Ever since I had bought my new Canon 5D Mark II in spring 2010 I wanted to photograph an iconic location in the Alps. I did remember that as a child I had seen a picture of the Tre Cime di Lavaredo in one of my grandfathers mountain guide-books. When I had a few days off in June I decided to give it a shot.

I left Vienna in the morning and 6 hours later I had already parked my car as close as possible to the Tre Cime. I didn’t take the most direct route to Rifugio Locatelli, the hut I had planned sleeping at. Instead I walked more or less cross country, scouting compositions. After I had checked-in at the hut I kept walking and exploring. As the sun started approaching the horizon I went to my favourite spot and positioned my tripod. I had found a spot with a few blooming flowers that I liked.

Tre Cime Sunset

In the afternoon some massive clouds had formed blocking the sun for most of the time. The later it got the more it cleared up, but there must have been a storm going on in the valley right behind the Tre Cime, as I could hear the echo of thunder. Fortunately, there were no clouds in the east where the sun was setting. What I saw was nothing short of spectacular. The warm light of the sun illuminated the Tre Cime and the clouds in the background. Colors turned from yellow to orange to purple.

View from Rifugio Locatelli

Tre Cime Sunset

The photo below is a stitched panorama composed of seven individual shots. The final image has 44 Megapixels and has already been printed to 120x40cm. I used a graduated neutral density filter to tame the light – there was no HDR technique involved. It’s needless to say, that the dynamic range of the 5DMkII is outstanding. Additionally to the Tre Cime you can see Monte Paterno on the left complemented by the play of shadow and light in the valley on the right.

Panorama of the Tre Cime seen from Rifugio Locatelli

Tre Cime Sunset Panorama

After a rather short night at Rifugio Locatelli in a room with 15 climbers, who judging by their smell, must have been staying in the mountains for quite some time, I got up one hour before sunrise. Right behind the hut there’s a little mountain lake which I had chosen as my locations for sunrise. A few clouds were still hovering behind Monte Paterno, but they dissolved before the sun could reach them. There was just a slight breeze and so I could capture a nice reflection of Monte Paterno.

Monte Paterno Reflection

As soon as the sun came up I moved around a bit and tried a few other compositions. I liked how the meadow caught some of the warm light. When I almost thought I was done, I turned around and saw that the sun had just reached the horizon. I hurried to find some decent foreground. I set up my camera and stopped down to f/18 to get a sun-star.

When I returned to Rifugio Locatelli a few of the other people had already climbed out of their beds and the terrace started to fill with people enjoying the first warm rays of light. While sitting there and cleaning my gear I decided that I had probably taken the shots that I had wanted to. So I decided to return home earlier than planned and slowly walked back to my car.

Feel free to ask questions or drop me a line in the comment section below!

Quick Facts


Rifugio Antonio Locatelli – Sepp Innerkofler is a mountain hut in Parco Naturale Tre Cime in the eastern part of the Dolomites. It is located at an altitude of 2.450m directly in front, and with a splendid view of, the north faces of the Tre Cime di Lavaredo.

How to get there

The easiest way to get to Rifugio Locatelli is walking from Parcheggio Tre Cime Lavaredo the parking lot next to Rifugio Auronza. From there it is an easy walk which will take you a bit more than an hour. There’s many more demanding alternatives like hiking up from Lago di Landro or from Val Sassovecchio.

Where to stay

Given you have made your reservation in advance you can stay directly at Rifugio Locatelli. They offer hotel-style accomodation as well as bunks in dorms and food. Camping is a no-go.

Why Go

The view of the Tre Cime di Lavaredo is amongst the best alpine views available (and easily accessible). If you seek solitude, come in winter – summer is crowded to say the least.

Photography 90%
Adventure 25%
Solitude 5%