Photographing in the Italian Dolomites

In the Realm of the Pale Mountains

Photographing in the Italian Dolomites

The Dolomites, a UNESCO’s World Natural Heritage site since 2009, are one of the world’s most fascinating mountain ranges. Once known as “The Pale Mountains” for the white color of their rocks, the shapes of these majestic peaks have often been compared to natural cathedrals, pinnacles and needles – a fact evocative of the almost religious sense of wonder that these mountains have instilled on men over the centuries with their superbe grandeur.
The best period for visiting and photographing this area is from mid May to mid October. In May and June the fields are green and dotted with flowers, and trees are blooming, while in the weeks across September and October fall foliage colours reach their peak. However this region is so impressing that also in less ideal seasons will provide the conditions for unforgettable holidays and photographic tours.

*please click on the pictures if you want to see them larger

A small lake, just slightly bigger than a pond, Lake Antorno is without any doubt the best vantage point for photographing the Tre Cime di Lavaredo (Drei Zinnen in German) either at sunrise or sunset. The Cadini di Misurina group and Mount Piana are also visible from this place. I took this picture on beautiful clear evening of mid June, this image is stitched from four vertical frames.

Wild horses in the fields surrounding the Lake of Misurina, in the Dolomiti d’Ampezzo area. Many wildlife species live in the area of the Dolomites, such as deers, chamoises and ibexes, foxes, wolves and brown bears.

Croda da Lago and Lastoi de Formin as seen from the Cinque Torri. Taken at sunset from the fields surrounding the Cinque Torri group, a small massif of five peaks in the Nuvolao range, not far from Cortina d’Ampezzo.
This area was theater of fierce fightings between Italian and austro-Hungarian troops during World War I; the trenches and shelters are still there nowaday and have been recently restored to create interesting historical itineraries.

A view at sunset of Croda rossa d’Ampezzo (Hohe Gaisl), Dolomiti, a massif placed at the border between Veneto and the province of Alto Adige / South Tyrol. Taken from the plateau at the foot of Tre Cime di Lavaredo/Drei Zinnen group

The Castle and the small village of Arnaz (Schloss Buchenstein) nearby Livinallongo, with the peaks of the Settsass/Conturines range in the background.

The Dolomites are not only about majestic peaks and ranges. There are also many beautiful forests, streams and lakes. This is Lake Ru Freddo, a small lake at the feet of Croda Rossa d’Ampezzo.

A view of the amazing peaks known as Sasso Lungo and Sasso Piatto as seen from the small town of Canazei, with the rapids of Rio d’Antermont in the foreground.

The jagged rocky peaks of the Dolomites known as Sasso Lungo and Sasso Piatto, emerging from the green prairies of Passo Sella, an high altitude pass linking Canazei to Selva di Val Gardena.

Monte Cristallo, one of the many massifs in the dolomiti Bellunesi, under some ominous clouds. Taken about 1 hour before sunset on an evening of mid June, from the plains surrounding the Tre Cime di Lavaredo/Drei Zinnen.

A classic view of the Odle range, an amazing dolomitic massif placed at the top of Val di Funes/Vilnosstal in Alto Adige/South Tyrol in Italy, with the small, wonderful chappel of Saint Johann in the foreground. It had be rainy and overcast most of the day, but the sky cleared off right in time for sunset, contributing a unique drama and mood to this stunning scenery.

Some suggestive sun rays hit the small chappel of Saint Johann and the surrounding grass fields, as the sky starts to clearing-off after a mighty summer thunderstorm. Taken at the top of Val di Funes on an evening at the end of June, this is stitched from five vertical frames.

Just another amazing peak of the Dolomites, known as Sass de Putia (Peitlerkofel in German) and it’s placed exactly at the intersection between Badia and Funes valleys at Passo Erbe, in the region of Alto Adige/South Tyrol, Italy.
It looks very steep and jagged from this side, and this sounds very funny because actually this is one of the easiest climbs in the entire Dolomites, if you take the trail from the opposite side.

