Tag 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!

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!

Lake Geneva At Its Very Best

Lake Geneva, Switzerland

We had another great sunset in Geneva this evening, and I finally managed to get my tripod down to the lake. This meant I could take some longer exposures and really capture the reflections in the water. Fortunately the lake was calm so the moored boats were not bobbing around too much. Otherwise I would have had some pretty blurry boats in this shot!

I think I made it just in time for the best of the light, and decided to experiment with some new angles. I wanted to get up higher so I could capture more of the water below. Climbing up onto the rocky ridge beside the path gave me the prefect vantage point, allowing me to include more of the lovely reflections and Lake Geneva’s incredibly clear water in a single shot.

This is definitely my new favourite composition from this spot around the lake. Sooner or later I will have to move on and try to find somewhere better, but for now I just can’t get enough of this location!

Do you have a favourite spot you go back to time and time again? What makes it your favourite?

Going Wide Angle On The Streets Of Geneva

St. Pierre Cathedral, Geneva, Switzerland

Wandering the Old Town of Geneva gave me a great opportunity to use my 10-18mm lens on city streets. In the past I always struggled to get the image I really wanted with a narrower lens. I like to take in the whole scene to give a better sense of the environment. But I could never find the right balance between having the street in shot and maintaining a comfortable amount of room at the top of the image.

I was forever compromising between these two elements, and rarely happy with the outcome. But now I don’t have to make that compromise! I returned home from the Old Town with a number of shots I am more than happy with, all thanks to the extra width and height afforded by the new lens.

Having searched what must have been most of the streets in the vicinity, I finally found what I was looking for – an unobstructed view to the spire of St. Pierre Cathedral. Fortunately I remembered to expose for the highlights, and then just touched up the shadows and clarity in Lightroom.

How do you approach shooting in the streets? Maybe you like to use a wide angle lens too? I’d love to hear from you!