Seealpsee Hütte in the afternoon sunshine - Fujifilm X-T4, Fujinon XF 16-55mm, f/16, ISO 160, 1/13s
The day has come which I was waiting for months since my last visit in the Alps. It's been about 8 months since I've been in the Switzerland last time... Man, such a long time. Anyway besides the fact that I've missed it so much, it seems we are going to have a difficult season. No, not only because of the covid pandemic, but also the cold spring time and late snowing. I wouldn't say it's bad, because the environment needs that extra water supply, the glaciers need that extra ice, but still, we have to consider where to go and what equipment we take...
Guest house Forelle by Seealpsee - Fujifilm X-T4, Fujinon XF 16-55mm, f/8, ISO 160, 1/26s
Originally I was planning a short trip to Seealpsee Hütte and enjoy a terrace meal, just to refresh the feeling of having a good mountain food and watching the Appenzeller peaks around me. Later on it became a bit more than just a short visit, because we have decided to try the steep trail up to Meglisalp. The first meters were completely fine, only some snow made our steps difficult in the forest, but nothing dangerous. Eventually it became an intermediate level hike, when right outside of the tree level we have found a temporary via ferrata made of rope, and the rocks were covered by deep snow. Since it was in a very steep rock wall, we decided to accept the support and get through using the ropes. Looking back it wasn't so terrifying, but as first you never know what surprise you may get from mother nature.
Klettersteig on snow - Fujifilm X-T4, Fujinon XF 16-55mm, f/8, ISO 640, 1/60s
When we got up to Meglisalp, half of the terrain were still white, the very dusty snow was quite slippery and it was always wise to follow others' footsteps. The small "village" of Meglisalp was in its complete shine. I always love to get back here, it feels like being in a different dimension or discovering a hidden settlement. Some minutes after our arrive the sun showed itself and the mountain called Altmann also looked down on us from the scattering clouds.
Meglisalp waking up - Fujifilm X-T4, Fujinon XF 16-55mm, f/8, ISO 160, 1/160s
Descending in dusty snow with Altmann behind - Fujifilm X-T4, Fujinon XF 16-55mm, f/8, ISO 160, 1/680s
As we were coming down from the mountain, the weather was warming up, the lake Seealpsee was being more colorful, and the air was also warming up a bit. Saying goodbye to the region I made a last peek back on the mountains, and my favorite peak, Säntis was also showing her face for a minute. It seems she was still very shy, maybe she knows how difficult she made my planned climb on her northern side with such a huge amount of snow.
Green and snow with a shy Säntis peak - Fujifilm X-T4, Fujinon XF 16-55mm, f/8, ISO 160, 1/105s
Since we still had some time until the evening, and I still haven't got any photos in golden hour, we took our journey to the neighbor region, the Glarus Alps. Of course we were already a little tired, and just wanted a small dinner with a nice view, so we stopped by the shores of Walensee, took a nice good beach meal at Lago Mio, then walked along the shores, watching the golden hour on the mountains in the opposite side of the lake. Luckily the mountain peak called Ruchen collected an interesting volcano-like cloud above and for a few minutes we could enjoy it as the reflected lights made some purplish colors.
It was a wonderful start of the Mountain season, and I really hope we may enjoy a lot of nice hikes, camping, and of course, the photography. :)
Ruchen is playing volcano - Fujifilm X-T4, Fujinon XF 16-55mm, f/8, ISO 160, 1/13s
Swiss Alps behind Schwarzwald - Fujifilm X-T4, Fujinon XF 50-140 mm, ISO 320, f/8, 1/200s
It's been almost 9 months since I've last seen the Alps from close - thank you pandemic, I'm very grateful for that! Nevertheless it could be still much worse: I still live in the hills of Schwarzwald, I have great lights, various weather conditions, and a lot of nature. Despite being lucky to live here, I still take very precious the moments when the air is clear enough to see the Swiss Alps with all their robustness in a majestic way.
Yesterday we were hiking on and around the mountain called Belchen (1414m), and during the whole trail we were able to see the Alps so close, I felt we could touch them. Of course it was because of the morning rain scattered away to a windy and sunny day - as soon as the wind stopped, the humidity in air became dense and by the evening the beautiful sight has just disappeared.
