18

FEBRUARY, 2011

In contrast to Venice or Amsterdam Bruges is an underestimated gem. The Medieval city has some beautiful architecture and a visually stunning canal system that meanders throughout the ancient city. The streets weren’t so overcrowded making a tour through the cobbled streets along the tree lined canals a relaxed affair.

Living 6-7 miles south of Munichs city center, I have only a 3/4 hour drive down to the Bavarian Alps at the weekend. Week before last I scoured the Internet weather service looking to see how the weather in Garmisch-Partenkirchen would be like. I had luck, Saturday and Sunday were to be sunny with Sunday having the upper hand with 7.5 hours of sunshine. Quickly I moved to the Zugspitzbahn Website to see how the visibility at the summit would be. The Zugspitze is Germany’s highest peak at 2964m and the Zugspitzbahn is the company that supply the cable-car and funicular railway to the “Top of Germany”. The visibility was to be a massive 160 Kilometers (100 miles). Perfect weather at the beginning of February, even the temperature of -4°C was ideal.

Where the Koningstraat crosses with the Spiegelrei I spotted this oldtimer on the bridge with a nice backdrop of the Jan van Eyck Square.

Photograph by Douglas Stevens Photoviewz

     The alarm brought me to life at six on Sunday morning and as I sat up in bed my wife said something like, “you’re mad”, at that moment I must admit it would have been so easy to lie down again and nod off but no, today is “my” day and off I went to the bathroom. As I went out to the car it was still dark, but warm for this time of year and on the way through the country villages towards the Garmisch Autobahn I pondered about how many others were up, packing their lunches, skis and rucksacks preparing for fresh slopes and hiking trails accompanied by a fresh morning breeze and sunshine. The sun started to show first signs of awakening as I drove through one of the small villages called Baiersbrunn, this was obviously my chance to take that first picture of the day.

 

Where the Koningstraat crosses with the Spiegelrei I spotted this oldtimer on the bridge with a nice backdrop of the Jan van Eyck Square.

Photograph by Douglas Stevens Photoviewz

“A walk through Bruges in the evening shouldn’t be missed, the old world charm, the medieval architecture and the up market nightlife all add to a thoroughly enjoyable down to earth experience.”

After an hour or so I left Walchensee and headed further south through the sleepy villages of Wallgau und Krun to get back on the main road to Garmisch. My target wasn’t Garmisch itself but a little further to another lake directly in front of the Zugspitze range called Eibsee. As I arrived, the car park was empty other than the few early risers with their ski equipment ready to take the cable car up to the glacial ski slopes of the Zugspitzplatt. The return trip costs 37€ which isn’t cheap by any means but with such weather conditions worth every cent. The cable-car was crammed full with skiers and one English photographer. I could hardly move and so shots from the cable-car on the way up were out of the question. After about 15 minutes we had arrived at the visitors platform and the door slid open to a crispy, thin air, the sun was blinding, neccessitating the wearing of sunglasses. I made my way through the hall with many others to the stairs that would take me outside, full of excitement, like a childs first visit to the circus. As The door opened, the view just hits you straight in the face, the cold wind, warm sun, thinner air and a breathtaking Panorama. Absolutely amazing. I’ve been here a number of times but each time is a new experience. Today there was very little cloud allowing an undisturbed view to the horizon over rows upon rows of snow covered mountains.

 

Where the Koningstraat crosses with the Spiegelrei I spotted this oldtimer on the bridge with a nice backdrop of the Jan van Eyck Square.

Photograph by Douglas Stevens Photoviewz

My trusty D700 was out of the rucksack in no time and the Tripod was set up in a jiffy. Off I went looking for shots like a hunter searching for prey. I shot every angle of interest and took quite a few Panorama shots too. The Zugspitze is directly on the borders of Germany and Austria and so the viewing platform is also split having a German side and an Austrian side. You literally walk over the border to the Austrian Alps. The German side is in my opinion the more interesting view and a lot less windy and cold too. Today it was warm enough to sit outside and enjoy the sun with a Latte Macchiato but around the corner on the Austrian side of the platform it was bloody freezing with a penetrating wind. I tried to take a panorama but gave up as the tripod just wasn’t steady enough and I could hardly feel my fingers after a couple of shots. The official summit is on the German side at a height of 2964m with a beautiful gold coloured cross topping it.

 

Where the Koningstraat crosses with the Spiegelrei I spotted this oldtimer on the bridge with a nice backdrop of the Jan van Eyck Square.

Photograph by Douglas Stevens Photoviewz

I must have spent around five hours up there and after going through at least 6-700 shots decided to return to earth and maybes get a couple of shots as the sun goes down over the lake.

Down at the car-park it was much warmer and no wind at all, ideal for multiple exposures for possible Tonemap shots. This is a mehod I am using quite a lot these days as it brings so much more out of shots with extremities of light. I bracket generally in 1 stop intervals with 3 shots, one under exposure, one normal and one over exposed. If I shoot into the sun then I make an extra two stop under and two stop over exposure.

The walk to the lake takes about 10 minutes passing behind the Eibsee Hotel and on over a bridge that separates the main lake from the “Untersee” a smaller side tributary. The view was truly amazing and I had timed it perfectly. The sun was painting the peaks with a firey orange tone, a dream for every landscape photographer, and it was all mine, there was nobody else there, just me, my camera, my thoughts and nature pure. I had to work quickly as the sun doesn’t wait long before heading off to another part of the earth. I wanted a Panorama too before leaving ;-). I just had enough time for two Panos and some wide-angle shots as the sun disappeared. I felt a great sense of satisfaction, a perfect days work. On the way back to the car I start turning over in my head what I had seen and experienced today, maybes disappointed at a couple of missed opportunities too and of course the excitement of viewing the days catch once at home.

 

Just before the sun disappears it sheds its golden light on many of the old houses leaving others in dark shadow.

Photograph by Douglas Stevens Photoviewz

But first I had to get home, which unfortunately involved a 30 minute traffic jam at the beginning of the drive on the Garmisch/Munich motorway near Farchant, a bit of bad luck but this only made the excitement of my homecoming even more unbearable.

Around eight in the evening I eventually arrived at my destination, greeted my wife with a kiss and the question “What’s for dinner?” before scooting off to my digital darkroom. My only negative thought for the day was “Shit, tomorrow it’s back to the work again”.

 

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