The first themepack Scenic Europe contains 13 images covering scenes from Switzerland, Germany, Corsica, Scotland, Sardinia, Sweden, France, and England. In the following, the 13 scenes are presented in the order of their occurence in the themepack.
With a bit more than 30,000 inhabitants the town Chur is the capital of the Swiss canton Graubünden, which is situated in the Eastern part of the Swiss Alps. Being one of the oldest continuously inhabitated places in Switzerland, Chur's history reaches back close to 6,000 years. The old town of Chur dates back to medieval times and is listed in the Swiss Inventory of Cultural Property of National and Regional Significance. The photograph above shows the Arcas square in the medieval part of the city. The row of houses to the left have been built directly against the medieval city wall, which has its origins in the 13th century.
After returning from a snowshoe hike up to Brambrüesch mountain, I shot this photo in January 2013 shortly after sunset. The weather had been far from nice and we were forced to return early due to snow, fog and wind. The combination of this weather with the warm light of the street lanterns and the colourful hourses created a special, darkish atmosphere that I wanted to capture in this shot.
The town of Einsiedeln is situated south of Lake Zurich in the canton of Schwyz. Its name refers to the German word for 'Hermitage'. Indeed, Einsiedeln is well-know for the Benedictine abbey situated in the mountain valley surrounding the town. For me, the hillsides and pastures around Einsiedeln are among to the most beautiful and peaceful places in Switzerland. The tree and statue on the particular hill depicted in this photograph overlooks the Einsiedeln monastry, the Siehlsee, the surrounding forests and Alpine mountains. The original monastry - later destroyed by a fire - was erected in the 10th century. Back then the valley was filled with thick and dark forests which - as suggested by archeologic evidence - had been used for hunting by humans since more than 11,000 years. Following the winding path up this hill, I couldn't help thinking about Hobbiton in the Shire, as described by J.R.R. Tolkien and depicted by artists like John Howe and Alan Lee. As John Howe lives in Switzerland, it is tempting to think that pastures and hills like the one above may have inspired - through his illustrations - our imagination of the Shire.
This photograph was shot on a beautiful and sunny autumn day in September 2012. I specifically wanted to capture the contrast between the blue cloudy sky and the rolling green hill. The little red house on the top of the hill serves as a contrast both in color and shape and perfects this peaceful rural scene.
My fascination for Corsica, frequently called the 'Island of Beauty', started when I cycled around the island in 2009. Out of those roughly 850 km, I most vividly remember the beauty of the gulf of Porto. This dramatic landscape, along with its unique marine ecosystem on the island's western coast has been awarded the status of a UNESCO World Natural Heritage in 1983. The photograph shows the Mediterranean coast close to the village of Porto. The mountains at the horizon are the peaks of the Scandola peninsula, a specially protected and mostly inaccessible area widely known for its red cliffs and rich marine life that contains seagulls, cormorants, sea eagles and dolphins. The area offers phantastic opportunities for hiking, with mountain peaks rising up to 2000 meters and canyons close to 1000 meters deep.
Following my bike tour in 2009, I returned to Corsica in June 2013 to explore the gulf of Porto in more detail. This photo was shot on a day with strong west winds which had churned up the sea and created huge waves crashing against the rocks. A neutral density filter was used to capture the motion of the waves shortly before the sun sank below the mountainline at the horizon. I specifically wanted to capture the contrast between the warm sunlight and the cool sea with its rough water surface.
The Hebridean Isle of Skye is a dream location for landscape photographers. Its dramatic and bizarre landscapes and mountains, its dynamic weather with ever-changing light conditions, and its rich cultural history qualify it as one of the places that - beyond being just beautiful - have a unique character. The picture shows the so-called Cuith-Raing (or Quiraing), a spectacular mountain range on the island's Trotternish peninsula. Despite its ancient appearance the landscape of the Cuith-Raing is surprisingly dynamic, with frequent landslips continuously reshaping it until today.
To fully cherish this jewel of Scotland's Hebridean islands, in April 2013 I went on a 140km trek across the island. The tour took us from the northernmost point of the island, across the Trotternish peninsula, along the bay of Portree, through Sligachan valley and the Cuillins, to the southern coast of Skye. The photo above was shot shortly after leaving the Cuith-Raing. The dramatic lightning of the landscape is due to the sun breaking through the clouds that had just cleared from a rainstorm. Close to the center of the image, the trail that had just led us through the Cuith-Raing can be seen as narrow line passing below steep rocky walls.
Situated on the northern shore of Lake Constance, the town of Wasserburg dates back to the early middle ages. The name Wasserburg means 'water castle' and refers to a little island in Lake Constance which was home to a castle already in the 8th century. Following its destroyal, the current castle dates back to the 16th century. In the 17th century, the island was connected to the mainland by a causeway, thus forming a pensinsula which is now popular among tourists. It is well-known not only for the Wasserburg castle, but also for its hotels, restaurants, its port, and a sailing school. The peninsula offers a phantastic panoramic view over Lake Constance, which - with a length of 63 km, a width of up to 14km, a shoreline of more than 270km and a depth of up to 254m - is Europe's second largest lake.
