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Photographing The Dolomites

The Italian Dolomites
Post Trip Report 2023

The Italian Dolomites, situated in north-eastern Italy, boast some of the most breathtaking mountain views in the world and some truly inspirational scenery. In 2009, the nine mountain ranges that make up the Dolomites were put on the UNESCO list of the world’s protected natural paradises.

Introducing the Dolomites workshop

I first visited this area around 15 years ago and was completely blown away by the landscape, so to take a group to this region was something I had looked forward to immensely. On this photo trip I was delighted to be working with Dolomites expert James Rushforth. The author of several books on the area, including the FotoVUE guide to the Dolomites, James has been photographing and running workshops here for many  years and so has a wealth of experience and intimate knowledge of the area.

The Sassolungo Massif, The Italian Dolomites, Italy
The Sassolungo Massif, The Dolomites, Italy
View from Sass Pordoi, The Italian Dolomites, Italy
View from Sass Pordoi, The Dolomites, Italy
View from Sass Pordoi, The Dolomites, Italy
View from Sass Pordoi, The Dolomites, Italy

The Dolomites has so much to offer, so in order to do it justice we needed to spend our time between two locations. Having met everyone at Venice airport, we journeyed to the western side of the Dolomites where Santa Cristina was to be our base for the next 3 nights.

Our trip began the next morning with a drive to the Passo Sella from where we had some fabulous views of the Sassolungo Massif. Soaring to a height of 3,181 metres it’s impossible to miss as you drive through the valley.

To enable us to access some of the finest scenery it was necessary to gain a bit of extra height so we whisked the group up on a cable car to Sass Pordoi. Situated at an altitude of 2945 metres, Sass Pordoi is known as the ‘Terrace of the Dolomites’. This large rocky balcony, stretching out over the valley, offers commanding views of the surrounding mountains and over the valley below. The day was so clear that we could even see the Austrian Alps in the distance!

Then it was back down to earth after lunch at the mountain hut and a drive over to the Alpe di Suisi. 

The Alpe di Suisi

Europes largest alpine pasture; the Alpe di Suisi, covers a huge 56 square kilometres. It is closed to traffic during the day to help protect it, so we took the cable car to nearby Compaccio from where we were able to walk to our location for our afternoon and evening shoot. It’s impossibly beautiful here as razor sharp mountains collide with soft rolling meadows, creating a mesmerising landscape full of contrast and beauty.

There is so much to photograph on the Alpe di Suisi that we returned the following morning for our sunrise shoot. Luckily sunrise isn’t too early at this time of year! 

The Alpe di Suisi, Dolomites, Italy
The Alpe di Suisi, Dolomites, Italy
The Alpe di Siusi, Dolomites, Italy
Early morning mist on the Alpe di Siusi, Dolomites, Italy

Passo Gardena

After breakfast we headed off to Passo Gardena, a high mountain pass that connects Val Gardena with Val Badia, and features yet more stunning views. Our first stop was at one of my favourite little churches; the Capella di St Maurizio at the top of Passo Gardena. With an impressive backdrop, it offered the group several good compositions.

Capella di St Maurizio on Passo Gardena, The Dolomites, Italy
 Capella di St Maurizio on Passo Gardena, Dolomites, Italy
The Capella di Santa Maddalena, Dolomites, Italy
The Capella di Santa Maddalena, Dolomites, Italy

That afternoon we travelled to the Val Di Funes; one of the most enchanting valleys, firstly to photograph the picturesque Church of St. Johann backed by the spiky Odle massif.

Then it was on to capture the nearby stunning view towards church of Santa Maddalena with the jagged peaks of the Puez Odle mountain range behind. The sky was pure blue with not a cloud in sight, the lack of cloud shadow made it challenging so we found our spots and waited until the light softened a little. Standing looking at this landscape I couldn’t help but think; surely this must be where J.R.R Tolkien got the idea for Middle Earth. 

Lago di Braies

The following day it was time to leave Santa Cristina and travel to our next base; Cortina d’Ampezzo, in the province of Belluno. Stopping at the photogenic church at Colfosco on the way we arrived at Lago di Braies in time for lunch. Arguably one of Italy’s most beautiful lakes, the turquoise-green Lago di Braies is nothing short of captivating with the imposing Seekofel massif (2,810 m) surrounding it.

Lago di Braies, Dolomites, Italy
Lago di Braies, Dolomites, Italy © Chris Cherrington

Lago Antorno and Lago Misurina

Sunrise the next morning saw us at Lago Antorno where we were fortunate enough to witness some good colours over the mountains and some lovely reflections.

