Inversion

Saturday, November 7, 2015 - Saint Ernest

The weather forecast for Saturday talked of a high-pressure area delivering relatively warm temperature and sunny weather. Unfortunately, it also typically means crystal clear skies, which are not the best thing for landscape photography. But for Northern Italy, in this season, this usually also means fog in the Po Valley, and I like fog a lot for the landscape photos for this season. So I was definitely upset when, passing the Apennines and entering the Oltregiogo, I found that the only thing that I could see was an intermediate haze, too light for my purposes, even though it made for at least a few shots.

Paesaggio nella foschia autunnale nei pressi di Sarezzano.

Sony α6000 + FE 70-200mm F4 G OSS @ 112 mm, 1/640 sec @ ƒ/8, +1.00 EV, ISO 100, hand-held.

Driving through a road that goes up the hills, I noted that the haze was going away - reached the altitude of 600 metres, even though I was still in the middle of higher mountains, through a narrow aperture I could see the Massif of Monte Rosa, that was more than 150 kilometres far from were I was. In fact the weather conditions were triggering inversion (a.k.a. temperature inversion), a particular scenario that causes the lower layers of the atmosphere to be cooler than the upper ones. With this phenomenon, fog or haze stay confined in the lower altitudes. Even moderate haze, in these circumstances, produces a visible effect on the landscape when it is watched from a certain altitude. So I decided to move to the highest mountains in the area, the Group of Antola. I drove to the Passo del Giovà, which I had never visited before, a well-known pass road connecting the four nearby regions, at the centre of a site known as “Le Quattro Province” .

Controluce autunnale.

Sony α6000 + FE 70-200mm F4 G OSS @ 127 mm, 1/40 sec @ ƒ/8, ISO 100, hand-held.

Along the road, that was climbing fast, I stopped a few moments to take some classic fall shots, featuring trees with nude branches or patches of colours. When the road passed 1.000 metres of altitude, I could spot more and more hints of a spectacular panorama at each bend.

Panorama su Appennini ed Alpi Cozie con il Monviso.

Sony α6000 + FE 70-200mm F4 G OSS @ 200 mm, 1/500 sec @ ƒ/8, +0.30 EV, ISO 100, hand-held.

Paesaggio con Argentera, Monte Matto e Monte Tobbio.

Sony α6000 + FE 70-200mm F4 G OSS @ 165 mm, 1/640 sec @ ƒ/8, -0.30 EV, ISO 100, hand-held.

The air was so clear (and relatively still: no major problems of twinkling due to turbulence) that many major landmarks of the western Alps, such as the Argentera and the Monviso, could be easily spotted as they closed the view towards West. Again a 150/160 kilometres range, in the middle of which the higher hills of the Monferrato emerged out of the haze sea. The farthest peak that was clearly identifiable after a careful inspection was the Tête de Siguret, in Provence, at a distance of 193 kilometres. It's my distance record in landscape photography so far.

Looking towards South-West multiple layers of mountains could be seen, starting from the nearby Apennines with Monte Figogna, which dominates the city of Genoa, then moving to Monte Beigua, near the transition area in which the Apennines becomes Alps, and continuing through the whole range of the Alps of the Riviera di Ponente, up to the border between Liguria and Provence.

It was really a wonderful sight and I spent some time enjoying it, mostly with the 70-200mm, at both extremes in the focal range, exploring the various details. I even managed in creating a few stitched panoramas. The largest one, made of seven frames for 83 megapixels, is incredibly detailed and sharp, thanks to the quality

Crinali appenninci con il Monte Figogna.

Sony α6000 + FE 70-200mm F4 G OSS @ 200 mm, 1/500 sec @ ƒ/8, -0.30 EV, ISO 100, tripod.

Appennini ed Alpi.

Sony α6000 + FE 70-200mm F4 G OSS @ 70 mm, 1/320 sec @ ƒ/8, +0.30 EV, ISO 100, tripod, two frames stitched together .

Panorama con Appennini ed Alpi.

Sony α6000 + FE 70-200mm F4 G OSS @ 70 mm, 1/400 sec @ ƒ/8, +0.30 EV, ISO 100, tripod, seven frames stitched together.

