Tag: travels

Six Dolomitic Destinations a Landscaper Couldn’t (And Shouldn’t) Miss

For who don’t know, Dolomites are a group of many mountains located in Italy, between the regions of Veneto and Trentino-Alto Adige.These peaks are known for their bizarre shapes, formed millions of years ago because of many erosions.Over the years The Dolomites became among the most visited mountains in the World and many tourists from different countries go for miles on foot to admire the magnitude of that peaks or enjoy atomic sunsets.As that places are so peculiar and full of drama, many landscapes photographers search inspiration there and the business of photo workshops is greatly fruitful.  seceda dolomitesThis is why, as I explored The Dolomites for years, many foreign photographers asked me a lot of information about spots and places to visit there.Of course, every angle of this area should be explored, and there are wonderful locations are not included in this article cause I should write a book about all the places to visit in the Dolomites… this is why I’ve chosen the six most powerful locations where I tried the strongest feelings as a photographer and as human.

1. Mount Seceda 

Seceda is part of the Odle group, in Val Gardena, in the province of Bozen. You can reach the summit of the mountain with a cable car from Ortisei and be at about 2500 min 15 minutes. There you can admire the imperiousness of the inclined Seceda peak turned towards the valleys and other mountains of South Tyrol, until the Austrian peaks like mount Großglockner. Behind your sight, you will recognize some of the most famous mountains and massifs in the Dolomites, like Langkofel, Plattkofel, and Sella group. As a photographer you can use many different kinds of lenses there; I think the best focal length to immortalize Seceda is 24mm even if telephoto lenses are necessary to create images of the far peaks, that are very fascinating, especially in a misty nightfall.  According to my photographic tastes, I think that the best time to take great shots of Seceda is in the foggy days, especially when fast clouds, lower than the summit of the mountain, move against this one; this kind of weather can be present in every season, particularly in Autumn and Spring.

 2. Seiser Alm

Coming up by car from Kastelruth you will arrive in a little town of hotels named Compatsch. If you park and proceed by a walk on a restricted traffic route, you’ll discover a little and pacific rural environment at the foot of the majestic Langkofel and Plattkofel mounts.During your shooting time you can play with the curves of hills, and little details of them, like trees and little alpine lodges. I recommend focal lengths from 24mm to 70mm even if also telephoto lenses could be used to capture details of the valley and far mountains.A foggy weather is perfect to take pictures in Seiser Alm; I really love when the light of the sun or the moon creates visible oblique rays that illuminate the fog and are contrasted by the shadows of the elements in the valley. My award-winning picture “The magic of the night” is an example of the disarming beauty of Seiser Alm bounded by the mist at the moonlight.The best months of the year to visit this fairy location are May, June, July, during the flowering of the meadows, October, November and in the wintertime (but only if the hills are covered by the snow).seiser alm dolomites

3. Lagazuoi hut   

Lagazuoi is a mount located in the Dolomites near Cortina D’Ampezzo, lying at an altitude of 2835 m. It contains a mountain hut, accessible by cable car in few minutes, which has one of the best panoramic views in the Dolomites.   This is why I consider it a landscaper friendly location: every kind of lens, especially from a focal length of 24mm to higher, is addicted thanks to a view rich of peaks, valleys, trees and every kind of detail.Every month of the year is great to visit Lagazuoi hut, above all, when low clouds form a kind of “sea” and only the highest peaks come out from them. The funniest thing is that, at that altitude, the weather changes very fastly! This is why you can take shots of a red sunset and immediately after of some lightning.lagazuoi pelmo croda da lago cortina sorapiss sorapis

4. Lake Sorapiss

At the foot of the Dito di Dio (God Finger) peak is located the most colorful body of water in the Alps. Sorapiss is characterized by an intense turquoise water, given by the rocks at the bottom of the lake.You can arrive at this fairy place from Passo Tre Croci, near Misurina (district of Auronzo di Cadore), in about two hours and it’s possible to book at the Vandelli hut, near the lake.A colored sunset or a shiny sunrise can help you to take a memorable capture of this location, even if the totality of the lake makes the most of the “wow effect”.I recommend a wide-angle lens to get a large visual of the mountains and the water, with some rocks in the foreground.You can visit Sorapiss lake from the thaw in May until the first ices at the beginning of November.

