Cinque Terre Photography Workshop
The gorgeous seascapes of the Italian Riviera
The Cinque Terre, famous worldwide for their five medieval villages with small fishermen harbours, narrow cobblestone lanes, steep slopes with terraced grape vines and romantic trails, is a place of incomparable beauty.
Recognized in 1997 by the Unesco Mankind's World Heritage, the Cinque Terre and the hinterland are today a National Park and Protected Marine Area with the aim of preserving this great cultural heritage and natural environment.
But the Italian Riviera is far from being only the Five Lands. Many other towns and villages of the Ligurian coast are no less interesting, and provide countless great spots for a fulfilling photography workshop. Just to name a few: Camogli with its Dragon's Castle a step away from the sea, the charming bay of Portofino, the colourful houses on the beach of Varigotti, Portovenere with its romanesque church clinging onto a promontory rising sheer from the sea.
The shoreline is where the three visual elements of our planet's surface, earth sea and sky, are all available at the same time. Photographing these elements at dawn or sunset, or under heavy weather conditions I believe is one of the most fulfilling experience for a landscape photographer.
Main Shooting Locations
Riomaggiore, the western-most village of the Cinque Terre, rises between two rugged cliffs that drops into the sea. The cliffs are impressive and even more impressive are the lines of tall and narrow houses built on them.
Manarola, with its colourful fishermen's houses clinging onto the rugged cliffs and its tiny harbour, is probably the most pictoresque among the five villages. The reefs surrounding the harbour are the perfect location for photographing amazing crashing waves when the sea is rough.
Corniglia is placed on a flat-top cliff about 100 meters high. It’s the only village in the Cinque Terre that has not a direct access to the sea. Made of alleys and narrow lanes dug into the cliff itself, Corniglia also feature a beautiful beach, the “Spiaggione”, with big, very photogenic multi-coloured pebbles and boulders.
Vernazza is placed on another impressive, long and narrow cliff on a sheer drop onto the sea. Seen from the trail coming from Corniglia, the look of the cliff recalls the shape of a ship prow, and the whole town seems a ship ready to sail-off at sea. Founded in the 11th century, Vernazza developed through the centuries a strong marine tradition. The marina is a great location for strong minimalistic compositions.
A wonderful medieval town placed on the edge of the Poet’s Gulf, between the Cinque Terre and the city of La Spezia. The tall and narrow houses, the Genoan castle, the Church of St. Peter built in 1198 and the amazing rocky coastline are the main features of this Portovenere.
Portofino is one of the most characteristic and exclusive locations not only in the Ligurian coast but in the entire Mediterranean sea.
A small town not far from Savona, established as a port by the Saracens in the middle age, features two wonderful sand beaches and it's well known for the colourful houses built directly on the shoreline.
Camogli is a beautiful small town of the Ligurian coast, one of the many medieval villages you can find along the coast between Genoa and La Spezia. Its main feature is certainly Dragon’s Castle (Castello del Dragone), a fortress with the annexed cathedral a step away from the sea. But also the busy fishermen's harbour and the line of colorful facades of the houses along the coast are very nice subjects to see and photograph.
The Love Trail
The famous "Via dell’Amore", a paved trail dug into the rocky cliffs overlooking the Ligurian Sea, starts in Riomaggiore and finishes in Corniglia. The path is wonderful and offers many excellent vantage points for photographing Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia and the coastline in between.
Example of a typical
day in the field
Sunrise and early morning
Sunrise and early morning: wake up about 30-40 minutes before dawn and with a ten minutes walk from the hotel we will get to a small, very nice beach of pebbles just southeast of Riomaggiore. We will shoot the sun rising from behind the cliffs at the shore with surf and crashing waves in the foreground, and we will also focus on the beautiful, multi-coloured pebbles at the beach, which are an ideal subject for some serious abstract and close up.
rest of the morning
Mid morning: we will get back to the village and we will focus on the many very interesting features of Riomaggiore, such as the small harbour with the cobalt blue fishermen's boats, the small lanes of the centre of the town and the tall buidings painted with bright colours, in the typical ligurian style.
