Tokyo Street Photography Guide

I am at Tokyo now as i share this guide. The weird thing is that when i started to google for street photography in Tokyo, i ended up getting a pile of links that often provide…no inspirational photos, it is as if it’s written just for bait.

In fact, some of the most inspirational images i found are in youtube instead of the top links in google. Here is one example of a good youtube video .

Now that i been here for a week, i have a few pointers to share.

1. Visit the parks

Veterans guide on street photography, yoyogi
The veterans

By george, there are so many parks in Japan and parks are usually visited by both tourists and locals alike. By all means, its a great place to do some shoot.

Tokyo street photography guide , yoyogi stop
On the way to Yoyogi Park

2. Make up your mind on what is street photography

Tokyo street photography, should contain people
Father & Daughter?

Street photography should be about people. There should at least be a person in your image when you take that shot. Tokyo have all kinds of people and the good news is that most of these people are Japanese, so unless you are at some hot tourist spots, you have plenty of Japanese to fill in the frame.

Tokyo street photography , dolls
Dolls in public

3. Visit Ginza on weekends

street photography guide for tokyo at ginza
looking cool while recovering

During weekend, central Chuo Dori street will be blocked from vehicle access. This means massive human traffic will be roaming this section of the street and that is exactly what we want for street photography.

If you are not sure where is Chuo Dori street, you can also look for the Ricoh Pentax building and you are in the right area. Do visit the Ricoh building, they often host interesting gallery at level 7 (which u need to pay 510 yen) or access level 8 for Ricoh Pentax shop. Level 8 also showcases the various film cameras of Ricoh Pentax and the prices back then.

tokyo street photography guide
korean tourists?

4. Time matters

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Shopping time!
tokyo street photography guide
sunrise Shinjuku

You need to pay attention to the 9-5 working hours time. This is because you will be using the rails too and you don’t want to be caught sandwiched in carriage while you try go get to your destination. Also if you are there early before these hours, you can watch the crowd grow in numbers and anticipate what kind of shots to take.

I didn’t take any Shibuya crossing photos because i have no idea what else i could take that could be interesting, but hey, thats me, you should go ahead and visit Shibuya. Here are some i took but didn’t capture the essence of the crossings.

Tokyo street photography guide, shibuya
Hold it
Tokyo street photography guide, crossings shibuya
Smoke-cycle

5. Watch the traffic section

Tokyo street photography guide, gotanda
A man gotto do what a man gotto do

I found myself often regretting putting the camera back into the bag when i am at the traffic junction or stop. Surprises lurks in every corner (or in this case, every stop) and you should get your camera ready.

tokyo street photography guide 101
Someone’s grandma on phone

There are also long trucks that can slow down and even stops at any junction because they have idols inside and doing a road promotion.

Tokyo street photography guide, idols
Cause i got the biggest camera, wuahaha!
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You take them, i took yours

6. Be confident

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Most japanese are friendly and live by the culture of being polite. Sometimes they can be camera shy and cover their faces when your camera is seen pointing towards them. During these whole week, i only had one old guy shouting to me “No photos!” at the Yakitori Alley near Shinjuku at night. Man, what a loser, if it wasn’t for bloggers that took and share photographs of their shops and grilled skewers, where did he think the customers came from. Duh.

Anyway, that was just one really isolated incident. Be brave and just shoot.

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Sometimes you will come across these smoking areas outside malls and streets. These scenes often present good photo opportunities. So do loiter around these locations especially in the pre 9 am or after 4.30 pm time range.

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Night at Shibuya
Tokyo street photography guide, street performers
A semi nude one punch man

7. Pay attention to Japan’s peculiar culture

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Teach the young about keeping the city clean and importance of nature

Japan have a very different set of culture and we see this reflected in many activities. This picture for example was taken just outside Gotanda, a bunch of kids are cleaning up the street and tending the public ground.

