Posts Tagged: Valnontey

July 14, 2010 – Italian Alps

Hiking in the Italian Alps

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Man, I swear I was supposed to be born in the Alps. I would LOVE to live over in Europe (preferably either in northern Italy or southern Switzerland), but unfortunately I’m not the type that has the courage to make huge life changes like that. Sigh. I guess I’ll just keep dreaming.

This is yet another picture from Parco Nazionale Gran Paradiso (Gran Paradiso National Park), in the Aosta Valley, which is in the far northwestern corner of Italy. The valley is capped at the end by Mont Blanc (they call it Monte Bianco), and this is also the valley that has both St. Bernard Passes (both Grand St. Bernard Pass – where they breed the dogs – and Little St. Bernard Pass), which cross into Switzerland and France, respectively. At the time I was there, not only did I not have any kind of wide-angle lens, the widest I could get was 28mm, which is a travesty. I guess I just need to go back.

This was along the Alpe Money (moe-NAY) trail, which spits out of the village of Valnontey and follows the river up the valley. We only had just under a week to explore all of northern Italy, so the fact that we were able to spend two nights in the park and go hiking for a full day was pretty amazing in and of itself. Some day I’d love to just spend a whole bunch of time hiking and exploring. But this stupid job thing just gets in the way. Sigh.

Anyway, enjoy the rest of your Wednesday!

Notes: Canon EOS Rebel XT, Tamron 28-300mm lens. 1/250s, f/9.0, ISO 200. Focal length: 35mm.

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April 29, 2010 – Parco Nazionale Gran Paradiso

Alpe Money Trail, Parco Nazionale Gran Paradiso

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Hi! It’s me! I just realized earlier today that my RSS feed has been sitting there broken for a couple months now. That means the HORDES of subscribers that eagerly anticipate seeing my content via Google FeedReader each day have been under the impression that either I’m super lazy or that the Picture of the Day was totally abandoned. At least one of those is not actually true!! So, to all of my RSS subscribers, welcome back!!

Also among the things I realized earlier today is this: I haven’t posted a picture from Europe in quite awhile. (Months, really..) So, I quickly woke up, found one, and Wham!, here we go-go. (Too much of a stretch there?) This goes back to Parco Nazionale Gran Paradiso (Gran Paradiso National Park), in the northwest corner of Italy. We fortunately had the time available to spend a whole day hiking there, and it was totally amazing in every way. Loved it, I need to go back.

I’ll stop here, since all of you RSS readers have a lot of content to catch up on today. Man, I bet you’re excited, huh?

Notes: Canon EOS Rebel XT, Tamron 28-300mm lens. 1/160s, f/8.0, ISO 100. Focal length: 28mm.

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November 18, 2009 – Valnontey Valley

Valnontey Valley, Northwestern Italy

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Today takes us back to Parco Nazionale Gran Paradiso, a national park in the far northwestern corner of Italy. For a full story of where we were and why, it’s probably best to go digging around the earlier entries ( like this one, this one, or this one), but a quick summary is: we were there, and we saw stuff. And the stuff we saw is totally worth going there to see.

This is probably true everywhere in the world, but one thing that really struck me on our little trip through northern Italy (with a quick jaunt through southern Switzerland) was how warm and friendly everyone was once we got away from the cities. And I’m not even just talking about the folks working at the restaurants and hotels, even the other tourists seemed more willing to come out of their shell. Just as an example, when we were having dinner and breakfast in our hotel in the national park, (a total of 4 meals – 2 dinners and 2 breakfasts) we had two sets of buddies that I don’t know if we would have even interacted with in any other circumstances. One set was made up of two mildly older gentlemen (that’s my new term for folks that are my parents age – “mildly older”. Meaning, they’re older (than me), but they’re not what you’d call “old”) who were down from Britain for a couple weeks just to go “walking”. They were trying out different trails around the park each day, returning to the hotel every evening. I mean, man, what a trip that would be! I’d love to have the vacation time to be able to do that. The other set was two French-speaking ladies from… Quebec City, as it turns out. They were happy to practice their English on us, and we were happy to practice our “speaking more slowly and loudly so that non-English speakers will understand you”. Good times! Also, they had homemade yogurt. I’m glad I was able to work that in there.

Notes: Canon EOS Rebel XT, Tamron 28-300 mm lens. 1/200s, f/6.3, ISO 100. Focal length: 28mm.

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August 11, 2009 – Gran Paradiso

Gran Paradiso Peak and the Valnontey Valley

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

As promised, here’s a crappy image to provide the yang to yesterday’s “best picture ever” yin. The main reason I picked this image is that for whatever reason it’s the 3rd most viewed image on , so this way I can add a link from that image to this post, so that the anonymous horde will discover the picture of the day and then everything will be unicorns and rainbows. I can’t wait!

This picture goes back once again to the hike that Julie and I took in Parco Nazionale Gran Paradiso (Gran Paradiso National Park) in northwestern Italy. To rehash the story once again, we stayed in a little town called Valnontey, and hiked right from our hotel room up into this huge valley, capped at the end by the Gran Paradiso massif, which you can see here.