A flaming sunset at Lake Antorno, with the groups of Tre Cime and Cadini di Misurina in the background.



Landscape Photography in the Alps



Dolomites Photography Tours

All Images Copyright Paolo De Faveri

A-photo-a-day #4 – Fireworks

Fireworks – The Ligurian coast off Bergeggi, Liguria, Italy

A mighty thunderstorm off the Ligurian coast near Bergeggi, Italy. This is a multiple exposure consisting of 5 shots of 15″, each with at least a bolt in it. Taken from a vertical cliff about 100 meters above the sea level, on a evening of November, a few minutes after sunset. Notes about the technique: I initially took a single exposure of 90″ of the same scene, with more or less the same number of lightning bolts in it. Unfortunately with 75″ of exposure the clouds were badly blurred, and that’s the reason why I opted for taking a number of faster exposures to be combined together. I noticed that the lightnings had quite a regular pace – more or less one every 10″ – so I simply realized that by keeping the shutter open for 15″, I would have easily recorded at least one bolt on each exposure. I did this for about 12 times, and then I chose the best 5 images to be stacked together. With this “trick”, I’ve been able to produce an image with more or less the same number of bolts as the one exposed by 75″, but with the clouds far less blurred.



Seas and Oceans Landscape Photography



Cinque Terre and Italian Riviera Landscape Photography Workshops and Tours

Image copyright Paolo De Faveri

Val d’Orcia, the heart of Tuscany

Photographing in the heart of Tuscany

The amazing rolling hills and villages of the Orcia Valley


Val d’Orcia has always been loved for its unique scenarios. A UNESCO’s Mankind Heritage Site since 2004, this land probably represents the most successful example of how human interaction with nature can turn into magic and create incredibly beautiful landscapes.
For centuries, painters have been deeply inspired by these gently rolling hills, with their changing colors in the seasons, patchwork of wheat, corn and sunflowers fields, scattered farmhouses and dirt roads lined with cypress trees.
Today, the Val d’Orcia remains one of the most photographed and filmed areas of the world, and its enchanted views have been featured in many famous movies such as Ridley Scott’s The Gladiator, Anthony Minghella’s The English Patient and Franco Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet.
The best period for visiting and photographing this area is probably from March to June, when the fields are green and dotted with flowers, and trees are blooming. However this place is so impressing that also in less ideal seasons will provide the conditions for unforgettable holidays and photographic tours.
Words simply fail for describing how beautiful this region is. You really have to come and see with your eyes!

*please click on the pictures if you want to see them larger

Rainy clouds above the Chapel of Vitaleta. The Chapel of the Madonna of Vitaleta is a rural small church placed atop a hill in the country side between Pienza and San Quirico d’Orcia. Taken on a windy and rainy early morning at the beginning of May. The ominous sky adds a lot of drama to such an enchanted, small rural scene.

Sunrise on a foggy morning at the Belvedere d’Orcia, probably the sweetest spot for photographers of the whole Orcia Valley, from where one can enjoy an extraordinary view on the famous rolling hills, the Mount Amiata and the medieval towns of Pienza, Castiglione and San Quirico. Belvedere is a small hamlet of the municipality of Castiglione d’Orcia, and it is ideally placed at the centre of the valley. Taken at dawn on a foggy morning at the beginning of May.

Cypress tress aligned along a country road atop a hill nearby San Quirico d’Orcia. Taken on a very foggy morning at the end of April, moments after sunrise.

The rolling hills nearby San Quirico d’Orcia, as seen from the vantage point known as Belvedere d’Orcia, on a misty morning of mid May.

The most photographed bunch of cypress tress in the world is atop a hill not far from San Quirico d’Orcia, a nice medieval town of the Orcia Valley. Taken at dawn at the end of April. I had noticed the clouds were travelling fast in the sky, so I decided to record this motion with a very long exposure, using a 10 stops Neutral Density filter.