Tokyo street photography guide, street performers
Morning stretching

Japan is also an ageing country, so you will see a lot of over 60 years old folks still working and sometimes it can be heart wrenching to see them and be reminded of your own parents. It can be shocking too on how much these old people could walk so much between the subways and stairs.

So that is my guide for Tokyo, keep in mind this is my 3rd time in Japan shooting around and as i learn new things, i would share them in new articles.

ありがとうございました

Street Photography, Bukit Bintang {digital}

malaysia street photography

Streets, one of the unlimited source for shutter therapy. Bukit Bintang is a major commercial square in Kuala Lumpur. I come here nearly every week to either chill in a cafe or just to be surrounded with vibes of life.

Here, we have Pavilion, an upper end shopping mall very much like Giza in Tokyo and the flow of tourists goes from Pavilion -> Fahrenheit -> Isetan Japan KL.

(* All the images here are shot on 23 f1.4, Fujifilm with Acros film simulation)

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just do it, smoking

On that short stretch of walking pathway, you can find all sorts of cafe’s and side shops. Recently i noticed the following shops, a new bakery shop, taiwanese ice tea shop, two new ice-cream shops and a money exchange.

There are a lot of middle east people here too, in fact one could easily tell that two bigger cafes here are owned by them. A walk further from Pavilion and it becomes obvious that the locals no longer have a prominent presence here. Shishas, kebabs and massage services occupy the right side of the rows of shops, while the more hipster setups of shops are on the left.

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A man and his phone
malaysia street photography
Free Bus

There are free buses that travel thru the main attraction in Kuala Lumpur between the commercial centres. From Bukit Bintang here, one can hop on to such buses and alight in KLCC (The Petronas Twin Towers).

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Dignity

I saw this man riding his bike to the side and took a few seconds to adjust his helmet. Usually these streets are packed like sardines, but because this week in Chinese New Year, a large percentage of the local chinese in KL have returned to the other states for family reunion and celebration.

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Solo

This was taken just outside H&M near to Lot10, a much smaller mall that have lost its former glory and surviving due to its superb location. You will find plenty of tourists here taking selfies.

I often visits the hawker food at the lower ground level of Lot10 for some mouth watering local food. The basement of Lot10 only holds reputable hawkers stalls and is the brainchild of YTL (a strong developer company in Malaysia that flourished during Dr.Mahathir’s era). He even gave it a name “Hutong” and interconnects with Isetan Japan KL.

malaysia street photography
LED balloons anyone?

There are some peddlers hawking their wares along this walkway. The common items are bubble guns, umbrellas, fidgets and today i saw these led lighted balloons. They often cost just around RM10-20 (USD3-4) and the main clients are the kids tugging at their parents.

malaysia street photography
China power

There is a MRT station here for Bukit Bintang and i usually take it to reach Pasar Seni (China town). As in anywhere else in Asia nowadays, you will see a lot of chinese tourists in Bukit Bintang buying original branded items here that are cheaper than almost any other country.

The structure on the left that in the picture above is the MRT station.

Go closer

How do you like these images? Are these simulated film on fujifilm cameras good enough?

Iceland travel for asian, {single camera} Part 3

Iceland travel for asian, Part I
Iceland travel for asian, Part II

I would like to share a bit on Reykjavik in my previous travel to Iceland. Almost nobody seems to be interested much in what Reykjavik have to offer in terms of tourism as everyone’s itinerary is to use that city as a stepping stone to the offsite tours.

The offsite tours are what Iceland is famous for, no doubt about that, but there are reason why this city shouldn’t be left out of your itinerary. Here are some reasons why i felt you owe Reykjavik two days of stopover.

(all the photos here are shot on Sony A7s, 35mm f2.8 zeiss, unless otherwise mentioned)

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reykjavik

People. If you want to see how the people in Iceland are, you have to visit and stay in the town for a few days, better still, stay in an AirBnB home and you could find yourself graced by the warmth of the Icelandic hospitality. You are not going to find much interaction with real Icelandic people if you are just on the tours, except for the tour guide.