So, why do I keep saying how much this image sucks? It’s got some really cool elements. The huge steep walls of the valley are very striking, and being able to follow the spidery progress of the river up the valley is pretty cool. So why the negativity? Well, I’ll tell you. I don’t feel like this image is complete. Or, alternatively, I feel like it’s trying to be too many things at once. Or, a third attempt, I don’t think it’s got a clear focal point. The big jumble of mountain stuff that caps the valley is just too chaotic and jumbled, my eye doesn’t know what to do with it. There’s nothing to draw me in to a nice satisfying conclusion. Also, I don’t like all the haze. That was the main problem with the light, you may remember me saying. All day long, the views the other way down the valley were great, but it was always super hazy looking this direction, making pictures extremely difficult. There’s absolutely some photoshop trickery I could employ to cut down on the haze and bring out some detail, but I’ll be honest, my photoshop-fu isn’t up to the task.

All that being said, it was a gorgeous view from up there, and there’s tons of cool stuff to look at in the picture. I just.. don’t count this one among my favorites. That’s all. But you should feel free to enjoy it or not, as you see fit. That’s it for today!

Maybe tomorrow I’ll post another flower picture, because I know how much Dave loves them. :)


Notes: Canon EOS Rebel XT, Tamron 28-300 mm lens. 1/200s, f/6.3, ISO 100. Focal length: 28mm.

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July 14, 2009 – Valnontey River and Gran Paradiso

Valnontey River and Gran Paradiso Peak

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

This is the 2nd picture I’ve posted from the hike that Julie and I took in the National Park in northwestern Italy, Parco Nazionale Gran Paradiso. (The first one was the first ever Picture of the Day, as it turns out.) Neither this one nor the other one are among my favorite pictures from that hike, but this one in particular does a good job of illustrating something that can be really frustrating in landscape photography: the angle of the sunlight.

First of all, I suppose I should mention that you’re looking at the Valnontey River, and the Gran Paradiso massif. Gran Paradiso is a huge mountain/series of mountains that forms part of the border between Italy and France (Actually, I just checked – that’s a total lie, it’s not even close to the border. Whatever). It’s similar to Mont Blanc/Monte Bianco in a lot of ways, it’s just not as tall. (And doesn’t have a couple of ski resorts on it, and doesn’t have a tunnel bored through the middle for automobile traffic.) It’s inside a large national park in Italy that Julie and I visited a few years back when we were in Italy for Trevor and Heather’s wedding. We stayed in a very small village called Valnontey inside the park for a two nights/one day. We used that day to go hiking up the Valnontey Valley (named after the river, as was the village) toward Gran Paradiso itself. The trail follows that river up the valley for awhile, then doglegs left straight up the valley wall. It then circles around the basin high up above tree line. Beautiful trail, lots of glaciers and such right there in front of you. I *LOVED* it.

So, back to the point. I’ve already “spoken” about the difficulty of taking pictures right around midday, when the light is the harshest, and why that causes difficulty in taking what I feel are great pictures. But the angle of the sunlight is also a huge factor, one that can be extremely difficult to overcome. For most “regular” pictures (where you’re not using the sun for certain dramatic effects like providing backlighting or as part of the context), it’s nice to have the sun either be behind you or at least to one side or the other. This way, as expected, it’s illuminating the subject matter. The character of that illumination (color of the light, presence/absense of shadows, harshness) varies based on the time of day (and is usually more amenable to pictures later in the afternoon or very early in the morning), but the fact is, it’s there.

However, when the sun is *behind* the subject (and is essentially shining toward you), it causes difficulties. The most obvious one is that, in the case of a mountain, the side you’re looking at is then dark, but that’s not the issue here. Here, you can see that haze becomes a much bigger issue. I mean, you can still see the mountain, but the detail just isn’t super-crisp. All of the haze basically washes out all of the contrast. I mean, it’s of course still possible to take a fantastic picture even without the contrast, but speaking personally, I think that a big part of the reason mountains make good subject matter is because of all the rugged details that give them their character. They’re all unrelenting and rocky and stuff, know what I mean? So, the only time the the big, super rocky, glacier-carved mountain was illuminated such that you could make out all the detail was super early in the morning. When you’re hiking of course, it looks just as awesome and amazing as you can imagine, but that detail just doesn’t turn out so well in the camera. Thus, it’s frustrating.

As I hinted earlier though, that particular angle of the sun can definitely be used for good, it’s not always evil. For instance, a nice warm afternoon glow coming from behind can illuminate things like trees or flowers quite nicely. Or, a dark ridgeline silhouetted against a bright sky can be quite powerful. (That’s another problem – when the sun is behind the subject, the color of the sky gets totally washed out, so it becomes a mushy light blue or white, as opposed to the nice hard blue that you can otherwise achieve.) But, that’s not the effect I was going for here.

I don’t feel like I really expressed the ideas in my head about this subject that well, which is unfortunate. In my mind, I had all of these super eloquent and interesting points I wanted to make, and I just don’t feel like they got transferred to this picture of the day post. Oh well. Maybe next time.

Map: (Somewhere in the valley anyway…)

Notes: Canon EOS Rebel XT, Tamron 28-300 mm lens. 1/500s, f/4.5, ISO 100. Focal length: 32mm.

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