Another view of the Vitaleta Chapel, this time photographed on a foggy morning at sunrise.

A closer view of the Belvedere d’Orcia, one of the iconic places of this amazing hills. What you see here in the far background are not clouds, but rather some thick fog and a flank of Mount Amiata shining in the warm light of sunrise.

Stormy clouds approaching an enchanted rural scene of the Orcia Valley. Taken at sunset from the road between San Quirico d’Orcia and Bagno Vignoni.

Piazza Pio II (Pius II Square) is the key point of the beautiful renaissance town of Pienza , declared world heritage site in 1996 by Unesco. Pienza was rebuilt from a village called Corsignano, which was the birthplace (in 1405) of Enea Silvio Piccolomini, a Renaissance humanist who later became Pope Pius II. Once he became Pope, Piccolomini had the entire village rebuilt as an ideal Renaissance town. Intended as a retreat from Rome, it represents the first application of humanist urban planning concepts, creating an impetus for planning that was adopted in other Italian towns and cities and eventually spread to other European centers. Taken on a cold, foggy morning at the beginning of May, this is stitched from seven vertical frames.

The most famous zig-zagging road in the world is at La Foce, a small hamlet not far from Montepulciano.

Another amazing view on the rolling hills –  with the fortress and tower of Radicofani in the distance – can be enjoyed from the bastions of Pienza. Taken at sunrise on an early morning at the end of April.


An overcast day in the hills surrounding Monticchiello, just another of the many small towns and villages of the Valley.

Beautiful puffy clouds in the sky above green wheat fields. Taken on a sunny morning at the end of April in the hills surround San Quirico d’Orcia.

A farm house floating in an ocean of fog. Taken from the bastions of Pienza on a very foggy morning at sunrise.

A small pond encircled by beautiful yellow rape flowers, a typical springtime view of the hills between Pienza and Montalcino in Valdorcia, Tuscany, Italy

A lonely oak tree in the green crop fields on the hills nearby Montalcino.


The Mount Amiata, visible from everywhere in Val d’Orcia, is a quescient volcano, the highest and largest of Italy. Taken at sunrise from the small hamlet known as La Foce, not far from Montepulciano.


Italy Photo Workshops - Fine Art Landscape Photography Workshops, Tours and Adventures by Paolo De Faveri
Join me on a fully customizable, off-the-beaten-path, ‘one-on-one’ or small group photo tour in Tuscany. Learn new skills, experiment with advanced techniques, develop your artistic vision, all while enjoying  in the good  company of a qualified local photographer an enthralling outdoor experience in one of the most unique hills region of the world. Paolo De Faveri’s workshops are specifically designed for single participants or small groups of maximum three students, and they are intended for people who looks for intensive, full immersion courses.

Venice Photography Workshops – Fine Art Landscape Photography by Paolo De Faveri

Hello everyone, just launched my brand new website about the photography workshops and tours I lead in Venice. Thanks for viewing, and feel free to reshare it with your friends!


Venice Photography Workshops – Fine Art Landscape Photography by Paolo De Faveri.

– Hazy shades of Venice –

Essential portfolio of Venice in the mist


To serve as a complement to my previous post about visiting and photographing Venice in winter, I collected here a selection of images I took while wandering about Venice in the misty and foggy days of winter.

 *please click on the pictures if you want to see them larger

“Boy with frog” is a sculpture in white steel of the Los Angeles based artist Charles Ray. Prominently situated on the very tip of Punta della Dogana, exactly where the Grand Canal, the Giudecca Canal and the San Marco basin converge, it was placed here at the beginning of June 2009 for the opening of the new exhibition center at the Dogana. Unfortunately, Charles Ray’s wonderful masterpiece is not there anymore. Following a petition made by the population, the statue has been removed and replaced with that old, big lamp post that had always been there. Apparently, for the best or the worst, Venetians are a sort of very traditionalist people… I took this picture about 30 minutes after dawn on a cold and very foggy morning of mid January. This is stitched from nine vertical frames.

