Tour Details

 
• June 12 to June 22, 2017 (10 nights)
• Group size: min 5, max 12
• Cost: $5,495, single supplement $695
• Tour starts and ends in Venice 

 Experience the best of both worlds: The unparalleled magic of Venice and the breathtaking beauty of the rugged Dolomites.

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Combining two of Italy’s top photogenic locations we have put together a very special, 10-day hybrid Venice to the Dolomites photo tour. There’s nothing in this world which compares to the photogenic grandeur of Venice which is also the principal gate-way to the spectacular alpine region know as the Dolomites. We will photograph the splendor of Venice and the out-of-this-world colorful Island of Burano and then top it off with high-alpine photography in the uniquely beautiful Dolomites using the convenience of mountain passes and chairlifts to effortless rise to up to 9,000 feet heights.

 City of Bridges, City of Light, City of Water and Queen of the Adriatic are other names for the amazing city of Venice located on a group of sinking islands in the middle of a lagoon in NE Italy.

There really is no place on earth like Venice (not even in Las Vegas!). This is truly one of the top locations in the world to photograph.

We especially like it for “twilight” or “blue hour” photography. This is the period of time just after sunset and before sunrise when during a window of opportunity of no more than 20 minutes, the incandescent street light combined with the ambient blue light of the sky allows for a perfect magical exposure.

Venice is the perfect opportunity for finding hidden photographic gems and inspire your creativity.

The Dolomites, now a region of Italy (Alto Adige in Italian and Süd Tirol in German), was once part of Austria, which is apparent in the architecture and food. We believe that this Dolomite photo tour exposes us to the best of both the Austrian and Italian cultures. The alpine architecture shows wonderful attention to detail and expert craftsmanship and woodwork. The cuisine is a happy blend of Austrian and Italian flavors and includes very good local wines, great coffee and tasty deserts (think “Strudel” and Sacher Torte).

The Dolomites span quite a vast area but we base out of two very manageable and photogenic sub-regions. The first two nights will find us high up on the Alpe di Siusi, the highest alpine plateau/pasture in Europe.  We will stay at a lovely, alpine hotel operated by the third generation of a family who began farming on the plateau many decades ago and to this day still manage 20 milking cows that graze the meadows by day and return to the barn at night. Homemade butter and cheese from the farm are served with the abundant and scrumptous  breakfast. This high and breathtaking alpine region is quite unique in that we can drive up to our hotel at 5,500 feet, but once we arrive we must keep the vehicle parked and travel the plateau via bus, foot and chairlift. This car-free environment makes for a very special and peaceful experience.  The next four nights will be spent in  The Val Badia which is the geographic center for some the most iconic and beautiful photo ops in the world. We will again stay at wonderful family run hotel in the village of La Villa.  We have the luxury to explore these vistas via van, foot, chairlifts and gondolas. This is probably the closest one can get to a breathtaking high-alpine experience without the physical exertion required if one had to hike up from the valley bottoms. In some situations we still need to walk a little ways once we get off of the lifts to reach our final photo destinations. (See the Level of Physical Difficulty under the Dates | Cost | Difficulty tab.)

Imagine riding a lift up to a 9,000 feet mountain peak in the first morning light and being treated to the beauty of  a high-alpine environment to capture with your camera. Then, leisurely stroll down through alpine meadows filled with wildflowers of every imaginable color and shape, pausing at a mountain refugio for lunch or an apple strudel and cappuccino before finishing the easy descent or taking the lift back down.

Join us for this ten day Venice to the Dolomites Photo Tour for an experience of a lifetime in a region that you will not want to leave!