  5. Vajolet Towers

When you reach the “Gartl” hollow after a sloping rocky trail, you may think to be in another lonely world; and on your right, there are three majestic bastions called Vajolet Towers. On your left, there is a yellow house which is the Re Alberto I hut and in front of it is placed a little pluvial lake. The rocky garden of the “Gartl” hollow is located at 2621 m between the Fassa valley and the municipality of Tires, in South Tyrol. Photographers can take shots from many points of view like the lake and use some rocks as foreground.The best lens for this location is a wide angle, that’s especially addicted to the nightscapes lovers, cause the sky at that altitude is very clear and deep.The way to reach Re Alberto I hut from Pera di Fassa is long but you can get really warm hospitality and discover the taste of Italian and Tyrolean food at the hut; I will never forget the polenta with cheese before my shooting time.Re Alberto I hut is open from the end of June to the end of September and the best weather is, of course, a red cloudy sunset but if a dark night follows it.stars vajolet towers milky way

6. Tre Cime di Lavaredo

I couldn’t avoid writing about Tre Cime (Three Peaks), a place that every tourist knows, a classic postcard of the Italian Alps. You can reach the Locatelli hut from Auronzo hut by a more than one hour walk. The trail is boring, but when you are in front of the Three Peaks can’t stop to admire their majesty.I suggest you take a look also at lakes of Piani, two bodies of water behind the Locatelli hut.I recommend you to use a wide angle lens and a telephoto lens only to take shots at far peaks like Cadini di Misurina or Dreischusterspitze. Tre Cime di Lavaredo are fascinating in every period of the year, with every weather (even if I personally prefer a partially cloudy sky in the daytime and a clear night). Be sure that in Winter the trail is walkable and there isn’t ice on it.tre cime

A Photographic Journey around San Felipe, Mexico

I have had the opportunity the past four months to live and photograph around San Felipe, Mexico. San Felipe is located in the Baja California and located about 2-3 hours south of the border along the side of The Sea of Cortes. San Felipe is filled with color, culture, great food, and beautiful desert land. Pack all of the correct gear for your travels and take an adventure to gather some great photographs. San Felipe SignOn your way to downtown San Felipe, you will first spot The Arches, a very popular monument of San Felipe. They call the arches “The Gateway To The Sea” The arches offers many angles. However, the only problem photographing the arches are all of the distractions around such as signs and wires, which you can Photoshop out later. Around and past the arches you will also find a hillside where you can explore to gather some more cultural photographs of the areas. This area is where you will find all of the best authentic food with local taquerias and is always a great photo op in itself by practicing your food photography. Down at the end of San Felipe is The Malecon, which sits next to The Sea of Cortes. The Malecon is lined with restaurants, shopping, and with a great view of the sea. This is where all of the events happen in towns such as food festivals, music festivals, and parades. This is a great place to take some iPhone street photography. San Felipe ArchesSan Felipe Culture

San Felipe Food Truck

San Felipe TacosSan Felipe TortaSan Felipe DowntownSan Felipe MaleconSan Felipe MaleconSan Felipe Shrimp FestivalSan Felipe is also a great place to gather some night photography. One of the best spots for night photography is down at The Shipyard, which you will find at the end of The Malecon. The Shipyard used to be a marina but was flooded, and they could not move the ships, so they are left there are part of a San Felipe gem. Up on a hill, you will find a building, The Boom Boom Room, a place that has also been abandoned and a very interesting location to photograph during the day or evening. Up on a mountain, you will find a little yellow chapel that looks over the town of San Felipe and right next to it is the lighthouse, which you can shoot from ground level or up at the top where the prayer building is. This is a great place to work with your angles. If you are in town during the full moon make sure to catch the moon rise over The Sea of Cortes: I was there for supermoon, and it was an incredible experience and a really good opportunity to try my moon photography skills and also work with some post editing. San Felipe Tampico ShipSan Felipe BoomBoom RoomSan Felipe MexicoSan Felipe ChapelSupermoon in MexicoThere are many smaller day trips you can take from San Felipe for some great opportunities including more water and desert land. On a note of transportation, you will need some form of 4-wheel drive out in the desert. It is a famous landmark in the area is The Valley of The Giants and a photo opportunity you will not want to miss. The valley holds cardon cacti that stand nearly 50 feet high. You can also drive further south to Percebu where you will find a little more surf in the water and also a great location to find treasures along the beach. Along the way, you will find more abounded buildings and interesting homes and land to photograph. The desert land has a lot of beauty to offer, and San Felipe is surrounded by beautiful desert land. You can take a drive out west closer to the mountains for some more variety in your desert landscape. The desert also offers some interesting finds such as bones, rocks, and maybe even a carcass or two. If you are going out in the middle of the day, you will have problems with harsh lighting in your landscapes, but you can always enhance your lighting in post production with landscape Photoshop actions or Lightroom Presets and Brushes. Valley of the GiantsValley of the GiantsPercebuSan Feipe DesertSan Felipe Mexico DesertSan Felipe Mexico DesertI hope you have the opportunity to visit San Felipe in your future travels or even Baja California to discover color, culture, and beautiful desert land by the sea or ocean side. As they say in the Baja “No Bad Days!”