Another image of “Boy with frog” this time taken in twilight about 30 minutes before sunrise. I had noticed the clouds and the mist on the horizon were slowly moving towards me. To record this movement into a still photograph I decided to go for a very long exposure (160″ @ f11). It was still very dark, but not as much dark as needed for achieving such a long exposure time, so I used a six stop neutral density filter. The long exposure has beautifully motion-blurred the clouds in the sky, providing the picture with a dynamic element. And, as a secondary but very welcome effect, it also transformed the water of the lagoon into a perfectly flat, highly reflective surface.

A classic or better, iconic view of the Grand Canal from the Rialto Bridge, with the Palace of Camerlenghi on the left and the bell tower of the Santi Apostoli church in the background. It is not easy to take such a calm, old time looking picture of the Grand Canal nowadays, with the water buses and all sort of motor boats passing by all the time. Taken at noon on an overcast and misty day of mid December.

Riva degli Schiavoni with San Giorgio Maggiore in the background. Taken about 30 minutes before sunrise on a very foggy morning of December. It is just gorgeous  to attend the awakening of the city in the early mornings of winter, as you can become aware of those little things that make this city so unique in the world. For example, the big boat on the left is actually one of the many delivery vans of the town, and it’s docked there for resupplying restaurants, hotels, shops and offices of the necessary goods for a new working day. Nobody stops and thinks about it, but everything travel exclusively on boats in Venice, grocery goods included.

Thick layers of fog raising above the lagoon and the San Marco basin, with the church of La Salute and Punta della Dogana in the background. Taken from the vaporetto nr. 2, the one that from Riva degli Schiavoni – close to San Marco – goes to the islands of San Giorgio Maggiore and Giudecca.

The amazing cathedral of San Giorgio Maggiore and the surrounding buildings emerging from the deep fog of the lagoon, in a very cold early morning of mid January. This place seems to be shrouded into mystery, and not only when it is so foggy. After all, this was the place called home by the Benedictine priest Pellegrino Ernetti, the most famous exorcist among those who operated in Venice. Besides this, Father Ernetti is also said to be one of the inventors of the chronovisor, a device that, according to the explanation given by Father Ernetti himself, allowed hearing and seeing any event from the past. In a few words, a time machine. Also this is Venice!

A lady walks her dog on a cold and foggy morning of mid January. Taken at the Fondamenta of Giudecca looking north, with San Giorgio Maggiore in the background. Stitched from eight vertical frames. Giudecca, together with Cannaregio and, partially, Castello, is one of the sestieri (districts) of Venice where people still reside and own their houses. This kind of people is becoming a rarity unfortunately, as there are only fifty-six thousand residents left in the city centre presently. Venice is not a very convenient place to live in, prices are ridicolously high – for everyone, not only for tourists – and householders are being offered big money for selling their houses to corporates and wealthy foreigners who want to set a foot in town. As a result, every day a family or two leave the city and move to the mainland. Sadly, also this is Venice.

A moody, almost surreal view of the Basin in front of San Marco square from a quay of the Giudecca. The three small yellow dots in the water are simply buoys. The waterfront sidewalks at Giudecca, Zattere, and Riva degli Schiavoni are great locations for taking beautiful, comprehensive grand vistas of the Venice skyline and the lagoon, particularly at sunrise and sunset. And when the fog gets in, they become perfect spots for minimalistic, simple yet strong compositions like this one.


Another very typical Venetian view, again a simple, geometrical composition: a quay and two lamp posts on the Giudecca, and the strip of buildings of the city centre in the background. Taken on a hazy evening of mid January, about 30 minutes after sunset.