The photograph above shows the peninsula of Wasserburg during the so-called Blue Hour, the time between sunset and night which is famous among photographers for its unique bluish light color. The picture was shot in May 2012 during a sailing holiday on the Wasserburg pensinsula. I used a 10 mm wide-angle lens as well as an angle viewfinder that allowed to conveniently compose the image despite the very low shooting angle.
The Mediterranean island of Sardinia is well-known for its rich cultural heritage and its wealth of natural beauties. Located at the north-western coast and surrounding the bay of Porto Conte, the cape 'Capo Caccia' is a particularly impressive example for the island's natural beauty. The cliffs of this rocky peninsula reach more than 100 meters above sea level and are beautifully covered by Mediterranean flora. The best way to explore Capo Caccia is to hike to the southern most point of the peninsula and then descend to sea level via the more than 650 steps of the 'escala del cabirol', the so-called goat's stairway. Down by the sea, you will find the entrance of the Grotto di Netuna, a cave more than 4 kilometers long. It contains a salt water lake more than 120 m wide as well as spectacular stone formations.
While descending from the cliffs via the 'escala del cabirol', I shot this photo of three Mediterranean flowers against the background of the blue Mediterranean sea in July 2011. I chose a large aperture to get a small depth of field that renders the sea in the background out of focus. I specifically like the round, soft highlights of the water surface in the background and how they correspond to the three flowers in the foreground.
South of Lake Zurich in Switzerland, the Alpine foothills - or Prealps - are the northernmost indications of the spectacular and well-known Alpine landscapes further south. Their summits reaching between 1000 and 3000 meters, the Prealps are a popular recreational area with numerous hiking opportunities. They can be easily reached from down-town Zurich in less than an hour. One of the popular regions popular among the people from the Zurich area are the Glarner Alps in the canton of Glarus.
After moving to Switzerland, this photo was shot on my first hike in the surrounding area of Zurich in October 2011. We had started early in Niederurnen on a foggy autumn day to ascend to the lovely and pristine Niederurnertal, which is surrounded by the peaks of the Wageten, Brückler, Hirzli and Planggenstock mountains. After a couple of hundred meters of elevation we passed out of the foggy valley, unveiling a beautiful autumn landscape with warm colors. The photo above was taken at exactly this point. It shows a pasture with one of the little shacks typical for the Swiss alpine areas. I specifcially liked the soft quality of the light, the rolling green pastures, and the color contrast between white, green and blue.
The unusally long twilight of Scandinavian summers generates numerous opportunities for photographers. This time of the day is particularly beautiful near the Baltic Sea, Europe's largest inland sea whose western most part borders Germany, Denmark, Norway and Sweden. In the northwest, it is connected to the North Sea via the Skagerrak, the Kattegat and the three Danish Straits of Storebælt, Lillebælt and the Øresund. The easternmost Øresund strait is home to the Øresund bridge, Europe's longest road and rail bridge which - spanning the Baltic Sea on a length of 8 kilometer - connects the Danish capital of Copenhagen to the Swedish city of Malmö. With the sea extending to the west, Malmö offers nice places to watch how the sun sinks into the Baltic Sea.
Staying in Copenhagen in June 2013, I took the opportunity to cross the Øresund bridge and visit the Swedish city of Malmö. I shot this photo while walking along the seaside of Malmö in the evening. The sun had just set and the twilight generated beautiful blue colors. I climbed down a dike and set up my tripod close to the water edge. The use of a neutral density filter allowed me to use a long exposure time which generated the special, soft texture of the water surface.
The Isle of Skye is undoubtedly one of Scotland's jewels and among the island's numerous natural wonders, the Trotternish Ridge is among the most remarkable. Located on the island's nothernmost peninsula, the Trotternish ridge is a cliff that reaches up to 700 m high and extends over a distance of more than 32 kilometers. A hike along the ridge is quite exhausting and - due to the harsh and quickly changing weather conditions - not completely unperilous. However, if you accept the challenge you will be rewarded by spectacular views over mountains, steep cliffs, bizarre rock formation, dramatic valleys and the Scottish sea.
Looking to the south towards the bay of Portree, I shot this picture from one of the numerous peaks of the Trotternish Ridge. We had started very early that day in order to finish the 36 km hike from Flodigarry to Portree before sunset. The conditions were far from perfect, as a west storm almost blew us over the edge of the cliff. The view on the trail ahead and how it passes numerous mountains along the edge of the ridge certainly didn't help our motivation, in particular since we were heavily packed with camping and photography gear. Nevertheless, carrying camera and lenses certainly paid off. This particular photo was taken using a 10mm wide angle lens from a very low shooting position. I particularly like the depth of the image, which is generated by the rocks in the foreground and the ridge extending towards the sea and the horizon.
