How I Created This Shot: My favourite Tuscany photo

Hello friends,

How are you doing? I have been having a good day. I am putting together collections of images and it’s been nice reviewing and sorting my shots.

I have also really enjoying telling people the story behind some of my images – and today I have a great one!

So there I was, in a castle in Tuscany, comfortable by the fireplace poking and prodding the embers with no plans but to enjoy the heat and the ethereal glow of fire.

I had been working hard all week, and now it was time to relax.

The room was dark. I had the windows shut against the chill of the coming night.

Then I hear from the kitchen “Wow Tony are you seeing this light! It’s amazing!” I shot up, because when Di notices light and brings it to my attention I pay notice. She knows what I like!

Swinging my west facing window open I was splashed by a warm glow of atmospheric orange. It was thick and had intensity, it was like you could eat it. It was changing as I gazed out of the window; a slight drop in luminance and colour.  Oh no, I thought, I’ve missed it.

Or did I?

My camera bag was prepped and ready.  All I had to do was leave the Castello and get to that spot 600 meters away. I scouted this spot earlier as the best place for my sunset photo in Ristonchi.

If I ran I my just catch the last of the light.

So I did.  I grabbed my bag and ran.  As you can see from the photo it was a good long run and I was winded on arrival. But I made it.

My 100mm was on the camera body so that’s what I started with. I took three shots and the results were less than exciting considering how wonderful the light was being.

1/30th @f/13 ISO 100 100mm Canon 5d Mkiii

Between the tops of the hills and the clouds just above the sun, that small window of light would not last long. I wanted to capture the glory of the light at that moment.  And to do that I needed to shoot wide.

My 17-40mm went on 90 seconds after I arrived.

Once the wide angle was on things started to gel. I felt a bit of pressure as I knew the light wouldn’t last much longer. Sometimes even a touch of cloud can dramatically change the colour and intensity of light.

I set up a shot at 17mm and got this shot.

1/8th@ f/5.6 ISO 100 17mm(17-40mm)

I was happy with the f/5.6 and the wide angle.  Good depth. All was sharp since my closest focusing distance was a few meters away and I had my point of focus on the Castello.  No need for f/11 or f/16 for depth of field.

I chimped the image and thought it was not good enough and I still had light left.  It wasn’t the lens that felt wrong. It was the foreground, that seemed to me, partial, like an afterthought. I needed to shore it up and strengthen my composition.

But I was against a fence and as wide and as forward as I could go. The road I was on was about 2 and a half meters wide. I could have stepped back a few paces, but it felt too low; I knew it would make the fence too big, too prominent.

There was a short wall on the other side of the road.  I wasn’t in a climbing mood, but the light was fading fast so I just tossed my bag up, folded my tripod and scaled the wall.

Being a couple meters back and higher created a better perspective and a complete fence across the frame instead of a partial bit I had and the previous shot. Position is key!

1/8th@f/5.6 ISO 100 17mm(17-40mm)

I shot two frames with this composition. It felt and looked right! I got my shot!

I was so inspired I carried on. So next I decided to I change it up a bit.  I zoomed to 33mm and took this image.

Not an ugly image but not as good as the one that gave me the chills.

So here are my key takeaways from this:

  • Always be prepared with your kit ready to go!
  • Always be on the lookout for beautiful light it appears and disappears all the time
  • Make the effort if you see an opportunity
  • Go with your gut feeling; if it feels right then it probably is right.
  • Change lens when things are not working
  • Make your composition – and be sure and check the whole image

This image was shot during our time at Castello Ristonchi!  If you want to create shots like this – then check out my new workshop there coming up this November.

I’d love to share some time with you at one of my new favourite places in the world (I’m beginning to have a lot of favourite places – there are so many beautiful places :))

I’d love to know what you think about this. Are you always looking for beautiful light? Are you experiencing and finding ways to capture what you find? Let me know below!

Until next time amigos – happy photographing!

Anthony and Diana