  • Two nights on the highest alpine plateau in Europe, the amazing Alpe di Siusi in the Italian Dolomites.
  • Four nights in a quiet and elegant family run Venetian hotel, 10 minutes from the photogenic San Marco Square.
  • Four nights in a lovely hotel with delicious half-board in the village of La Villa, in the Val Badia region of the Italian Dolomites. This central location provides us easy access to the most beautiful photo locations.
  • Breathtaking photo opportunities abound.
  • Access via gondolas and chairlifts to magnificent alpine vistas.
  • Some of the best accommodation and food in all of Europe.
  • High mountain rifugios where we will enjoy rustic local cuisine and great photography.
  • We will also take time to share images and learn post-processing and in-the-field techniques.
  • In addition to great photography opportunities we will have time for photo sharing and critiques. We will also be lecturing on photographic topics including:
    • Composition
    • Digital Workflow
    • Panoramic Photography
    • Depth of Field calculation
    • Focal Blending
    • Blue Hour Photography
    • Filters, Neutral Density and Neutral Density Grads
    • Photoshop Tips and Tricks
    • Nik software


This is a sample itinerary which is subject to change depending on weather and other circumstances beyond our control. Changes in the itinerary are always made to provide the best possible experience for our clients. 

June 12

The group meets at our hotel just off Campo Santa Maria Formosa at 3 pm. We will have an orientation to get to know each other and to go over the agenda and goals for the next three days. Jim will give a short tutorial on correct exposure and the use of the camera’s histogram.Campo Santa Maria Formosa is a beautiful square where we will start our exploration of Venice. This will be our “home campo” for our stay. We will point out the best coffee bars, ATM machines and the local laundry service. We will spend some time exploring this square and the nearby ones including San Marco, SS Filipo & Giacomao and Santi Giovanni e Paolo.We will have an early dinner at 6:30 pm so that we will arrive in time to claim our spots on the Accademia Bridge for sunset and blue hour photography. In the distance, along the Grand Canal, you’ll see the church of Santa Maria della Salute, a very photogenic building that offers a stellar anchor point for a wonderful composition. This is a very magical place to find yourself with a camera for sunset and blue hour.

June 13

For those who wish to experience the early light, Jim will offer a pre-breakfast session close to the hotel. There are some great canal and bridge compositions close-by.After breakfast we will make our way via vaporetto to the Dosoduro sestiere. We love this district for getting away from crowds. Meandering east past the church of Santa Maria della Salute (remember from the previous night?) we make our way to Punta della Dogana, a spectacular viewing spot looking out over the San Marco Basin, San Marco Square, the Giudecca and the church of San Giorgio Maggiore.Lunch can be taken with the group or on your own. After lunch, Jim and Magrit will introduce you to a few of their “Secret Photo Stashes” near our hotel: A back-alley Franciscan church with a pair of lovely and very photogenic cloisters, among the oldest in Venice; A museum housed in what was originally the home of a sixteenth century Venetian Doge (the chief magistrate and leader of the Most Serene Republic of Venice) with a couple of outstanding photo ops; And very close by our hotel, a lovely and quintessential piazetta featuring some of the oldest dwellings in Venice. All these locations are close enough to be able to return to them at different times of the day for the “right light.”At 6 pm we will make one of the last elevator trips up to the top of San Mark’s clock tower, the Campanile. Rising 320 feet above San Marco Square this is a great time to break out your 200mm plus telephoto to capture graphic patterns of church domes, tile rooftops, people, pigeons, and chairs and tables illuminated by the low slanting light at day’s end. Dinner in one of the many fine and off the beaten track eating establishments. We seek out the joints that the locals frequent.

June 14

After a leisurely breakfast we will make our way via vaporetto down the Grand Canal to the Rialto Fish and Produce Market. This is a great place to roam with a camera. We will explore the San Polo and Santa Croce Sestieri (districts), both wonderful areas for mid-day photography of canals and bridges and the slender and stealth gondolas cruising by. We will photograph the stunning interior courtyard and stairwell of a 15th-century palazzo. This courtyard also features a beautifully carved Venetian cistern (well) made from Istrian marble.We will visit the Jewish Ghetto in the Canneregio district. The word “ghetto” is derived from Venetian Italian and this was in fact the “First Ghetto.” A sad aspect of Venetian history but an interesting place and lovely quiet campo to visit none-the-less.We will have an early dinner in the Canneregio before making our way to the Rialto Bridge for pre-sunset shooting from the bridge.