Then it was on to Lago Misurina; the highest alpine lake in the Dolomites, overlooked by the Cadini di Misurina mountain group.

Lago Antorno, Dolomites, Italy
Surnise over Lago Antorno, Dolomites, Italy © Chris Cherrington
Lago Misurina, Dolomites, Italy
Lago Misurina, Dolomites, Italy © Chris Lafbury

360-degree view of the majestic Dolomites

After breakfast it was time for what was one of the highlights of the trip and somewhere I was really looking forward to taking my clients to, for the epic views I knew awaited them. From the top of the Falzarego the Lagazuoi cable car transported us to the summit of Mount Lagazuoi, located at 2752m altitude, in just a few minutes.

For sheer beauty and an unobstructed 360-degree view of the majestic Dolomites, it doesn’t get much better than this. As inconceivable as it may seem, this was the site of an incredible battlefield during the First World War when these high mountains served as the front lines for the Italian and Austrian armies. As such there are many reminders of the battles that took place here.

Incredible panoramas are to be seen in all directions here it’s hard to know where to start, so we spent the morning exploring at leisure, before having a tasty lunch at the Lagazuoi mountain hut.


View from Mount Lagazuoi, The Dolomites
View from Mount Lagazuoi, The Dolomites, Italy
View from Mount Lagazuoi, Dolomites, Italy
View from Mount Lagazuoi, Dolomites, Italy


The famous five towers of The Cinque Torri are one of the most instantly recognisable rock formations in the Dolomites and a must see.  This is a fascinating place to visit with numerous boulders, as well as tunnels and trenches remaining from the First World War.

There are no end of possible compositions here, the rocky landscape providing for some really interesting foreground. As the sun slowly got lower in the sky, illuminating the west faces, the group were able to get some great shots.  The surrounding mountains too offered further opportunities as they glowed a beautiful shade of pink.

Cinque Torri, The Dolomites, Italy
Cinque Torri, The Dolomites, Italy
Croda del Lago, The Dolomites, Italy
Croda del Lago, The Dolomites, Italy

The awe-inspiring Tre Cime di Lavaredo

Day 5 and we set off for the summit of Passo Giau. 29 hairpin bends are involved in the drive up this scenic mountain pass but it’s well worth it for the outstanding vistas that you get from the top.

Our next location I was super excited to show everyone as it is, without doubt, one of the ‘must see’s’ of any trip to these mountains; the iconic and awe-inspiring Tre Cime di Lavaredo. It’s an hours walk to get to the main view of them, but this is not a journey to rush, as along the way there are magnificent views to be had in all directions. These dramatic, towering limestone peaks, surrounded by a vast and breathtaking landscape, provided the group with endless possibilities. And just when you think you have seen everything, you come across these mountain lakes, set like turquoise jewels into the landscape. Back at the Refugio over dinner, everyone was truly buzzing at the end of what had been a tiring but brilliant day.

View towards Rifugio Locatelli, Tre Cime, Dolomites, Italy
View towards Rifugio Locatelli, Tre Cime, Dolomites, Italy
TCadini di Misurina mountain range. Dolomites, Italy
Misurina mountain range, Dolomites, Italy
Laghi dei Piani, Dolomites, Italy
Laghi dei Piani, Dolomites, Italy
Tre Cime, Dolomites, Italy
Tre Cime, Dolomites, Italy

Passo Giau at sunrise

The following morning we returned to Passo Giau for sunrise. Looking west towards Marmolada we watched as the sun lit the mountain tops. After breakfast it was then on to the Valparola Pass to visit Lago di Valparola and then take in the view to Croda da Lago and Antelao mountains.

The end of our first Dolomites workshop

And so our workshop came to an end but not before one last visit to Lago di Braies before the return journey to Venice Marco Polo airport for our flights home. 

It had been a brilliant trip with a really good bunch of people. We’d had our fill of fresh air and exercise, ate well and experienced some truly mesmerising locations to photograph, but most of all we returned home with some great memories of what must be one of the most breathtaking regions in the world to experience.

The Dolomites is one of the places that will leave you with a lasting impression and somewhere that, as a landscape photographer, you really must visit at some point in your life. I’m running this workshop again in September 2024 together with James, so why not join us then? Places are limited to 7.

Lago di Braies, Dolomites, Italy
Lago di Braies, Dolomites, Italy © Nick Baldwin

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