Researching new locations is an integral part of landscape photography, but I love it when those unexpected gems pop up. It happened earlier this month when I arrived a few days before my workshop in Umbria, Italy. I was driving north of Perugia to check out a couple of locations, but unfortunately neither lived up to my expectations. All was not lost, as I stumbled across this incredible field of sunflowers along the way. I returned several times at sunset to get a decent sky and brought the guys there to start the workshop. The sun backlighting the flowers made the colours pop! I set the bar high for our first location so the pressure was on. One reason for coming to Umbria in July is for the wildflowers that grow on the Pian Grande in the Sibillini Mountains. The brilliant red, blue and yellow colours regularly make a splash across the plain surrounded by mountains under normal conditions, but we were experiencing anything but normal conditions. Even the UK recorded its hottest ever temperature of 40.2C (104F), marginally hotter than Umbria. Upon checking into our hotel, I asked if they knew what the flowers were like on the Pian Grande and unfortunately there were no flowers because of the heat.
This wasn’t going well, time to switch to plan B. I also scheduled the workshop to coincide with the supermoon rising on the 13th of July, so we headed up into the Sibillini Mountains to check out the location and find a place to photograph the supermoon. As luck would have it, neither my sat/nav, Apple Maps or Google Maps were working for some reason, so I had to rely upon my internal GPS memory from the last time I was there. After driving for 30 minutes I thought we should be there by now, then one of the guys said he had a map connection and we were going in the wrong direction. Lost? I’m never lost, only discovering new locations. Relying on my instincts with a bit of serendipity thrown into the mix, I saw a road branching to the right with a sign for Bellavista Restaurant. Let’s see if Bellavista lives up to its name. The winding road climbed higher and higher into the mountains levelling out at the top where the Bellavista Restaurant stood, unfortunately, closed. We were not disappointed though as the view was amazing! Using the Photopills app, we calculated the moon should rise over the rugged mountains in the distance. I mounted my Nikon 300mm f/4 lens to compress the graduating layers and make the super moon or Buck Moon as it is referred to in July, appear larger. It’s named after the new antlers that emerge on a deer buck’s head at this time of year. The moon is the closest to the earth and appears slightly larger than a normal full moon.
The rest of the trip went well exploring parts of Lazio and Tuscany. My favourite town in southern Tuscany is Pitigliano, which dates back to the Etruscans. The town is built high up on tufa bedrock that was formed by volcanic ash providing the perfect defence against attacks. After having a relaxing dinner at La Rocca with beautiful views over the valley, we drove a short distance to a location that has a wonderful view of the town looming up from the valley with the pink clouds lighting up at sunset.
It was a great end to the workshop. If you would like to see more photos from the trip click here. Better yet, why not join me on a future workshop?
If you have followed my work over the years, you will know that I have been using and promoting one of the leading filter manufacturers. Photography has changed drastically in a relatively short span of time. As a professional photographer I need to change with technological advances, so I’m always looking at what is on […]
To understand how to create compelling compositions in landscape photography, you should first look at the lines in the scene. The lines are the structure of the image and, if you study the classic artists in history, most started their masterpieces by sketching a pen and ink drawing to establish the structure of the painting […]
The poppy season is upon us once again when splashes of red wash across the landscape as if from the brush strokes of Monet. When I go in search of a poppy field there are key aspects that I look for in order to create a good composition. Mainly, a thick concentration of poppies with […]