Anyway, the hike was very nice, pleasant, gave a refilling to the upcoming days. Let's hope soon we'll be all able to visit the Alps from up close, or even climb the old peaks. Until then, here's some of my favorite shots from yesterday:
A view in the valley of Hochschwarzwald -
Fujifilm X-T4, Fujinon XF 50-140mm, ISO 320, f/8 and ISO 160, f/11
The stone spiral on the top of Belchen - Fujifilm X-T4, Fujinon XF 16-55mm, ISO 320, f/11, 1/220 s
Cable cars of Belchen in work - Fujifilm X-T4, Fujinon XF 50-140mm, ISO 640, f/11, 1/240s
Todtnauer waterfall: Fujifilm X-T4, Fujinon XF 16-55 mm, f/11, ISO 80, 1/6 s
Since we still has a lockdown situation in Germany, we spent our latest weekends in the Black Forest, hiking below snow level and visiting some old and new waterfalls.
The first destination was the well-known Todtnauer waterfall, which is the highest waterfall in the whole Black Forest region. You may hear the same for the Triberger waterfall, which may be true in terms of length, but believe me, this one in Todtnau is much more robust with it's tremendous wall and thick water stream on one huge cliff falling down. The location is easy to approach, there are plenty of parking spaces, and ticket is seasonal - and cheap (hopefully they only collect it to finance picking up the trash).
From photography perspective I was lazy at some points, tried to push my camera IBIS to its limits and take long exposure shots without a tripod using my XF 16-55mm f/2.8 lens. Here's an example from our visit:
Fujifilm X-T4, Fujinon XF 16-55 mm, f/8, ISO 160, first 1/12 s second 1/5 s
In the end, I wanted some more mystical feeling on the top waterfall, which also couldn't fit in my focal length... In the next shot you can see a wider angle using tripod and an ND1000 filter to darken enough:
Fujifilm X-T4, Samyang 12 mm, f/8, ISO 160, 50 s
The next destination was straight to the Burgbach waterfall in the mid-eastern part of the Black Forest region. This one needed a bit more walk and was well hidden in the deep of the forest. First we planned a 12 km hiking around this monumental sightseeing, but the weather started to go worse and I left my rain jacket at home.
Nevertheless we took a shorter trail up to the heart of the woods wearing my softshell jacket and hoping for a stable weather - which was already a bit rainy.
Here I only used my 16-55 mm lenses with a gradient filter and of course using a tripod, tried to find an appealing composition. First I have tried with the wooden stair steps to make a composition leading the eye up to the cliff, however the waterfall seemed too small on it. Finally some interesting roots gave me an idea for a vertical photo:
Fujifilm X-T4, Fujinon XF 16-55 mm, f/16, ISO 80, 4 s
The third and final trip lead us to Wutachschlucht, the valley of the river Wutach, a beautiful small canyon in the forest with nice cliffs, peaceful streams and a lot of flowers. At the beginning of this valley there's a steeper and wilder gorge which is called Lotenbachklamm. Here the smaller stream Lotenbach is trying to get it's way down to the valley and join into the river Wutach.
Here again I was the lazy guy trying to make the best without a tripod. We enjoyed the walk and the sight of demolition of trees (due to storm and not by people), I wasn't thinking too much about taking breathtaking photos, and sometimes - believe me - it's for the best.
In the end I was able to capture some decent photos, here's one of my work captured handheld with my 16-55 mm lens again taking advantage of the IBIS in the X-T4:
Fujifilm X-T4, Fujinon XF 16-55 mm, f/5.6, ISO 160, 1/8 s
Well, I have to tell you, I'm not really a fan of shooting flowers - most of them are so similar to me and you have not much creative space, you can put some water drops on it, change the angle of lenses or lights and done....
But there's one special flower I really love, and the end of March is a perfect season to look for it: the great Pasque flower. Luckily we have found some a year ago in the Danube valley on a rock with a beautiful sight. I have put my 50-140mm f/2.8 lenses, my macro adapter rings, and for fun I packed also our old vintage Minolta 50mm f/1.7 lenses as well. Then packed a small speedlight with amber gel, remote trigger, and a big bottle of water sprinkler. (Fun fact: no more space left in my Fastpack AP 250 backpack for my water bottle to drink, anyway you make great products Lowerpro)
When we arrived the timing was just right (before sunset in golden hour), and the flowers were in the same place as last year. We looked for the most intriguing piece which is still lit by the sun with flattering golden shine. This creates a nice golden silhouette for their white hair around their body. I've put the flash on the opposite side, then sprayed water to light it up and catch some shiny bokeh behind the flower.
