A trip to Montenegro

I and Tatiana visited Montenegro while working abroad for a while and we just wanted to share our amazing experience with you, particularly from a photographic point of view.

Yes, it was about work. But, as always, we do have a camera at hand. Well, not really just the camera, this is our luggage for the trip :). Cameras, computers, some lights, etc. We never travel light!


Our gear is ready for departure!


Prawns / shrimps farming in Montenegro, Kotor Bay.

So, what’s in our “bag”? We always have at least two camera bodies, just in case (we shoot on Canon 5d Mark II), 2 tripods (a gitzo traveler and a light manfrotto), a couple of lenses, a coupe of flashes / speedlites, a couple of light stands for the speedlites, a tripod, spare batteries (lots!) for both cameras and flashguns, a couple of radio wireless triggers, a few spare memory cards and a few landscape photography filters (Lee landscape pro filters system).

In terms of lenses, we always choose to have: an extreme wide angle lens (Canon 16-35mm), a walk about lens, medium wide angle to medium telephoto (Canon 24mm to 70mm f/2.8 or something similar) a long telephoto lens (canon 70mm to 200mm f/2.8), a 50mm f/1.4 and sometimes we might (if there is any space left in the bag) grab a fisheye lens (canon 15 mm f/2.8) just in case. You never know.

And that’s it. But, why are we always carrying this heavy burden all the time? I know, most of the people want to travel light, right? I understand why, but we don’t!

We always travel loaded, it’s not easy but the more accessories we have with us the more chances to capture a larger variety of subjects we have. True, and without being sexist, it’s always good to have a strong pair of a man’s arms with you so to speak. We sorted out the equipment for the trip; well, there are some compromises we need to make, we leave lots of things home that we can buy and get rid of abroad during the trip, small things, in our opinion is worth it.

Montenegro is a beautiful, small Mediterranean country located around a large open bay in the south of the Adriatic Sea surrounded by exotic landscape and beautiful scenery.


Landscape sunset in Montenegro, Kotor bay.


Misty morning in Montenegro, Kotor Bay.


Prawns / shrimps farming in Montenegro, Kotor Bay.


Dramatic misty sunset in Montenegro, Kotor Bay.

We were based in a small quiet village,  Djenovići, very close to Herceg Novi; but we explored most of the surroundings by car.  It’s good to have a car here, the distances are short (and the equipment is heavy) and you can get almost everywhere in about 20 minutes, half an hour, maximum.


View from our balcony in Montenegro, Kotor Bay.

Our first photographic encounter took place in Budva, a very beautiful and attractive location in Montenegro. It was the weekend and it was time for a break from work!

We left early in the morning with a view to explore the old town of Budva which is located by the sea next to the beach.

It’s February, it’s quiet around, the weather is beautiful, sunny with medium temperatures, not too hot, not too cold; we don’t like the seaside during the peak season, particularly when it’s very hot. We stopped to do some shopping and we ended up buying a few pieces of clothes. We spotted some beautiful rocks and we thought it might be a bit of fun to snap a few fashion shots.

I was in the mood for shooting, and Tatiana didn’t say no, so we picked up a top and a skirt which we thought will make a good outfit.


Photographing Tatiana on location in Budva.

We brought a couple of speedlites with us and a stand, but the day before, I spent a bit of time in the kitchen building some light shapers, from aluminium kitchen foil. I like to have control over my lighting and, as there was no option to carry the shapers in the bag from London I just built some. They worked!


Photographing Tatiana on location in Budva.

The beautiful rocks along the shore offered a very effective and dramatic background which we both loved.

It was sunny and not very windy so it was easy to set up the lights. I used some rocks as stabilisers for the stands, not to worry I am used to it, I don’t really use assistants unless it’s huge job which requires a big load of equipment.

The sun was quite low, about 45 degrees, just perfect, so, one sun, 2 flashguns, what more do you need?

We had fun and we ended up with a few images for our trip album :). The home made kitchen foil light modifiers did a very good job, we were happy with the results.

One of the most important attractions in Montenegro is Kotor Bay, which is located very close to Tivat airport.


Ion in action above the clouds in Montenegro, above Kotor Bay, Lovcen mountain.

The Bay of Kotor, also known as Boka in Montenegrin and Serbian languages, is a bay by the Adriatic Sea located on the south west of Montenegro. The bay looks like a fjord and is about 28 km long from the sea to the Kotor city harbour. It is surrounded by a chain of mountains, the Orjen on the west and Lovćen on the east. Coming from Tivat airport there is a nonstop ferryboat service from the south shore to the north which shortens your trip to Herceg Novi by about 6-7 miles.

KotorBay is a place of stunning natural beauty – a large water area by then shaped as a butterfly surrounded by breathtaking mountain scenery, the tallest peak is 1400 meters high.


Sunset landscape near Risan in Montenegro, Kotor Bay.

We explored this area a few times as we loved their food market and the old hidden architecture of the fortress; cobbled narrow roads, lots of shops and restaurants around. A lovely pizza makes the town of Kotor a very attractive place for the tourists, even in the out of season time.


Sunset above Kotor Bay, Lovcen mountain.


Sunset above Kotor Bay, Lovcen mountain.

One day we decided to go to the mountains later during the night to capture the stars. The sky was clear and it was not windy and we stayed late, determined to make it. All packed, ready to go, we drove to the mountains.

We had to drive for a while until we got to a high point where there wasn’t too much artificial light from the city. There was still a bit on the horizon, but it was just enough to add drama to the images.

I stopped the car, we got out with our eyes closed, spent a few minutes with them shut to help them get used to the darkness.

We opened our eyes after a few minutes and we both mumbled: wow! A storm of star lights inundated our eyes instantly, such an astonishing view of the Milky Way accompanied by a very quiet night. It was quite cold, so I set up my traveler tripod in a hurry and begin to think about the next step. It was quite dark and I needed a fast shutter speed so I picked up a fast lens. All done, camera in place, the remote shutter releaser connected, click and wait!

We were very pleased with the results. See a tutorial how to take this kind of images here


Star gazing near Risan in Montenegro, Kotor Bay.

In the last few days of our trip we were wandering about in the mountains, there was still snow covering the peaks of the mountains so we thought it would be worth it to have a look.


Sunset above Kotor Bay, Lovcen mountain.


Ion in action at the sunset above Kotor Bay, Lovcen mountain.


Sunset above Kotor Bay, Lovcen mountain.


City lights captured late at evening from Lovcen mountain, Montenegro, Kotor Bay.


Taiana at Sunset above Kotor Bay, Lovcen mountain.

We loved Montenegro and we enjoyed the local atmosphere, the surroundings, the people and the food were amazing.

We will be back soon and we are also planning a residential landscape photography course there soon. Please let us know if you are interested in joining us for few days in this amazing place.

(update 15th May 2016 – we made it to Montenegro with a group os students and we had an amazing time – see the blog from the photography holiday in Montenegro here

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Best wishes,

Photoion Team