A panoramic view of the San Marco Basin as seen from atop the bell tower of San Giorgio Maggiore, with the Cathedrale in the foreground and, in the background, the Giudecca Canal on the left, Punta della Dogana and the entrance of the Grand Canal at the centre, San Marco square and bell tower, Doge’s Palace and Riva degli Schiavoni on the right. One of those glorious sunsets sometimes nature put on stage in the misty evenings of December and January. Stitched from nine vertical frames.

As the night falls down again on the lagoon, the haze spreads the last rays of the setting sun in the sky, casting some amazing colours on the clouds over San Marco. Taken on an evening of mid January from San Giorgio Maggiore.


 Coffee table book
Click to preview In Venice as a Venetian photo book

In Venice as a Venetian

Winter impressions of the Serenissima © Paolo De Faveri 2013 

now available on amazon

Paolo De Faveri's Italy Fine Art Landscape Photography Workshops

Venice in winter

Private and small groups Landscape Photography Workshops

 Join me on a ‘one-on-one’ or small group photography workshop. Learn new skills, experiment with advanced techniques, develop your vision, all while enjoying  in good  company an enthralling outdoor photo adventure in one of the most beautiful cities of the world.
Private tuition is a great way to kick-start your landscape photography hobby, fine tune your skills or analyze in depth a particular topic or technique.

All images and text copyright 2004-2014 Paolo De Faveri. All rights reserved. 

In Venice as a Venetian

Winter impressions of the

Inverno Veneziano

wintry wanderings from dawn to dusk in the chilly, foggy, drafty and almost deserted canals, calli, campi, bridges and isles of the Serenissima.

Boy with frog  – Punta della Dogana

In the cold and foggy days of November, December, January and February, Venice shows what is probably its most genuine face.

To visitors, winter offers one huge advantage over other seasons: the city is nearly deserted. With most of the noisy, gaudy trappings of the tourist industry packed away, with the crowds of trippers reduced to perhaps a handful of true Venice’s lovers, the beauties of the Serenissima are more readily appreciated.

No noise, no waiting, lower prices, slower paces. And the sense of the city’s past greatness is even more captivating in the calm and silence of these days.

More over, you can even meet true Venetians in winter, a sort of people you would tell as extinguished in every other period of the year, when they probably feel just like sailors, shipwrecked in a boundless ocean of tourists.

And having a chance to see how Venice’s people actually live is nothing but a blessing, if your aim as a visitor is to live the town from its very inside rather than to merely scratch its ready-made-for-tourist gleaming surface.

This is indeed the only time of the year when those fifty-six-thousand heroes who still live in the historical centre of the Serenissima can reclaim the ownership of their city, when kids can play again hide-and-seek or football in the campi and calles, when you can even find a seat on the vaporetto, when 30 euros, if not less,  is your dinner bill for two fish courses at a bacaro, and you don’t even need to book your table in advance; and last, but absolutely not least, it’s also when half a day is well likely all the time you need for thoroughly visit and enjoy the masterpieces at Basilica of San Marco, Museo Correr and Accademia.

“Boy with frog”   in a very foggy early morning at Punta della Dogana The San Marco Basin
in the fog, as seen from the Giudecca

The cathedral of San
Giorgio Maggiore in a very foggy day
A long exposure take
of the Grand Canal in another very foggy day

For photographers, there are even a few more advantages.

In winter, a thick fog often envelopes the city and the lagoon like a huge blanket, dumping the calles and canals in a veil of mystery and charming mood, while in the very occasional clear mornings everything shines in a sort of otherworldly Impressionist glow: soft, diffused, dreamy. In winter days the sun seems never to rise, it rather stays hanging low in the sky, barely reaching the edge of the roofs, and the shadows are as long as church aisles. The mist raises from the lagoon and spreads in some way the light in the sky, as if the sunrays were shining through a window of polished glass.

Sunrises last for ages, and so do sunsets. It is breathtaking just staring at this glorious representation, watching  the sun while it slowly emerges from or dives into the pale, jade green waters of the lagoon, peeping every once in a while through layers of bold rainy clouds at the horizon and casting its faint rays on the facades of palaces and churches.

