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Balkins Photo Tour

Balkans Photo Tour:  

Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro

May 1 to May 15, 2016


 Jim Zuckerman Botswana Tour 2013



Visit the photo gallery


This is Western Europe's best kept secrets.  The Balkan countries have been the battleground of empires for 2500 years, and this historically rich area offers stunning photographic opportunities.  Castles, palaces, ruins, unspoiled coastlines, picture perfect villages, forested islands, and walled cities are abundant. Magnificent vistas of villages built on the shores of the crystal blue waters of the Adriatic Sea can be photographed from mountain roads, and the phenomenal waterfalls of Plitvice National Park in Croatia offer nature and landscape photographers spectacular imagery.  From rich Renaissance architecture to the grandeur of Rome, and from the legacy of the Ottomans to the influence of Venice, this remarkable photo tour offers tremendous subject matter that will captivate and inspire you.  The skills to be honed on this trip include composition, lighting, exposure, HDR, night photography, and low light photography. 



Day 1, Sunday, May 1. Depart North America for the trans-Atlantic flight and arrive the next day in Podgorica, Montenegro.  Overnight in flight.

Day 2, Monday, May 2.  Arrive in Podgorica airport.  Meet Jim in the airport at 4pm at the Avis Rent a Car desk and transfer to our hotel in Kotor. You will be met by Jim or a local representative holding a plaque with your name on it.  We will meet as a group in the lobby of the hotel for a discussion of what is to come and to answer any photography questions you may have, and then we explore the beautiful town of Kotor for afternoon & evening photography followed by a welcome dinner. Overnight Hotel Monte Cristo (4 star).

Day 3, Tuesday, May 3. Morning photography in the town of Kotor with an option of climbing a pathway up along the city walls for great views of the bay. After some free time to explore Kotor on your own, we will visit the village of Perast situated on the Bay of Kotor. The deep blue water juxtaposed with the red-tiled roof structures make stunning images, particularly with the mountains as a backdrop. We will make a short and scenic boat trip to two small islands overlooking Perast, followed by a dinner at local restaurant. Overnight Hotel Monte Cristo (4 star).

Day 4, Wednesday, May 4.  After breakfast we drive along one of the most incredible mountain roads in the region to Lovcen National Park. We visit the mausoleum of Njegos, the famous leader and poet, and this place offers incredible views from an elevation of more than 5000 feet.  We can see almost the whole of Montenegro and the Bay of Kotor. We then descent the mountain and have lunch in Cetinje town, the former Montenegrin capital.  We visit of the oldest monastery in the region which has dramatic architectural lines -- a great exercise in HDR photography. In the afternoon visit of Budva, the most popular beach town of Montenegro because it is so picturesque. Overnight Hotel Monte Cristo (4 star).

Day 5, Thursday, May 5. We will use the morning light at Kotor to take more pictures of this beautiful town, and after breakfast we head toward Croatia. It takes about two hours of scenic drive along Bay of Kotor to arrive to our next destination, the walled city of Dubrovnik. We will use afternoon light to photograph the old town from various vantage points.  From any angle, this city is absolutely beautiful. Overnight in the center of the old town (inside a 250 year old medieval house, fully renovated with great respect for the original design).  Dubrovnik Center Apartments (3 star).

Day 6, Friday, May 6.  We will have a full day to explore Dubrovnik and its highlights. There will be enough time to take photos of the old city center and its streets, which are still permeated with the medieval spirit and the grandeur of the Republic of Dubrovnik. A stroll around the city walls and defense towers offers great photo opportunities. It will be possible to visit the nearby islets, ideal for a relaxing break in the gentle sea breeze. In the evenings we can listen to the music played by street performers and indulge in seafood at one of the numerous great restaurants. We will want to photograph the city at twilight to take advantage of the cobalt blue sky in contrast with the warm lights of the buildings. Overnight in the old town. Dubrovnik Center Apartments (3 star).