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fotografi shop / casio TR 21mm

Local Shops. Apart from the dreaded made in china souvenirs that you can find in every single Scandinavian and Europe city, Reykjavik is no exception, but there are many local brands and shops that you can find here that have survived and made themselves relevant.

There is this particular photography shop that have analogue aura all over it. You can’t miss the fotografi.is shop on the right side of the shophouses as you walked up the city. However when i went in i realized that they don’t sell any analogue cameras or film, but they showcase photography works from various photographers and made them for sale as prints here.

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behind fotografi
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red hair

Culture. Apart from their unique language (Icelandic tongue is probably the most complicated language in the world), you can feel the culture here is slightly different than say, Denmark. Maybe its due to the fact that these people have to survive in this forsaken ice-land and have successfully done so, they tend to appreciate and respect nature in both their way of living and communication.

It is hard to imagine living in Iceland from birth and growing up there with the constant history reminding you of angry volcanoes, crazy winters and sharing blood with the Vikings. Probably kids grow up listening to stories made up to represent the potent forces of nature here like the wind, earth, sun and water.

It is said that 1:10 people here would publish a book. That is true with my airbnb host Brynar.

iceland travel guide for asians
phone and vape, thats about right

The younger generation does seems similar to Europeans and with elements that show influences from Germany and countries across the sea. I came across a music video recording while i was strolling along the city and even though i can’t understand the language, the feel, vibe and presentation of the artist was similar.

There are probably a lot of celebration done in Reykjavik to commemorate events in Iceland. I happened to witness a vintage car procession that took place in the middle of the city.

Iceland travel guide for asians DSC09833.jpg Vintage cars
Those cars are in very good condition and proudly driven by their owners as they drove slowly thru the streets. I spend one of the afternoon just visiting the city’s main attraction like the rocket church and another afternoon strolling thru each corner of the city. The walk from my host’s house to Reykjavik took me around 20 minutes.

Iceland travel guide for asians
bicycles

What i do find missing in spades are local fashion. There is an outlet for a local brand Geysir, which could be the word for geyser (one of the attraction in Iceland) at the corner and that was about the only one i recognized. I have seen the magazine in the IcelandAir and in its console advertisements.

Now about that stroll in Reykjavik…

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fish & chips
asian travelling to iceland guide
by the opera house
asian travelling to iceland guide
opera house

I really enjoyed walking to Reykjavik by passing thru the Opera House, along the coastline and into the main centre. It will take you around 5 minutes from the Opera House to Reykjavik centre.

The best local food is the indisputable cod fish & chips that can be found in restaurants and even a roadside truck. They are as fresh as money could buy and taste fantastic no matter where i tried them. My favourite is the one from that simple roadside truck.

I went on summer, around August 2017 and the beautiful golden sun sets around 4-6 pm, so if you going there on summer, those strolls will become very memorable as the light streaming thru the city is beautiful.

sunset at reykjavik
sunset at reykjavik

I barely started on the Iceland tours. It seems that this series of images will be a long one. I hope you enjoyed this 3rd instalment of my travel with a single camera series. Do leave me a comment if these image inspired you in anyway, cheers.

The Vietnam Connection {portraits | film | experience}

It dawn upon me that some of the “best” photographers are the famous photographers. In today’s age of internet and social media, popularity and fame falls upon those that are able to blog and express their photos. Maybe its not a popular opinion but from time to time i am often confounded at the quality of portraits or streets that are shared by some online photographers. Its not that they are bad, they just didn’t satisfy my thirst for inspirations.

So i asked myself, “if u think ur better, why don’t u share more of your portraits, gears and street photos, maybe similar minded folks out there could be looking for some inspirations too”. Thank you, 2018, lets just do more of that. In my posts i will attempt to share images, gears and street photos all in one article per post.

I visited Hanoi on 26th-30th december, hazy and cloudy, there isn’t much good lighting to look forward to but i was really excited to see some of the unique scene in Hanoi and wanted to do some shoot there with a model.

I had this peculiar camera with me, its nearly a 80 years old and do or die, it’s the only gear i brought with me.

