Reconnecting With My Roots, A Trip To Serbia – Belgrade Part 2

By Goran Prvulovic

In my previous blog post, I wrote at length about the second half of my trip to Serbia, which was spent in and around the countries capital city, Belgrade. My wife’s family lives predominantly in the capital city, as opposed to my extended family which is spread out over the countryside and my hometown of Negotin.

In addition to meeting several more of his relatives, my son and I explored not just the cities architectural wonders (click here to read more about some of Belgrade’s churches) but many of its café’s and restaurants.

Perhaps the most notable part of Belgrade for a tourist is it’s Knez Mihailova Street, a pedestrian, tourist, and shopping zone with numerous buildings and mansions that were built during the 1870’s. Real estate prices are so high that when one small store in 2016 was sold, it fetched a price of approximately $35,000 per square meter.

Amidst the site of many beautiful restaurants and buildings is a photographer’s dream come true. This picture I took while walking through a side alley on Knez Mihailova, passing by a restaurant that took an innovative approach to providing shade for its customers. Once again the weather was excellent, the spotless blue sky in the background compliments the red umbrellas perfectly (see The Red Umbrella Street).

It would hardly be called a vacation if we didn’t stop by some of the best café’s the city had to offer. While passing by one fancy spot me and my son tried, they offered a complimentary sample of fresh basil-water. It might not be anything special, but sometimes it’s shots of the little moments in life that really stand out (Basil Water).

As I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts, fountains are a common site across Belgrade, as the countries natural groundwater is constantly bursting forth from the earth. Over time, Serb’shave built springs that capitalize on this, giving residents access to fresh, healthy spring water that gets recycled into the countries water supply. Belgrade is no exception, with many fountains across the city bring their own sense of charm to the eyes of ongoers – both tourists and photographers alike (The Old Fountain).

Belgrade has a reputation for being a city with a vibrant nightlife, although neither myself nor my son is fond of that sort of thing. Here is another picture of Knez Mihailova street, where you can see some of the traditional, 19th-century buildings in the background (Knez Mihailova At Night).

Here’s another picture of Knez Mihailova during the night on our second last day, where it was raining profusely during our time. It’s a different look in comparison to the sunny, vibrant look of Serbia that’s been the norm for most of these blog posts (The Old Street).

It would be a shame to end this blog post without a picture from one of Belgrade’s most notable cultural monuments, the Kalemegdan fortress. The 160-acre fortress, which doubles as a park, boasts over 2 million visitors every year. First built close to 2,000 years ago overlooking the point where two rivers come together, Kalemegdan boasts one of the most beautiful views of the city. Many statues, churches, museums, street vendors, military displays, and other amenities make this park one of the most popular locations throughout the city.

This brings an end to this long-running blog series on my two-week trip to Serbia. Travelling isn’t something that I get to do too often, so I always make sure to take advantage of the opportunity when it comes my way.

Until next time,

Goran

 View from the Kalemegdan Fortress

View from the Kalemegdan Fortress

Reconnecting With My Roots, A Trip To Serbia – Belgrade Part 1

By Goran Prvulovic

After having a busy past few weeks, I’ve been trying to re-establish a normal blogging schedule again. Last time, we finished up our rural escapades throughout Serbia’s countryside, brushing past one of it’s most famous cultural landmarks, the Golubac castle. Now we’ve reached the other half of this trip, which is focused on the capital city of Serbia, Belgrade.

According to Wikipedia, Belgrade literally means the “White City.” Located where the Danube and Sava rivers converge, the 1.6 million residents reside in one of the most culturally rich cities in the entirety of the Balkans. Evidence of ancient settlements on this key location on the river dates back to the 6th millennium, with various Thracian and Dacian tribes residing in the area before Roman occupation.


Among the most beautiful parts of the Serbian cultural scene is its architecture, most notably it’s churches. The city boasts one of the largest Orthodox Christian churches in the entire world, the Church of Saint Sava. Styled in a neo-byzantine fashion, this church has a capacity of over 10,000, and once completed, would be the largest church of its kind on the planet. Although much of the building is still under development, my son and I were able to browse through the beautiful mausoleum and crypt.


As is often the case with orthodox church’s, lavish decorations are usually the norm. This particular crypt was so adorned with various icons and images that I felt compelled to take some pictures of what I saw. The photo above features my son looking at the iconography of one of many walls depicting religious scenes (photo 1).

Here’s another picture of the same crypt but from a much different angle. Looking straight up at the hanging chandelier, the icons of four different saints split the image up in a slightly, off-centre fashion. It’s not the kind of sight you will stumble across your day to day life, and that’s especially why I like this scene as a photograph (photo 2).


Aside from the church of Saint Sava, the second most famous church in Belgrade is St. Marks Church. Completed in 1940 during world war two, this modern, Byzantine-styled building was built on the site of an older, previous church that dates back to 1835. Here is a frontal picture of the church (photo 3).


Another prominent church is St. Michael’s Cathedral, which I managed to take a couple of pictures of (photo 4 and photo 5). In both the photos above and below, I experimented with where I wanted to place the subject of my image. The clear sky above gave these images a charming simplicity, dividing the picture into three visual areas, the sky, the trees, and the church steeple. Either way, you can’t deny the effect having excellent weather has on your photographs.

