Kings fortress

Kings fortress

“Kings fortress”. In the heart of Abruzzo, not far from the Gran Sasso massif, on the top of a mountain stands the castle of Rocca Calascio. A majestic fortification, the highest of the entire Apennine chain at 1460 meters above sea level, which dominates the surrounding landscape and watches over the valleys below.

Reaching the castle before dawn, from the village in the valley, is a fascinating experience in itself. Crossing the ancient village whose stone houses and the alleys are lit only by lanterns, and then finding yourself walking a snowy path that climbs up the mountaintop, makes you feel like you are in a fairy-tale.
The sight that you witness, once you reach the crest, is breathtaking: the eyes can see up to the horizon, in every direction you look. The distant snow-capped mountains, despite their majesty, appear small. Enveloped in surreal silence, the fortress emerges from the darkness; first as a silhouette, in the faint light of the blue hour, then as a clear and imposing figure that stands out above everything, illuminated by the brilliant and warm light of a winter sunrise.

Capturing this high-contrast scene required the combined use of a graduated ND filter and exposure bracketing. The filter alone, in fact, was not enough to reduce the brightness of the sky enough to allow the camera to fit the entire dynamic range in a single shot. However, it helped to minimize bracketing: in fact, two shots were enough, one exposed for the shadows and the darker mid-tones, while the other exposed for the highlights and brighter mid-tones. As a result, blending the exposures in Photoshop was smoother and more natural.

EXIF:
Camera: Pentax K-3
Lens: Sigma 10-20mm F3.5 EX DC HSM
Focal lenght: 10mm
Shutter time: 2,5 s
Aperture: F/8
Sensitivity: ISO100
 

This photograph has been awarded at the following international photography competition:
– Honorable Mention in the 2020 edition of the ND Awards: “Kings fortress” – Category Landscapes

 

Winter silence

Winter silence

“Winter silence”. The alarm clock rings almost two hours before dawn. In the Abruzzese village of Rocca Calascio, not so far from the “Gran Sasso and Monti della Laga National Park”, the temperature is definitely below zero. After a few brief preparations I go out and reach the car, in the light of the lanterns; proceeding very slowly, along the road that climbs the mountain and leads almost to the fortress, I park at about three-quarters of the way, to avoid not being able to continue in the event of an icy section. I continue on foot, in the silent darkness, warming up as I approach the destination: I pass the tiny ancient village, all made of rock, including the completely frozen paths and stairs, and then find myself walking along a snowy path. The headlamp allows me to clearly see to my left the massive grandeur of the peak and the fortress that rises there and to my right an escarpment of dense trees.

Before long, I find the small church of Santa Maria Della Pietà in front of me, a beautiful Renaissance work with an octagonal base and a large solid wooden door. It looks like a gem, there on the mountainside, microscopic compared to the vastness of the surrounding landscape.
So I decide to represent the impression that this small and fascinating architectural treasure has given me: I go up a little further along the path and find a suitable composition. In the meantime, the first light of dusk marks the beginning of the morning blue hour, revealing the white geometric shape of the church, facing an immense mountainous panorama. The nearest hills are mostly bare and with soft and sinuous shapes but, on the horizon, you can see the silhouettes of the highest and snow-capped peaks, including the unmistakable Corno Grande, the highest of the Gran Sasso, and all the Apennines.

The silence is surreal and, at this altitude and with such a clear sky, the little diagonal light is enough to make all the details of a natural landscape as wild as it is delicate shine.
A place and an experience that have remained indelibly in my heart.

To take this shot, I used a 2-stop graduated ND filter to slightly darken the sky, balancing the lighting with the foreground. The central area of the frame is thus more illuminated, from the church to the horizon.

EXIF:
Camera: Pentax K-3
Lens: Sigma 10-20mm 3.5 EX DC HSM
Focal lenght: 14mm
Shutter time: 89 s
Aperture: F/7.1
Sensitivity: ISO100
 

This photograph has been awarded at the following international photography competition:
– Honorable Mention in the 2020 edition of the ND Awards: “Winter silence” – Category Landscapes

 

Dawn at high elevation

Dawn at high elevation

“Dawn at high elevation”. View from the summit of Rocca Calascio, Abruzzo, at 1460 meters above sea level. The twilight reveals a snowy mountain range under a clear cloudless sky. Below, the villages are still illuminated by street lamps, waiting for the first rays of the sun.

EXIF:
Camera: Pentax K-3
Lens: Pentax DA* 50-135mm f/2.8ED [IF] SDM
Focal lenght: 50mm
Shutter time: 55 s
Aperture: F/7.1
Sensitivity: ISO100
 

Last light on the fortress

Last light on the fortress

“Last light on the fortress”. Rocca Calascio, Abruzzo. The highest fortress of the entire Apennine range is illuminated by the last soft light, after sunset. The imposing and solitary aspect of the fortress stands out on the surrounding landscape but, in some way, it blends harmoniously with the mountain, as if it were part of it and of the rocks that characterize it.

The clear air of a cold and cloudless winter day makes the peaks of the Apennines to the south-east clearly visible, many kilometers away and colored by the shades of twilight, in a calm and dreamy atmosphere that precedes the darkness of the night.

To capture this view, a graduated neutral density filter has been useful: it darkened the sky and the elements on the skyline, making the brightness of the scene more balanced.

EXIF:
Camera: Pentax K-3
Lens: Sigma 10-20mm F3.5 EX DC HSM
Focal lenght: 10mm
Shutter time: 30 s
Aperture: F/9
Sensitivity: ISO100
 

 

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