Austria and the Italian Dolomites
May 4 - 13, 2020
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This photography tour is all about seeing and photographing some of the most beautiful valleys, villages, and mountain landscapes in Europe. Some of the scenes are so idyllic it's hard to believe they are real. In addition, you will capture stunning cathedrals, romantic twilight scenes, and the timeless beauty of Vienna. This photo tour was distilled from many trips to Europe in which Jim researched the best of the best places, vistas, vantage points, and times of day. Your friends back home won't believe how incredible your pictures will be! All of your photographic skills will be called upon because of the diversity of subject matter included in the itinerary. HDR, low light photography, composition, panoramas, and star photography are all subjects that Jim will address during the course of this tour.
Please note: This photo tour begins in Venice, Italy and ends in Vienna, Austria.
Day 1, May 4, Monday. [Arrival in Venice and transfer to the Dolomites]
Arrive in Venice, Italy (airport code VCE) on this day before 1:30 pm. Meet Jim just outside baggage claim, and depart at 2 pm directly to the Dolomite Mountains by van. We arrive in time to check into our hotel and take advantage of sunset light near Cortina, Italy. From a short trail that offers an elevated view above the village, twilight is especially beautiful with the backdrop of impressive snow-capped peaks. Overnight Hotel Aquila Cortina, Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy. 3 stars.
Day 2, May 5, Tuesday. [Around Cortina d'Ampezzo]
We have a full day to explore the amazing mountain views in this spectacular region. We will drive through high mountain passes such as Passo Giau with its ultra dramatic view of the granite monolith, La Gusela. If the weather permits, we will take cable cars to nearby mountain huts at Lagazuoi or the amazing rock formations of Cinque Torri. Between photo sessions and when the light isn't ideal, we can stroll around Cortina's old town and enjoy Italian coffee or Aperol Spritz when not shooting beautiful mountainscapes and lake reflections. More twilight photography is on the agenda this evening, and if we have a clear sky, we can do star photography. Overnight Hotel Aquila Cortina, Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy. 3 stars.
Day 3, May 6, Wednesday. [Cortina d'Ampezzo to Bressanone]
Today we drive into the heart of the Dolomites. We pass through some of the highest passes in the mountains including Passo Falzarego and Passo Gardena, and we'll stop multiple times to capture breathtaking views of the alpine landscapes, green valleys nestled far below the rugged peaks, and farms, church steeples, and villages tucked into the mountains. If the sky is clear, we will do our sunset shoot in the Funes Valley with St. Magdalena in the foreground with the illuminated peaks of the Dolomites as the magnificent backdrop. Overnight Goldener Adler Hotel, Bressanone, Italy. 4 stars.
Day 4, May 7, Thursday. [Val di Funes]
We rise early this morning for a sunrise shoot at St. Johann Church in the Val di Funes with the wonderful Dolomite range in the background. We continue shooting in the morning while the light is good, and then at midday, we return to Bressanone to have lunch and photograph the beautiful cathedral and the old town. We return to Val di Funes for late afternoon photography and sunset. Overnight Goldener Adler Hotel, Bressanone, Italy. 4 stars.
Day 5, May 8, Friday. [Bressanone to Heiligenblut]
This is our last day in Italy before we head to Austria. We have another very scenic drive ahead of us and we make many stops along the way to photograph more great landscapes. If the weather is good, we will stop at Lago di Braies, framed by the Dolomites and famous for its emerald green water and unbelievable reflections. This is a great place to use a neutral density filter to smooth out the water with a long exposure. We arrive in the small village of Heiligenblut (the name translates as 'Holy Blood') in the afternoon. It is famous for its fantastic views of the highest peak in Austria -- Mt. Grossglockner. We will photograph the picturesque church with the valley and massive peaks in the background at sunset and twilight. It's quite a sight! If we have clear skies, we will do star photography. Overnight Hotel National Park Lodge Grossglockner. 4 stars.
Day 6, May 9, Saturday. [Heiligenblut and the high alpine road to Hallstatt]
In the early morning light, we capture one of the iconic views of Austria -- the Heiligenblut parish church with the backdrop of Grossglockner Peak. After breakfast, we drive on the highest mountain road in Austria, Hochalpenstrasse (8000 feet). We make several stops along the way to photograph the magnificent views, the curvy roads, and the friendly alpine marmots. We arrive in the late afternoon in Hallstatt, another iconic town in Austria. Jim will take you to the place you'll take a classically beautiful shot that's been on your bucket list for years. Overnight Hallstatt Lakeside Apartments.
Day 7, May 10, Sunday. [Hallstatt and surrounding area]
We have a full day to explore this picture-postcard area of Hallstatt. If the weather allows, we will take one of the cable cars to capture mountain vistas and enjoy sunrise or sunset from the top of the mountain. No worries if the weather is bad because the area features beautiful waterfalls, mountains streams, and you'll want to photograph the village of Hallstatt from various angles. We will also visit the Hallstatt Ossuary, located in the basement of 12th century St. Michael's Church whereyou will be able to photograph a remarkable collection of painted skulls. Overnight Hallstatt Lakeside Apartments.
Day 8, May 11, Monday. [Hallstatt -- Melk -- Vienna]
In the early morning, we photograph Hallstatt for the last time before we leave the Alps and head east toward Vienna. On the way, we stop in Melk to photograph the monastery and one of the most spectacular cathedral interiors in Europe. The ceiling will blow you away. In addition, the monastery library is breathtaking, and the spiral staircases that flank the cathedral make amazing graphic photographs. In the early evening, we arrive in Vienna and photograph one of the most beautiful cities in the world at the blue hour. Overnight Steigenberger Hotel Herrenhof. 4.5 stars.
Day 9, May 12, Tuesday. [Vienna]
Vienna is full of architectural treasures with historical significance, and we will visit and photograph many of them today. St. Stephens Cathedral, the Hofburg, Schonbrunn Palace, the Berg Theater, the Town Hall (appropriately named Rathaus in German) and Karlskirche are all fabulous. This is a great chance to practice handheld HDR to deal with contrast in low light environments where tripods are not allowed. After our farewell dinner, we will have a second twilight and night photography session in this beautiful place, and Jim will discuss using HDR at this time of day. Overnight Steigenberger Hotel Herrenhof. 4.5 stars.
Tour cost: $6950
Includes: All lodging based on double occupancy, all breakfasts, all dinners, all ground transportation, all entrance fees, photo instruction, and water in the van.
Single supplement: $750
Not included: International airfare, all lunches, items of a personal nature, travel and medical evacuation insurance, and alcoholic beverages.