Day 7, Saturday, May 7. Early risers have the opportunity to capture the sunrise over the Adriatic Coast from a city vantage point before we depart for the island of Hvar. We’ll take the scenic route along coast with many photo stops along the way. A short ferry ride brings us to the island of Hvar where we’ll spend the afternoon and evening wandering through the charming town of Hvar with our cameras. Overnight The Palace Hvar Hotel (3 stars).

Day 8, Sunday, May 8: We begin the day with a panoramic sunrise shoot before setting off for the western part of the island. Today we’ll photograph some of the most scenic places on the island including lush lavender fields and traditional Croatian villages. We’ll have some free time to explore, sunbathe and swim before meeting late afternoon to try our hand at creative seascapes and to experiment with long exposures. Overnight The Palace Hvar Hotel (3 stars).

Day 9, Monday, May 9. We take advantage of early morning light in this beautiful place for photography, and then after breakfast we will head to Split, the Dalmatian capital, by ferry. We explore the Diokletian's Roman palace, an imposing columned structure that dates from the 4th century A.D., and then we have lunch in the old town. Leaving Dalmatia we will head into the mountainous regions of Croatia. Hidden in the mighty woods is another natural jewel of this wonderful country – the Plitvice Lakes. You won't believe how dramatic and beautiful this national park is.  It has dozens of waterfalls amidst a lush forest, and the azure water of its lakes is breathtaking. We have the afternoon for photography in the park.  Overnight 3 star guest house within walking distance of the park. Ethno Houses Plitvica sel (3 star).

Day 10, Tuesday, May 10.  We have the full day to explore Plitvice Lakes National Park. To make the best of the soft light and fewer visitors, we will explore the lakes, waterfalls and cataracts early in the morning and late in the afternoon. This is a great place to experiment with slow shutter speeds, to practice good landscape techniques (that Jim will explain and demonstrate), and to be aware on light, contrast, and exposure. The national park is famous for rich flora and fauna, and seeing birds and other inhabitants of the woods is not uncommon.  Ethno Houses Plitvica sel (3 star)

Day 11, Wednesday, May 11.  We use morning light for more photogrpahy of the lakes before we head to Slovenia. The journey will take us through scenic landscapes towards the beautiful Julian Alps. Our destination is Lake Bled, the most scenic place in Slovenia. We will arrive in time for afternoon photography and sunset at the lake. For those who want to hike a trail to a vantage point over the lake, the reward is a breathtaking panorama. Overnight Grand Hotel Toplice (5 star).

Day 12, Thursday, May 12. We have a full day to explore Bled and the Julian Alps area. We will visit the island in the middle of Lake Bled by traditional boat called “pletna”. Bled Castle on a cliff high above the lake offers superb views of the lake (and it looks incredible at twilight, too). The nearby Lake Bohinj is also of glacial origin but it has a very different setting with high peaks all around. The area offers many photographic opportunities for landscape and nature photography including lakes, Alpine rivers and waterfalls. We might even peek into beehive and photograph a beekeeper at work.  Overnight Grand Hotel Toplice (5 star).

Day 13, Friday, May 13.  As usual we will take advantage of beautiful morning light for photography followed by breakfast. We leave the Alps and head to Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia and a gem of a city. After check in we will have an orientation walk around the old town and afternoon time for photography. City Hotel Ljubljana (4 1/2 stars).

Day 14, Saturday, May 14. We have the full day to wander the charming streets of the old city to capture the highlights of Ljubljana including baroque churches, diverse architectural details and the medieval castle as well as trying our hand at some street photography and candid portraits in Ljubljana’s bustling marketplace and along the café-strewn riverbanks. We will finish the day with an evening shoot of the city's skyline and a farewell dinner at one of Ljubljana's fine restaurants. City Hotel Ljubljana (4 1/2 stars).

Day 15, Sunday, May 15. After breakfast we transfer to the Ljubljana airport for our journey home, knowing we have seen and photographed outstanding subjects in this very special part of Western Europe.


Tour cost:  $6645.  All lodging based on double occupancy, all ground transportation with modern minibus, three meals per day, all entrance fees, photo instruction, and critiques upon demand.  

Not included:  International airfare, alcohol, items of a personal nature.

Single supplement:  $680