One advantage to scouting a location early is that you can usually secure the best spot to get a great composition of an iconic place such as Manarola, Italy. I remember visiting Cambodia several years back and was intent on capturing the sunrise over Angkor Wat. I remember hearing the 2:30AM alarm and immediately cursed myself. I’d never get my beauty rest not. Fortunately, it paid off big time because we were the very first people to make it to the location and secured some prime real estate. Thankfully, the effort paid off as we were treated to one of the most spectacular sunrises I had ever seen.

Angkor Wat Template in Cambodia at sunrise


When we visited Italy last year, one of our most anticipated destinations was Manarola, one of five quaint villages that make up Italy’s Cinque Terre region. Set against an aggressive and rugged coastline, Manarola looks as if it was carved out of the rock below. There is a meandering walking path that takes you away from the village and to a perfectly situated vantage point where you can see the entirety of the village. We got there several hours before sunset, which gave us ample time to scout for an ideal location to set up our tripods and dial in our exposure settings.

Manarola, Italy at dusk

As you can see, the weather conditions did a lot to diffuse any harsh sunlight but it also prevented us from getting much color from the sunset. Still, we knew that the best was yet to come. If you can believe it, only an hour or so passed between the dusk shot above and the night scene below. We took the photos last November and the sun sets quite early this time of year, so we didn’t have to wait too long. Despite the lack of a brilliant sunset, I walked away very happy because I was able to enjoy the transition of Manarola from one state to a completely different one without any obstacles. It really was a beautiful evening.

Manarola, Italy at night