Seeing again these types of buildings in this distinctly eastern European style is a refreshing change from the more bland looking churches the dot the landscape of North America, at least from an architectural and aesthetic standpoint.

Until next time,

Goran

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Reconnecting With My Roots, A Trip To Serbia – Danube River and the Golubac Castle

By Goran Prvulovic

After visiting throughout much of rural Serbia, my son and I decided to take the scenic route back to Belgrade as we travelled alongside the famous Danube river. As we drove alongside the famous geographical landmark, which demarks the Romanian-Serbian border, we got to see some of the most beautiful scenery that the country has to offer.

An interesting fact that you might not know is that the Danube’s widest and narrowest point is both in Serbia, quite close to each other. The river flows through a narrow gorge called the Iron Gates, which stretches for around 134 km before opening up into an area so wide that it looks more like a lake than a river.


At the end of this gorge where the river opens up sits a gorgeous expanse of water, 5.5km at it’s fullest, being overlooked by the famous Golubac Fortress. It overlooks one of the most beautiful vistas in all of Eastern Serbia and a frequent site for watersport competitors to race or train for their next competition.

Travelling up from my hometown with my son, the 134 km through the valley brought us past many villages. One of the places we stopped for a scenic break was beside one of these coastal settlements on the river (see photo 1). I couldn’t help but take a picture of my son overlooking the scene. I liked how he turned out – looking at his side
with the pier on the other side of the image.

One of the most beautiful pictures of the river I managed to capture was photo 2. Both the sky as well as the river were in perfect condition to show off some of the beauty that Serbia has to offer. The only thing that, in my eyes, blemishes the picture is the wind turbine on the top of the hill, a piece of man-made machinery in an otherwise beautiful portrayal of nature’s perfection. Across the river in Romania, so if you could swim across what is the largest river in Europe, you would be in another country – literally.

Once driving through the ravine that is the narrowest part of the river, the scenery opens up to what seems like a lake, but is, in all reality, a continuation of the same river just now at it’s widest part. Breathtakingly, tourists who take this route through the valley will be greeted not only by the site of this body of water but also of this ancient medieval castle that looks over the river (photo 3).

Again, the weather was spectacular not just for sightseeing, but for photography as well.

Here is another picture of the fortress, albeit I prefer the other picture a bit more. The narrow scope of the photograph misses out on the beauty of the river, and the close-up of the hill I feel doesn’t add too much to the image (photo 4). For the most part, I prefer having my landscape subjects more to the side than in the centre of the picture, although there is always an exception to the rule…

Here’s a picture of the fortress from the other side (photo 5). Once you drive through a tunnel, onlookers will notice a tourist/cultural site where they can stop by, get food, and learn more about the castle. This is the view from within the site - you will notice that the castle was unfortunately under renovation, but it doesn’t detract too much from the shot.

This is a case where even though the subject, the castle, is in the centre; I still think it’s a pretty good picture nonetheless. There is a greater harmony between the colours in this image as opposed to the other one - not only do you see more of the beautiful river and sky, but also the nice stone sidewalk, and a pleasant looking forest off to the right-hand side. Pictures that have a more vibrant colour palette not only look better, in my opinion but also sell more as well.

That concludes my rural adventure throughout Serbia – but there is still much Urban photography I have yet to share.

Until next time,

Goran

 

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Reconnecting With My Roots, A Trip To Serbia - Bukovo Monastery

By Goran Prvulovic

My trip throughout Serbia has led to me revisiting a number of places from my past, most notably would be areas surrounding my hometown. I was born in a small city on the eastern side of Serbia called Negotin, close to the Romanian border and the Danube River. It’s mainly known as a wine region, but also for some of its historical monuments, such as Ravanica, which I wrote about earlier.


One particular site to note is the Bukovo monastery. Founded in the late 13th or early 14th century by the Serbian king Stefan Milutin (1282-1321), it’s a small albeit fascinating church surrounded by a forested area that helps keep the site secluded. Something that foreigners will notice in Serbia that’s uncommon in North America are the natural springs in the area. Fountains of pure, gushing spring water are built in areas where that same groundwater comes out of the earth naturally. As such, it’s a common sight to see people driving all the way to the church to fill up some of the site’s spring water to take home.

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In this black and white picture of the entire site, you can see the fountain to the bottom right, just below the cross. Like I mentioned earlier, I’ve been getting in the habit of shooting my pictures in black and white so I can focus on my compositional skills more, something that you will notice throughout the rest of my photos from Serbia.

 

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Here is a close-up of the main tower, one of the oldest, untampered parts of the church. Although some parts of the building were refurbished, this part is largely undisturbed. When walking into the church, you’ll notice a set of abandoned stone stairs that lead up to the tower. Although we weren’t allowed to access them, you could almost imagine what it must have been like as a monk hundreds of years ago living in this location, secluded from civilization.

 

 

 

 

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Another version of the same picture, here I am trying to replicate an old, early 20th-century style of picture. I got fairly close, although you will notice that the fresco still has some color to it, something that was a deliberate decision on my part. It’s an interesting contrast, to be sure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Here’s the sight from the entrance of the monastery walking straight in, with that staircase I mentioned being along the right-hand side. The architectural style is fairly interesting, with an array of pillars leading to a fountain inside of the site.

