Medjugorje, Bosnia and Herzegovina

As a nature photographer, the journey to wild places is as much a part of the fun as the destination itself and today was no exception. It’s been the sort of week where I “happened to be in the neighborhood” for a few wildly interesting places. Today, I was in Bosnia-Herzegovina rather unexpectedly and even more so, at Medjugorje, the major pilgrimage site for Catholics. On June 24th, 1981, six children in rural Herzegovina claim to have witnessed an apparition of Mary, mother of Jesus, and she is said to appear everyday since then. I’ve heard a variety of skeptical things about this place and admit, I arrived expecting flowers, rosaries and statues – but the experience I had was all together different and even jolting.

At first glance, Medjugorje appears like a tourist trap. Thousands of rosaries, crosses and other religious items line both sides of a small street, attracting throngs of visitors, tour buses and an equal number of vendors eager to hock their goods. As I pushed further into town, the street narrowed even more, and like a funnel, it led me through residential neighborhoods and soon, a cobble stone street too small for a car but once again lined with religious markets. Continuing higher into the hills with no other path but forward, the cobble stone ended abruptly and I found myself at the bottom of a hill covered in jagged rocks and red soil. I stopped, lifted my eyes up and before me was a spot that looked fit for a movie reenactment of the crucifixion. At this very moment, the blue skies began to lose territory to storm clouds and a long, droning thunder echoed off the surrounding hills, their baratone clap resembling mortar fire that is all too real for the people of this region. I marched up the hill, sweating in the humidity and in total silence. The only sounds were the murmur of people reciting the rosary or singing songs of religious praise, the sound of which was made more eerie by the incredibly diverse languages represented here. I stumbled through the rocks, working my way higher and higher, exhausted and drenched in sweat. Soon though, I rounded a bend and there before me was a beautiful statue of Mary at the location where the children were said to have first seen her. People were on their knees and crying could be heard from somewhere in the crowd. Thunder still shook the earth around me and the clouds were now completely over us, but no rain fell, only a cold wind blew. Catholic pilgrims from around the world took their turns looking up, wondering, and praying. Regardless of what you may believe, the combination of weather, the thousands of people of all ages climbing this mountain and the sounds of their prayers, made this experience incredibly remarkable. 




Plitvice National Park, Croatia

16 lakes are connected by hundreds of waterfalls in a National Park here in Croatia that is so stunning and magical, that it is yet another UNESCO designated World Heritage Site. Unfortunately, my time here was short and the few hours I had to explore were all done in a cold rain. While not a downpour, it was the sort of rain that is misty and blows every which direction making it nearly impossible to keep the lens free of water spots. Still, I managed a few frames. 


Medieval City of Dubrovnik, Croatia

I spent the last two days working my way down the Dalmatian Coast, passing briefly through Bosnia-Herzegovina, and into the “Pearl of the Adriatic,” Dubrovnik. Like many of the major destinations in Hrvatska (Croatia), the old city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, mostly attained because of it’s rich history which included being one of the most important trade hubs in the region – rivaling only Venice, Italy – and calling it’self home to many notable poets, playwrights, painters and other scholars. It’s obvious even today to see why it was home to a large stable of creatives, as it’s beauty and rich architecture is still inspiring, especially to me. 

iGoogle Nature Themes by Ian Shive

Ian Shive Photography is kicking off the summer season with the release of Nature Themes for iGoogle. Nature Themes will allow users to not only personalize their iGoogle desktop with visuals of nature, but will also serve as reminders to celebrate the environment and world we live in. 

Ian feels that “We live in a world where people feel the need to protect nature out of fear of losing it but so often forget what it is they loved in the first place. I believe that we need to be reminded why it is that we work so hard to protect it – through feeling inspired and reinvigorated by the natural world. Only with a partner such as Google can we reach millions of people to remind them what it is we love so much about nature and to let our photography be that daily inspiration.” 

Click below to download your Ian Shive Photography iGoogle Theme: 

Great Landscapes by Ian Shive
California Wild by Ian Shive


Krka National Park, Croatia

Ironically, despite having a book coming out on America’s National Parks this August, I have never been to a European National Park before (though I have been to others in different parts of the world). This park, Krka (pronounced Kirka), is a stunning gem in the European portfolio of natural wonders and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 


The Dalmatian Coast, Croatia

As the sun rises on the Adriatic Sea, small boats with Homer-esque sails more apt for a tale from the Iliad ferry along the white caps towards the medieval town of Split, Croatia. Red roofs are the first to be warmed by the sun, followed by vineyards, farms and eventually, the walls of ancient castles themselves. Roosters crow at first light and bread is still hand-made here. Food is rich with flavor, a blend of ancient Roman tradition and Mediterranean culture from a Slavic people. This is life in Dalmatia.