I took this photo on my first trip to this most enchanting part of the world. There’s a very good reason why photographers flock to this part of Italy: The food! Ok that was a joke, obviously it’s for the stunning coastal visuals, but seriously, the food is insanely good as well.
As the name Cinque Terre suggests, the area is predominantly 5 coastal villages, and Vernazza was the one I had chose to stay in during this visit. During the daytime you can easily access the other villages, but I was happy with my choice to make Vernazza my home base.
One evening I went out to do a little photography, and I really wanted to capture the full moon that was rising above the village. I positioned myself in a place that would take in the moon, but also show some of the local architecture so that you instantly get a feeling for where in the world the photo was taken. This is a very important aspect of travel photography. You always want to try and get a sense of the location in the images so that they are distinguishable from your other travel photos taken in other locations. In Vernazza, the church’s bell tower is probably the most eye-catching piece of architecture so I put myself in a position where that would be an important part of the image.
I also lowered the tripod down about as low as it would go to the water, and this helped to accentuate the interesting reflections from the lights in the harbour, which act as great leading lines to draw vision from the front of the image to the back. This low angle of view also allowed me to create some depth to the image by including some rocks in the foreground. The long exposure time then helped to smooth out the choppy waves and create a much calmer looking scene than was actually happening in real life. Exposure time was 20 seconds at f7.1 and iso 2000.
Almost nothing has been done to this image in post production.
One of the things I happen to really like about this shot is the huge contrast between the cool light of the moon and the warm light of the lights in the village. Sometimes when a white balance is just a little bit off it can look a bit weird, but when the two light sources have such vastly differing colour temperatures, as is the case here, I think the colour contrast provides strong visual interest.
Another important choice was made with the camera settings that I want to explain. If you do some astrophotography then you’ll be used to using a lens at its widest aperture at night. In my case with the canon 24mm lens, this would have been f/1.4. Whilst this would have allowed me to use a lower aperture and hence get a sharper, cleaner image, an f/1.4 aperture would not have given me a very deep depth of field, and it also would have rendered the star shape of the moon and the lights more like wide balls of light instead of stars. The smaller you make your aperture, the more pronounced the star shape of a light source will be. Obviously at night an f/22 aperture isn’t as practical, so I settled for f/7.1 after some trial and error to balance the exposure time with the desire for star-shaped light sources.
Equipment Used For This Shot
- Canon 5D Mark III
- Canon 24mm f/1.4 L II
- Adobe Lightroom CC
- Really Right Stuff TQC-14 Tripod
Have followed you for a few years now Dan (that sounded creepier than i expected) and always appreciate your tips/advice/reviews. It’s great to see some more of your diverse work.
Also wanted to ask your advice…. again…
I recently made the step up to full frame (5D Mk III) and am absolutely loving it but it has left me with a hole I’m my lens range because my everyday shooter (17-50 2.8) was a crop sensor only lens.
Current lenses – 50 1.4, 70-200 f4 IS, 300 2.8 IS II, 1.4 TC.
So I’m tossing up between the 16-35 and the 24-70 to round out the kit. I’m definitely in need of something wider.
Thanks for the kind words , I’m glad you like the idea of me sharing some more of my work. I’m going to try and make it a more regular thing.
I think your choice will be a bit dependant on what you shoot. If you shoot sports then I think there is always room for a creative super wide shot and the 16-35 will be great. I myself have the 17-40 and then a 50 and it’s not been a problem (though I am going to get the new 24-70 when it ships in September). Most of the sports guys I know shoot with the 16-35 and I think that will only change when Canon finally puts out a 14-24, though that doesn’t seem likely in 2012.
Cheers for the advice. I shoot Wildlife/Sports etc for fun but paid work is portraiture/weddings/headshots etc. I’m keen for the new 24-70 as well but the pricing seems to be a bit excessive. Maybe the 16-35 will fill the void till then. Saw an image of the 200-400 f4 with 1.4TC on canon rumours today. Think might save the pennies for that beast instead.
Yeah I’m flip flopping between the 200-400 and the new 500…….