June 15

Okay, I know it can be painful getting up at 4:30 am and this is of course optional, but what a wonderful time to photograph in Venice! No crowds and great light. Our destination, San Marco Square, is one of the greatest photo opportunities in Venice: Looking south over the bobbing blue gondolas across the San Marco Basin to the Church of San Giorgio Maggiore in the pre-sunrise “blue hour” light. This is a perfect blue hour setup with the gondolas and docks being illuminated in the foreground by street lights and the church in the distance being lit by floodlights. We will expertly capture the balance between the warm artificial light and the blue ambient light of the sky. With exposures up to 30 seconds long we will make good use of our tripods.You will not regret finding yourself at this site at this hour. The lamp posts are still illuminated making for great starbursts at f16. No crowds, just photographers and a few late-night party goers heading back to the stable. This is absolutely the best time to be in San Marco Square for photography. We will have the place to ourselves (hard to imagine only a few hours later) and will experience the magical pre-sunrise blue hour and then the sunrise before heading back to the hotel for breakfast and a very leisurely morning. Think, “Great Big Nap.”We will then catch a mid afternoon vaporetto for the 45-minute journey north across the Venetian Lagoon to the over–the-top colorful island of Burano. We never tire of visiting this amazing village and always come away with stunning images.We will have an early light dinner on Burano so that we can be ready for the sunset and post-sunset blue hour photography. Perhaps our favorite blue hour shooting, anywhere in the world!We will catch the late vaporetto back to Venice and our hotel for our last night in this magical city.

June 16

10 am departure via private water taxi for the 30 minute journey to the Venice airport. We pick up our rental van for the 3.5 hour drive to our hotel on the majestic Alpe di Siusi, the largest high alpine plateau in Europe. This pristine alpine area is closed to car traffic. Only hotel guests are allowed to drive to their hotel but are not allowed to use vehicles to explore the plateau. Chairlifts, buses and foot will be our method of travel which makes for a wonderfully peaceful environment. This will be our home for tow nights. After checking into our hotel and an orientation, we head out to photograph the afternoon and early evening light (think “Alpen Glow”).

June 17

We will have the whole day to explore this wonderful area with our cameras. Sunrise followed by a delightful alpine breakfast, perhaps a nap under your down comforter, before heading out to explore the plateau. We will have a rustic and delicious lunch with the opportunity to sample local food products at a high-mountain refugio. The evening “alpenglow” is amazing up here. Magrit and I have found this to be one of the most serene and beautiful regions of all we have visited and photographed. Back at our hotel we will have time before and after dinner to stroll along the paths with our cameras.

June 18

Morning photography session on the plateau after which we depart for the journey to our next home base in La Villa near Corvara in the Val Badia. Along the way we will drive up the Val Gardena and through its numerous villages before cresting a high mountain pass and dropping into the Val Badia. We will have time along the way to stop and photograph and have lunch before settling into our cozy hotel in La Villa. We will spend the afternoon exploring this valley before an early dinner. We then head north for the 30 minute drive to the tiny village of Wengen where we will photograph the illuminated church of St. Barbara against a mountainous backdrop at sunset and blue hour.

June 19-21

We explore the amazing valleys and high passes of the Dolomites via van, gondola, chairlift and on foot, gather for teaching modules on various aspects of photography and post-production and have opportunities to share photos.

June 22

9:30 am we depart by van for the Venice Airport.

 

Dates: June 12 to June 22,  2017 (10 nights)

Cost: $5,495 | single supplement $695

Take 5% off of the total costs of any tours when you sign up for 2 or more.

A $500 deposit will secure your spot. Click here to make your deposit »

What is included?