 

 

 

 

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Here is a close-up of the door leading inside of the church. Although we weren’t lucky enough to be able to go inside and see the interior of the church, we had to settle with just touring the inside of the complex – which is beautiful enough as it is.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Here we have a close-up of the pillars in the central hallway of the site. Notice the Byzantine crosses on the pillars. I’ve also positioned myself so the pillars line themselves up in a nice way through proper composition, creating a series of leading lines that draw your eyes along the image.

The church also has a residential area perched right above the tourist site where the priest and clergy live, although it’s not a common spot for photographers to capture.

Hopefully, you’ve enjoyed some of these pictures, and I will have some more to come in the future.

Goran Prvulovic

Reconnecting With My Roots, A Trip To Serbia - Brusnik Village

By Goran Prvulovic

Having not been to Serbia in close to twenty years, one of the first stops we went to was my mother’s village called Brusnik where I used to visit my grandparents. It’s a small village on the easternmost portion of Serbia, near the Bulgarian border. A 2002 census showed that the population was at 456, but after visiting their firsthand, I would say it’s closer to maybe a hundred people.

Not much is left here from my past, except for my mother who spends some time there with some of her friends. Brusnik is renowned as a significant wine region in Serbia, and at one-point bottles were exported even to countries such as France. Even still, the population of the village was never greater than 1,500 back in the 1950’s, and it has slowly shrunk since then.

With only a small general store in the village, everyone knows each other, and they are constantly inviting one another over for food. On that topic, most people tend to grow their own gardens of vegetables, as well as have their chickens, pigs, cows, and other animals. Yet if you visited you would be surprised to see just how bountiful the meals are – it’s more food than I eat here in Calgary!

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I didn’t take too many picture landscape pictures of the village, so it might be hard for you to understand the scale of this little village. Instead, I chose to capture more of the smaller, close-up moments, such as this picture of my mother’s barn. On her lot, she has two houses, a garden, as well as a barn that used to house hay, some wine barrels, as well two dozen or so chickens. This is the view of inside the barn with some pretty good lighting outside peeking in from the cracks.

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Here’s a picture of the same door but instead from the opposite side. From the outside looking in, it looks like a dark cellar that you wouldn’t want to venture into, whereas the other picture looks a lot better, almost like it was a still frame from some Hollywood western movie. It’s interesting how things can look so completely different from the other side.

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Inside the barn is a small wine cellar where my family kept a variety of liquors. Although traditional red and white wine are typical, it is customary for many families to brew their own type of brandy made out of various fruits. Here’s a picture of a few of the wine barrels my mother still kept in her cellar, although most of them are empty.

 

 

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For a village as small as Brusnik, there are many abandoned homes across the area whose owners either have passed away or left the village and left nobody to occupy it. Here’s one such home that has become overgrown with various vines and foliage. Seeing sites like this across my childhood home can’t help but remind me how much things have changed over the decades.

 

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Another color picture of a neighboring house near my mother’s place. Most of the homes in the area were constructed by the people who lived there, as it was quite rare to see people buying homes outright or getting a mortgage as they do here in North America.  

Although there aren’t that many people in Brusnik anymore, the small community that still lives there keep a Facebook page regularly updated.

 

Until next time,

Goran Prvulovic

 

Reconnecting With My Roots, A Trip To Serbia - Felix Romuliana

Continuing from my previous blog post regarding one of Serbia’s most historical monasteries, later that same day my son and I drove right beside one of the countries largest archeological site’s I had seen in my life.

As an armchair enthusiast of Roman History, I spent a good couple of years dedicated to reading almost everything that I could during that period of time, so when I had a chance to drop by and visit the famous Felix Rumuliana, it was an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up.

If you look on Wikipedia, the entire archeological site is called Gamzigrad, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site that is the location of a series of ancient Roman palaces and temples called Felix Rumuliana, which was built by Emperor Galerius.

Early explorers first thought that site was a military camp, but later found out that it was an Imperial palace for a Roman emperor himself. In case you’re wondering, the place was named in memory of Galerius’s mother, Romula. The palace continued to exist until the Huns plundered it in the mid 5th century, and over the next few hundred years faded into obscurity until it was found again, much to the delight of history and archeology enthusiasts across the globe.

“Gamzigrad is one of the most magnificent monuments of the past…one of the largest and best-preserved monuments of Roman architecture in Europe.”

-F. Kanitz, according to Discover Southeast Serbia

With armed with some of the historical knowledge in mind, here are some of the pictures I took of the site. I had more luck this time then I did with Ravanica, as I was allowed to photograph the insides of the surviving ruins, although there wasn’t that much to picture in the first place – the most interest parts of the site was outside.

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I also have to quickly mention that the weather for the trip was excellent, especially when we were traveling throughout the countryside.

This is one of my favorite pictures, although it doesn’t show off to much of the site itself. With the spectacular scenery of the countryside, clouds, and blue sky in-between the two walls, it’s a beautiful shot.

 

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Here’s another picture showing off more of the surrounding countryside, along with more of the peripheral ruins. If you look closely, you will notice some of the walls has been refurbished. An interesting fact is that the same stone used to build this complex thousand of years ago was mined from the hills in the surrounding region, so when archaeologists came to fix up the wall, they used the same rock that was right nearby to preserve historical accuracy.

