Grazing Before The Storm

Grazing Before The Storm, French Alps

Is it just me, or is there something special about the sound of cow bells ringing through the mountains? It immediately puts a smile on my face. So I was a pretty happy chap when I came across this field of grazing cows on my way back down from Pointe de la Rochette near Annecy.

What struck me most in this scene was the contrast. Not only do the white, leafless trees really stand out against the backdrop of evergreen firs, but the sunlight bathing the field in light provides no warning of the stormy clouds approaching.

I quickly switched out my wide angle lens for a trusty 50-200mm telephoto to snap this shot. It’s not something I use very often, but I’m slowly learning how best to take advantage of it. Do you like to use a zoom lens for landscape photography? Maybe you have some tips? I’d love to hear from you!

Reflections At Dusk

Jet d'Eau, Geneva, Switzerland

On Friday evening I went out to shoot the sunset over Lake Geneva, which in the end wasn’t all that spectacular. However it was the first time I’ve seen the Jet d’Eau light up at dusk this year, a sure sign that spring is upon us. I have to say I was pretty excited!

I’d been out shooting for a few hours, running back and forward between different points to capture the light as best I could. When I saw the jet light up I knew I wanted to find a spot where I could get a good reflection of it in some calmer waters.

What I was not prepared for were the bats that came out of hiding, flittering about just in front of the camera lens! I was slightly concerned I might get jumpy and knock my tripod over into the water by accident, so I took a few steps back and let the long exposure work its magic.

Sculpted From Fantasy

Aiguille des Grands Charmoz, French Alps

There’s something special about this formation in the Mont Blanc massif. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but for me it’s just magical. As I was taking this shot I almost felt as if I was looking at a scene from a fantasy novel.

The misty clouds hiding the mountains beyond were the icing on the cake, providing the perfect opportunity to focus solely on the craggy rocks of the Aiguille des Grands Charmoz without any distraction. I couldn’t resist the black and white treatment, and boosted the contrast a bit to really show the distinction between the hard, unforgiving rock faces and the snow that surrounds them.

I think as peaks go it’s probably my favourite in the French Alps. For the time being anyway, I’m sure I have many more to discover! Do you have a favourite peak? Why does it stand out? I’d love to hear from you!

At The End Of The Road

Jet d'Eau, Geneva, Switzerland

I’m not sure whether this was executed purposefully by town planners or a happy accident. But either way the view down this street – curiously named Rue du 31st Decembre – toward the Jet d’Eau in Geneva is one of those that’s hard to forget.

This shot was taken in the middle of a pedestrian crossing. Each time the lights went green I would cross half way, try to line up as well as I could and click the shutter. Obviously as the lights were green for me to cross, they were red for the oncoming traffic.

I wanted a clean composition with no cars involved, so I had to wait a good while for the street to be clear at the right moment. I think I probably crossed the road about 15 times to get this shot. As is usually the case, my patience and persistence paid off in the end!

Over The Hills And Far Away

Le Reposoir, France

Taken just behind the quaint church I posted about last week, this was the lovely view I had all to myself whilst eating lunch in Le Reposoir. Beautifully serene, it really captured my imagination with the green hills giving way to the snow-capped mountains of the French Alps in the distance. I wanted to get closer to those mountains!

Alas, they were very far away from this spot. And those hills are much steeper than they appear! Unfortunately the direct driving route was still closed because of snow, so I’ll have to head back another time.

There was something about this composition that really appealed to me, with soft almost unnoticeable leading lines guiding you from left to right and the mountains that lie beyond. And for midday sun the light wasn’t too bad either!

Looking Out Over Lake Annecy

Lake Annecy, France

Given the positive forecast for Sunday we decided to take a trip to this lookout over Lake Annecy in the French Alps. Unfortunately the weather ended up being absolutely terrible for photography! The sky was not blue, cloudy or moody. It was covered in a blanket of thin, white, textureless haze which was just thick enough to stop the sun shining through.

Needless to say I didn’t get many good images! So I’ve had to do a bit of post-processing to salvage something acceptable. Because the sky was so bland I decided on a yellow hue to give this shot an otherworldly feel, and also provide a little more interest in the upper third of the shot.

I’m determined to go back to this spot when there is actually some nice weather. Just out of shot is a restaurant terrace with great views that would be fantastic for some lunch, and I spotted a few short hiking routes that might be interesting once the summer comes around. It’s just an hour away from Geneva so I have no excuses!

The Circle Of Light

Chandelier, Royal Palace, Amsterdam

Admiring the wonderful halls and decorated rooms of the Royal Palace in Amsterdam there’s one thing that really stands out – the incredible chandeliers. Not only is each and every one enormous, but they’re fantastically ornate as well. If you like chandeliers, this is definitely the place to go!

Getting a chandelier shot that I was happy with proved pretty difficult. Because they are so intricate I think you lose something in the amount of detail that’s present. Looking back at most of my shots I found them a bit overwhelming. I was searching for something simpler, so I decided to try looking directly up at one.

Since I was shooting handheld this was really quite tricky! Lining myself up with the centre of the chandelier, ensuring my camera was level whilst leaning my head back as close to 90˚ as I could manage was a bit of a dark art. I almost fell backwards a number of times! And whilst my final shot isn’t perfect, I think it’s as close as I could have hoped for without a tripod.