Archive for November, 2011

December in Bavaria

Bavaria Saint Coloman Church Fussen Allgau Schwangau Germany

Winter morning at St Coloman Church in Schwangau, Bavaria Germany






















Canon 5d mkII EF24-105 at 85mm ISO 100 f16 1/100 sec.

The true test of my resolve always seems to come on the first morning after a long flight.  The lure of sleeping in to help recover is intense.  But I know that missed opportunities are my biggest regrets, so I force myself to crawl out of bed in the pitch black at 4 or 5am for my first shots.

This morning it was in Schwangau, Germany – and St. Coloman Church.  I sneak out to the rental car, scrape the frost off the windows, crank it up and head out to my chosen spot.  It is officially minus 15 degrees – that’s centigrade, but all I know is that I’m glad to have my long underwear on – it’s cold!!

I’m undecided as to the perfect spot to shoot from.  Not only do I have several options, but the sun (once it rises) is going to be blocked by a large bank of clouds and also by a very large mountain that is closer to this little church than I had thought.

As I stand beside the road in two feet of snow wondering what my next move needs to be I hear bells – sleigh bells.  The first thought that comes to mind is “Santa Claus” – honest.  I think it must be the jet-lag.

It turns out to be several farmers in their horse-drawn carts heading off down the road to the Christmas market – this seems so surreal.  I can feel the farmers laughing at this crazy Yank standing next to a camera and tripod, up to his knees in snow in the middle of one of their fields at 6a.  The horses even snickered – I would have too.

Off in the distance there is a glowing castle – yes this is Bavaria, and some beautiful snow-covered mountains.  I decide to race off down the road and catch some other shots while waiting for the light to develop.

Once I get a few shots of the castle and surrounding area, I head back to St. Coloman church to see how it looks now.  It’s better.  I think it will get even better, but just in case, I snap a few shots wanting to get something in the bag.  I leave once more for some snow shots in the trees, always keeping my eyes on the sky.

I’m now back in front of St. Coloman.  The sun has just poked its way above the mountain range, the sky is blue with some wispy clouds.  The scene that I’ve been waiting for suddenly develops in front of me – it’s magic.  In about fifteen minutes time it’s all over.  The sun’s a little too high now and the cloud cover returns – but I got my shot.  Is it the best photo ever?  Not by a long-shot, but it’s the one that I had set out to capture.

The jet-lag, early morning exhilaration, and successful shooting leaves me looking for some early morning hot chocolate.  I head off toward the Christmas-card town of Fussen.

Bavaria Hohenschwangau Castle Schwangau Winter Germany

Early morning at Hohenschwangau Castle, Bavaria Germany


Amazing Umbria

Castelluccio Umbria Italy Piano Grande Photography workshop Tour

Village of Castelluccio perched high above the Piano Grande, Umbria Italy

When you think of all the great things about the region of Umbria in East-Central Italy, the list gets pretty long.  Mountains, sculpted valleys – in fact, endless landscapes, fascinating medieval villages and towns, wonderful people, killer food…  it’s easy to go on and on.

The Monti Sibillini National Park is home to some of my favorite Umbrian memories.  So much so that I bring a group of photographers back every year in one of my Photography Tours.  If you’d like to be one of those photographers in June 2012 – there is still space.  Click Here.

Most of my time is spent roaming the vast mountainous areas overlooking villages like Preci, Norcia, Castel Vecchio and Castelluccio.  But once the shooting stops, it’s time for FOOD!!  Norcia is home to some of the best cooking I’ve ever had – with local cheeses, truffles and wild boar (my favorite) – all washed down with great vini.

One evening my wife and I walked into town to one of our favorite restaurants – the staff greeted us (by now they had seen us a number of times).  As usual, the dining room was full of people – most in some animated form of conversation, but all enjoying their food.  We sat in our usual seat – tonight we were next to a priest, his friend and a nice tourist couple from Germany.

Our waiter (Luciano) approached with a bit of a frown – we had to ask what was wrong.  He said you can eat here tonight but you’ll have to hurry.  We knew that it wasn’t closing time, no one was waiting for our seat – we were confused.  Luciano went on to say that the football match started in 20 minutes and he was going to be watching it on TV.  Such is the importance of football (soccer) in the lives of the Italians. This match happened to be one of the first-round games of the 2010 World Cup.  Of course this was a big deal.

We ordered quickly, paid the bill before the food even arrived, and true to form the entire restaurant was emptied in 20 minutes time – leaving only us, the priest and friend, and the German couple to finish our meals.  Quiet, enjoyable, certainly tasty – but just the six of us.

Outside in the main piazza someone had set up a large TV.  A crowd gathered, and for 2 1/2 hours there was a Superbowl party happening below the ancient statue of San Benedetto in Norcia.

Such fun!

Come join us next June for one of two weekends photographing Umbria!

Preci Umbria Italy Landscape Photography Workshop

The last rays of the setting sun warm the medieval town of Preci in the Valnerina, Umbria Italy


Piazza San Benedetto Norcia Umbria Italy Photography Workshop Tour

Twilight in Piazza San Benedetto, Norcia Umbria Italy

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