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The part of the Western Alps that lies within the territory of Piedmont features some of the best mountain landscapes in Europe, with majestic peaks, forests and woods, streams and waterfalls, glaciers, lakes and high altitude prairies. More over, there are two vast wild areas here, the Gran Paradiso National Park - the oldest and largest protected area of Italy - and the Maritime Alps Nature Park. Both can offer a fulfilling outdoor experience: wonderful pristine natural sceneries, unexpected encounters with wildlife species, enchanted forests of conifers, endless extensions of prairies dotted with wildflowers. In short, a paradise for every landscape photographer.


Col del Nivolet, a high altitude pass with wonderful prairies dotted with wild flowers, lies at the foot of the Gran Paradiso massif
Col del Nivolet, a high altitude pass with wonderful prairies dotted with wild flowers, lies at the foot of the Gran Paradiso massif
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shooting locations
Gran Paradiso National Park
The Piedmontese portion of the Gran Paradiso National Park (Parco Nazionale del Gran Paradiso) with the high altitude pass of Colle del Nivolet (2613 mts. asl), the nearby  plateaus and prairies, and the lakes area with dozens of wonderful glacial lakes.
Lakes of Avigliana
the Avigliana Lakes Nature Reserve, (Riserva Naturale dei Laghi di Avigliana) a small protected area at the feet of the mountains, with two beatiful lakes and many avian species such as mallards, swans and coots.
Sacra di San Michele
The Sacra di San Michele, sometimes known as Saint Michael's Abbey, a 10th-12th century religious complex situated on the south side of the Susa Valley overlooking the small town of Avigliana and Chiusa di San Michele.
Valle Stretta
A small, narrow valley in the Cottian Alps at the border between Italy and France. It's certainly one of the best alpine environment I know. Its incredibly rich and varied vegetation that includes most of the species you can find elsewhere in the whole Alps range, such as larches, maples, aspens, scots and swiss stone pines among many others, makes the valley the ideal location for some serious fall colours photography.
Val Chiusella
A small valley in the Western Alps in Piedmont, Italy, is an enchanted place where time seems to have stopped. Its old villages, cobblestones trails and bridges, and the many, incredibly beautiful waterfalls and streams make this place look like as it was taken out from the Lord of the Rings novel.
Po River sources
Pian della Regina and Pian del Re, two high altitude plateaus at the feet of the imposing pyramid of the Monviso, one of the best-looking mountains of the whole Alps range. This area has loads of wildflowers and wildlife, and it is where the Po, the longest river of Italy, has its sources.
Maritime Alps Nature Park
It is the largest park in Piedmont and one of the largest in Italy. Several summits over 3,000 m high, lakes, grasslands, small glaciers, the abundance of Alpine fauna (chamois, ibexes, wolves, red foxes, marmots) and of botanical species give birth to a unique environmental heritage. Twinned with the French Mercantour National Park since 1987, it preserves an alpine area of 100,000 hectares.
Example of a typical day in the field
Sunrise and early morning

We will wake up 40 minutes before dawn and drive to the Avigliana Lakes Natural Reserve, where we will shoot sunrise at the smaller of the two lakes.

We will scout this area for about 1 hour photographing intimate scenes such as leaves in the water and we will also try to photograph the wild ducks (mallards) and coots that live at the lake.
Afternoon and sunset

We will grab a quick lunch at some bar in the Susa Valley and then we will drive all the way up to Bardonecchia and the entrance of Valle Stretta.

We will scout the valley photographing  its prairies and woods, the huge vertical rock walls of Parete dei Militi, and its  incredibly rich and varied vegetation We will create all sort of imagery during the afternoon, from macro and close ups up to scenic vistas and panoramas.
Morning

with a 20 minutes transfer by car we will reach the top of Mount Pirchiriano, where the Sacra di San Michele Abbey lies.

We will spend the rest of the morning photographing this wonderful medieval complex from many spots along the Sentiero dei Franchi, an ancient trail that dates back to the early centuries of the Middle Age and which once was the main road to France.


We will also look for small, intimate scenes such as leaves in the wood floor.
We will also scout the area looking for small subject suitable for beautiful close ups, and we will photograph the amazing jagged peaks of Mount Thabor/Grand Seru massif bathed in the warm light of sunset. We will keep shooting for about 30-45 minutes after sunset.

We will get back to the B&B at around 11:30/12:00 pm. We'll have dinner  at some restaurant along the road.

Western Alps Photography Workshop

Italian wilderness in the alpine National Parks


Recommended equipment

- Tripod
- 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

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.
Workshops Availability
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.

Difficulty
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.
What's included
- 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.

Insurance
All participants must be in possession of a valid Health and Accident Insurance with repatriation cover.
Pricing

Prices*
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.

Deposit
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.
Accepted payments
Bank Transfer, Credit Cards, Paypal

Cancellation policy

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.
Accommodation

There are two 3 stars bed & breakfast located less than 10 minutes away from where I live, and thus very handy for picking the students up on every morning.

Cascina Motette

Quattro Gatti


Price: 40-55 € per night depending on season. Continental breakfast included.

Both accommodations are situated in the green, peaceful countryside about 20 kms. south of Turin,
they are very nice and comfortable, recently restored and regurarly maintaned.
All rooms come with ensuite bathroom and wi-fi connection.
Of course you can choose a different venue, provided that it is not too far from where I live.
If you need assistance in choosing your accommodation please contact me.
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
- gloves
- headdress
- sunscreen
- sun glasses
- Head lamps and batteries
Workshops
Western Alps   Rocky Giants   Piedmont Hills   Amazing Cinque Terre   Hidden Venice   In the heart of Tuscany

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Italy Photography Workshops by Paolo De Faveri
Italy Photography Workshops
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Used with permission
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Used with permission