Behind the scenes – Bavaria

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I had planned an autumn-trip to Bavaria and the German Alps since early summer. Besides the magnificent mountains in the area, I also wanted to capture some archetypical countryside and cultural landscapes. I could probably just as well have gone to Austria, Switzerland or the Italian Alps, but Munich turned out to be easiest to access for me by air. As I always do before I embark on a photographic adventure, I carefully studied maps and guides for the area. Garmisch-Partenkirchen, only about one hour drive from Munich, stood out as a perfect starting-point. Near Garmisch is Germany’s highest peak, Zugsptize, numerous beautiful lakes, small picturesque towns and lots of typical alpine countryside. A car is essential and was rented at the airport in Munich. I stayed in Garmisch the whole week, and can highly recommend Hotel Obermuhle! (no affiliation!).

Geroldsee is one of the photographic hotspots in the area. Only about 15 minutes drive from Garmisch, I had the opportunity to visit several times during my stay. After my first three visits, I was somewhat disappointed. The place was nice enough, a beautiful small lake, a wonderful field with numerous old barns and the spectacular Karwendel-Alps as a backdrop. However, the light and the weather did not cooperate and I did not feel that my images did justice to the place. I decided to give it one more chance on my last day. My plane didn’t leave Munich before 17:30, so I basically had the whole day for shooting. I got up at 5 a.m. to catch the best light. The receptionist at the hotel gave me the usual “are you raving mad” eye when I left in pitch dark at this early hour. When I parked by the road near Geroldsee minutes later, a weak red glow was barely visible in the eastern sky, behind the Karwendel Alps. This was promising! And from what I had seen on the way up from Garmisch, I had hopes that there could be some fog over the lake too! After a short walk from the parking I arrived at Geroldsee to find the place still dark and shrouded in a dense fog. As daylight slowly emerged, I walked up the fields to get above the fog and have the barns in the foreground. The morning glow of the emerging sun slowly appeared behind the Karwendel mountains. After having studied the landscape and considered the composition, I rigged up my gear and did the usual metering. Because of exposure differential I decided to use a ND grad to avoid that the skies were blown out or the valley was pitch black. The image below is one of my favourites from this morning and was captured at 06:57, only minutes before the sun appeared over the mountains. I returned to my hotel for breakfast a few minutes later, happy with finally having gotten what I wanted from Geroldsee. Hope you like it too!

Tech stuff: Nikon d800E, nikkor 24-70, f 13, 1 sec exposure. 2 step ND grad. Processed in Lightroom only.

Bavarian dawn

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