Val D’ Orcia Tuscany

The story behind the image

Practice photography in spectacular surroundings. Find out more about our photography adventures here.

A long shot: Spoilt for choice in Tuscany –

Standing at the roadside in Tuscany early April, I could have taken a dozen exposures within  360 degrees without moving from the spot. Every image would have been a successful portrait of Tuscany.

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Val D’ Orcia Tuscany

I love my Nikon 70 – 200mm f2.8 VR telephoto lens , its very sharp, quiet and it lets me hand pick the best parts out of the bigger picture. In  most of my landscape work the work horse lens is usually a much wider focal length. That’s just my preference. I like detail and getting close.

In the rolling hills of Tuscany it’s a different story. The twisting, rolling roads may lead you to the villages and towns perched high on the hilltops and ridges but it’s the unfolding vistas and distant villas on the far horizons  that make you hit the brakes! Nothing seems close or easly reachable in rural Tuscany.So more often than not the telephoto gets left on the camera in the stop / start world of landscape photography in Tuscany.

Compressing the landscape and presenting a series of subtle, tonal layers rather than  creating compositions with depth and distorted perspective (as you would get with the wide glass) is the order of the day. The natural magnification  of the telephoto also brings the distant villa or farm to you and the viewer, but still allows the surrounding landscape to compete for your attention if you don’t compose or crop too tight.

There is no depth of field when you focus past 12 meters or so. Everything appears to be focused at infinity. Therefore the lenses aperture sweet spot  can be utilised at every opportunity. Usually, in my experience 2 and a half stops up from wide open. So a f2.8 lens would have the most efficient aperture with minimal aberrations or softening at f5.8 or F6.3.

With that much light entering the camera the resultant shutter speed will be higher which is preferable for hand held shooting from those awkward roadside pull ups. Its a win win. Although I do advocate a tripod at every opportunity if time allows.

So that’s how it was on my  first solo photography adventure  in Tuscany. For my Tuscany photo tour clients the following year it seemed to be the same pattern. Picking out the best of the vistas dotted with buildings , shaded earth and grass. The landscape was often bathed in soft light as it brushed across the valley. The telephoto lens was the ideal tool for stealing a composition that combined the land,  its man made features  and  the wonderful Tuscan light. In each direction there was an opportunity, such is the incredible beauty of this special place.