Now you know my secret - no Photoshop, only some creative thoughts, you can try, very easy, just go outside and enjoy the lights and nature! ;)
I still can't believe! First time ever I have a newest camera model from a series at home. Last weekend the Fujifilm X-T4 camera has just arrived with the most advanced features and currently the state of the art flagship APS-C camera, one of the best hybrid still/video device, and of course 2020/2021 EISA winner in best system camera of the year category.
Did I need the extra features of the newest technology? - No.
Was I unsatisfied with my older machine? - No.
Do I enjoy using it? - Yes, yes and yes!
Did I need it? - This is the most important question, and the answer is yes... and I tell you why:
Since I have started a photography business recently, I'm about to offer my services on events such as weddings. There you can't go with only 1 camera. One reason is to cover most of focal lengths with wide aperture you need at least 2 lenses at the same time which obviously requires 2 camera body as well. The second reason is more critical: in a wedding you have to have redundant equipment from everything and more.
The other reason I've been choosing this more expensive model over the older X-T3 is the in-body image stabilization: The XF 50-140 f/2.8 tele lens has optical image stabilization so I'm able to use that easily on the older X-T2 model - which I still love and will never sell to anyone. On the wide side I have the XF 16-55 f/2.8 lenses which may be optically perfect, lacks the OIS. In this case the X-T4 compensate this small issue and my equipment is complete. All I need is a portrait lens (or more lenses), and it's done!
And why the X-T4 is a bunch of fun? I love the new film simulation, the Classic Negative has very subtle tones and exciting colors, it is something I missed from the X-T2. Although the IBIS is also amazing it's not something you could recognize, so I was more amused by the burst shooting improvements, the first curtain electronic shutter function, and the sport mode crop method. The AF is much better than the older brother, but still the best thing I love: the sound of the shutter mechanism! Oh boy, this is fantastic, so silent but still very confident and elegant clapping. It's perfect! I was always proud of my X-T2 shutter because of the discrete sound, but now it sounds like an old rusty clock next to the successor.
Don't get me wrong, I love the X-T2 and we are about to share a lot of memories together in the next years, I'll use it until the shutter doesn't stop for good.
Okay that's all for today, I hope you enjoyed my happiness - since it's too short for a review. :)
I got some very exciting news today: One of my outdoor mountain photos is selected and will be printed for an exhibition in the Milan Image Art Fair at Superstudio Maxi.
I'm playing for a while in photography challenges in this popular photography game called GuruShots. It had an Exhibition-related contest in nature topic - The Beauty of the Earth. The challenge organizer picked my photo to his favorites, and after the challenge ended I got a message about a selection for printed exhibition in the MIA Fair. It was more than 32,000 participants, all of them had a chance to submit 4 photos, and only 40 are selected for printed exhibition.
I know it's not a huge thing, but gives me personally a motivation that I made the right decision to jump into professional photography and pursuit my interest.
So see you in October, and if you couldn't make it, here a smaller size version so you can enjoy my mountain vision:
Glacier pond mirror effect at Oberalppass
Fujifilm X-T2, Fujinon XF 16mm f/2.8, ISO 200, 17s - with gradient and ND1000 filter
It's a bit strange to start over a blog, since I already had a first one before - just lost it accidentally when I suspended my webpage. Nevertheless, I'd like to keep my content similar.
Based on my mood I'll share some experiences with you about my outdoor adventures, photography techniques I've used, share some new photos from there, introduce new equipment, and of course some hints on travel - the last one is worthless sometimes, for instance where to sleep, how to spare on accommodation, or how to avoid the crowd. Believe me, if there's something I'm good at is avoiding people outdoors, because average tourists litter, loud, or simply walk in my frame.
To be short: we don't like average tourists, don't be one of them! :)
I'll collect my thoughts and decide which adventure I should start with, until then, I'll leave here one of my favorite photos, captured from Marwees mountain waking up in my tent:
Morning colors from Marwees, 10.08.2019 - Fujifilm X-T2, Samyang 12mm, f/8, ISO 200