Mountains have always inspired awe and a sense of majesty in mankind.
Have you ever dreamed of having a chance one day to be staring right in front of the giants of the Alps? Does Matterhorn, Mont Blanc or Monte Rosa move a chord in your soul?
The territory of Valle d'Aosta, the smallest region of Italy, is completely mountainous, and the highest and most famous peaks of the entire Alps range such as Matterhorn, Mont Blanc, Monte Rosa and Gran Paradiso are all standing here, so close one to each other that two days are in most cases sufficient to see and photograph them all. One single word is all what it takes to describe this area: wonderland.
Lake Blue, Breuil Cervinia
The tiny Lago Bleu lies at the feet of what is probably the most photogenic mountain in the world. The Matterhorn is only the third highest peak in the Alps, but certainly the most famous one thanks to its unmistakable look.
Lake and glacier of Miage
The Miage Lake is probably the only one of this kind in the entire Alps range, encircled by the homonymous glacier and the moraine produced by the glacier itself. The Miage glacier is the larger in size and length among the almost 100 glaciers in the Italian side of the Monte Bianco range. It originates right from the top of the Bianco at 4800 m. and has its front at an altitude of only 2050 m.
The glacier is covered with debris which continuosly fall in the lake together with portions of ice, producing a carachteristic sound like pop-corns in the pot. All in all, an amazing place to explore and enjoy.
The lake and the glacier front are placed at the top of the Val Veny.
Tete d'Arpy forest
The Tete d'Arpy is a gorgeous forest of larches and evergreens, and it's the perfect location fo breathtaking views of the whole Mont Blanc range.
It is a glacial lake placed at the center of a beautiful plateau at more than 2000 meters of altitude in Valdigne, one of the many side valleys of Aosta Valley. The view from this place is dominated by the breathtaking majesty of the Monte Bianco range, the highest peak of the Alps and Europe, with its 4808 meters of altitude.
Lake Combal, Val Veny
The name of this place is a bit misleading, as instead of a lake there are streams and small ponds. However, there was actually a big lake there some century ago, but after decades of floods its bed is now almost completely filled up with debris. Making this plateau as one of the highest swamp in the world I guess. The Pyramides Calcaires are a wonderful mountain formation at the top of the Val Veny and are part of the Monte Bianco range.
The final section of the Rutor's waterfalls feature huge jumps of water in narrow gorges and canyons. The Rutor is a mighty glacial stream originating from the Rutor glacier in Aosta Valley.
Example of a typical day in the field
Very early morning
transfer by car to the Orco Valley in Piedmont and to the southern entrance of the Gran Paradiso National Park. We will park the car at the 2612 meters of altitude of Col del Nivolet, a pass lying in the heart of the National Park, linking the two Italian regions of Piedmont and Aosta Valley.
The Gran Paradiso National Park is the largest wild area of Italy. This park is located in the Western Alps around the border between Piedmont and Valle d'Aosta, and it is truely a playground for nature photographers. Many species live there, such as chamoises, ibexes, marmots, eagles, hawks, foxes and, recently re-introduced, grey wolves and bearded vultures.
Rest of the day
We will spend the morning and part of the afternoon shooting panoramic views as well as close up in this wonderful plateau, and then we will climb up to Lake Rosset and Lake Leità for photographing the whole Gran Paradiso range reflected in the calm waters of these two beautiful glacial lakes, waiting for sunset up there. With a bit of luck, we will have a chance of photographing some of the wild species living there.
if the sky is clear, as it often is in summer, we will have a chance of photographing star trails and some beautiful night-scape with high ISO settings. This area is just perfect for night photography because, being completely surrounded by high peaks, there is very little light pollution.
We will sleep at the refuge "Rifugio Savoia" of Colle del Nivolet, ready for another stunning sunrise shooting session by the lakes on the following morning.
Aosta Valley Photography Workshop
Mont Blanc, Matterhorn and Co. - The giants of the Alps
Tete d'Arpy is a gorgeous forest of larches and evergreens, and it's the perfect location fo breathtaking views of the whole Mont Blanc range.
