Does getting up at 3:30 am and holiday sound compatible to you? It should when you practice the noble art of landscape photography. Best Light is at dawn, so sacrifices need to be made to capture it.
So 3:30 it is, and on his workshops David (Noton) wants us to be on time. Our hosts at Il Collaccio in Preci, Italy are empathic with our situation. Down in the hall of the “Locando” where we stay, coffee and tea are waiting for us. Even better: small flasks to take some warm brew with us up into the hills of Monti Sibillini National Park.
Outside, David and his associate Jon(athan Gooding) are already waiting for us. David is standing with a grin on his face next to his Land Rover, looking at our sleepy faces. Then off it goes, into the Park and heading towards the Piano Grande for a sunrise in the mist with Castelluccio in the background.
An hour later, a row of tripods is being set up, lenses are chosen, camera’s mounted, filters prepared. We’re all set. There is a lot of mist in the valley and we can just barely see the lights of the village in the distance. But we’re ready, and well in time. We even have time left to get some of that hot coffee or tea from our flasks. And of course, we have the standard Canon-Nikon discussions going on.
Depending on the weather gods
The mist is getting thicker. Some test shots are made, but there is not much to be seen. Fog is now crawling up the mountain and we are busy, not photographing, but keeping the condense from our lenses and keeping camera’s dry. Then, all of a sudden, we are standing in the middle of the mist and I can hardly see my neighbor anymore. It’s getting very quiet and the discussions on filters, focal lengths, diaphragms etc have stopped… After 15 minutes, David’s voice comes through the fog; dry and to the point: “it’s not going to happen today folks.”
It’s just one of those days… Getting up early does not guarantee anything with regards to the weather gods. We photographers have to accept that every once in a while, we come across these situations. However, success when it does happen, is then all the sweeter. In my case, I went up the Piano Grande four times and did not manage to make the picture I wanted. In fact, my first acceptable shot from above the valley only happened on my return trip, two years later.
For this morning, it was back aboard the “Landie”, and to the Locando. Around 8 am I re-entered our room, wet and cold and a bit envious about my better half who was clearly enjoying the extra space in the nice warm bed.
Luckily, Il Collaccio is such a great place, offering great food, and thus breakfast is a real treat after any early morning shoot! And then out again to our next location, or some tuition, from David or Jon, on location searching, or color temperature, or Tilt-and-shift lenses, or…
I can’t emphasize it enough: the area is a photographer’s dream and so inspiring, that one could spend a lifetime trying to capture its atmosphere in images. Forget about what I said about the Piano Grande experience above: there are so many opportunities and if you visit in May, you may have everything from light frost over mist and rain to sunny days where the meadows are exploding with colors; poppies being the favorites.
Let me say no more and just share some landscape images from my 2010 and 2012 trips there. I’ll come back in another post on people photography in this region. I’ll elaborate a bit more as well on things to do and places to go. Last but not least I just must tell you more on the super food and the great wines one can find there.