  • 10 nights lodging.
  • All breakfasts.
  • Six dinners.
  • Vaporetto pass (water bus) in Venice for all 4 days.
  • Private water taxi from the our hotel in Venice to our van for departure to the Dolomites.
  • Daily van transportation to photo locations and all chairlifts in the Dolomites..
  • All entrance fees.
  • Jim’s & Magrit’s expertise in guiding and photographic instruction

Level of physical difficulty: 3.5 out of 5

One person’s walk in the park is another person’s challenge. With that said, the difficulty and challenges of this photo tour depend on each individual’s level of physical fitness and perception of difficulty. We rate this tour a 3.5 out of 5 as we encounter some uphill and downhill walking on uneven terrain to get to the vantage points for some photo opportunities in the Dolomites. The maximum you can expect is a 30 to 45-minute walk with some uphill stretches on a trail. Other photo opportunities are close to the van, gondola or chairlift. Also keep in mind that with the higher elevations of up to 9,000 feet, the difficulty can be magnified for some.  Venice involves a fair amount of walking. Of course Venice is flat but there are a great many small bridges to navigate. Participants must be able to manage their luggage to the hotel from the vaparetto stop (water bus).

One of the greatest benefits of the Italian Dolomites is that we have access to magnificent high-alpine locations via chairlifts, gondolas and our van, which would otherwise not be accessible to the average person. Again, in some situations, we still need to walk, sometimes uphill, once we get out of the van or off the lift.

To get the most out of the tour we suggest that you prepare by walking every day for a few weeks before you arrive. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, walk to the store, etc.

If you have any concerns please contact us directly. We’d be happy to advise you based on our experience.

For Terms & Conditions and insurance recommendations, please click here »

Take 5% off of the total costs of any tours when you sign up for 2 or more.

Personal Items and Weather Conditions

Temperature range for this time of year:  Dolomites: 50 to 69º F/Venice: 65 to 90ºF

Average monthly rainfall for this time of year: 1″. We have often experienced some torrential afternoon showers and thunderstorms in the Dolomites.

Venice can get warm and muggy this time of year and also buggy at night. Be prepared for warm weather and pack summer clothing, sunscreen and insect repellent.

While we have experienced whole weeks with stellar blue skys and warm weather in the Dolomites, keep in mind that you will be in a high-alpine environment where thunderstorms, high winds and cold temperatures are possible. With that in mind, please bring these items in addition to your camera and lenses:

Light weight rain jacket and rain pants. You don’t have to go all out here, but if we have some wet weather and it is not raining too hard we can still go out and get some good photos. * I really suggest a rain jacket if nothing else. We have worn cut open Hefty bags as skirts and they work great when we did not have rain pants. The rain gear will keep you dry when walking in tall, wet grass.  Montbell makes an excellent parka and pants that are extremely lightweight.

– A lightweight fleece or down layer for underneath the shell

– A hat for sun and rain protection

– A camera backpack with enough room for carrying your camera equipment as well as protective clothing

– A lightweight stocking cap and a lightweight pair of gloves

– A lightweight tripod that will properly support your camera and lenses: Please contact us if you are unsure about your tripod or for suggestions about what to purchase. We have a lot to say about tripods as we have seen many inadequate models on our tours. We highly suggest a ball head that is Arca-Swiss compatible (this has to do with the quick release plates that you mount to your camera body and large lenses). We also suggest an L-bracket plate if you want to shoot panoramas in the vertical mode or, in general, often shoot verticals. Really Right Stuff and the cheaper Sunway are all good sources.

– A circular polarizer

– A 10-stop neutral density filter or variable neutral density filter if you want play with the effect of blurring fast moving clouds

– A headlamp: Home Depot has some quite adequate and inexpensive models.

Motion sickness pills if you suffer from windy roads while driving

Sunscreen

– Lightweight but sturdy shoes for walking: We use Salomon trail running shoes and do not worry about waterproof features.

– An extra pair of shoes or sandals for evenings

Pants made of stretchy quick-dry material (recommended)

– Small travel umbrella which can be used for rain and sun.

We find that the general-purpose zoom, 24-70mm on a full frame sensor, is the most commonly used lens. An ultra wide, 16-35mm zoom on a full frame sensor is useful as well. Anything longer than 70-200 is not recommended/needed.

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