Dawn from the Zattere, the waterfront sidewalk on the Giudecca Canal Gondolas at Riva degli Schiavoni

Navigation marks in the lagoon Beautiful stripes of
clouds over the lagoon at sunrise


And then, totally unexpected, the sky breaks for a moment, and the lagoon is suddenly flooded with a magnificent warm light.

Photographically speaking, these are the best conditions you can hope for, if you are looking for those moody and mysterious atmospheres you have always dreamed of, when thinking of Venice.

I am primarily a nature photographer, so when I am taking photographs in the wilderness I am used to wait a very long time for that special moment when unusual light or harsh weather contribute unique drama and mood.
When I am doing cityscapes, I take advantage of this kind of experience I collected in the field, and I must say that it is as much exciting.

The Venice skyline
from the top of the Campanile of San Giorgio Maggiore
The Venice skyline
with the snow-covered Alps in the background

The patchwork of
crazy colours in the houses of Burano
Maria Callas bridge, leading to the backdoor of the theatre La Fenice

There are only eight hours of daylight in winter in Venice, but every minute carries within itself infinite opportunities for a trained eye. Whether you go for grand vistas from the waterfront sidewalks at Riva degli Schiavoni, Zattere and Fondamenta Nove; or you focus on the facades of the historical Palazzi on the Grand Canal; or you choose to create amazing abstract composition with the colorful reflections in the water, the hazy atmosphere and the diffused glowing light will always add that special dreamy look to your pictures, something that is very difficult to achieve, if not impossible, in any other season.

I stood in Venice, on the Bridge of Sighs, A palace and a prison on each hand:
I saw from out the wave her structures rise As from the stroke of the enchanter’s wand:
A thousand years their cloudy wings expand Around me, and a dying Glory smiles
O’er the far times, when many a subject land Looked to the wingéd Lion’s marble piles,

Where Venice sate in state, throned on her hundred isles!

She looks a sea Cybele, fresh from ocean, Rising with her tiara of proud towers
At airy distance, with majestic motion, A ruler of the waters and their powers:
And such she was–her daughters had their dowers
From spoils of nations, and the exhaustless
East Poured in her lap all gems in sparkling showers:
In purple was she robed, and of her feast
Monarchs partook, and deemed their dignity increased.

In Venice Tasso’s echoes are no more, And silent rows the songless gondolier;
Her palaces are crumbling to the shore,

And music meets not always now the ear:

Those days are gone–but Beauty still is here; States fall, arts fade–but Nature doth not die,

Nor yet forget how Venice once was dear,
The pleasant place of all festivity,
The revel of the earth, the masque of Italy!

Rio (canal) dei Greci
with the Orthodox church

excerpt from Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage by George
Gordon Byron, 1818


Venice in Winter Landscape Photography

 A photo gallery of scenic landscape photographs of the Serenissima in winter dresses.

Venice in winter
Private and small groups
Landscape Photography Workshops

 Join me on a ‘one-on-one’ or small group photography workshop. Learn new skills, experiment with advanced techniques, develop your vision, all while enjoying  in good  company an enthralling outdoor photo adventure in one of the most beautiful cities of the world.

Private tuition is a great way to kick-start your landscape photography hobby, fine tune your skills or analyze in depth a particular topic or technique.

Click to preview In Venice as a Venetian photo book
 Coffee table book

In Venice as a Venetian

Winter impressions of the Serenissima

© Paolo De Faveri 2013 

  • 10x8 inches (25x20 cm) large format landscape book

  • available in three version: soft cover,  hardcover with colour jacket and hard cover with image wrap

  • 130 pages

  • 88 large format high quality prints,among which 24 in a breath-taking two-pages spread wide panoramic format

  • field notes for each image included

now available on amazon

All images and text copyright 2004-2014 Paolo De Faveri. All rights reserved.