The Dolomites: Seceda

10 Feb 2020, Posted by Elliot Hook in dolomites, landscapes, trips

This is the seventh, and final, blog post of images taken in the Dolomites on a trip in September 2019 (the other six can be found here).  The final location is Seceda – an instagram hot spot just a short cable car ride from Ortesei, in Val Gardena, but a location we were keen to visit anyway.  We had a rifugio booked for the night, with a view to maximising our chances over a sunset and sunrise, in the hope of getting some good conditions.

Now, we were aware just how popular a location this is on social media, as are many locations in the Dolomites, but we were still surprised to see sign posts directing people to the view.  Here’s a rare photo of me, fully aware of the irony of travelling to Seceda to try and come away with something unique…

Seceda sign directing photographers to the view, Dolomites

But anyway, on to the actual images.

If you follow that sign, it is not even 10 mins before you’re up on the ridge looking over the view from the sign post.  We arrived in the early afternoon, so we had plenty of time to scope out different viewpoints along that ridge so we could identify preferred spots for sunset and sunrise.

However, if you’ve read any of the previous blog posts from this trip, you won’t be surprised to hear that during the course of the afternoon, cloud descended to shroud Seceda and the views all around.  That was pretty disappointing (though, expected), but it soon became clear that the cloud could present some interesting opportunities that we hadn’t foreseen.  This first image is probably more cloudscape than landscape, but I liked the hints of Seceda left by the thick cloud…

Seceda in the cloud, Dolomites

For this next image, we were stood around in the cloud waiting for something to change when a figure appeared out of the cloud and stopped on the edge of the rock looking up at the rugged ridge line just long enough to take a couple of frames.  I don’t know if they were aware we were shooting in their direction or not, but I’m pleased they stopped where they did as this is one of my favourite images from the entire trip – layers of rock, hints of the peak, interesting cloud detail and a person in the foreground to give it some scale…

A figure stodd amongst the cloud looking up at Seceda, Dolomites

That was pretty much it through to sunset, as the cloud just became thicker, so we set off down to our rifugio for the night.  The next morning, however, we awoke to clear skies so we duly set off on the one hour hike back up to the Seceda ridge line, excited at the prospect of what lay ahead.  And we weren’t disappointed – on reaching the ridge, we were greeted with a cloud inversion in the valley below…

Seceda cloud inversion at Twilight, Dolomites

We were stunned at the conditions; a rare coalescence of location and weather conditions that we rarely seem to get.  And it got better – this is looking back south, towards the Langkofel group…

A cloud inversion around the Langkofel group from Seceda, Dolomites

As the sun came rose above the mountains, I took another of my favourite images from the whole trip (below).  It’s rare that I shoot directly into the sun, but this was an opportunity that I couldn’t resist…

Seceda Sunrise, Dolomites

Once the sun was above the mountains, the shooting became more challenging, but the view was still incredible so we continued to shoot.  This is a closer crop of Seceda, to keep the sun out of the frame, focussing on the sun-lit cloud that was moving over the peaks…

Seceda at sunrise, Dolomites

And given the moving cloud, I thought I’d try a longer exposure to capture that movement.  So this was taken using 10 stops of filtration, at ISO50 and f/22 to give a 6s exposure – I liked the cool blue colour cast left by the filter, so I’ve left it fairly cool, in contrast to the image above…

Long exposure of Seceda at sunrise, Dolomites

So that’s the last of the images I’m sharing from that week long trip to the Dolomites.  We were amazed to end with such a great sunrise session, given some of the hit and miss light that we had throughout the week.  It was probably one of the best sunrise shoots I’ve ever had, with respect to being in the right place, at the right time and making the most of what was in front of us.  And coupled with the different style of images from the previous evening, due to the vastly different conditions, it felt like a worthwhile visit to what was an uncertain location, for me.

I hope you’ve enjoyed looking through the images from this trip.  The Dolomites are an incredible location for landscape photography, with so many accessible yet amazing views and I’m sure I’ll return at some point in the future to make up for some of those missed opportunities.

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