|Watching the Sun Go Down || Olympus f/16, 1/60, ISO 1250|
It's not as easy as I'd thought to find a deforested slope facing the right direction in the lower alps. Despite my local knowledge, it took quite a bit of playing around before I found a peak that would work, and even then it was only on paper. At the end of May I headed down there for an evening to catch the sunset and the blue hour to see whether the angles matched up. Even a couple of days beforehand I wasn't too sure about the trip, no-one wanted to join me and I was a little wary of being on my own in the mountains at night - even in familiar territory there are plenty of things that can go wrong. And the forecast wasn't playing ball. Until Friday morning that is. All of a sudden the evening forecast was opening up - a green light.
With sunset projected to be 21.05, I set off from home just after 18.00 to allow myself enough time to get down there, get up onto the ridge and find a couple of spots whilst the light was still good. Climbing up from the car park the light was gorgeous. A few high clouds might have been nice to complete the scene, but I wasn't going to complain. The few people still on the hills but coming down gave me some strange looks and I had a quick chat with one bloke who was interested to know what I was doing going up at that time of day before he got pulled to heal by his wife. And then I was on the ridge.
The views were beautiful, clear air with some mountain cloud hanging around the peaks. It was all I had hoped for from my virtual tour planning and more. There is some lovely rock around, and the peaks still have significant patches of snow on them despite the non-winter of 2019/20. From the ridge its a broad path leading to one of the peaks that had looked promising and so after taking a couple of smartphone shots I headed out, warm setting sun on my left, valley on my right. The light was catching the fir trees along the ridge, especially the skeletal branches of dead trees that had long since lost their bark to the elements. The orange light picked out the highlights nicely.
|Catching the Last Rays || Olympus f/8, 1/80 s, ISO 250|
Just before the potential spot that I'd looked out there's a broad shoulder that looked promising, the spot itself had a lot more trees and was a lot narrower than it had looked on the computer, pretty much ruling it out. By this time, the sky was beginning to turn orange in the west and I was desperate to find an open piece of hillside facing westwards. East wasn't a problem, I could get to a treeless spot there any time, but the other side was light forest. In the end I had to settle for a gap between the trees. I say settle, I think the silhouettes work quite nicely, but it wasn't the picture I had first envisioned. Dropping the aperture to f/16 helped with the sunburst.
In the immediate aftermath of the sunset I headed back along the ridge to where I had first hit it to wait for the first stars. The path back offered a couple of nice shots too, and I particularly like this one with the roots on the path. This is a composite of two exposures, one for the foreground and one for the background. After mixed experience with ON1 Photo Raw's HDR assembling, I've gone over to using layers to assemble these shots, it gives me a deal more flexibility when I can control precisely which elements of the photo I use from each exposure. I'll write a separate blog entry on this some time.
|The Path Goes On || Olympus f/6.3, 1/50 s, ISO 1600|
|Golden to Blue || Olympus f/4, 1/60 s, ISO 500|
I set up the tripod with my Benro Geared Head to allow me good control over the level and direction and started shooting the blue hour. When hiking, I rarely wear more than t-shirt and shorts, but even setting out from the car I was wearing long sleeves and trousers. Despite my soft-shell jacket it was beginning to get quite cool in the late evening breeze. Wooly hat and gloves time, though putting the gloves on and off was a pain. I was glad of the tripod net that I'd bought for the occasion to store bits of camera in the low light, it made keeping kit under control in the dark a lot easier.
|Gibbous Moon over the Allgäu || Olympus f/3.3, 10 sec, ISO 200|
The descent proved easier than I had feared and I was soon back on the tarmac. Definitely worth the evening's trek. Oh, and remember the SD card that went through the washing machine? It seems to have finally given up the ghost. Fortunately after I transferred the photos to the PC and not before. Sometimes you've gotta have a bit of luck!
|End of the Day || Olympus f/4, 0.8 s, ISO 800|