Mastering Travel Photography: Avoiding Cliche Travel Shots

You’ve finally saved up for that amazing trip! You can’t wait to get some great shots to help build your portfolio. But, you don’t want to travel only to take the same, overshot image of that iconic place. And how demotivating is it to walk up and see hundreds of other people doing the same thing? But isn’t it funny that you always see the hundreds of other photographers standing in the same spot? Having other photographers around doesn’t mean you can’t get a unique image. Just, avoid standing where they are. Follow the below to help in avoiding cliche travel shots and get unique images of iconic places.

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Do Your Research

Before traveling, do your research to begin planning out your ideas and shot list. This includes actually knowing what the cliche images are! Otherwise, how would you know what to avoid? You should also plan out some shot ideas to avoid the cliches. Of course, this is not meant to be a hard schedule, it should be a guideline, something to adjust if needed. Some travel photographers prefer to wait until they are in a new place to figure out the story. This way, it is a more natural process. Even so, doing research beforehand will help give you an idea what to expect. You may learn an interesting fact that could change the way you shoot in a location. Before going to Porto, I learned JK Rowling wrote the first Harry Potter book while living in the city.  This changed the way I walked around the city. I found small details of buildings I could reference back to the Harry Potter books. It was so much fun! If I hadn’t done the research, I may not have known this fact until after I left. As a photographer and Harry Potter fan, this would have been frustrating and heart-breaking!

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Golden Hour

The time of day you shoot can be the difference between a hobbyist and full-time pro. How often do you see people shooting iconic landmarks smack in the middle of the day? D’oh! If you were there at the right time of day, you would have a higher quality image. Shoot the hour after sunrise and the hour before sunset. During the day when the sun is brightest, shoot indoors or be aware where the sun is. Using a reflector can help reflect light where you want it to go.

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Walk Around

First, assess the scene. What do you see? What do you want to capture? Take a nice walk around the scene. Search for interesting angles or actions happening. What does this subject look like from the side? Look up, look for ways to shoot down. Walk across the street and see what it looks like far away versus up close. Try shooting a few frames and see how they come out. How can you improve them? Does the image tell a story? It can be a good idea to walk away from the subject for a while as explore something new. Come back to it another time (if timing permits) with fresh eyes. This can change your perspective.

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Shoot a Portrait

Try finding someone interesting who would be willing to let you shoot a portrait of them. If you are near a famous landmark, this will be easy. Everyone enjoys a good photo of themselves, even more in front of a famous location. Play with aperture, blur out the landmark. It’s interesting the Eiffel Tower blurred in the background. Most would make it the main focus. Maybe it is an interaction between people or a candid unposed image. That will give you a unique spin on that location. Moments are singular and will never again occur in exactly the same way.

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Shoot Daily Life

Expanding on the above, try to create a sort of environmental street portrait. Look for a scene which speaks to the emotion of the place. It could be an interaction between a local couple, or a street vendor and tourists. Add the element of the landmark to your background to give it a sense of place. You will tell a story of daily life in this location, in a more interesting way than just each element on its own.

Avoiding cliche shots in travel photography is not difficult to do. Even though there are other photographers around, you can still walk away with a unique image. All you need is a plan and to do your research. Learn what to avoid and brainstorm how to avoid it. Take a nice walk around, get to know the locals, ask questions. A new world will open up before you if you just start a conversation and take an interest in the people and culture. This care and emotion reflect in the images. You’ll walk away with a great story and a better image.

How to Conquer the Creative Photography Slump Effectively

We all face it. One day you’re producing great work with ease. The next, completely gone. Poof! Now, just picking up your camera is a dreaded task. And the idea of shooting seems so daunting! What happened? Where did the excitement go? We can’t determine when this will happen or what triggers the descent. But we all have been here, more times than we’d like to admit. But it’s normal, and happens to everyone. Though there is no cure, you can prepare and set in place the proper treatment plan. Below I’ve outlined a few tips I’ve found have helped me when I feel a slump coming on.