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The rolleiflex 75mm f3.5 automat

 

I brought along some Kodak 400 porta and Fuji 160NS 120 films.  After walking around the streets i notice a unique occurrence in the Old Quarters where a live railway runs thru the city, this is it, i told myself, i need to do an album here.

Thru SanAsia Event, a model was selected for my shooting, her name is Phuong Thao. The agent Miss Dao Thuong from SanAsia Event is a savvy and charming lady, she  told me that Phuong Thao is one of the top 30 in Miss Vietnam search but her dreams are cut short because she could not fund her own glamour outfits nor photo-shoot.

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Miss Thao Phuong, Rolleiflex 75 f3.5, Fuji 160Pro film
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Miss Thao Phuong, Rolleiflex 75 f3.5, Fuji 160NS

 

Miss Thao could understand english but her pronunciations of the english language sounded queer to me. The agent Miss Dao told me that this is a common problem in Hanoi, mainly because graduates are taught in the wrong pronunciations.

While shooting i thought of how lucky the other pageants and contests are in other countries as most of the requirements and needs are covered by sponsorships and the organizers.

After shooting two rolls of film, Miss Dao from SanAsia suggested that we should do the next shoot at Long Bien Bridge, a french architecture marvel that is still supporting the commuting activities in Hanoi.

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Long Bien Bridge, Rolleiflex 75 f3.5, Porta400

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Despite the weather which was hazy and the light is flat, film tones are just so beautiful. It brings out the moment and the very life of the scene, when i look at these images i thought to myself, “wow, i could just reenact the scene and hear the sounds of the bikes and see the hazy ambiance”.

Shooting with film has always been special because i need to manually focus the Rolleiflex and i always shoot wide open regardless of camera and lens. On the Rolleiflex automat this require a lot more effort because the focusing screen is just a ground glass, relatively dim with no split screen or focus confirmation of any sorts, you just have to see the image and when you believe you got it in “focus”, you press the shutter.

The efforts slows down your photoshooting tremendously, i needed to do it fast so that Miss Phuong Thao here won’t be posing too awkwardly waiting for me. It is those very effort and focus that you do while shooting film that your mind embeds the scene with everything in it far beyond what you can remember on a casual snapshot.

So how fast was i? Here is an image of a man riding a bicycle while walking his dog in Hanoi.

rolleiflex street film photographer
man, bicycle and a dog, Rolleiflex 75 f3.5 Porta400

 

The guy running the film lab in Kuala Lumpur didn’t believe this is possible. Well, it is. In fact i am a lot slower than Vivian Maier if you have seen her works, those photos that she did with shallow depth of field on the street, they are impossible to be shot slowly.

Here are some other images on the street that i took.

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portraiture rolleiflex film hanoi
Farmers of Ninh Bimh, north of Hanoi, Rolleiflex 75 f3.5, Fuji 160NS

 

I did bring along a backup camera, my phone, the Google Pixel2. I also took some pictures using it on the rails and the bridge, the results are too crappy to be shared here. Despite being the latest and greatest in mobile photography, “portrait mode” results is far from usable except in the most common scenario of poses.

Feel free to see some of the fail cases of Google Pixel2 here.

Today we live in a world where instant gratification and yada yada is cutting short our experiences and joy in many ways. Film photography as painful as it is, brings back some “pauses” to this world.

Iceland travel for asian, {single camera} Part 1

iceland travel blog

Iceland travel for asian, {single camera} Part 2

Yeah, i went to iceland. Let me just drag that timeline cursor to the beginning so i can share some of the tips and ideas you can do while travelling to iceland, especially so if you are not an expert backpacker or if you are coming from Asian countries like malaysia, singapore or thailand.

Before i took this journey, i had tons of tips coming from well meaning folks about what i should or should not do in iceland. “You will need to spend at least RM 5k (USD 1.3k) on gears and clothing!” says one uncle, who had never been there  himself.  “Why are you going on summer?, you will miss the aurora lights!”, says the other.