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Now here is a beautiful, classic picture of the heart of the ruins itself. These pillars are some of the oldest surviving columns in ancient architectural history. Aside from the beautiful Serbian sky and clouds, this picture has excellent composition. Even looking at the tops of the pillars, we can draw a diagonal line leading up to the largest and most complete pillar. This little aspect of visual geometry helps make the pillars, the central aspect of the shot, stand out even more.

It’s paralleled by the bottom of the courtyard, which has another long diagonal line running in the opposite angle from the top of the pillars. If you follow the lines from the center outward, it almost looks like it’s trailing off in the distance. These lines help guide our eyes to the most essential part of the picture. Although in many ways you can’t control the angle of the buildings itself, you can control the angle that you shoot, which allows you to setup these critical factors in your pictures.

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I still took most of my pictures with a black and white lens, and here we have one of my favorite examples from the session. This closeup picture of the ruined tower allows us to see a lot of the detail of the millennia-old bricks, which lends some aspect of the character to the picture.

Ravanica and Felix Romuliana are two of the most notable tourist sites in the Serbian countryside, and although I was there once when I was younger, it was nice to be able to see it all again, especially with my son alongside me.

Until next time,

Goran Prvulovic

 

Reconnecting With My Roots, A Trip To Serbia - Ravanica

By Goran Prvulovic

If you’ve been wondering why there haven’t been any updates to my blog, it’s because I had gone on a trip to Serbia with my son for the past 17 days. Although I was born in Serbia and spent most of my youth there, I ended up leaving in my twenties and haven’t been back in almost 20 years.

Although traveling back has always been on my mind, I never seemed to have enough time to get around to it. What spurred this trip was my sons growing interested in learning about his background as well as all of his extended family that’s living over there. It’s one thing to have to drag your child on a trip with you, but it’s entirely another when he’s just as interested in experience everything that the trip has to offer.

Besides from reconnecting with all of my childhood friends and relatives, I had plenty of opportunities to take all sorts of different pictures of both the countryside and of the urban city itself. As such, I’m planning for the next few blog posts to be more of a reflection of my Serbia trip, as well as showing off some of the more interesting historical and cultural sites of the country.

Perhaps one of the most renowned aspects of Serbia’s historical/cultural scene is its monasteries. I’m not particularly religious myself, but as both an engineer, photographer and lover of history, I always appreciate the ancient Orthodox churches that dot the landscape of my home country.

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One of the most famous is a monastery known as Ravanica. Built in the 14th century between 1375 and 1377, it’s one of the oldest churches in the region and a must-see for anyone passing by. I took a few pictures of the site myself.                                                                                   

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Here is a side shot of the famous monastery, alongside a slightly touched up version of the original picture as well made to look like an old-school black and white picture.

Under the advice of one of my photography mentors, I have been experimenting with taking all of my pictures through a black and white lens. I’ve learned that by taking pictures only through black and white, it eliminates a distracting element in my shooting sessions, allowing me to focus more on the composition and other aspects of a photo. For those of you that are interested in taking your photography to the next level, it’s a habit that I strongly recommend you pick up for yourself as well.

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Here’s a wide-angle picture of the surrounding landscape, as the monastery was nestled in a small, hidden little valley covered by a green forest. It’s nothing like the forests of Canada, which especially along the Rocky Mountain range tend to be very coniferous, alpine, and almost dark. They are much greener as well for much longer into the year, not surprising considering the climate of southern Europe.

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Although I was regrettably not permitted to take pictures within the ancient monastery itself, I had to settle for as many outside shots as I could take. These four golden crosses on top of the building were quite interesting on their own.

I took a few close-ups of the building as well, which gives off a drastically different feeling compared to the more distant pictures. Down below, we’re able to get a closer look at all the detail of a seven-hundred-year-old building, along with all the ancient history that’s carried within these ancient walls. Despite not having any sky and just a little bit of foliage to the left, the picture still is pretty interesting to my eye’s.

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I have many more pictures still to come of various locations throughout the country, which I will feature in the next few blog posts that I publish. If there’s anything that I learned from the process of photographing these historical landmarks, it’s the willingness to capture the smaller details of the site, as those are the ones that hold the small, little details that make these locations so interesting.

Until next time,

Goran Prvulovic

The Beauty and Majesty of Tree Photography - Part 2

By Goran Prvulovic

A few weeks ago we took a look through some of my tree pictures, and we covered a variety of different photos, including ones of various seasons and weather conditions. This week, I wanted to cover some more unique pictures that we’ve taken over the past few months. Gathered over a variety of different locales, from alpine to tropical, here’s a new set of photo’s to appreciate and draw inspiration from.

Moving beyond the basics of weather and season, let’s take some time to appreciate what good composition can achieve in many of these photos.


If there is one thing I need to stress when it comes to getting better at photographing trees, its practice, practice, and more practice. Pick a tree, any tree, and start photographing it in as many ways and from as many angles as you possibly can. Play around with the angle, composition, and part of the tree you want to experiment with. If there is anything that will improve your tree photography the most, it’s making sure you have sufficient practice under your belt.

