Located in northern Italy, the majestic spires of the Dolomites are widely regarded as the most photogenic mountain range on the planet and indeed it’s rare to see an international landscape photography competition without at least one finalist image featuring these stunning natural formations.
Once known as the Monti Pallidi or ‘Pale Alps’, the carbonate rock takes its current name from the 18th century French mineralogist Déodat Gratet de Dolomieu and is characterised by impossibly steep towers, spires, pinnacles, jagged ridges and sharp pinnacles that thrust skyward from the picturesque villages and alpine meadows below. These resplendent peaks are often likened to majestic natural cathedrals and invoke an almost religious sense of wonder among the South Tyrolean populace and visitors alike.
Spanning an area of some 500 square miles, this complex labyrinth of rock walls, forest, rivers, alpine pastures and meadows is surprisingly accessible. The excellent road, transport and lift networks found within the Dolomites ensure that many of the locations included in this guide are blessed with short approaches that can be enjoyed by photographers with limited mobility. For the intrepid adventurer, possibilities abound and there are many hidden gems located off the beaten track which can be enjoyed in solitude.
The area was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2009 and is exceptionally diverse from a photographer’s perspective, both in terms of appearance and culture. The unique mélange of Italian, Austrian and Ladin societies has created a trilingual community which is exceptionally distinct in nature and rich in heritage, and the resulting Tyrolean architecture, traditional dress and farming methods provide the perfect foreground to the varied and ever-changing backdrops.
Over the last decade I’ve had the pleasure of exploring the Dolomites high and low, through the day and night, in summer and winter, climbing, skiing and walking. My discoveries and favourite places are detailed in this guide; I hope you find it a useful resource that serves as a creative catalyst to an area I now call home. The images I’ve selected are designed to inspire your own personal interpretations of these beautiful places and I would encourage every photographer to exercise their own unique style while using this book as a reference point. The contents are by no means exhaustive and despite this being my fourth guidebook to the region, I have no doubt that there is still so much here that I have yet to discover.
I hope that these beautiful landscapes inspire you as much as they have me and wish you a productive, creative and most of all enjoyable trip to the Dolomites.