Located close to the German border, the Vosges mountain extend roughly 100 km along the western bank of the Rhine in the French departement Alsace. Its cultural and economic capital Strasbourg is home to the European parliament and numerous other international organisations. Hence, Strasbourg and the surrounding region play a major role in the European unification process, which is a strong symbol considering the difficult political history of the Alsace region. Marking the border between Germany and France, the last centuries have seen numerous struggles for control of the region between the neighboring states. Over the last 400 years, in a series of annexations and wars the official language has switched back and forth between German and French no less than five times. During one of the phases of German rule in Alsace, Emperor Wilhelm II gave order to restore the castle of Haut-Kœnigsbourg, which is located at a strategic position in the Vosges mountains. Its name referring to the German words for "King's castle", the castle had been erected around the 12th century. It was besieged, looted and destroyed during the Thirty Year's War in the 17th century and fell to ruins over the next 250 years. It was restored to its original beauty and reopened to the public in 1908.
Driving frequently to my home village in Germany over the weekend, I had passed Chateau du Haut-Kœnigsbourg numerous times but never actually stopped to take a picture. When passing the castle at dusk in September 2012, I finally stopped for a short break. Dark clouds where rolling in from behind the Alsace mountains, creating a dramatic scene and great contrast to the illuminated castle. I ran to the car, grabbed my tripod, camera and a 300mm tele lens and took this shot.
Imagine it is March, you are fed up by winter and you long for an early start of summer. If you are living in the northern parts of Switzerland, then there is no better place to go than to the Ticino region. Due to its location between Switzerland and Italy just south of the Alps, spring and summer take an early start. And being situated just at the shore of the beautiful Lago Maggiore, you can easily mistake cities like Ascona or Locarno for Mediterranean towns. Ascona, which is located at the border to Italy and which can be seen in the left of the picture, is just two hours away by train from down-town Zurich. This makes it a popular location for weekend trips. Apart from the lake and beautiful valleys like Maggia or Verzasca, the mountains around Lago Maggiore invite hikers to tours that offer phantastic views of the surrounding area.
Attending a conference on Monte Veritá near Ascona in March 2013, I couldn't resist taking the opportunity for a hike to the surrounding mountains. This photo was shot on one of the mountains close to Monte Veritá. It shows Locarno, Ascona, the Lago Maggiore as well as the Bosco del Sasso mountain area. I chose a low shooting angle to capture the rocks and grass in the foreground and generate a sense of depth.
A sailing ship in the middle of a city is an unusual sight. In Liverpool this sight is actually quite usual if you happen to walk around the Albert dock. At the time of its opening in the 1840s, the Albert dock was a marvel of mondern technology. Not only was it one of England's first building complexes constructed completely without wood to prevent fires, its revolutionary design also allowed ships to be moored directly at the warehouses, thus simplifying the process of loading and unloading. Over the next decades, the Albert dock remained an important economic center in Liverpool, with thousands of sailing ships passing its lockings and heading out onto the Mersey estuary and then on towards the Atlantic. However, its importance vanished soon as larger steamliners, which increasingly replaced sailing ships, did not fit through the narrow channels. Eventually decommissioned after World War II, today the Albert dock is part of UNESCO's World Heritage and it has become one of England's most visited tourist attractions.
Being in Liverpool for a conference, I shot this photo in June 2012. Due to its latitude of 53 degrees north and the date around the summer solstice, dusk still hadn't passed away at 11 pm in the evening. This allowed me to capture the beautiful colors of twilight and the crisp reflections on the water surface. I used a tripod and a 50 mm prime lens stopped down to the maximum to produce star-shaped point lights.
Showing the Hunsrück - the region in southwestern Germany where I grew up - the last photo in this themepack is a rather personal shot. The Hunsrück area not only offers a beautiful hilly landscape abundantly covered with dark, almost mystical forests. It also has a rich cultural history dating back more than 20,000 years. Even today, forests are full of witnesses of Celtic civilisation, which reached its peak in the region 2,500 years ago. Not far from where I shot this picture, one can easily spot a Celtic barrow where people used to bury their most important peers. Numerous treasures containing daedal golden jewelry and weapons have been found during the last centuries. Walking through these woods, admiring the traces of the ancient past while enjoying the pristine nature will certainly remain one of my favorite distractions.
I shot this photo on a hike through the forests close to my home village Lampaden back in February 2008. We had just left the woods at the right time to admire a sunset with a beautifully colored sky. I specifically liked the silhouette of a pine tree - a typical tree for the Hunsrück area - at the edge of the forest and how it contrasted with the colorful sky. I chose a low shooting angle to frame the sky with the silhouettes of the tree and the grass.