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Photographing historic villages

it's my first post in this group. I'm not into urban photography, but I travel to a lot of historic villages, I've done it for years all over France mainly, with no real photographic eye. Some are lucky compositions, most are snapshots. My experience though is that it's quite difficult. The tentation first is to take it all in one shot. Some villages have nice viewpoints outside of the village itself, sometimes secret, sometimes obvious. But it's better to shoot details, narrow streets. Also, a lot of French villages are insanely famous, and full of tourists in summer. A shot with a local going about his business can be very interesting, but a village square full of brightly dressed tourists isn't. Luckily I mostly go in winter. Speaking of villages squares, I find this is the spot where I struggle the most. Any advice to shoot a town square ?

A key moment to shoot is nighttime, but since during those travels I've never had a tripod, and my Panasonic FZ200 isn't capable of high ISOs, I've never done it. On my winter trip this year I plan to take full advantage of the tripod.

If you're interested in this type of photography, a few elements : France has a label for the most beautiful villages, which has strict criteria. One of them is limited access to cars, you usually park outside the village and explore on foot, which is great. The website is here http://www.les-plus-beaux-villages-de-france.org/en Hotels are rare as we're talking villages of less than 500 people most of the time, but AirBnB has open the door to this type of tourism. You can find insanely cheap stays (50 € / night) in a medieval half timbered house a stone house, like I did in many places like Olargues, Figeac, Cordes sur Ciel etc...

I'd be very interested to know how you shoot these places, if you know any books, tutorials or youtube videos for this particular style.

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Too bad the group is so inactive.

lynneo's picture

Hi Nick, am new to this group. I too photograph villages here in my region of Italy so we have a common interest. The first pic seems a bit flat and l cant understand those white lines around the houses shadows...? You have captured some nice lighting on the hill villages, personally if something is in half shadow like the church l tend to returne when its in full sun...if possible. But you certainly have captured some pretty places...my region is poorer and not so pretty. My advice is get to know your location well at all times of day or get an app for times of sunrise , sunset, golden hour etc. I tend to shoot town squares when most inhabitants are indoors and eating or siesta. Sometimes temperatures reach over 40 degrees but l can get a pic without people in it...crazy eh? Keep shooting.