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Waking Up in Positano

Waking Up in Positano

Wakin Up in Positano by Des Paroz on 500px.com

After a successful shoot in the blue hour from the eastern overlook of Positano, I decided to go back to the same location for sunrise photos the next morning.

The early backlighting from the sun behind cast a really nice light over the township, lighting the surrounding mountains up with a beautiful golden hue, and bringing out the details in the various pastel coloured buildings built up and down the town’s hills.

This differentials of colours were accentuated with the use of a Lee Filters GND filter and polarising filter, with some slight enhancement done in my favourite photo editing software, Luminar.

Lesson here, even when you have a good shot from a location don’t be afraid to go back at different times to really explore the location and the image possibilities.

View this image on 500px1 or Flickr


  1. As a matter of interest, this is the 100th image I’ve posted to 500px. 
Atrani by Night

Atrani by Night

Atrani by Night by Des Paroz on 500px.com

One of the many gorgeous townships on Italy’s Amalfi Coast is Atrani, a village literally 10 minutes by foot from Amalfi.

Atrani is a pretty town cutting into another gap in the coastal mountain range, quickly rising up from sea level to the heights above.

Our day trip to Amalfi and Atrani (from our base at Positano) was literally from morning until about 6:30pm. With the early sunset in our low season visit this was actually plenty of time.

After arriving in Amalfi we walked straight to Atrani to find a shooting spot1. We found this spot, and then walked back to Amalfi for a visit to the Basilica, some lunch2 and a visit to the paper mill. We then walked back to Atrani to shoot sunset and blue hour, before walking back once more to Amalfi to catch the bus.

So we had a pleasant day of exploration, and getting the scouting out of the way early, using tools like The Photographer’s Ephemeris to plan sun angles, meant we could relax and take our time.

Travel photography is about exploring, but it is also about relaxing. Good planning and preparation allows you to do both!

View this image on 500px or Flickr


  1. Part of the inspiration to shoot Atrani came from Elia Locardi’s Photographing the World Part 3. We could not shoot from the same spot he did, as it was from his accommodation. I was pretty happy with what we found. 
  2. Had lunch at a great Japanese fusion restaurant called Shabu. Recommend it highly! 
Cobblestone Passageway

Cobblestone Passageway

20171121 Cobblestone Passage

Positano in the low season is marked by low numbers of tourists, and with many of the hotel, restaurant and retail workers being employed seasonally, the township is very quiet.

There are many opportunities to explore the streets, alleys and stairways without the crowds, and much of the time there are opportunities to make photos without any people at all—let alone crowds.

This image was made walking back up from the beach after a Positano sunrise photo session. This is one of the main alleyways between the Piazza dei Mulini and the beach. We walked up and down this alley each day, and most of the time had it to ourselves.

View Cobblestone Passageway on 500px or Flickr

Visiting in the off season.

20171121 Positano Low RoadWith the streets being few, and the footpaths fewer, the low volume of traffic on the road was welcome. It gave a great opportunity to explore, to stop and take in the view and to make photographs as was wandered up and down the Positano township.

Pros

  • Less crowds
  • Beautifully deserted laneway and streets
  • Easier to meander and explore
  • Not rushed (Suits the Italian pace of life)
  • Traffic slightly less crazy
  • Less jockeying for photography hotspots

Cons

20171123 Quiet Streets in the Positano Low Season* Less choice for accommodation and restaurants
* Limited ferry and boat services
* Some shops closed
* Not swimming weather (although the water temperature was nice)
* Fewer lights for blue hour city scape shots (although too many lights may have been overpowering).

We considered there to be many pros and just a few cons to visiting in the low season.

Positano Sunrise

Positano Sunrise

Positano Sunrise by Des Paroz on 500px.com

Apart from the lack of crowds, one of the distinctive things about low season in Positano is that the days are quite short.

As the late, great photographer, Galen Rowell, once said:

“You only get one sunrise and one sunset a day, and you only get so many days on the planet. A good photographer does the math and doesn’t waste either.”

But it does make it easier when the sunrises and sunsets are at pleasant hours of the day. There are no excuses!

Standing on the western end of the main Positano beach, you look eastward down the Amalfi Coast to catch the sunrise. The clouds only accentuate the beautiful colours of the sky in the sunrise.

A 3 stop GND and a relatively slow shutter speed meant that a tripod was an important part of ensuring a sharp image.

View this image on 500px or Flickr

Sunset Silhouette

Sunset Silhouette

Sunset Silhouette by Des Paroz on 500px.com

I like a good silhouette, but find this type of photography to be challenging. I think that’s because there needs to be a healthy balance between light and shadow (balanced light), strong features, colour and negative space.

After making some sunset photos on the beach during our first evening in the beautiful Amalfi Coast town of Positano, I noticed this group of people down towards the water’s edge. I moved to frame the main group with the sea behind them, and with the strong orange colours in the background.

I then waited to get some interesting poses, taking multiple exposures as the group moved around and enjoyed the beach.

In the off season (we visited late November) there are few crowds, so finding enough people while leaving plenty of negative space wasn’t too challenging. Had there been larger crowds I would have to have framed the image differently.

The strong contrast between light and dark was still a factor, even after sunset, so I made use of a 2 stop GND to manage the colour balance.

With this the shutter speed was still quite fast at 1/50th, so getting a sharp exposure wasn’t too challenging. The use of tripod still helped.

View this image on 500px or Flickr.

Positano Rising

Positano Rising

Positano Rising by Des Paroz on 500px.com

This series of photos from Positano in Italy have showed different aspects of the town, its stunning coastline and some individual characteristics of the township.