Gran Paradiso National Park
The northern part of the Gran Paradiso National Park lies in Aosta Valley, and it features gorgeous alpine scenarios such as glacial lakes, roaring rapids, forests, woods, marshlands and prairies.
A long and narrow valley at the foot of Monte Rosa and Matterhorn, famous for the Place Moulin Lake, the biggest lake of Aosta Valley.
Number of students per workshop: minimum 1, maximum 3 students
Duration*: minimum 2, maximum 4 days
3 days is the recommended length, as it is indeed the ideal timeframe for putting
together a very effective itinerary, and it still allows enough free time
for a few good image processing/image critiquing sessions.
*upon request the maximum duration can be extended up to six days. Please inquire for prices.
- Dslr camera
- Camera user's manual
- Wide angle to normal zoom lens, at least 24/70 mm on a full frame sensor, the equivalent on cropped sensors. Ideally one 16/35 mm and a 28/70 mm
- Long tele zoom lens - 70/200mm is enough, 300mm is recommended
- Enough storage cards for at least 16 GB
- Extra Camera batteries
- Photography backpacks come in handy to protect the equipment if it rains and to facilitate transfers from a shooting location to another
- polarizer filter
- a set of Graduated ND filters, at least a 2 and a 3 stops (it is ideal to have all the range from 1 to 4 stops)
- ND filters for long exposures, ideally one 10 stops and one 6 stop
- remote (or cable) switch
- for the image processing session, a laptop with Photoshop CS3 or newer and Lightroom 3.x or newer
Details and Requirements
From mid May to mid November - Year around for a limited number of locations.
Particularly scenic in October when fall foliage colours reach their peak.
easy to moderate. Most of the shooting locations are directly accessible by car.
A few of them require short hikings of no more than 2-3 kms on easy trails with moderate elevation gain.
However, due the unpredictable and fast-changing weather conditions typical of the Alps, a reasonable
level of fitness, adaptability and familiarity with outdoor activities is required.
- full time in-the-field tutoring and instructions
- at least one image processing class (min. 2 hours) per workshop
- all travel costs from the B&B to the shooting locations and back (fuel, tolls, tickets, etc.)
What's not included
Travel costs for reaching the accommodation, hotels/B&B rates, entrance fees (if any),
meals and beverages are not included in the cost of admission unless specified.
All participants must be in possession of a valid Health and Accident Insurance with repatriation cover.
2 days, 1 student: 1.000,00 €
3 days, 1 student: 1.400,00 €
4 days, 1 student: 1.700,00 €
*a discount applies for groups of 2 or 3 students. Please inquire for prices.
A deposit of 1/3 of the total amount is due at the moment of the reservation,
this is required to secure your place at the workshop.
The final balance payment is due no later than 15 days before the beginning of the workshop.
Bank Transfer, Credit Cards, Paypal
If you cancel within 30 days before the workshop start, you will be refunded the deposit
minus 100,00 € as administrative fee.
No refund will be issued for cancellations received with 30 days or less remaining
before the workshop starting date.
Please note that there is no exception to this policy. For this reason it is strongly recommended
to purchase refundable plane/train tickets only and endow yourself with a trip cancellation insurance.
All cancellation request must be in writing.
Hotel La Roche
at Colle del Nivolet
B&B La Garde
Hotel La Genzianella
at San Carlo Pass, nearby Morgex
Price: 30-60 € per night, per person, depending on season. Continental breakfast included.
Clothes and accessories
Weather in an Alpine environment is unpredictable by definition. We can literally experience a whole set of different conditions in the same day, ranging from pristine, clear blue skies and mild temperatures down to rain/snow showers and strong and chilly cold winds. Even in summer time.
So a full set of warm clothes is recommended, including but not limited to:
- trekking shoes
- gumboots (optional, but useful in certain situations such as rivers and lakes)
- wind/rain proof jacket
- pile pullovers
- sun glasses
- Head lamps and batteries