Some photos from a trip to the Italian Dolomites mountain range, in the summer of 2023.
I first visited the Dolomites in 2019, and have been keen to return ever since. That was a camping and hiking trip, which I really enjoyed, but such is the convenience and infrastructure there, it's also very easy to have a more relaxing time there - which was the case this time around.
Cortina d'Ampezzo & Monte Antelao
I love Monte Antelao and I was really keen to photograph it again, after a difficult shoot there last time around. It towers over the Cortina valley bellow, looking every bit the "King of the Dolomites", as it's sometimes known.
Last time I visited, we hiked up the mountainside to a view point at about 5am, and I struggled with the huge difference in brightness between the cloudless sky and the mountain range in shadow. This visit was the complete opposite; taking chair lift rides up the mountain, and photographing in low-contrast, hazy light. Personally, I much preferred these conditions, and the clouds really added scale and drama. I'm really glad I got back there.
One last portrait of Antelao, in black and white this time. It's really the classic mountain shape, and very appealing, visually. I think it might be the perfect mountain, and I took so many photos of it, it was hard to narrow them down to just these three.
This photo also gives a great view of the "Laste", as it's known; the steep flat surface of the north face. You'd have to be mad to try and climb it, but apparently people do.
I've tried and failed to lookup the name of this 'mini Antelao', which is just next door (to the North), straddling between Antelao and Punta Sorapis. Anyway, regardless of my inability to research, I really like this shot. The quickly moving misty clouds combining with the mountain peak and the distant rain clouds very well indeed, and there were just enough gaps in the high clouds to let in some angled sunlight.
This is the Croda de Lago range, which I feel should be a great shot, but I didn't really nail it on either this visit or the last. Again I've gone form crazy contrast last time, to not enough this time. This attempt has a little drama in the sky, at least.
This view is over towards the Cinque Torri area. I liked the green meadows on these lower hillsides, and the relaxing effect of the low-contrast light.
Sitting more centrally in the Dolomites, is Corvara, and this town is dominated by the towering mountain behind; the Sassongher. This is a bit of a postcard shot, but very typical of the area.
Channelling my Ansel Adams here, this is another view of the Sassongher, behind the foreground firs.
One thing I like about the lower slopes of the Dolomite mountains is the ability of the pine forest to flourish against such stark surroundings. The deep greens are a great contrast to the trademark grey and yellow cliff faces. I have another photo similar to this, that I love from my first trip.
This last photo shows an adjacent section of the same cliff-side, taken during the low, angled light of the evening. I find it magical and inspiring in equal measure to think that even in such precarious environments as this, the forest can take root, and provide an entire habitat for a wealth of species within.
The Laste Word
I'm sure I'll be back in the Dolomites at some point. It's been popular with Alpinists and skiers for decades, and now it's probably up there with Iceland as the place to visit for European landscape photographers. That's partly due to it's conveniently central location within the continent, but it has many other strong points. You can shoot the icons and the famous locations, but you can also find many hidden, less obvious, or abstract views there. You can also hike as much or as little as you like, due to the accessibility of the lifts and cable cars. Likewise the availability of food, drink, and shelter in the many 'rifugio' mountain huts makes exploration a joy. Just one minor point; If you're one of the many people running a gelato shop in the Dolomites, and you're closing between 12 and 3pm, you need to take a long hard look at yourself and the service you're providing. That's the peak gelato window right there, and they almost all close for the duration. 12:01? No scoop for you!
One thing's for sure though; that when I do return next, I'll probably be going back to enjoy Antelao again, and I can be fairly confident of enjoying it in different conditions yet again.
If you liked these photos, check out my post from 2019, and see how they compare to my first visit.