A short advice about these things that ppl dishes out to you….”ignore”, it’s absolutely ridiculous to take any of those advices given that different seasons in Iceland requires a firsthand experience, not from some imaginative minds.

Well here are the cost breakdown that i had spent on my own clothing and gears :

iceland from asian
water proof shoes (iphone 7+)
  • waterproof shoes – karrimor shoes, from sports direct RM 250 (usd 60).  i got mine from the sports direct outlet at Double Tree Hotel. Even though i went on summer, i faced unpredictable weather in Iceland and lots of walking and simple hiking. Don’t be penny wise and pound foolish, get yourself a waterproof boot or shoes.
how to travel to iceland for malaysians
waterproof jackets from uniqlo / blocktech (35mm zeiss FE f2.0)
  • uniqlo blocktech jacketRM 120 uniqlo, you will need these water repellent and wind proof jackets so that you can get behind some of the beautiful waterfalls in Iceland. If you notice most instagrams have the picture of the person way in front of the waterfall, its because they didn’t bring these jackets along.  Get the ones  with the hood.
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Get near the waterfalls (iphone 7+)
  • Bring other basic clothing like pants, gloves and i totally recommend those light clothing from Uniqlo’s heattech.

Now that you have the basic gears covered, you will need to book the flight ticket.  There is no direct flight to Iceland from Malaysia, so we went there using Thai Airways, 1 day stop in Bangkok, landed in Denmark and went on a direct flight to Reykjavik using IcelandAir. The flight from Denmark to Iceland that we took is not a connecting flight, its a separate flight that we booked online and it was 3 hours departure from our ETA to Denmark, so we took a little risk there.

how to travel to iceland from asia
IcelandAir Direct Routes

Now, the CAMERA. For the last few travels i did, i always chose film over digital but for Iceland i decided to bring my trusty Sony A7s with three batteries and a Casio TR wide angle camera (otherwise also known as selfie girls cam hahaha, a little bit on that later).  So why? Why digital over film, fact is that i kinda chickened out, i could not google up much information on film labs and availability in Iceland and given that this is one trip that i needed wide angle lens, i have the 35mm Zeiss f2.8. I have partly regretted that i didn’t bring along a film camera for a surprise reason that will be shown later on!.

malaysia iceland camera travel
That one Camera one Lens

 

For the next chapter i will be sharing on some of the early photos i took using this setup and other things  i encountered with my family during our visit to Iceland.

Iceland travel for asian, {single camera} Part 2

 

Dubrovnik, Croatia {travel with film} Part 8

leica travel photographer

Read the earlier series :

Dubrovnik, Croatia {travel with film} Part 7

Dubrovnik, Croatia {travel with film} Part 6

Dubrovnik, Croatia {travel with film} Part 5

Dubrovnik, Croatia {travel with film} Part 4

Dubrovnik, Croatia {travel with film} Part 3

Dubrovnik, Croatia {travel with film} Part 2

Dubrovnik, Croatia {travel with film} Part 1

After Dubrovnik and Lokrum, we went to Zagreb and took a personal tour with a local there to visit the Plitvice National park, on the way we stopped by this small town named Rastoke. Boris is a super personal guide that drove very safely and was patience in showing us the locations and updating us on the scenes that we visited. You can find Boris in trip advisor, be sure to tell him that about this blog and ask for  a discount 😉

This is a beautiful town that looks like it came out straight from the disney fairy tale.

 

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fairy tale residential scenery

Houses are built surrounded by beautiful mini waterfalls and streams. Its a sight to behold and there is a cafe at the entrance that you can sit and enjoy this beautiful view. Prices here are cheaper than Zagreb and if you want there are lodging that you can book and stay.

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slope for scenery view

If you walk up the road on the side you can see how the houses are built around the streams and in harmony with nature. There is no better landscaping than one that makes nature your neighbour. Totally awesome and the envy of any architect.