 

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This is one of my personal favorites. It’s simple, vibrant, and extremely interesting – it almost looks like it’s some sort of a painting. From a color palette perspective, the picture brings a lot to the table. A green tree, the yellow grass, and a clear, pristine blue sky make this picture great to look at. Compositionally, its simplicity is its greatest strength, and the dog (which isn’t my own, by the way) just happened to be in the picture, giving some extra uniqueness to an
otherwise normal picture.

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This one is another favorite of mine, but you’ll notice how this picture is almost the opposite from the previous one. The trees are along the edges and bottom of the picture, but the main object of this photo is the beautiful mountain. It’s a different type of picture, giving you a more in-the-wilds type of feeling to it.

 

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Here’s an example of shooting pictures from a different angle. Positioning myself right at the bottom of a large tree, this upward-looking shot captures an angle that most people seldom get to see – the essence of good photography.

 

 

 

 

 

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Let’s now switch gears and look at a couple of black and white pictures instead. Looking here, the barren cliff of the mountain alongside the lone, defiant tree gives off a desolate, empty feeling to the picture - almost like an old-school wilderness movie.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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This shot gives off a more tropical feel, not only because of the green foliage that surrounds the plant but also in the sheer contrast of color between the yellow trunk of the subject tree. It draws one’s eyes to the center of the image, basking in the deep, tropical green color.

 

Practice, creativity, and consistency are the secrets to successful photography, and anyone that’s willing to put in the time and effort can get comparable results.

Until next time,

Goran Prvulovic

The Hidden World of Moonlight Photography - Part 2

By Goran Prvulovic

A couple of weeks ago we covered the topic of moonlight photography, as well as what the moon has represented historically, and how to capture the magical elegance of this celestial object in your own shooting sessions. This week, I wanted to expound on the topic a bit further and go over a couple more unique pictures I took back in a trip I took to Hawaii.
 

It’s worth noting that when it comes to moonlight photography, it takes some practice to visualize how your images will look at night when you take them, and especially how much you can digitally enhance your photos in a relatively dark environment. You would be surprised at just how different a picture can look even if it is in the darkest of night skies.

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Perhaps few photos can better reflect this truth than the one above. Taken in the darkness of the night, even though we don’t see the moon, we can observe the remarkable amount of moonlight that gets reflected off of the Pacific Ocean. The effect is so pronounced that you can almost be fooled into thinking it's still daytime, or at least perhaps that the sun is setting. The horizon has been altered to give off a slight yellow color to it alongside the visible moonlight that we can see coming from the top of the photo.

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Here’s another picture that
shows us that same thing, albeit with a better look at the horizon. The picture is almost deceptive in how it’s setup, seeing just how much light there is in the photo one would almost think the sun has just set below the horizon.

Of course, unlike the sun, the moon itself will vary regarding its degree of brightness depending on which phase it currently is in. If you’re trying to shoot in the middle of the night and capture the Milky Way, a full moon might be a hindrance, as its bright light – while beautiful – can be a hindrance and wash out the brightest stars from the sky. In such a case, a new moon would be your best bet.

Like I mentioned previously, moonlight photography is an entire world in and of itself that is worthy of study and experimentation. I just hope that you find these posts encouraging and helpful in your own photography adventures.

Until next time,

Goran Prvulovic

Tough Condition In Photography - Smoky Skies

By Goran Prvulovic

As photographers, we pride ourselves on being able to control as many aspects of our photographs as we can. From the angles, lighting, setup, etc., it’s this mastery of our surroundings and understanding of how they impact the photo that is the hallmark of a true professional in the field.

But sometimes, there are some things that are just out of our control. Natural disasters can be one of those things. No matter what you try to do, if there’s a forest fire, or a hurricane raging – there’s not much you can do to change that besides just waiting for it to pass. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of such situations.

Currently, some forest fires are ravaging through British Columbia, just west of where I live, and the wind carries the smoke over the mountains into Calgary. Now, we have these small fires almost every year, but this time it's been particularly bad. The sky has been smoky and hazy in a way that would usually ruin most attempts at traditional landscape photography.


However, as is always the case, when you use a bit of creativity you can use even a setback to your advantage.

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For example, look at a photo such as this one. Would you ever have thought that such a smoky sky can produce such an impressive sunset? Frankly, this specific picture isn’t even a sunset technically, it’s still rather high in the sky, but the cool thing is that the clouds dim the typically bright glare from the sun, allowing us to look straight at it and see it in a way that we usually don’t notice. In fact, the perfectly round sun looks like a bright, orange moon.

Look also how muddy the horizon is. You can barely see the mountains – which are usually perfectly clear from this vantage point. A normal photographer would say that this is a horrible scenery for taking pictures, but with some creativity and a willingness to explore the possibilities, it became something entirely fascinating.

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These next few photos are variations on the same idea, with the sun descending a little deeper for each and every picture. The first photo put more emphasis on the clouds, and the murky sky with that purple/brown haze covering the mountains. But in this one, you see a blueish tint instead that actually allows the mountains to come out a little more.

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Quite similar to the previous picture, but shifting the composition of the photo a little bit so theirs a 50-50 split between the ground and the sky, as opposed to the 70-30 of the previous photo. Notice how such a change gives off a different ambiance? Showing off the sky a bit more tends to give off the feeling of expansiveness, freedom, of flying away and seeing how vast the world is. Contrast that to where you show more of the ground, which gives the feeling of being grounded, rooted, or anchored safely into what we already know.

