Val d’Orcia, Tuscany, Italy by Michael Thomas

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Picture Story

During a trip to Italy several years ago, my wife and I spent almost a week in Tuscany. While much of the time was spent visiting and photographing Tuscan hill towns, I made allowance for a couple of days photographing the landscapes of the Val d'Orcia including the famous farmhouse, Belvedere, and its fields. The first morning I photographed this scene, the sky was clear blue with not a cloud in sight. The second morning things were a good deal more interesting. Fog filled the adjacent valleys and obscured many of the buildings and farm operations that dot the area.

After capturing the scene with a wide-angle lens, I switched to a telephoto lens and started looking for interesting patterns and abstracts. I was especially taken with this spot where the fog could be seen rolling through the landscape like some ghostly slow moving wave. The fog persisted for more than an hour allowing me plenty of time to alternate between Belvedere and the surrounding area.

We stayed in San Quirico d'Orcia which is only a five minute hop to the classic view of Belvedere. Two kilometers down the road is the view of the Vitaleta Chapel, another Tuscan jewel. San Quirico is a lovely, quiet town with bits of interesting architecture and not too touristy. If you’re willing to get up a bit earlier, Pienza is about twenty minutes away. We visited in late September, so the fields had just been harvested and plowed for the next season’s crop. Except for the vineyards, the colors were mostly muted earth tones, which I found especially pleasing at dusk. Alternately one could visit in late spring when wild flowers including poppies are in bloom. Someday I would like to return to witness that.

Because the sunrise is off to the left of frame, only a single exposure was needed. Minimal processing in Lightroom was applied, primarily a gradient filter to bring the sky brightness in to balance with the land.

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