Category Archives: Switzerland

Inside Geneva’s St. Pierre Cathedral

St Pierre Cathedral, Geneva

In modern times Geneva is probably best known for its association with the United Nations and the Swiss banking industry. But back in the 1500’s it was considered the “Protestant Rome”, the unofficial capital of the Reformation.

St. Pierre’s Cathedral was the adopted church of John Calvin, a leader of the movement away from the Catholic church. Protestant exiles from all over Europe came to Geneva to take refuge, so while it’s not the most interesting church to look at it’s certainly historically significant.

I always enjoy exploring the geometry inside cathedrals like this. There are so many different ways to frame a shot, with crazy lines all over the place. I’ve found one of the most effective techniques is to try and use features of the interior to frame other elements in the shot. This normally provides some nice depth to the image from front to back.

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!

Watching The Night Envelope Geneva

Reflections, Lake Geneva

Watching day turn to night around Lake Geneva is such a wonderful experience. Soon after the sun has set behind the Jura mountain range the buildings spring to life and the town shows its true colours. I don’t think there’s a much better spot to observe the beautiful transition than this one looking out towards the Jet d’Eau.

I really wanted to capture a sense of the night enveloping the town, so I spent about 2 hours with my tripod just watching the light change. Too early and the reflection would be too weak, too late and the day’s light would have passed. Of the many shots I took this was the most balanced.

Over the course of the evening I experimented with a variety of settings in Manual mode so that I could control both the aperture and shutter speed. Getting an exposure that was both long enough to blur the water and not too long to blow out the highlights of the buildings was an interesting challenge!

Three Doors In Geneva Old Town

Half Open, Old Town, Geneva

There was something about these three doors in the old town of Geneva that caught my eye. The light streaming through the middle door was fantastic and created a great atmosphere. Two of them being half open also added an element of intrigue to the scene.

The run down nature of the surroundings is a bit unusual for the old town, with most buildings being better kept around the edges. But I think I much prefer them like this, they’re much more interesting to look at and bring a bit more character to the streets of Geneva.

I’m not sure about the dark coloured wall on the right hand side. Viewed full screen it’s not so obvious, but in the smaller format published here it can be a bit distracting. Hopefully you’re reading this after looking at the shot so you weren’t thinking about this whole time!

Lighting Up The Horizon

Sunset, Lake Geneva

This was another great sunset we had here in Geneva recently. We’re experiencing a run of dull weather at the moment, but every now and then the clouds start to break up toward the end of the day and there is some great light scattered about the sky.

After I discovered it a couple of months ago this has become one of my go-to locations around the lake. Unfortunately a new boat has arrived since I took this shot, occupying the water on the left of the image. It doesn’t make for such a nice composition! So I’m going to look for an alternative next time I’m out.

What you can’t see in this published version are the cigarettes in the foreground, which I cloned out in Lightroom. It always baffles me that people think it’s ok to drop cigarette butts on the floor. I’m not sure how it’s different to any other kind of littering, which most people would find completely unacceptable!

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.

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!