Looking East, the panorama wasn't comparable, but still interesting enough as it disclosed some views of the Apennines behind the Riviera di Levante, up to some peaks in Emilia. A few light clouds avoided the empty sky problem.

Panorama sugli Appennini con la frazione di Vesimo.

Sony α6000 + FE 70-200mm F4 G OSS @ 70 mm, 1/400 sec @ ƒ/8, -0.30 EV, ISO 100, hand-held.

Panorama con Monte Alfeo.

Sony NEX-6 + Sony Zeiss Vario-Tessar T* E 16-70mm F4 ZA OSS @ 41 mm, 1/100 sec @ ƒ/8, +0.30 EV, ISO 100, hand-held.

Panorama con il Monte Maggiorasca.

Sony α6000 + FE 70-200mm F4 G OSS @ 200 mm, 1/125 sec @ ƒ/8, +1.30 EV, ISO 100, hand-held.

So far so good, even though the photos were of the “blue-sky” type. I really had high expectations for the golden light of the late afternoon, and I wasn't disappointed, also because the haze present at the lower altitudes created the conditions for some pastel-colour shots.

Autunno pastello in Val di Nizza.

Sony α6000 + FE 70-200mm F4 G OSS @ 200 mm, 1/60 sec @ ƒ/8, +1.00 EV, ISO 100, hand-held.

Fioritura novembrina.

Sony α6000 + FE 70-200mm F4 G OSS @ 70 mm, 1/100 sec @ ƒ/8, -0.30 EV, ISO 100, hand-held.

Paesaggio autunnale con Castello Malaspina.

Sony α6000 + FE 70-200mm F4 G OSS @ 200 mm, 1/320 sec @ ƒ/8, +1.00 EV, ISO 100, hand-held.

Preparing for the sunset, I moved again towards the area I had been in the morning, as it offers an interesting perspective on the West, over multiple ranges of hills up to the western Alps. During the drive I took the opportunity for featuring the Castle of Oramala that I met during an exploration of the past year.

Controluce novembrino.

Sony NEX-6 + Sony Zeiss Vario-Tessar T* E 16-70mm F4 ZA OSS @ 70 mm, 1/200 sec @ ƒ/8, +0.30 EV, ISO 100, hand-held.

Il castello e il borgo di Oramala.

Sony α6000 + FE 70-200mm F4 G OSS @ 71 mm, 1/80 sec @ ƒ/8, -0.30 EV, ISO 100, hand-held.

La frazione di Chiesa di Rosara nella luce del tramonto.

Sony α6000 + FE 70-200mm F4 G OSS @ 109 mm, 1/40 sec @ ƒ/8, +0.30 EV, ISO 200, monopod.

The apotheosis of the day came with the sunset. A thin layer of clouds showed up in the higher atmosphere, breaking the monotonic blueness of the early afternoon, and got painted with delicate tones of pink and mauve. Looking North, an ancient castle from the XII century on the top of a hill, beyond which the silhouette of Monte Rosa was barely visible in the background, made for a few perfect shots.

Paesaggio al tramonto con Castello Malaspina e Monte Rosa.

Sony α6000 + FE 70-200mm F4 G OSS @ 200 mm, 1/4 sec @ ƒ/8, +0.30 EV, ISO 100, Kirk Enterprises Window Mount from the car.

Paesaggio al tramonto con Castello Malaspina e Monte Rosa.

Sony α6000 + FE 70-200mm F4 G OSS @ 71 mm, 13/10 sec @ ƒ/8, +1.70 EV, ISO 100, Kirk Enterprises Window Mount from the car.

Looking West from the same point, the Monviso was still clearly visible, dominating another set of layered hills. Adjusting my position I got a tower bell in a near village and a group of trees properly aligned for the composition.

More photos available in the diary.

Crepuscolo sull'Oltrepò con il Monviso.

Sony α6000 + FE 70-200mm F4 G OSS @ 200 mm, 1/15 sec @ ƒ/8, -0.30 EV, ISO 100, Kirk Enterprises Window Mount from the car.

Crepuscolo sull'Oltrepò con Casasco e il Monviso.

Sony α6000 + FE 70-200mm F4 G OSS @ 109 mm, 1/3 sec @ ƒ/8, +1.00 EV, ISO 100, Kirk Enterprises Window Mount from the car.