Hiking The Grand Balcon Sud Towards Index

Grand Balcon Sud, French Alps

Hiking along the Grand Balcon Sud in the Chamonix valley was the highlight of my summer exploring the French Alps on foot. The 90 minute trek from the Index cablecar to Lac Blanc and the Lacs des Chéserys was full of incredible views no matter where I turned.

But the hike along the same path in the opposite direction was even better, with Mont Blanc in view almost the entire time. I took this shot just after I started hiking back to the cablecar station to head home. I really can’t recommend this route enough!

On the right you can see one of the Lacs des Chéserys, a beautiful collection of small mountain lakes at an altitude of 2111m. To the left in the distance is Mont Blanc, the tallest mountain in Europe at 4810m. From here I spent a bit more time shooting at the lake, before continuing my journey back up the rocky face behind it.

Majestic Reflections In Lac Blanc

Lac Blanc Reflection, French Alps

When I reached Lac Blanc to find I was sharing it with only one other hiker, I knew the 5:30am wake-up call was worth it. This popular lake in the Aiguilles Rouges range of the French Alps is swarming with people for much of the day. But arrive early enough and you can have the place almost to yourself.

What’s the main attraction? The stunning views of the Mont Blanc massif, seen here reflected in the water. It’s been a bit of a dream of mine to see this lake. As I stood here looking out at what must be one of the most magnificent views in the Alps, I felt slightly overwhelmed by the grandeur of it all.

I thought I was aware of the beauty I’d find at Lac Blanc, but there is no substitute for being there in person. Seeing it with my own eyes, breathing the air and enjoying the silence. It made me fall in love with the mountains all over again. I wouldn’t hesitate to set my alarm for 5:30am and do it all again next weekend.

Searching For Details In The Mont Blanc Massif

Reach For The Skies

I’d been shooting with a wide angle lens all morning, but decided it was time to focus on the detail of the majestic mountains I could see in the distance. I sat down, switched to a long zoom lens and scanned the surrounding landscape for interesting features.

Something about this peak in the Mont Blanc massif caught my eye. I loved the leading line created by the mountain’s ridge. Following it from bottom to top I felt like I could imagine it climbing higher and higher as it was created, forged from the earth.

Mountains at high altitude often make great subjects for black and white photography. There’s so much contrast to play with between the snow-capped peaks, perfect blue sky and dark rock formations. I had great fun experimenting in Lightroom!

Getting Wet At La Cascade d’Ardent

Cascade d'Ardent, French Alps

While exploring la Cascade d’Ardent at the weekend I managed to accomplish a couple of photography firsts. Not only did I get my tripod wet for the first time, I also successfully shot flowing water in daylight with a Neutral Density filter.

During the day there is normally too much light for a longer exposure. An ND filter acts like a pair of sunglasses for your camera, letting in less light than usual. This means you can use longer shutter speeds to get a silky smooth water effect, even in the middle of the day.

Somehow this was the first occasion I had both an ND filter and my tripod at the same time in the right location. I had so much fun experimenting with the filter and the angles. I even had a few people stop and watch me carefully set up my tripod in the water. They probably thought I was crazy!

Do you often use a neutral density filter? Maybe you like to get your feet wet in a stream every now and then?! I’d love to hear from you!

The Fêtes de Genève Goes Out With A Bang

Fireworks, Fêtes de Genève

As we watched in awe from the roof of our six storey apartment building, the ground beneath our feet was shaking a little too regularly. But this was no earthquake, just the unbelievable force of the cherry bomb fireworks exploding over Lake Geneva.

Once a year the skies above our Swiss town are filled with colour in a spectacular display celebrating the end of the summer’s Fêtes de Genève. And at a cost of 700,000CHF (almost $800,000) you’d surely expect it to be one of the best in the world!

I stayed on the roof of our building to shoot this year. The thought of battling my way around the half a million people who come to watch, while carrying a tripod and camera bag, was not particularly appealing! With the ground shaking every so often I came away with a lot of blurry shots. Even so I did get a few sharp ones, and this was one of the best.

What’s the best fireworks display you’ve seen? Maybe you have some tips for shooting fireworks? I’d love to hear from you!

A Longtail In Paradise

Paradise In Thailand

For about an hour it was pretty much paradise! When we arrived for lunch on our tour with Phuket Sail Tours this beach was completely deserted. Unfortunately I’m not sure exactly where it is, but I think it’s on Koh Phi Phi Don in Thailand. Maybe someone out there with eagle eyes can help me out?

The perfect isolation lasted until these chugging longtail boats turned up with some fellow tourists. At least they made a great subject for this photo! And we left shortly after to escape to another quiet spot elsewhere.

What drew me to this shot was the negative space in the bottom half of the photo. I think it does a great job of leading the eye to the top half where the main subject is. It’s the first time I’ve consciously noticed this crazy effect surrounding negative space, I’ll definitely be looking out for it more in the future!

Do you recognise this beach?! Maybe you can tell me where it is? Or maybe you like using negative space in your photography? I’d love to hear from you!

Five Destinations I’d Return To In A Heartbeat

If I had to pick five places to return to, where would I go? It’s not something I’ve thought about much in the past. I always try to travel to new destinations whenever I have the chance. But there are a few places that really captured my heart and left me wanting more.

Kan over at Kan Walk Will Travel kindly nominated me to enter a competition currently being run by Booked.net, who are challenging us bloggers to name five places we’d go back to in the future. So where would I travel back to in a heartbeat?

1. Cinque Terre

Colours of Manarola

Situated on the Ligurian coast of Italy, the Cinque Terre must be one of the most stunning places on earth. Incredible, impossibly placed towns nestled amongst the romance of local vineyards is a combination that’s hard to beat.

My previous visit was too fleeting and I didn’t have the opportunity to walk the famous cliffside paths between the five towns. I’d love to return and take a few days slowly hiking the route, making the most of every opportunity for a good photograph along the way.

Continue Reading…