Friday, October 3, 2014

Different views of the Swiss Alps - from Mount Pilatus

Earlier this week, my wife and I were lucky enough to visit the top of Mount Pilatus, which looks out over Lucerne, Switzerland. To get to the top of the mountain, we took the world's steepest cogwheel railway, which at times will climb at a 48% grade up the mountainside. The ride takes approximately 30 minutes and you end up at a "station" 7,000 feet above the world. Amazingly enough, there are a couple of small hotels, connected to the station at the top of the mountain.

We spent a couple of hours hiking around the top of Mount Pilatus, and of course, I took some photos along the way. I wanted to share with you, the sights, the different looks, and my photographic thoughts when shooting up there.

One of the great things about the railway is that, even though it travels dangerously close to the rock tunnels, the windows can open.

(Canon 5D Mark IIICanon 28-300mm lens at 220mm, ISO 160, f/8, 1/800 sec, -0.3 exposure comp)
Having open windows gave me the opportunity to photograph interesting scenes along the way up and down.

(Canon 5D Mark IIICanon 28-300mm lens at 35mm, ISO 500, f/5, 1/2000 sec)

This was taken 3/4 of the way up the mountain. I liked the composition, with the building, the valley, and the snow-capped mountain tops in the background.

(Canon 5D Mark IIICanon 28-300mm lens at 220mm, ISO 160, f/8, 1/800 sec, -0.3 exposure comp)

This photo was taken from the top of Mount Pilatus, showing the railcar descending. I really like how the red car stands out from the vast surroundings.

(Canon 5D Mark IIICanon 28-300mm lens at 220mm, ISO 160, f/5.6, 1/1250 sec, -0.3 exposure comp)

I was glad to have the Canon 28-300mm lens on my 5D Mark III, because I was able to zoom all the way out to 300mm and capture photos of the Alps in the distance. I really liked this photo with the spiked mountain tops and the clouds blanketing the back of the scene.

(Canon 5D Mark IIICanon 28-300mm lens at 300mm, ISO 160, f/5.6, 1/800 sec, -0.3 exposure comp)

I shot some of the photos isolating just the snow capped mountains, and other photos showing the bare mountain tops closer to Lucerne.

(Canon 5D Mark IIICanon 28-300mm lens at 300mm, ISO 160, f/8, 1/320 sec, -0.3 exposure comp)

This photo is a great example of classic composition, usually incorporating a strong foreground, middle ground and background. You will notice the closest mountain has some greenery and detail that is very different from the others. And, the lines from this closer mountain are sloping to the right. The middle mountain range is more barren and sloping to the left. And the mountains in the background are snow covered and more rugged. The combination of different angles and textures is what makes this photo really work.

(Canon 5D Mark IIICanon 28-300mm lens at 28mm, ISO 160, f/4.5, 1/1250 sec, -0.3 exposure comp, Shadows opened in Adobe Photoshop CC2014)

When looking out the other direction, we could see the city of Lucerne. But I did not want to photograph just the city in the distance, since it really did not look all that great on it's own. I found this hole in the rocks and shot the city through the hole.

(Canon 5D Mark IIICanon 28-300mm lens at 35mm, ISO 320, f/4.5, 1/1600 sec)

As luck would have it, there were a couple of guys paragliding from the top of the mountain. I saw this as a perfect way to add even more drama to my photos. Great colors, high action and the mountain range as my background. A photographers dream. For this shot, I knew that the late afternoon sun would backlight this parachute when he first took off, so I prefocused and waited for this exact moment.

(Canon 5D Mark IIICanon 28-300mm lens at 210mm, ISO 160, f/5.6, 1/800 sec)

I put the Canon 5D Mark III into burst mode and servo focus, and shot numerous photos of this guy as he made his way around the nearest mountainside. This was the photo I wanted, with him flying out into the distance, but with the rock in the foreground.

(Canon 5D Mark IIICanon 28-300mm lens at 105mm, ISO 800, f/5.6, 1/1250 sec)
This composition is similar to the previous photo, except that I shot it wider to include more of the surroundings. I really like the previous photo getting us up close to the parachuter, but prefer this last photo even more, since it shows the height and the vastness that he is soaring into.

(Canon 5D Mark IIICanon 28-300mm lens at 65mm, ISO 500, f/7.1, 1/1600 sec)

Before heading down the mountain, I looked out into the distance and saw this scene. It was around 5pm in the evening and the sun was low. The thin layer of clouds were creating a veil over the distance peaks. I took this first photo at 65mm to include all of the scene, but figured that this would be even stronger isolating just the mountains in the distance.

(Canon 5D Mark III, Canon 28-300mm lens at 300mm, ISO 160, f/8, 1/2000 sec, -0.3 exposure comp)

I shot this last photo at 300mm, isolating just the distance mountain ranges. I just love the patterns and absence of colors. Even though this is monochromatic, there is just a hint of the pending colors of sunset in the background.

If you are ever lucky enough to find yourself in the Lucerne area, treat yourself to a trip up Pilatus. It is well worth the money, and you can find some great photos of your own.

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If you are interested in purchasing any camera equipment, please click here to go to B&H Photo, as I get a referral from them if you enter this way. I would really appreciate that.
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8 comments:

Ronny Baumann said...

Welcome to Swizerland! :) Since i used to live close to Lucern i've been on the Mount Pilatus a couple of times. It's great to see the beauty of Switzerland caputred in such great pictures!
I wish you an enjoyable stay in Switzerland!
Hopefully we get the chance to see some more pictures of my beloved home country. :D
P.S. sorry for my english. :S

Tanmay said...

Hi Jeff, excellent photographs..I always try to learn from your photos...Just curious to know whether these were shot handheld or using a tripod...If they were shot handheld then where and how did you focus?

Michael Knee said...

You are awesome my friend!!! I love the mountain photos!!!

Tanmay said...

Hey Jeff, nice photographs...I always try to learn from your photos..Just curious to know whether those were shot handheld or using a tripod...If handheld then where and how did you focus?
Tanmay

Jeff Cable said...

Tanmay - all the photos were taken handheld. No need for a tripod with so much ambient light to work with. :)

Anonymous said...

They're paragliding, not parachuting. I use to do it 20 years ago.

Wonderful photographs!

Jeff Cable said...

Thanks for that tip. I just changed the text from parachuting to paragliding. Much appreciated!

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