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surreal living

One of the main attraction here are the houses at near the entrance just a 5 minutes walk in the area and you will see crystal clear water in a shallow lake by the houses

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Mesmerizing scene

We spend around an hour at Rastoke, enjoying the view and sat a while at the cafe. We then proceed to the Plitvice National park.

Plitvice is our last travel destination and thus the end of this long series of travel with film for Croatia. We spent nearly 5 hours here. Yup, 5 hours. It involved a lot of walking, trekking and walking. I suggest you get a some water resistant shoes and clothing when you visit this place.

In fact, if this was a solo trip, i would probably spend the whole day here. While Rastoke is beautiful and surreal, its also a small town, Plitvice on the other hand is a huge garden of Eden.

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You will find yourself surrounded by emerald lakes and clear rivers that will make you wonder if such paradise is worthy of humans. These images that you see here are unedited and captured on film for its analogue and organic feel, something which i feel would be corrupted by digital capture.

Lets just enjoy these last set of images as i close this chapter on Travel with film for Dubrovik, Croatia and its attractions.

beautiful croatia, malaysia top travel blogger marcus low

best travel blogger marcus low malaysia for croatia

plitvice travel blogger leica marcus low of malaysia

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most beautiful travel photographer marcus low malaysia plitvice sceneries

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Say grace to God, for allowing us to enjoy this beautiful scenery

This whole series has taken me one whole year to write and share. All the images in this travel blogging photography series is done using Leica M7 with 35 mm Zeiss ZM f2.0 lens. All the images are shot wide open and i used various films like kodak color plus 200 (bought in Dubrovnik), Superia 200 and Fuji Pro400H and developed in Publika Bang Bang Geng, Malaysia.

Thank you for visiting my blog, i hope you find inspiration to travel to Croatia.

(Next in 2017, ICELAND!)

Dubrovnik, Croatia {travel with film} Part 7

Read the earlier series :

Dubrovnik, Croatia {travel with film} Part 6

Dubrovnik, Croatia {travel with film} Part 5

Dubrovnik, Croatia {travel with film} Part 4

Dubrovnik, Croatia {travel with film} Part 3

Dubrovnik, Croatia {travel with film} Part 2

Dubrovnik, Croatia {travel with film} Part 1

 

I boarded the ferry with my family and off we go to Lokrum. The main attraction of that island is the dead sea, the amazing view and clear waters. There is a nude tourist section but since i am not ready to be seen on my beach bod, that was skipped.

The best part of this island is that the gov of Croatia does not permit anyone staying overnight there. That limits the kind of facility that can be built on the island, the usual unsightly footprint of human accommodations construction and hotels are nowhere to be seen. There are just a few restaurants there and that is good enough for everyone.

 

scenery at f2.0
towards lokrum

Sometimes film photography is “the only” way to go travel. If you look at the picture above, that korean tourist is on her phone busy uploading boring instagram images while the beautiful scene fades away. When i carry a digital camera i just can’t avoid looking and double checking on the LCD screen all the time and machine-gunning every scene repeatedly. The more time u spent with ur eyes in the camera, the less you travelled.

 

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shores
croatia travel photographs images best beautiful marcus low photographer
sofa of rocks
amazing foliages

The way natural lights dances in and out of Lokrum is just amazing. I shot everything on F2.0 wide open on the Zeiss biogon and i take the results with vignette happily. You don’t need any metering at f2.0, if its bright, set the shutter to 1/1000 on the Leica M7 and your done. If its shady, set it to 1/250 and you are good to go. Most of these images are taken on Fuji pro400.

Looking back at these images as i type these words, man, those colors and organic feel is just awesome.

the couple
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dead sea crowd
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crystal clear
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party
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lokrum opening

Lokrum is a must visit island if you are travelling to Croatia or Dubrovnik. Its one of those beautiful places that you just wished you could be remoting and living there for months. While the inland dead sea pool view are not as breathtaking as the plitvice lakes which i will be sharing on my next installment,  the shores and foliages in this island sets it apart as a tourist spot.

Dubrovnik, Croatia {travel with film} Last Chapter