Myself with an unknown dog

Photo taken by my wife with a smartphone, Scarborough beach, South Africa. I'm the one on the right!

I am an Italian creative photographer, and I like to shoot mainly nightscapes, seascapes and landscapes in general. After many years of shooting with analog cameras, I decided to go digital and set up my own website to show my best pictures and offer them for sale. I love South Africa, where I lived for some years, and that is why now most pictures are from South Africa, but I will soon publish other pictures of countries as diverse as Namibia, Italy and Kazakhstan!

In my blog I will mainly talk about how and where I shot my photos, with a little bit of technicalities and a lot of stories about the places. Of course all comments, suggestions and remarks are welcome.

Does anybody want to add a link to his/her own photos or blog? Why not, but I will appreciate if he/she in exchange adds a link to my website on his/her website or blog.

Please don't be shy: if you have questions or comments, just leave them at the bottom of each article.

You may login with your smugmug ID (if you have one) or even with your Facebook.

Also e-mails to my address giampierotorello94@gmail.com are welcome!




Questo è il mio terzo libro, e a differenza dei due precedenti questo è in italiano, anziché in inglese.

E' la storia di una ragazza che, in un giorno qualsiasi, durante una passeggiata vicino a casa si ritrova in un mondo completamente diverso da quello a cui è abituata. Il lungo viaggio di ritorno a casa la trasforma in una ragazza che non ha paura di niente. La storia è raccontata per mezzo di fotografie di paesaggi reali e immaginari, che ho scattato in Sudafrica, Namibia, Italia, Kazakhstan e USA, integrate da testi con descrizioni e dialoghi. Oltre alla ragazza, ci sono personaggi costruiti a partire da altre mie foto.

Insomma, un fotolibro che racconta una storia, o una fiaba, in circa 90 pagine di immagini e testo. Vi passerete il tempo!

Dove si trova il libro? su Blurb a  questo link: Fearless

Quanto costa? 11 euro

Il sito di Blurb è in italiano, vi verrà mandata una e-mail in italiano con il link del libro in due formati: .epub e .mobi

Io consiglio di leggerlo sul computer, così si vedono bene le immagini oltre al testo, con uno dei tanti programmi per .epub (come FBReader, scaricabile da qui) o per .mobi (come Calibre, scaricabile da qui). Il formato .mobi è anche per chi ha un Kindle. Si possono leggere anche su smartphone, con Google Play Books per Android o iBooks per chi ha iPad, iPhone o iPod touch. Comunque più è grande lo schermo e meglio è, trattandosi di un libro pieno di foto!

Ed ecco qui di seguito un paio di screenshot del libro aperto con FBReader (che fa seguire le immagini dai testi) e Calibre (che mantiene immagini e testi insieme), insieme a un breve videoclip con alcune immagini che troverete nel libro.

Screenshot di FEARLESS su Calibre

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Screenshot di Fearless su FBReader

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Screenshot di FEARLESS su FBReader

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Sono molto contento di questo mio terzo libro e spero che vi piacerà. Se mi farete avere commenti su questo blog mi farà moltissimo piacere!


For my English-speaking friends: English version coming soon!

Mi piacerebbero i vostri commenti su "Fearless", cosa ne dite? Se vi va, mandatemi una e-mail  qui o lasciate un commento qui sotto:

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South Africa Night & Day

South Africa Night and Day
South Africa N...
My vision of South ...
By Giampiero Torello
Photo book

A different vision of South Africa in a series of photos showing the Cape Peninsula, the Karoo, the deserts and much more by night and day. Definitely not the usual photo book on South Africa. Here I have collected some of the nightscapes, seascapes and landscapes that I  shot in South Africa.

Some corners of this wonderful country that usually are not seen by tourists. In this book you will not find the usual wildlife shots, or the views of Table Mountain that are displayed in thousands of photo books and postcards, but you will see some places seldom visited by organized tours.