Lunch: we will grab a quick lunch at some bar/trattoria in Riomaggiore.
Afternoon: Right after lunch we will take a walk on the Sentiero dell'Amore (Love Trail), the footpath from Riomaggiore to Manarola, and we will shoot the jagged coast and cliffs along the road. In the case the Sentiero is close for maintenance (as it sometimes happens in winter time) we will get to Manarola by train. We will spend the rest of the afternoon photographing at Manarola. Manarola, with its colourful fishermen's houses clinging onto the rugged cliffs and its tiny harbor, is probably the most pictoresque among the five villages.
We will wait for sunset at the reefs beneath the harbour. This is a wonderful spot for seascapes of great impact, with surf, crashing waves and beautiful whirls produced by the sea undertow.
Requirements, prices and other useful information about this workshop
Details and Requirements - Key Features
Number of students per workshop: minimum 1, maximum 3 students
Duration*: minimum 2, maximum 5 days
4 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 7 days. Please inquire for prices.
Year around, with the exclusion of August because temperatures are too hot and the area is overcrowded by tourists.
Particularly scenic in September and October when fall foliage colours reach their peak.
Easy to moderate. Most of the shooting locations are directly accessible by car and/or by local transportation (train and bus). A few of them require short hiking of no more than a few hundred meters one way on easy trails, with little or no elevation gain. A couple of very scenic trails climbing atop the hills surrounding the Five Lands are a few kilometers long and a bit more demanding, but very rewarding with fantastic views on the villages and the Ligurian Sea.
- 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
- lodging costs of the instructor.
All participants must be in possession of a valid Health and Accident Insurance with repatriation cover.
Key Skills You Will Learn
- build a strong technical background
- learn how to frame effective compositions
- recognize how the quality of the light, the time of the day and weather conditions can play
in your favour for producing strong images with higher artistic content
- learn when and how use filters
- understand how and when breaking the rules can be helpful for creating images of more impact
- learn how to pre-visualize, compose and shoot panoramas
- learn how to pre-visualize, compose and shoot very long exposures with the help of strong ND filters
- advanced techniques of image processing with the most common software tools such as Photoshop and Lightroom
Prices, Payment and Cancellation Policy
Low Season (Approximately from October to March)
*a discount applies for groups of 2 or 3 photographers:
2 photographers pay each one 75% of the base rates above,
3 photographers pay 65% of the base rates.
Of course partners and/or friends who are not active photographers
are always welcome to join for free.
** VAT (Valued Added Tax) is not applicable - and it will not be charged -
for businesses and/or companies from outside the European Union
A deposit of 35% 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 60 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 60 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.
There is a good apartment rental in Riomaggiore that I suggest to you for your stay at the Cinque Terre.
This is a just perfect in terms of logistics as it is placed at just 5 minutes from the railway station, and 3 minutes from the marina of the town.
Apartments La Baia di Rio
Price: 60-100 € per night, per apartment, depending on season.
Of course you can choose a different venue, provided that it is not too far from Riomaggiore
If you need assistance in choosing your accommodation please contact me.
Clothes and Accessories
Temperatures in Liguria are usually mild in winter and hot in summer. However, the wind is often strong in every season and it can be chilly cold in winter. Therefore, how to be dressed here really depends on the season.
- comfortarble walking shoes
- wind/rain proof jacket
- a warm pullover
- sun glasses
- Head lamps and batteries
Camera Gear - Recommended Equipment
- 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
About your Photography Instructor
Ciao! My name is Paolo.
I have been a full-time professional landscape, nature, travel and architecture photographer since 2007. Since then, I have planned and led hundreds of private one-to-one and small groups photo workshops and tours in some of the best looking regions and cities of Italy and France.
My pictures have appeared in calendars, books, travel magazines, brochures and as wall art in offices, hotels, restaurants and corporate venues. For more info please click here