Great Horn

Great Horn

“Great Horn”. Abruzzo, central Italy. Corno Grande, that means Great Horn, is the highest peak of the Gran Sasso massif and of the whole Apennine Mountains. Its unique shape stands out against the skyline and is visible from a great distance. Moreover, the clear sky helped to capture even the smallest details, otherwise invisible in different weather conditions. At the same time, the warm light of the sunset revealed the mountainside’s crags, emphasizing at the same time the three-dimensionality and the textures of the massif, through a contrast of light and color.
A fascinating spectacle, being in the presence of such an imposing peak, while looking at it from a distance and from a high altitude.

This photograph has been taken from Rocca Calascio, about 20 Km far from the subject as the crow flies, during the sunset. This is actually a panorama made of 10 vertical frames, stitched together to form a 109 MPixel image. Another detail about this shot is that I’ve used a vintage lens, specifically a Pentax SMC 200mm F2.5, built almost 40 years ago and made of steel and glass (no traces of plastic, except for the focus ring), as a sort of technical challenge and to discover if it makes out well against the high tech modern lenses. On paper, it could not seem the best companion for natural landscape. I have to say I’m quite satisfied, even if it’s heavy and not weather sealed.

EXIF:
Camera: Pentax K-3
Lens: Pentax SMC K 200mm f/2.5
Focal lenght: 200mm
Shutter time: 1/20 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: “Great Horn” – Category Panoramic

 

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 snow on the Kinkakuji golden pavilion in Kyoto

Last snow on the Kinkakuji.

Last snow on the Kinkakuji. After a light snowfall in Kyoto, some white spots still adorn the dark roofs of the Kinkakuji golden pavilion and its surrounding garden. The lightly rippled surface of the pond reflects the shiny color of this unique monument.

EXIF:
Camera: Pentax K-3
Lens: Pentax smc DA 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 ED AL [IF] DC WR
Focal lenght: 28mm
Shutter time: 1/500 s
Aperture: F/5.6
Sensitivity: ISO200

 

Kinkakuji golden vision during a heavy snowfall in Kyoto

Kinkakuji golden vision.

Kinkakuji golden vision. A view of the Kinkakuji golden pavilion during a heavy snowfall. The entire garden is covered in snow, becoming almost monochromatic: this makes the shiny color of the pavilion stand out even more, turning the Kinkakuji into a golden vision.

Note that this photograph is licensable for many different uses through my Stock Photography Agency SIMEPHOTO.

EXIF:
Camera: Pentax K-3
Lens: Pentax HD DA 20-40mm F2.8-4 Limited DC WR
Focal lenght: 20mm
Shutter time: 1/200 s
Aperture: F/8
Sensitivity: ISO200

 

Winter paradise II

Winter paradise II in Ainokura traditional town

The Gassho farmhouses of Ainokura have faced a strong snowfall and now the first floors are completely buried in this pure white winter coat. This beautiful village seems to wait patiently and quietly the coming of spring, breathing the cold air of a sunny winter morning.

To take this shot I climbed up with all my gear a small hill of soft snow, sinking more than once up to the waist. After some tries, I found a sufficiently stable vantage point where shoot from. This is an HDR tone mapping of five exposures, taken with my wide angle Pentax 15mm F4 lens and the Kenko Zéta EX Circular Polarizer. I succeeded in capturing almost the whole tonal range, preserving the clouds’ details in the brightest upper-right corner of the frame and the darkest details of the wooden houses. As for many previous shots, I worked to created a tonemapped image as near to reality as possible, showing the real scene as seen with my eyes.

This is an HDR tonemapping of three different exposures, taken with my wide angle Pentax 15mm F4 lens: even without the sun there is quite an high dinamic range to capture, due to the dark wood of the farmhouse and the brightness of the snow. Winter paradise II.

EXIF:
Camera: Pentax K-5
Lens: Pentax smc DA 15mm F4 ED AL Limited
Focal lenght: 15mm
Shutter time: 1/125 s
Aperture: F/8
Sensitivity: ISO80

 

 

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