Available on Amazon with hardcover and paperback

The eBook is available on Apple Books and Blurb for Amazon Kindle Fire®, Apple iPad®, Android devices, and Mac or PC computers, download it for just US$11.99 

South Africa Nightscapes

South Africa Nightscapes
South Africa N...
By Giampiero Torello
Photo book

My first book, a selection of nightscapes that I shot in South Africa: night skies of the Karoo, the Cape Peninsula, the Ai/Ais-Richtersveld National Park, and more.                                          

                                                                                   Available on Amazon with paperback                                                                                                                                       

The eBook is available on Apple Books and Blurb for Amazon Kindle Fire®, Apple iPad®, Android devices, and Mac or PC computers, download it for just US$7.99

Want to send me comments? Email me here or leave a comment on this page

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How I shot a National Geographic Photo of the Day with a smartphone

I have been playing with photo cameras since I was very young, but I did not really consider taking this passion seriously until I stayed in South Africa for some months in 2012.

That was not the first time I visited South Africa, as my wife and me had already been there in 2002: with rented cars, public transport and a few flights, in just 3 weeks the two of us  saw Cape Town and Table Mountain, Pretoria, the Karoo, the Augrabies Falls National Park, the Kruger National Park, the Drakensberg, the Blyde River Canyon, etc.

Of course we both fell in love with this wonderful country but could not come back for a longer stay until January 2012. I only had my smartphone with me but I shot some of my most successful photos in that year. For example, the photo that you see down here.

Not too bad for a photo shot with a smartphone, default settings, no postprocessing at all. It is "Photo of the Day" on National Geographic of May 5th, 2013, which was for me a great satisfaction at that time. I shot this photo on a beach about 20Km from Port Elizabeth, a large industrial city on the coast of the Indian Ocean, South Africa.

Although it is so close to a big city, this place looks remote and secluded. Like many beaches on the southern coast of South Africa, it is a long stretch of sand and rocks, the sea is often rough and not much attractive for bathers, and the only people are fishermen standing on the shore and throwing their baits attached to long lines some dozens of meters off the shore into the waves.

One day, I was walking with my wife on the sand, taking photos of the seagulls. The sunset was approaching, there was a light wind, and the beach and dunes nearby were all grey. It looked more like the North Sea than the Indian Ocean! Suddenly, all changed: in a few minutes the colors turned to several hues of brown, red and yellow, and the landscape became the set of an episode of the "Lord of the Rings". I quickly pointed my smartphone and clicked a few shots, just before running out of battery. No time to adjust the settings, just click and hope.

When I looked at the photos I was impressed. Mother Nature and my smartphone had written all the music, I was just the performer of the score. I sent one of the photos to National Geographic, and to my surprise it was selected as "Photo of the Day" of May 5th, 2013, among thousands of other photos that National Geographic receives every day.

This photo was also published by Landscape Photography Magazine, and it is also the starting image of an internet game whose name unfortunately I cannot remember. If somebody reads my blog and knows this game, I will be thankful to receive its name so that I can add it to my references.

So how did I shoot this photo?

As I have already said, I just used a smartphone, a Samsung Galaxy Note 1st series that I bought at the end of 2011 and I'm still using after almost 7 years of service! It still delivers good quality photos without any additional device and only a bit of post processing.In this case there was no need of post processing.

In other words, this might as well be street photography instead of landscape photography: just frame and shoot. However you might notice that the horizon is right in the center of the frame, while the rules of composition state that you have to divide the image in 3 equal areas for a good composition. Some photographers made a point of this and told me this composition is not well balanced. Well, maybe they are right, but there is a reason why I chose to subvert the rule of thirds.

The reason why I didn't follow the rules and shot an image divided in 2 equal parts instead of 3 is because this way I got the light that I wanted. With the horizon too high in the composition the foreground was too dark, and with the horizon too low the sky was all white. 

It's an easy but useful trick: If you have a smartphone, try to tilt it back and forth when you compose the image and you will understand what I mean. Then, if you think that the composition is not well balanced, just crop the upper part in order to get a composition divided in 3 equal parts.

Eventually you don't always need costly equipment to shoot nice landscape photos, just a smartphone, a few adjustments of the composition and ... the right place at the right moment! Sounds easy, right? Well, this is another issue, that I will talk about soon in another post.

By the way, a couple of years after I shot this photo, a wind farm was built on the ridge to the right, so that place is not the same any longer, and it will not be for some 20 years. A good example of how landscape photography can still work as a memory of the places.

