Sunrise of fire and mist

Sunrise of fire and mist

Northern Lazio, near Lake Bolsena. This is the valley where rises Civita di Bagnoregio, also known as “The dying town”. Dense fog banks submerge the valley floor, while the first rays of light filter through the clouds. This burst of light only lasted for a few seconds; I’ve been lucky enough to have the camera ready on the tripod, waiting for a shy sunrise that, for this reason, I named “of fire and mist”.

EXIF:
Camera: Pentax K-3
Lens: Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art
Focal lenght: 35mm
Shutter time: 1/10 s
Aperture: F/7.1
Sensitivity: ISO100
 

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

 

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
 

 

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

 

A warm shelter

A warm shelter, winter night in Ainokura

During the night the ancient village of Ainokura is not less beautiful than daytime: in winter the Gassho-style farmhouses pops out from a sea of snow with their warm lights. In the darkness and cold of the valley, the traditional houses offer a safe and comfortable shelter.

This image is the result of HDR blending of three long exposures, taken with my Pentax K-5 and the smc A 50mm F1.2

EXIF:
Camera: Pentax K-5
Lens: Pentax smc A 50mm f/1.2
Focal lenght: 50mm
Shutter time: 97 s
Aperture: F/11
Sensitivity: ISO100

 

 

In the coldest winter night

In the coldest winter night, the traditional japanese village of Ainokura

A winter night has just fallen on the small valley of Ainokura village, and this is my only chance to capture its beauty, because tonight my girlfriend and I will sleep in one of those Gassho farmhouses. With my backpack full of gear and the tripod in my hand, I undertake the “climbing” of the path that leads to an high viewpoint on the slope of nearest mountain: it’s completely dark, and turning off the headlamp is the same as closing the eyes. The path is steep and incredibly slippery, because the soft snow has turned itself into compact ice; so I proceed with the speed of a turtle for about half an hour. My efforts are repayed when I reach a good vantage point and a beautiful scenery discloses itself at my eyes: the traditional houses are embraced into the warm yellow lights of the lamppost, the same light that comes from their windows sealed with thick rice paper. Outside of the illuminated area, there is the darkness and the silence of the mountains, that is where I am: the only sounds come from my steps and my breath, and from time to time I can hear some little snowdrift falling from the tall trees and rolling down on the slope. If this is not heaven, I can’t imagine what could be: I feel the peace of being close to nature and my soul lightens itself in the thin cold air of this this snowy corner of Japanese beauty.
After about an hour of contemplation, my hands and feet are freezing, I turn on the headlamp again and… a couple of tiny eyes glows in the reflection of the light beam! They are about 100 meters away and I don’t know if they belong to a fox, a raccoon or a wolf, but maybe it’s time to go back to the village cautiously…

This shot is a single long exposure of about 3 minutes, took using the “mirror up” function, in order to avoid the slightest vibration. In the out-of-the-camera shot, the only visible things are the lights and some details of the houses but, thanks to the incredibly high performance of the Pentax K-5 sensor (it has a massive 14EV of latitude!), I managed to recover a lot of details in the darkness.

EXIF:
Camera: Pentax K-5
Lens: Pentax smc A 50mm f/1.2
Focal lenght: 50mm
Shutter time: 185 s
Aperture: F/11
Sensitivity: ISO200

 

 

Ainokura town

Ainokura, a traditional and rare japanese town

Hidden between the mountains of Toyama lies a rare gem: the traditional town of Ainokura. Together with Suganuma and Ogimachi, in Ainokura the time flows with a pace completely different from the giant japanese cities. Everything seems to be remained unchanged from the past: the most distinctive aspect of this town are the farmhouses, made completely in wood and built using just the technique of joint; no nails are used and the timber joints are strengthened by thick ropes. The roofs are steep and made of straw, to cope against the winter’s heavy snowfalls and to keep a constant temperature inside the house. This is the only region in which the Gassho-style houses can be found: for this reason these three villages have been registered by UNESCO as a World Cultural Heritage. When the forest discloses the view on the small valley of Ainokura, the farmhouses are a real beauty to see and are perfectly integrated in the surrounding nature, in harmony.

This shot is an hdr blend of three exposures, executed with the “mighty” Pentax 50mm f/1.2 and the Kenko Zéta EX Circular Polarizer.

EXIF:
Camera: Pentax K-5
Lens: Pentax smc A 50mm f/1.2
Focal lenght: 50mm
Shutter time: 1/25 s
Aperture: F/11
Sensitivity: ISO80

 

 

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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