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Study the Greats

I often find when I’m in a slump, I need to walk away from the camera. But, I still need to spark that desire to pick the camera back up. For this reason, my go-to spark generator is to watch videos on photography. Whether this is a documentary on a specific photographer or a general video on a type of photography. There are some great documentaries on Netflix. And endless inspiring videos on YouTube. I love the site CreativeLive. They offer live video classes ranging from basic settings to advanced post-processing.

This is also why I keep photography books in my creative space. If I’m having a slump moment, I’ll grab a book and just flip through it. After a quick flip through The Americans, I’m running for my camera.

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Change 1 Thing

Whether you plan for it or not, we all get into habits with our photography. It could be shooting the same locations or falling back to your go-to settings. Or even specific post-processing behaviors. An easy fix for a creative slump is to pinpoint one area to switch up. This may mean driving to another location to walk around with your camera. It could also mean adjusting a setting you usually set and forget. For example, if you shoot in Aperture Priority Mode, switch to Shutter Priority. Focus the afternoon on freezing or blurring your subjects. Or better yet, practice your Manual Mode skills and spend some time learning about manual ISO. I find a simple change, like shooting all day in f4, will result in some images I wouldn’t have otherwise taken.

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Get Involved in Your Local Community

Photography is everywhere. So chances are you live in a photography community. Even small towns seem to have photography groups or local classes available. Search sites like Craigslist or Meetup for these opportunities. It may surprise you how many there are around you. Take a class at your local community college. Or find a local store and check out their calendar dates. When I lived in San Francisco, I took a class on film photography and print-making at Rayko Photo Center. It got me in the darkroom every Wednesday night making prints with other photographers. I met so many great people and learned so much.

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Explore Another Art Form

All forms of art share the same basic skeletal structure. We follow a similar series of events to arrive at the end destination, be it a photograph, painting, etc. What I’ve found to work for me is to explore other forms of art to get over a photographic slump. This may mean practicing or just observing. I may focus on writing for a few hours or do some sketching. I’ve found that going to a museum or gallery produces the best spark. Looking at paintings and sculpture, particularly Surrealist and Pop Art, are so inspiring. If you have a nearby museum, spend time there. Maybe even volunteer there to get free admission and behind the scenes access.

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Get Critiqued

I find this the best practice for beating a creative slump, and in general. Getting your work critiqued by a photographer you respect, can be so beneficial to your work. Even if you’re not in a creative slump, you should be doing this as often as possible. A good critique will be able to provide feedback, whether good or bad, you wouldn’t gather on your own. To be clear, a critique is not a “Nice Photo!” on Flickr or Facebook. Find a fellow photographer who can speak to structure and aesthetics of the photograph. You’re looking for the information you can act on to better your work.

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Start a Project

If you haven’t already, read through my previous post on starting a photography project. A project can be a great way to spark some motivation. Start small if you need to. Plan the logistics so you know the timeline as well as the desired outcome of the story you want to tell. A project will give you purpose when you go out shooting and will get you thinking long term.

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Travel

Travel does not have to mean hopping on a plane bound for Paris. Though how nice does that sound? Travel can mean driving a few hours away or even just exploring an unfamiliar part of town. When out walking, switch up your route. Drive 2 hours and see where you end up. Make a day of it with your family and turn it into a mini photo project. I did a mini photo project on an afternoon spent at a flea market I had never been to, it was great. As long as you’re in a new area, that creative spark will activate. I am fortunate to be able to travel for my day job around the world. So, I make sure to take few extra days to wander around with my camera. It’s great for my portfolio and is of little cost to me. If you are able to travel for work, take advantage. Spend as much free time as you can out with your camera.

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DON’T Buy Gear

We all know GAS (Gear Aquisition Syndrome) by many various naming conventions. As photographers, we love gear and gadgets. That sort of comes with the territory. But, it’s when we think that only more gear will make us better, that we need to be careful. When in a creative slump, it’s easy to say “Well, all I need is a new lens and that creativity will come racing back”. Or “If only I had the newer model, then I would be a better photographer”. Don’t fall for it! You’ll only realize once the excitement fades that you are right where you started. And poorer. So make sure to follow the above steps first. As long as you have a camera that can take a picture, you have all you need to get out of a creative slump.