We’ve always enjoyed travelling a little off the beaten track and Malta was no exception. It was early December when we set sail for the archipelago just south of Sicily, usually a time of hard work with the holidays still far off.
There are certain advantages to visiting places in low season that lead us to favour this time of year for travelling, where possible: prices are lower than in high season and even the most popular tourist attractions are accessible without having to queue for hours. The disadvantage is that you have to organise yourselves around reduced hours, national holidays and winter closures.
Malta, Gozo, Comino… three islands in the heart of the Mediterranean that won a place in our hearts. Mild temperatures, jovial residents and a concentration of wondrous historical architecture and coastal landscapes that are the envy of even the longest established tourist location.
Unable to use our usual method of transport – the bicycle – during this trip, we dedicated ourselves to our second great passion, photography, focusing on a technique that we had yet to really get to grips with: HDR photography.
HDR stands for High Dynamic Range. Put briefly, this technique allows you to take pictures in which various levels of luminosity are visible, without areas within the frame ending up over or underexposed. The technique involves taking several pictures with different exposures of the same frame which, by means of the dedicated software, are then combined as one single image. The best thing you can use for this is a reflex camera, and you must use a stable and solid tripod, such as those in the new Manfrotto 190 series. The best results for this technique are achieved using high contrast scenes, such as when you have shadow in the foreground and a high luminosity background.
What we did was to experiment with HDR choosing some of the most beautiful landscapes and architectures found on Malta, making our visits, where possible, within the most suitable time frames, when the light was most radiant.
Our trip around Malta began in the capital, La Valletta. The high walls surrounding the old town are just one of the numerous elements that are evidence of more than 250 years’ rule by the Knights Hospitaller. High walls, forts, cathedrals… : the architecture and military engineering are perfectly combined and remain to this day, despite the fact that the city streets are crammed with traffic. We couldn’t miss out on watching the sun go down from the Upper Barrakka Gardens, looking over the Three Cities: one of the most captivating views on the island!
If the northern coast of Malta is well populated and full of life, that in the south is wild and isolated. The Dingli Cliffs are the highest point on the archipelago, at 280 m above sea level, and were once an excellent natural defence against enemies. Today, they are a destination for tourists and adventurers who love the relaxing walk to reach the Blue Grotto, one of the major natural tourist attractions. We were there too, and found the ideal position looking out from one of the panoramic viewpoints, then got to work to find the best possible shot, waiting for a patch of blue to find its way through the clouds.
Whereas Malta’s charm stems from its renowned military architecture, Gozo splendour is due to its amazing natural panoramas. One of the most photographed and admired locations on the island is the Azure Window, a rocky arch that serves as a magnificent frame for the coastal landscape… the sunset wasn’t long in arriving and, when its light finally kissed the rock, it provided us with the perfect tones for our image.
We ended our trip underground in Rabat, in a visit to the catacombs and church of St Paul, before taking the boat back to Malta and then travelling on by air, back into the grey Alpine winter, far from the mild climate of this colourful Mediterranean archipelago.
Leo and Vero
Leo and Vero are two tireless travellers who love to discover the world by bicycle. After ten months cycling through Southeast Asia, they returned to Italy, but still dedicate their every spare moment to cycling, travelling and photography. They have travelled far and wide but are convinced that the best journey is always the one they have yet to make… “Because travelling is to remember the past, live the present and dream of the future.”
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