Friday, March 26, 2010

Lac Léman

Switzerland is very different from other areas of central Europe. Although the ocean is more than 450 km away you are never far away from a beach with azur blue water! Such as the croissant formed Lac Léman (or Lake Geneva), which is certainly special, as its lofty dimensions make it feel like you are gazing out over an endless ocean horizon. This is especially true when standing in either extremity of the croissant, Geneva in the west or Vevey in the east (however, maybe not so much in Lausanne in the middle).

The photo is taken from a wine yard in Chexbres overlooking the French Pre-alps. The conditions were very interesting at the top of the cliff. Although it might not be evident, the windchill factor is very present close to the lake, and by the time I took this photo my hands resembled extremities that did not belong to my body - it was that cold. Nonetheless, I enjoyed every second.

Lake Geneva seen from Chexbres, Switzerland

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Starry Sky over Jura

A choice when photographing starry skies is whether to render stars as dots or as lines. The former requires short exposure times and the latter longer. However, to reach something resembling a dot an exposure time of less than 30 seconds is needed (exact time depends on where in the sky the lens is pointed). To achieve this in a pitch black sky (appx. EV 0 or less) the sensitivity need to be high, i.e. very high ISO. This photo is exposed during 64 seconds at ISO 3200. Already at this shutter speed the stars are suspiciously "long".

The photo is taken south, and Orion is clearly visible in the right side, with the Jura rendered black. What nicely looks like a sunset is however nothing more than light pollution from the densly populated "Schweizer Mittelland", the flat(ter) space between Jura and the Alps. There is nothing revolutionary with this photo, other than the fact that it is taken from my balcony!

 Starry sky over Jura, Switzerland

Friday, March 19, 2010

Massif de Jura

We are now settled in the canton of Neuchâtel, Switzerland. Our apartment is located in Couvet - a smallish town among the hills of Jura. With an unobstructed view of the mountains from the balcon, it is very inspiring photographically. Having spent most off time in the Alps, I have had little opportunity explore the beauty of my immediate surrounding. However, a week or so ago my free time coincided with the light I had been waiting for. It was just to throw tripod, my trusted 5D2, and my landscape lenses in the car and drive up the mountain to find a good spot.

The photo is of houses in the Val-de-travers valley of Neuchâtel being sidelit and almost "torched" by the setting sun. I find it interesting how the polarizer often manages to tint non-sunlit areas more blue than usual, a property I was not aware of with these little babies (as they are usually called for to deepen skies and reduce reflections). I for sure need to investigate this more. In this case, however, this gives a nice partition of the photo into fields colored by light temperatures, an extreme orange from setting-sun light in focus, extreme blue from the polarizer in the background, and a more "normal" temperature in the foreground.

"Sun torched" houses in Val-de-travers, Switzerland