If you go to Switzerland, make sure you actually go UP into the mountains. Viewing them from Interlaken alone is only 10% of the experience. The Alps are truly stunning. While they aren’t the highest mountains in the world in terms of actual altitude, their rise from the ground is magnificent, the cliffs dramatic, and the glaciers mind boggling. We had gorgeous, cloudy, moody skies while there, and managed to escape having any rain to speak of (at least, not enough to make photography impossible). Conditions were ideal, and I did my best to capture the stormy, unpredictable nature of mountain weather.
I’ve been working really hard on my technique, specifically, maxing out my sensor and getting the exposure precise enough to really pull out the full range of detail from images and maximize sharpness. For a long time, I shot completely wide open, and got in a bit of a f/1.4 – f/1.8 rut, which isn’t so great for landscapes. So, on this trip I focused on being more intentional about how I used my aperture, and focused on being very precise in how I was using my in-camera meter to determine which part of the composition was exposed to what level. The result is that most of the shots in this post were shot between f/6.3 and f/13 at ISO 400. In editing these images, I experimented more with the highlight / lights / dark / shadows sliders in LR3 to pull out various details and play with contrast. The result is a series of highly manipulated images, but I also think these are some of my best to date, technically and artistically. I hope you agree!
Adventure sports are a little out of control in Switzerland. As our guidebook stated: “To say Switzerland is outdoorsy is an understatement. It’s hyperactive.” One of the most popular is paragliding, shown here. The gliders ride the funiculars up the mountains, and run off a cliff. Literally.
I kept my polarizing filter on for most of the mountain shots. It worked really well on some and not so well on others. I am still learning how to maximize it’s potential and avoid vignetting. This next image, though, shows its effects rather dramatically.
Jungfrau, in German, means “young woman.” Since the trip, Nathan’s been calling me Jungfrau (spoken in a heavy, mean, loud accent as in “JUNGFRAU!! Get me some dinner!!” We crack ourselves up). The Jungfrau Region includes Switzerland’s highest peaks, well known summits in the climbing world such as Jungfrau, which is the highest, and Monsch and Eiger. The north face of Eiger is a notorious climb among elite rock climbers.
This is Jungfrau.
Peaks visible, from the left: Eiger (the first one with the wispy clouds), Monsch, Jungfrau (slightly covered with clouds).
The view from Schilthorn to the south.
The next three are Eiger. I was obsessed with Eiger.
Again, Eiger. This shows the north face better (the less snowy wall on the left), which is the route climbers take. They are insane!!
Jungfrau in these next two.
Taken from Murren, as the sun was setting. This is one of my favs – amazing light.
In and Around Murren
Murren is on the side of a cliff. No cars allowed. The only way to get there is to ride a funicular (see related section below). These next two are the view from Murren to the valley below, where the funiculars originate.
These next two are of a personal residence in Murren.
We stayed in Murren two nights, and from Murren, rode another funicular even higher to Schilthorn. We also went on a spectacular hike. The next series of photos below are ones I took on that hike.
The view of Murren from our hike.
This cabin was a gift from the photography gods.
We picked blueberries for a snack while hiking. It reminded me of life in Romania; we always did that there. It made me happy. 🙂
The Funicular Rides
The view up to Schilthorn, where they filmed portions of a James Bond movie in the seventies. See the little glacier pool?
Looking back down towards Murren.
Looking northwest towards Interlaken and the Thuner See.
See the Double-O-7 signs? Hilarious. Such a tourist trap! We fell for it.
Leaving Murren on our way back down to the Lauterbrunnen Valley. That’s Murren on the hill through the window.
The view from the funicular ride down.
Yup, those cables are for our funicular! If heights make you nervous, I don’t recommend Murren!
Interlaken Area: Lauterbrunnen Valley and Thuner See
When we came down from the clouds, we enjoyed lunch (see the Rosti in this post) in Lauterbrunnen, then trained it bacl to Interlaken, where we stayed for one night. Interlaken is jammed with tourists from all over the world…it’s really, really, touristy. But, the views of Jungfrau are so spectacular, that’s what draws people. Most just next foray up into the Lauterbrunnen Valley and onward into Murren and other surrounding areas. So, if you go, make sure to take the time to get further into the mountains. You’ll be glad you did. From Interlaken, we took a boat (rather than a train) across the Thuner See, passing Spietz on the way, which is pictured below. From Thun, we trained it to Zurich for the last portion of our trip.
Spietz is wine country! Cool, huh?