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Similar to the other picture, but notice how the skyline and mountains have lost a bit of that blueness and have reverted to that pasty brown color? If there is one thing that this forest fire smoke does, is play around with the color palette of the scenery.

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Perhaps my favorite picture, with the perfect angle, the sun has submerged directly behind the trees on the hill – obscuring the light source. If anything, we get the most beautiful colors in the sky, with rays of pink bouncing off the clouds on the top all the while standing behind the beautiful blue background of the cloudy sky.

I think when it comes to sunsets, you need to have a good match between just how much of the sky and how much of the ground you chose to show off. With such a beautiful sky as this one, it only makes sense to show off more of these neat pink clouds.

But it goes to show you how much you can create from what most people would think to be horrific conditions for shooting pictures. Forget the doubters, and what most people say, it’s opportunities like these that are golden for photographers trying to break into the field. What other photographers will be chasing after smoke-filled skies? Most won’t.

That’s exactly why it’s so important because having a unique portfolio will help you stand out from your competition.

Anyway, I hope that this blog post inspired you to start thinking outside of the box and step outside the normality of conventional photography logic. You’ll never know what you might find.

Until next time,

Goran

 

 

 

The Open Expanse Of The Prairies

By Goran Prvulovic

I’m not sure where you live, but here in Calgary, Alberta, we live between the Rocky Mountain range and a vast expanse of prairie that extends far into the middle of Canada. Luckily for us who live here nestled between the two typographies, it means we have a larger variety of landscape to take pictures of.

Even still, you would be wise to not dismiss the vast prairies as a great potential source of pictures for your portfolio. The wide fields represent the uncivilized. Being secluded away from the hustle and bustle of city life, surrounded by the vast expanse of nature’s wilderness. A great prairie picture can bring up within us the feeling of being a cowboy, rancher, or farmer – and can provide a glimpse into a lifestyle that, while foreign to many in our generation, was quite common for our ancestors.

My grandparents were all farmers, with one of them owning a vineyard in Serbia. Although I may be among the first of my ancestors to give up their agricultural tradition – I can still bring that side of me to life with these pictures.

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This is the kind of picture that most of us imagine when we think of prairie photography. But even with a flat expanse, there is still much you can do with your picture. This cluster of trees right of the center is a nice visual bookmark and naturally draws our eye to them after looking through the yellow grass on the bottom. The sky has a beautiful hue to it, and the enhancement adds a nice spectrum of blue to the photo. The end result? A picture that feels far more vibrant and full of life than it would have otherwise.

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But when compared to a picture like this, it’s the complete opposite of the previous one. With far less enhancement, this picture looks far more natural. You’ll also notice that the prairie doesn’t need to be stereotypically flat – there’s nothing wrong if there’s some contour in your picture. This picture is taken from Nose Hill, one of the largest natural parks in North America (a favorite spot of mine) and overlooks the Calgary downtown.

You can see I’ve added an urban element to what would otherwise be a rural photo. With the downtown in the distance, you get this feeling that you are still quite close to home – like you’ve driven out to a picnic in the wild for some peace and quiet, but not so far that you won’t be back in time for dinner.

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Another similar photo to the other one, but with far less grass and more sky along with a closer, zoomed in sight of Calgary’s downtown. I personally prefer the other picture some more, but that’s individual taste. When taking photos make sure that you take a number of different variations, zoomed in, zoomed out, etc. Having a wider selection is good not only for your after-shooting processing but also for any clients who happen to have different tastes than you.

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Here’s another really interesting “natural” picture with relatively little enhancement in comparison to some of my other shots. A mountainous, prairie shot with a lone tree in the mid-ground and a cloudy backdrop behind it. Again, you get an excellent feeling of isolation, solitude, and being one with nature with pictures such as these. You can still see some enhancement towards the top of the sky, where the blue is especially dark.

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You will notice in all those other pictures, at least ½ to 2/3rds of the photo included the sky in it. In this photo, we have the opposite, with the sky accounting to around a quarter of the picture, with the rest of it being the prairie grass of Nose Hill. When compared to the very first picture in this blog post, they're very similar, yet still quite different. There is no vastness of the sky in this photo, giving us a far more grounded, earthy feel in this photo.

Prairies, if you happen to live in such a topography, are by no means boring, as some people would imagine. As is so often the case with photography, the difference between boring and interesting is best bridged by your own imagination. The use of your creativity is the most important aspect of making great photos and is what separates the successful and the common photographer.

Hopefully, these series of blogs is giving you some inspiration for your own creativity to play off of.

Until next time,

Goran

The Hidden World of Moonlight Photography

By Goran Prvulovic

We’ve covered a variety of areas in the field of landscape photography, with ideas including trees, sunsets, and clouds, with much more to come. This week I wanted to discuss a hidden side of photography that, with proper digital enhancement, can be made to do wonderful things- Moonlight Photography.


Solitude, introspection, the occult, secrecy, the moon has represented a number of things to many different civilizations throughout our history. It gives insight into a hidden world that comes to life in its own right when freed from the scrutiny of the sun. For all the night-owls reading this, the night-time can be just as beautiful of a backdrop to your photos as the daytime is.

