Posted on April 9, 2017
It was my wife’s birthday and we decided to take a long weekend trip somewhere. She, being Asian, and sick of winter naturally wanted to go somewhere warm! We checked out last minute flights, but in the end decided to go to the Cinque Terre region in Italy. It is only a 6 hour drive from Garmisch Partekirchen in Germany. Cinque Terre is somewhere I also wanted to see for ages, its a great place for photography. The region is renowned for it’s rugged terrain, plantations of lemon and other fruits, and of course it’s amazing villages perched on the cliffs. We decided to head for Vernazza, one of the 5 main towns to see, where we got a great little bed and breakfast place.
As you can see from the map above, the five towns are close together, and linked easily by train. Cars are not allowed in most villages, and we parked our car about 1.2km away from Vernazza and had to walk down, but not not a big deal. You can also go between the villages by boat, which is suppose to be a relaxing way of commuting, but in low season these don’t run. Apart from driving which I wouldn’t recommend due to parking and the very narrow roads, the only other way is to hike. We hiked from Vernazza to Monterosso which takes around 2-3 hours. The trip is well worth it for the scenery, and it was very pleasant!
The region is renowned for it’s rugged terrain, plantations of lemon and other fruits, and of course it’s amazing villages perched on the cliffs.
I would recommend going in shoulder season, as I can imagine that there would be a lot of tourists in the middle of August. We already in late March saw tour groups. Having said that, we found that not that many people actually stay in the towns, at least not in Vernazza. It seems most tourists come by the train for just a few hours.
This is really a photographer’s paradise.
This is really a photographer’s paradise. The scenery is great, the villages are colorful and the water is clear. After first seeing some photos from the region, I always wanted to go there. For the most part, it is the landscape photography opportunities which appeal most. Unfortunately, the light wasn’t very special when we were there, but I tried to make the best of it. Each village has several good vantage points for the best photos, but these can initially be a little hard to find, so check them out early or before you have to shoot the sunrise. You may also have a look at the local post office for post cards, and get an idea of the vantage points in advanced.
Usually, these vantage points are on the trail leading in and out of the village, this was certainly the case with Vernazza. Bring a tripod, and if you have filters bring them along. I got the above two images with a combination of neutral density filters, grad filters and polariser. Any scenic coastal environment such as Cinque Terre begs for long exposures and landscape filter use. I used my Canon 5D Mark III along with several lenses; 16-35mm 2.8L II, 14mm 2.8, 24mm 1.4 Art, 50mm 1.4 Art and the 100-400mm 4.5-5.6L IS II. Its really important to have a polariser handy to bring out the colour, refer to my short write up about polariser use here.
Its really important to have a polariser handy to bring out the colour
Most of the shots above are 20-60 second exposures, using Lee neutral density filters. This is a great way to smooth out water and create drama in the picture. The other advantage of using ND filters is that due to the long exposure time, people who walk into your image don’t necessarily appear in the end result (as long as they keep moving!). If you are not into landscape photography, there are good street photography opportunities as well!
Hope you enjoyed reading this post about the Cinque Terre region. Please subscribe to my blog to stay up to date on all posts so you don’t miss a thing! Please comment or contact, I would appreciate the feedback.