If you only have limited time to explore you need to have a great plan to maximize the number of spots and photography opportunities you get on a given trip. This September I was happy to find the time to go the Alps for six days. There were two areas I badly wanted to visit to get my mountain fix: The Italian Dolomites and the Alpstein Region in northern Switzerland. So on September 12th I flew from Rostock to Munich, picked up my rental car at the airport, which turned out to be a Ford Galaxy, which helped my case to sleep in the car. After some grocery shopping in Erding (yes, the city with the Weissbier) I eventually left Munich at 8 pm. Two hours later than I had hoped for, so on day one sunset was cancelled. I quickly gained kilometers and headed directly to Ortisei in the Dolomites in Val Gardena. There I was meeting with Toby (SNP-Photography) and Peer (p1xoneDesigns), two photographers I knew from facebook who were both in the area at the same time. We met at the pass road to Passo Gardena (Grödener Joch) to shoot the Milky Way over the Langkofel (or Saslonch, or Sassolungo). I found this spot using combination of Photopills, TPE and GoggleMaps, and looking at the images it was a great find. However, I was late to the show and the moon had already risen. Combine that with a fresh snowfall and conditions were almost too bright to photograph the Milky Way, also at midnight, the core of the Milky Way had already set. But I still like what I got at the first spot.
Next up was a hike to the top of Seceda-2500 to shoot sunrise (note that sleep was not part of that night). We quickly drove to Santa Christina, from where it would take 6.5 km to reach the Seceda-Ridgeline. Last minute we had decided to start from there and in the aftermath we believe it was good call. After some snacks and putting on some extra layers we left in bright moon light at 2.30am. We quickly gained way and came out of the forest after 3.2 km just to see that we still had ways to go and that snow might actually become a problem. Well it was, with each meter in height we gained a centimeter of snow (literary). The path was frozen over and I only had running shoes on. But fighting through steep icy patches on the path and cutting through knee-deep pockets of snow we eventually reached the top after 3 grueling hours of ascent. On the top I was noticing that venus was aligning perfectly with the Odle Group and I quickly set up to get that in. After that it all looked like the sunrise would be rather boring as it was a clear night. But ugh clouds were making their way in from the east and so we got some epic pre-sunrise burn over Seceda and some amazing Alpenglow on the east-facing Langkofel. The last shot we wanted to get was a sunstar behind the Odle Group and on that day the lack of clouds played in our favor. At 7.13 am the sun was bursting behind the peaks and I got an amazing sunstar using my Nikkor 20/1.8 AF-S (nikons best lens for that purpose). In the following you see a collection of the best shots from that sunrise-hike.
Standing up on the Ridgeline in the wind for 3 hrs we were frozen to the bones and slowly made our way back to the parking lot. On the way I found some cool compositions, but I was getting too tired to really go for it. We reached the car at 10.30am quickly ate a bit and then slept for 4 hours, just to be faced with the decision where to head for sunset. After a brief discussion with Toby and Peer we decided to camp at a camping lot near the Seiser Alm (Alpe di Siusi) which would give us a good starting point to shoot sunrise the next morning and also a the Lago di Carezzi would be in reach for sunset. After a shower and quick refresh we left the campground at 5.45pm and made our way up a very narrow winding road towards the Karersee (Lago di Carezzi) passing the Rosengarten Group, which was an impressive sight. We reached the lake well before sunset and that place was packed with people. The shores were fenced and we didn't dare to step over the brigades with so many people around (not spoiling everybody's shots). When we arrived the skies were clear with a little cloud in the west. But that should change quickly. Clouds started to engulf the Later Group, which reflected perfectly in the emerald-green water of the lake and when the sun eventually set nothing of the breathtaking mountain scenery was visible, but as a consolidation price, the clouds were shining in cool red tones and we still got some breathtaking shots. After that we waited a little longer, just to see that the skies were not clearing and left knowing that we had some unfinished business here.
to be continued