I love the Dolomites. The jagged spires and peaks are my favourite landscape to photograph and every time I’m back there I find new inspiration. Photographing these same mountains blanketed in winter snow was something I’d wanted to do for a long time and so this January I headed over to Venice to meet up with my workshop partner and Dolomites local, Andrea Livieri. I’d been really inspired by Andrea’s winter images taken from amongst the snow capped peaks and so the year before we’d started planning the trip with the idea of creating a workshop for the following year. We’ve both been leading workshops in the Dolomites for a couple of years and felt that there was amazing potential for a workshop here in winter, so the plan was to look into the logistics and capture some images and video. I also had the GFX 50R with me as I was planning to shoot a video for the Fujifilm Stories channel and thought that snow covered mountains would be the perfect location for it.
So I arrived in Venice late in the afternoon, met Andrea and we headed straight up into the mountains. The first location we had planned was sunset from the top of Marmolada, the highest peak in the Dolomites at 3340 meters, and one of the locations I was most excited about seeing. Shooting from the top of such a high peak at sunrise is a pretty unique experience as usually the only way to be in a place like this at this time of day is to climb the mountain, but on certain days of the year the cable car here runs one gondola up before sunrise for skiers to get to the top and be able to ski down at sunrise. At the top of the gondola ride is a small deck on the peak of the mountain which gives panoramic views across the surrounding peaks, which are wonderfully illuminated as the sun rises up beyond the mountains. It’s cold though, the temperature got down to around -23ºC and pretty soon my phone stopped working, but with decent clothing it’s bearable….just my toes and finger ends got cold. It’s certainly worth it though, the views from the top are absolutely amazing.
The next day we made the short trip to Lago Misurina from where we intended to go an shoot the peaks around Tre Cime. One of the most iconic peaks in the Dolomites, the roads to the park are all closed from Lago Antorno, but we’d arranged with the local snow-mobile service to pick us up before sunrise and take us up to Rifugio Auronzo, from where we made the short hike up to the plateau which overlooks the peaks of Cadini di Misurina. It’s a fantastic place to watch the sun come up and set, and being out here completely alone really does feel special.
The next part of our trip was in the western part of the Dolomites in the incredible high alpine plain of Alpi di Suisi. This is an amazing place to shoot all year round, but seeing the wide open spaces dotted with wooden cabins and trees beneath the jagged spires of Sassalongo is particularly impressive in winter. We were blessed with a fantastic sunset and amazing blue hour while we were there.
Our next step was Rifugio Lagazuoi, a mountain hut perched at 2700 meters with views of all the peaks surround Passo Falzerego. There’s a short cable car ride to the rifugio and it’s a truly special place to stay with small but comfortable rooms and fantastic food. But of course the reason you come here is for the location, whether it’s climbing, skiing or photography, the situation up amongst the Dolomites western peaks is incredible. With views over Civertta, Pelmo, Antelao, Marmolada, Croda da Lago and Cinque Torri, it’s just a stunning place to spend some time and we spent a couple of days there capturing images and shooting video, and I’m really excited to be bringing a workshop back here next year.
Our final base was in Val di Cadore, one of my favourite valleys in the Dolomites. With the huge peak of Pelmo looming at one end and the church of Col Santa Lucia at the other end, it’s quintessential Dolomites. We spent our final couple of days here heading to nearby locations like Passo Giau and shooting in the local area while putting the finishing touches to the videos.
We were blessed with some lovely fresh snowfall on these last couple of days, and while the heavy cloud meant we didn’t really get any sunrise or sunset, it gave us moody weather with which to contrast the white peaks.
On our way back to Venice where Andrea was going to drop me off at the airport, we made a small diversion to the Pian di Cansiglio, a high alpine plain on the edge of the mountains. Outside of the area it’s not a particularly well known place, and we were passing through in the middle of the day, which isn’t ideal for photography, but the fresh snowfall and abundance of trees actually made for some fascinating telephoto abstract compositions and it was a really nice way to wrap up the trip.
If you’d like to join myself and Andrea for a winter workshop in the beautiful mountains, there are still a couple of places left. There’s full information on the workshop webpage, or just drop me a line in the contact form if you want to know more.
Finally, below are a couple of the videos I shot while I was in the Dolomites.