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Some of you might wonder how it is possible to get enough light in the middle of the night. The answer is that you don’t necessarily have to stay up that late to do your shots. As long as the moon is showing, you can take your pictures a little before total darkness and still get an excellent effect. Using this photo as an example, you can see on the right side I have enhanced the image a little to give the impression that the moonlight is illuminating that portion of the hill. Of course, that’s not true, but it creates an interesting effect that’s worth experimenting with in the first place.

Like a romantic image in a fantasy world, this idea of a moonlight that cascades upon the rolling hills is a beautiful one to behold, and it’s a style of depiction that is ripe for opportunity for any photographers that are willing to experiment in that type of style.

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Like I mentioned before, you don’t necessarily need to shoot in the pure darkness of the middle of the night. If you look at this picture, you can visibly see that it’s still the daytime, although undeniably in the evening with the sun setting or having just dipped over the horizon, but with some light still coming through.

The most important part of all the pictures is the moon. Round, evident, and slightly digitally enhanced, this celestial object is the focal point of these pictures.

In this picture, sitting just over the grass, the moon takes center stage in this photo and draws your eyes in like a moth to a lamp. I had a cloudy sky, but the photo could have been better if it was a clear sky instead of this cloud. You will also notice that the grass in these photos is never in focus. Despite the fact that the moon will still be noticeable if it wasn’t noticed, I sacrificed the detail and sharpness on the grass because it wasn’t the subject of my photo.

The moon is a fascinating object to shoot, similar to the sun in many ways. Capturing this luminescent orb in our pictures is a great way to get some extremely unique photos and, when coupled with the digital technologies that we have at our fingertips, some amazing photos are just waiting to be developed.

Until next time,

Goran

 

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Observing The Majesty of Sunsets

By Goran Prvulovic

Unless you have an odd work schedule, most of us tend to miss the beautiful moments of a sunrise, and conversely, spend most of our evenings cooking dinner, watching TV, catching up with friends, or whatever else we tend to do after work. What this means is that most of us aren’t able to sit back and enjoy the beautiful sunsets we are exposed to every single day.

For us photographers, that means we have an opportunity to capture a moment in time that most of us don't get to witness too often. With such a bountiful potential to be explored, I would be remiss if I didn’t bring up some of my past sunset pictures to talk about.


Sunsets come in a variety of forms, but for the purpose of this blog I will split them up between clear sunsets and obstructed sunsets.

A clear sunset, with nothing obstructing the sun, lets us glare at the beauty of this celestial object without having to worry about blinding our eyes. Whereas in an obstructed sunset, where the sun is blocked partially or fully and serves to illuminate the surrounding skyscape, a clear sunset is where you can see the suns silhouette. That’s the main focus of the picture, and whether the photo shows a clear, flat horizon or a more mountainous viewpoint, these sunsets allow us to show off the beauty of nature with a simple picture.

Now if you look at an obstructed sunset such as this one, we see that the emphasis isn’t in the sun but rather the clouds instead. As its being covered up by the clouds in the lower portion of the picture, the sun gives off a luminescence that lights up the sky and helps to contrast the encroaching darkness that is heralding the night.

Of course, I don’t need to say that sunsets bring out a set of colors in the sky that are unique. Shades of orange, yellow, and red flourish as the sun sets – reminiscent of changing leaf colors in fall. With some digital enhancement, this unique palette can be brought out to even great effect.

Sunset photography might not be the most original idea out there, but it’s a staple in any professional landscape photographer’s portfolio for a good reason. When done properly, Sunsets can be a gorgeous addition to your portfolio of photos as well.

Hopefully, this post gives you some insight and inspiration for your repertoire of pictures.

Until next time,
Goran Prvulovic

The Sky's the Limit With Cloud Photography - Appreciating the Randomness of Your Skies

Goran Prvulovic

Any aspiring landscape photographer will know that nature often awards us a treasure trove of opportunities for photographic scenery with, among other things, a constantly changing skyscape. Clouds can conjure up a feeling of freedom –floating across the vast sky, traveling wherever the wind takes them. At the same time, however, they can just as easily give off the feeling of isolation and remoteness as a thick Chinook covers the sky in its vast sea of fluffy grayness.


Just how we covered in our tree photography post how the seasons change the impact a tree has on your shot, so too do clouds impact your landscape photos. With the proper situation at hand, and with a good deal of luck and improvisation, cloud photography can add a revolutionary ingredient in your pictures, if used correctly.

Perhaps one of the most situational pictures I have ever done, this bicyclist happened to be pedaling through Nose Hill Park on a cloudy day, and even more importantly, there was a lonely patch of blue sky in between the clouds. It wasn’t going to last long, and as can often be the case, situational opportunities can pop up in the blink of the eye. If I weren't aware of the situation and creative enough to make something of the opportunity when the bicyclist would be in the patch of sky – a situation that would only last a couple of moments – the opportunity would be wasted.

Aside from the awareness and improvisational skill needed, the clouds make this picture far more interesting than if it were a clear day with the bicyclist riding on a hill. The rareness of the situation can’t help but to draw someone in to the picture.

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Here’s another example of an excellent landscape picture that uses the clouds to setup a unique ambiance.