This image, shot from the same western overlook from which I shot the image East from Positano shows the scale of the town growing up from the Piazza dei Mulini area in the centre of the town, extending up the heights of the surrounding mountains.

The township is very much situated in what looks to me to be a fjord cut into the mountain range by the sea.

The building next to the green roof in the bottom of the frame is the wonderful AirBNB place we stayed at, and is situated right in front of Piazza dei Mulini.

As a photographer it is also important to sometimes turn the camera around to do a different perspective. While the East from Positano image has an amazing vista, this one is pretty good too, and is a key part of my Positano story. I think this image helps to illustrate the scale of the heights of Positano as it rises from the sea into the mountains.

View this image on 500px or Flickr

East from Positano

East from Positano

East from Positano by Des Paroz on 500px.com

The classic view of Positano is from the outlook at the eastern end of the township, near the Sponda bus-stop. This view is very oft the first stop for photographers visiting Positano1.

This is exactly why its a good idea to sometimes shoot the opposite view, so after watching Elia Locardi‘s Photographing the World part 3 I decided to set out to find the overlook Elia used for an alternative blue hour location.

This location looks eastward, so I shot it at both sunrise and sunset. Interestingly I really found the location to be better suited to sunset, perhaps a bit surprising, but the blue hour from this location was quite spectacular.

For me, the clear blue sky in this image works beautifully with the lights of the town. Visiting Positano in the low season had many advantages, but there were far fewer lights coming on. Its possible that in high season there might actually be too much ambient light, so it would be interesting to see a comparison.

This location was perfect for framing the dome of the church in such a way that it has clear sea behind.

Tracking this location down was a good opportunity to get an insight into the thinking of a photographer like Elia. It was simultaneously a chance to learn scouting techniques, while exploring and being rewarded with a good photo location.

View this image on 500px or Flickr

Six Passengers

Six Passengers

Six Passengers by Des Paroz on 500px.com

Famous for its spectacular coastline, seascapes and mountain vistas, life in Positano is literally built around the sea.

The township is a year round magnet for tourists, and the crystal blue seas are a way that many get to and from the area, and are a major part of their enjoyment of it. Swimming, snorkelling, diving, sailing, fishing and other marine tourism are all important.

During the quieter winter months fewer people swim, but there are constant reminders of the role that the seas play in the town’s rhythm of life.

After shooting the vistas of the township each sunrise from different overlooks, I felt the need to do something different. Along with the steps of Positano, I felt that the working sea is an important part of the township’s story.

Image made as the sun began to rise over the headland further east on the Amalfi Coast. A 6 stop GND filter helped to balance out the strong highlights with the dark shadows, as well as providing glassy smoothness to the sea.

View this image on 500px or Flickr

Stepping Up in Positano

Stepping Up in Positano

Stepping Up in Positano by Des Paroz on 500px.com

Positano is known for many things – beaches, restaurants, bars, walks, magnificent scenery and more. Perhaps however it is most known for its many, many stairs.

The town really has only two roads – the main highway the winds between Sorrento and Amalfi that cuts through the high part of town, and a second road that winds down from the main road near Chiesa Nueva (New Church) and rejoins the main road near the Sponda bus stop.

Footpaths on these roads are limited, to say the least. Getting around town, from the heights down to the beach is generally done on foot and by the many stairways.

Shooting these stairways can be challenging as the light range can be quite broad. Shooting early or late in the day, or on an overcast day, can help. This image was made in the morning, and was framed to accentuate the winding stairway, and to use a slightly downward angle to emphasise the nearest stairs, and to crop out the brightest parts of the scene.

Positano’s stairways are part of this township’s story, and are worth exploring, photographically.

View this image on 500px.

Looking Up from Positano

Looking Up from Positano

Looking Up from Positano by Des Paroz on 500px.com

Like the other towns on Italy’s Amalfi Coast, Positano stretches from its beautiful coastline up into the surrounding mountains.

Standing on the beach, the signature dome of the church of Santa Maria Assunta is framed between an enclave in the ridge-line of the mountains. Buildings stretch much of the way up.

This image was made a few minutes after sunset, giving a love even colour across the buildings and hills. A tripod is an important tool in this type of imagery, as the relatively low shutter speed (0.4 of a second) would make a sharp image difficult to achieve if handholding.

View this image on 500px or Flickr

Positano Blue

Positano Blue

Positano Blue by Des Paroz on 500px.com

Positano on Italy’s Amalfi Coast is a spectacularly stunning township, rising up from the sea into the heights of the surrounding mountains.

We visited in late Autumn, the low season for tourism, and we loved the fact that we could truly explore the coast, and the whole township without having to battle any crowds whatsoever.

This image was made during the blue hour, shortly after sunset. Being winter sunset was quite early (4:39pm), and the blue ‘hour’ quite short – about half an hour.

This short window meant that we had to scout1 early, then come back and setup early. Even though it was off season, there were some other photographers around and there are limited vantage points due to the cliff edges and narrow footpaths.

Positano is a wonderful place for photographers and non-photographers who want to explore a stunning coastline.

View this image on 500px or Flickr

Photo Posting

I’ve been a bit slack (not the first time) in regularly posting photos. Our recent Italy trip produced a lot of images, and I still have a few more I want to share from our Singapore trip earlier this year. So with some luck there should be some more regular posting of photos.


  1. I intend to do a post on scouting locations while having limited time on a vacation. Without giving too much away I highly recommend Elia Locardi’s Photographing the World Vol 3 for some tips on location scouting.