As a photographer, and especially one that likes to photograph landscapes, there’s always the danger of getting bored by shooting the same stuff over and and over again. Sure, interesting weather has the capability to change a normally dull location into something quite magical, but it just doesn’t measure up against visiting new grounds.
Fantasizing about photographing new landscapes has become an everyday occupation. The Norwegian fjords from a fisher boat perspective. Star gazing during a clear night on a small Greek island. The Swiss Alps covered in snow. The list is never ending and thanks to my fellow landscape photographers, keeps getting longer and longer.
Having a rather big following number on social media can open some doors if you play your cards right. Lucky for me, it was the main reason I got in touch with the Swiss toursim board. One conversation led to another and before I even knew it, I was already packing my suitcase and heading for the Swiss Alps. In winter.
My task was to photograph the Lucerne region which is roughly located in the centre of Switzerland. Typical for the region is a massive lake called the Vierwaldstättersee (In English: Lake Lucerne), which is surrounded by many impressive mountain peaks like Rigi, Pilatus and Bürgenstock. The city of Lucerne is a a real gem for those who like traditional architecture and cultural sights with the famous and unique chapel bridge as the city’s trade mark. My first stayover for the night was the Pilatus Kulm hotel, at the summit of mount Pilatus. At an astonishing height of 2123 metres a.m.s.l., the view guarantees a real treat to the eye. The completely renewed gondola offers a thrilling ride to the top and already offers an exciting panoramic view before you’ve even reached the end. You will definitely challenge your fear of heights. When the clouds aren’t blocking your view, the city of Lucerne and Lake Lucerne itself are cleary visible when looking towards the north. When moving your way around the panorama terrace towards the south, you can see most of central Switzerland’s important mountain tops. I managed to catch one of the last gondola rides and still had time to capture the sunset. Because the clouds started rolling in, it wasn’t possible to look all the way down but it created a very isolated and mysterious atmosphere instead. I know a good night shot was going to be unrealistic when the clouds were getting denser and worked their way up to cover the entire mountain.
The highly amusing gondola ride to Mt. Pilatus
Clouds rolling in just after sunset. View from the Pilatus panorama terrace.
Good morning Lucerne
Spending the night at the Pilatus Kulm Hotel wasn’t a punishment to say the least. Having my room on the third floor granted a spectacular view from my window. Slightly behind schedule, I started to head down and had a last glimpse of Mount Rigi which occasionaly revealed itself through the pine trees. When I arrived at the gondola base station, I met Colette who works for the toursim office of Mt. Pilatus. Being a local she offered me to give me a lift to the car rental where I needed to go next. Needless to say, we weren’t about to take normal route so Colette showed me some photogenic spots of around the shores of Lake Lucerne. The light was really nice and I was quite surprised about how clear the water was. After picking up my car and saying goodbye to Colette I drove off to my second location; the alpine village of Engelberg.
Mount Rigi, seen through the pine trees
A common sight at Lake Lucerne, swans and mountain silhouettes
Tucked away between the mountains of central Switzerland, Engelberg (1020 m) has a lot to offer: It probably is the region’s most important mountain resort and therefore well known by tourists that are using Engelberg as their fall out base to go skiing in winter and hiking in summer. Impressive mountain tops such as Titlis (3238 m), Ruchstock (2814 m) and Hahnen (2606 m) are overlooking the Engelberg valley which has a large selection of activities to offer for those who choose to have an active vacation. There are several snowshoe hike parcours, cross country ski tracks, a ski jump hill and a via ferrata track for adrenalin seekers. I chose to take the cable car up to Fürenalp; a mountain plateau located at 1840 meters altitude, perfect for snowshoe hiking. Next to providing one of the best views on the Engelberg valley, the mountain tops of Titlis, the Kleiner Spannort (3140 m) and Grosser Spannort (3198) are all in clear sight. It was a wild guess that the sun would disappear behind Titlis so I was hoping for an interesting photo with those two subjects. During a quick glimpse towards the East, I saw the silhouette of a Chamois walking perfectly aligned the mountain ridge. Luckily, I had my EF 70-200 f2.8 L II IS USM Lens which provided the necesarry zoomage for the shot. After the sun was set, I decided to go down to the village and check in the hotel. Tomorrow was going to be another promising, but tiring day.
Mount Titlis hiding the setting sun
A classic view from Fürenalp on Engelberg valley