get a breakfast omelette and an espresso for around €5!

Misty Mountains in the Bay of Kotor

One small village on the fjord’s coastline is Perast. This beautifully peaceful area hosts a small road that runs alongside the shoreline with numerous eateries spaced among little docks, all built in the traditional sandstone architectural form that is so iconic in the Adriatic region.

One of Bay of Kotor’s most iconic sights is the manmade island of Our Lady of the Rocks whose foundations are made from a mixture of generic rock coupled with old and seized ships that were also loaded with rock.

The Adriatic coastline never fails to impress, regardless of which international border it laps against. Budva being the most famous of Montenegro’s coastal towns, it is home to a stunning Old Town, with narrow cobblestone lanes that open into a variety of beautiful plazas featuring plenty of al fresco dining options.

Within viewing distance from the old town and available for excursions, is the small island of Sveti Nikola, set amongst the crystal clear waters of the Adriatic.

Other small fishing and elite establishments could be found in the sleepy village of Petrovac or the more northerly and famous private resort of Sveti Stefan.

Despite the country's miniature size and situated next to its more popular neighbour Croatia, Montenegro manages to feature an incredible range of landscapes and I hope to return again to the northern region of the country to explore the Dinaric Alps even further.

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California

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California

During February and early March I took a trip to the west coast of California for two weeks visiting the beautiful San Diego and Lake Tahoe. Both areas offer a varied beauty in their ideal conditions, long soft sunsets of the coastline and crisp blues and whites of the snowy mountains. 

The California coastline offers stunning slow sunsets that offer a beautiful kind of light, no wonder why it's a haven for the epitome of summer imagery.

Kathryn

My trip took me from the beautiful Sunset Cliffs up to the gorgeous La Jolla and Torrey Pines National Park.

I followed up the coastline by snowboarding out in Lake Tahoe, an absolutely stunning location even if you were to just take in the breath-taking views.

One of my new favourite landscape images, below, this panorama of the mountainous landscape north of Lake Tahoe itself captured during the crisp sunset via drone looks absolutely stunning on Hahnemuhle Photo Rag Pearl.

Getting to catch up with friends and family after so many years on this trip, California was more than just an opportunity to photograph some of the states beauty and I hope to return here for more portrait and landscape work.

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Dubrovnik

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Dubrovnik

In the middle of May I decided to be about as nearly spontaneous as you can get and get a last minute flight to Dubrovnik without arriving at the airport and going there and then. I booked tickets on a Monday morning and left Wednesday night to fly out to somewhere I have wanted to visit for many years for one week to get a glimpse of this pearl on the Adriatic. 

The entire coastline glows beautiful colours each evening as scenic sights of yachts and galleons dot the horizon, while visitors can catch the sun setting with a glass of wine in hand on a little secluded rocky patch.

Most of my time was spent in the Lapad region of the city. It hosts a beautiful beach and coastal walk with various man-made jetties that you can relax on, and some include handy steps out of the water back to the rocks. The water was a beautiful azure colour and a reasonable 20 C for the end of May.

Dubrovnik hosts some beautiful architecture, with much of it embracing the renaissance period. The extensive use of sandstone really compliments the slightly arid land it sits amongst, while emphasising the soft glow of a sunset more so than other stonework.

Being a coastal city, Dubrovnik has it's fair share of marine vessels, the vast majority of which are as beautiful as the surroundings they sail within. From small fishing boats to large pleasure yachts and the odd galleon, there were plenty of beautiful marine craft to enjoy around the marina and local beaches.

Many evenings were spent within the walls of the old city. The atmosphere here is full of subtle vibrance around dinner time with plenty of live music, much of it instrumental, complimenting diners as they sample the wide variety of Mediterranean dishes. The architecture here is absolutely stunning and the city's relaxed pace is reflected in its visitors as they meander down side streets and discover unique ice cream stalls or street music.

One week was far too short to really take in all of what Dubrovnik has to offer. The weather was perfect for the time of year and the level of tourists was very manageable considering the city's popularity. Friends of mine were attending a mutual friend's wedding during my visit and it would be incredibly hard to beat the incredible scenery and relaxed atmosphere for anyone considering a destination wedding. 

Next time I hope to visit some of the other beautiful areas of Croatia including the stunning Split and the incredible arena in Pula. I hope that these images inspire you to visit and maybe even do so spontaneously!

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Vail

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Vail

For the past week I was lucky enough to spend time with my family out in Vail, in Colorado. I managed to get my first taste of snowboarding as well as snow, since I technically wiped out a few times doing it! For anyone who has never been, Vail is a town that in the winter, makes it feel like the essence of Christmas. Traditional styled stone buildings with fairy lights intertwining between them gives the place a cosy glow in the evenings and all sizes of Fir and Pine trees scatter the slopes and surrounding mountainsides.

Flying from Dublin and eventually arriving in Denver after a few connections made for a very tired PJ. There's nothing like jet lag after nearly 4500 miles of travel to make you get up at nearly 5am each morning, despite hitting the slopes for about 6 hours a day! We spent our time in the Lionshead region of Vail which is in the western part of the town. Staying at the Ritz-Carlton hotel (swish) we were right by the gondolas and lifts, so it made for a tiny commute to get up the mountain in the morning. 

Needless to say, after a hard day at the office, a soak in the hotel's hot tub is well required!

I had intended to shoot a lot more candid photos of my family while we were out in Vail but after an exhausting day on the slopes (and copious amounts of whiskey), we were typically all in bed by 8pm. However, the morning before we left, I managed to quickly grab Louise out for a few portraits out behind our hotel. The area is really beautiful and although I knew when we needed to get out for the shots I wanted, I was lucky that the mountains didn't obstruct the sunrise. Needless to say, I'm really happy with how the half hour shoot went and the shots really capture Louise and her wonderful personality.

This whole venture was a deal made between my cousin and I on condition that I achieve a 1st in my degree and I can't thank his generosity enough for bringing me out for the trip. Hopefully this won't be the last time I'll get my feet on a board anytime soon or even return to the beautiful Vail slopes!

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Star Portraits

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Star Portraits

Starry Starry Night

Last year I had the pleasure of spending the summer with some amazing people out on Nantucket Island in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Until upgrading some of my equipment, I never really had the opportunity to successfully capture the stars to any great deal of satisfaction. After finally getting ahold of my D600, and with Nantucket's remote location from the light pollution of big towns or cities, it was the perfect opportunity to test some shots.

Nantucket truly is a beautiful place to spend time, expensive!, but very beautiful and a great place to really take in the night sky. We found out that there would be a meteor shower and a collection of friends and I headed to the beach to prepare for some stiff necks as we looked skyward for numerous hours! Being effectively pitch black, we definitely got a great view of the stars and saw a lot of meteors over the 3 hour period.

After getting a couple of great long exposure shots I wanted to experiment with keeping the milky way in the background and get my friends exposed correctly in the foreground. To capture these type of portraits, I exposed for the milky way and using a few trials of off camera flash, I proceeded to light them up from a few angles.

As with any first attempts you'll see that a couple of these aren't perfectly in focus because of the shallow depth of field I had to use (f/1.8) but I wanted to show you how you could try something similar with enough practice to really pull it off with a helping hand or two! Experimenting with this type of photography eventually led me to create my "Winter Lights" Panorama and it will definitely serve as a great trial run for my next attempt!

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