In this picture, our subject is right at the bottom of the picture, with most of the image being taken up by these dark gray rain clouds. The darker tone of the picture gives off a totally different feeling than the first image which, although still dark, had a sense of hopefulness - that the clouds will depart and the beautiful sky will come through again. In this image, we get a totally different feel for the scenario. A brooding storm cloud has come to downtown Calgary, and you just know that sometime, somewhere, this cloud is going to unleash it’s payload of rain on its unsuspecting victims below- the questions just when, and who? Did Calgary emerge un-soaked? This photo doesn’t give the answer to those questions, but leave us to contemplate them instead.

Clouds add a level of unpredictability in your photography that requires creativity, awareness, and an improvisational mind to capitalize on. Being open and willing to do so can take what would be an ordinary picture and completely transform it into something truly special and unique.

Until next time,

Goran

The Beauty and Majesty of Tree Photography

By Goran Prvulovic

One of my favorite types of pictures to take is those of trees. They hold an interesting meaning too many; split between being rooted deep into the earth, while also projecting themselves to reach into the sky. Ancient cultures respected trees as symbols of nature’s wisdom, strength, beauty. Like us, they start off small, a mere seed, small and helpless and no different from any other seemingly insignificant plant, but end up growing into such tall and majestic beings in a way that would inspire us all.

Tree’s remind us of nature, of the suburban dream. Calling us to get away from the concrete, skyscraper jungle that so many of us make our living in, pictures of trees and nature bring out the longing in our souls for a more relaxed, tranquil existence.


In a tree, not only can you see images of strength and beauty, but also the cycle of life. Each season encapsulates a different ambiance; the fresh, bright, cheer of spring, to the contemplative, quiet solitude of winter, a tree can give off a completely different energy depending on the season you capture it in. These pictures of mine are, as you can obviously tell, from winter. But even in one season, there can be such a wide variance in the mood of the picture.

What energy does the above picture give off? It’s clearly in winter, but the sky is perfectly clear, almost like in a hot summer. With some digital enhancing, I can make the sky a deeper blue as well. Although in winter, this beautiful picture looks like a crystalline wonderland in a snow globe that just had all of the snow settle on the bottom. How different would this picture be if it were if the weather was instead a cloudy overcast?

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Compare that picture with something like this. Still in winter, but cloudy, overcast, and well as in black and white. This might be something people would more stereotypically associate with winter; the black and white give off the sterile, lifeless feeling that this month often conveys. Winter can also be seen a melancholic month, with the overcast helps give off.


But how about something like this?

In this case, where even though the grass and trees are covered in frost, the pathway is clear of anything on it. The changing weather allows you to have a constant variety of the types of photo’s you can take.

True opportunities are endless when it comes to these beautiful plants, and best of all, they are everywhere (unless you live in a desert). You don’t need to go on any crazy outdoor adventures, just step outside your front door and allow your creativity to take you beyond your wildest dreams.

For any beginner photographer’s out there, finding material to shoot doesn’t need to be hard.

Try this experiment if you’re interested. Find a beautiful tree somewhere in your neighborhood, don’t go too far, something that is relatively easily accessible. Take a picture of that same tree every week of the year. You’d be startled at the sheer variety you will find in your pictures.

Let me know what you think,

Goran                        

How Playing Around In Photoshop Saved My Picture

By Goran Prvulovic


I wanted to share a story on how playing around in Photoshop can help save you picture.

I live in the northwest part of Calgary, Alberta, and it just so happens that we live just 10 minutes away from one of North Americas largest wild-parks, Nose Hill. At an impressive 11.3 square kilometers with no municipal development at all, it’s perfect for short escapes away from the city to appreciate nature, whether for a beautiful bike ride, a lovely hike, or in my case, the opportunity to take a fantastic picture.

Nose Hill is one of my usual visiting spots, often taking my dog for a walk while seeing if I notice any potential for good pictures. Around spring time a cornucopia of white and yellow flowers bloom all across the hill, and every time I drive past I mentally picture taking an amazing picture of my surroundings.

Days past, and after obsessing about the potential shot in my head for long enough, I headed out myself to do something about it. However, I wanted something to draw the attention of observers. I needed an appropriate subject. I managed to find a remnant of an old tree, a hollowed-out log, that was a perfect central subject to us.

Using the high-resolution mode on my Olympus camera to take 80 mega-pixel shots that are perfect for reproduction on big prints, I went home to study my pictures a bit more on my computer.

I was disappointed.

 

It was a stunning let down. Although the detail was immense, and I had a wonderful subject and scenery, it just seemed like there were to many details, and one’s eyes would be wondering around the sea of detail. It really didn’t turn out the way I was imagining it.

Frankly, I thought about giving up on the picture entirely. There was some hidden potential there, but I wasn’t sure what it would take to bring it out.

But you can’t understate the power of modern technology. I played around on Photoshop for a few hours to see what I can do to maybe tweak the file. I ended up stumbling across a seldom-used filter that changed everything.

Eventually, I stumbled on the oil-paint filter that was perfect for dulling some of the pictures details without getting rid of the beauty. In truth, this little filter ended up saving my shot.

Are there other filters that I could have used/found that might have produced a similar effect? Sure, Photoshop is a remarkably tool, but in the end it can’t do anything for you unless you do your own research and due diligence. It’s up to you to learn everything you can from the technology, and then use that platform to the best way you see fit.

If you’ve been having some trouble getting a certain picture to come to life, then don’t feel afraid to do what I did.

Hope this helps.

Goran Prvulovic