Thursday, June 21st, 2018

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The symbol of Namibia

This is another important photo in my career: I shot it at Sossusvlei, Namibia, in January 2015. A group of Gemsbok (Oryx gazella) strolling in the desert at dawn. I am just posting the photo, then I will add the behind-the-scenes later.

The story behind this photo is very simple. In January 2015, in the middle of a hot Namibian summer, my wife and me were traveling throughout that wonderful country with a 4x4 car equipped with a rooftop mounted tent. We couldn't miss the famous sand dunes of Sossusvlei, so we overnighted at the campground at the entrance to the park. Our intention was to wake up before dawn, ride quickly to the vleis, and watch the sunrise on top of the dunes. This is a classic tour in Sossusvlei, infact the whole campground had the same idea: at 5:00am everybody was packing tents and luggage and rushing towards the vleis. The main reason was to see the dawn on the dunes, but also because after 9:00 the temperature was quickly rising above 40°C, and a nice walk in the desert could easily become very unpleasant.

So we found ourselves locked in a queue of cars speeding towards the vleis at the end of the road, while the sun was slowly showing behind the dunes. There were occasional Gemsboks (Oryx gazella) dawdling in the desert not far from the road. I think they are used to these strange animals speeding towards who knows where, and in summer the early morning is a good time for a walk before the high temperature makes the desert impassable.

I saw one of these small groups of Gemsboks strolling between the road and a huge sand dune, so I decided it was worthwhile shooting some photos to them. I was the only one to stop in a small lay-by by the road side, while all other cars rushed to the vleis. I think it was a good idea, in any case the sun was already rising so we had already lost the dawn on top of the dunes.

Here is another photo of gemsboks, that I made in the same days not far from Sossusvlei. This is to show how powerful these animals are. It is the size of a deer but more stocky, with long horns made like spears, that the antelope uses also as weapons for defense against predators. Even lions need to take care when hunting gemsboks.

I used a Canon PowerShot SX20IS at maximum focal length and waited until the gemsboks were exactly in front of the s-shaped dune ridge. The light of the rising sun created a nice effect on the dune, whose left side was still in the dark while the other side was brightly colored almost like a neon light. I shot a series of photos to that small herd of gemsboks. I think they did not care about the cars, and at dawn the temperature was still pleasant. I usually shoot in manual mode, but in that case I did not have to care much about aperture and time as the light conditions were very good. So I had all the time to care about the composition.

Then we drove until the end of the tarred road, where we left the car and started the walk to the vleis. It is a few kilometers walk, but in the summer in the Namib desert the temperature rises quickly above 40°C, therefore we wanted to get back to the car before 9:30. I am now going to post a few photos of that walk.

Like this one for example: luckily the two persons in the photo are not me and my wife! As I said, in full summer it is only advisable to hike in the desert at dawn or anyway in the early morning. This is why we hiked to the vleis at 7:00, shot some photos there and along the sandy road, then returned quickly to the car in the parking at the start of the tarred road, in order to finish the hike before 9:30.

In spite of the recommendations, during our walk back to the parking lot we were amazed to cross many hikers heading to the vleis. I can imagine their return walk around 11:00 was less pleasant than ours.

While we were driving back to the campground, I saw those two guys climbing the steep ridge of one of the huge sand dunes. Maybe it was Dune 45 or the like. Other people had climbed the dune early in the morning, but these 2 were hiking at 10:30, and the temperature was probably already above 40°C. 

I had to stop and take a photo of those 2 fearless hikers, but I guess one of them was asking the other:

"Hey, didn't you tell me it was an easy walk?"

About 40 minutes later we got to the restaurant and enjoyed a wonderful late morning breakfast, and by that time the two hikers had probably made it to the top or given up. For sure they had soaked their shirts with a lot of sweat!

Driving in Namibia is a beautiful experience, above all if you are equipped with a 4x4 car with rooftop tent and all crockery and cutlery in the trunk. It really gives you a sense of freedom, but you must always pay a lot of attention to the roads, because most are untarred and the Namibians drive fast like crazy. This is the tarred road at Sossusvlei, leading from the campground to the vleis.

Saturday, June 30th, 2018

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