Tag Archives: Switzerland

Madonna del Sasso

In 2012, I visited Locarno for the first time and then wanted to hike up to the church which is high above the town. It is called Madonna del Sasso and is part of the “Camina di Santiago”, the pilgrim way to Santiago in Spain. Unfortunately, it was closed for renovation back then and covered in scaffolds. Here’s the wikipedia article about it:

The Madonna del Sasso is a sanctuary and pilgrimage church in Orselina, above the city of Locarno in Switzerland. It is the principal sight and goal of pilgrimage in the city.
The founding of the sanctuary goes back to a vision of the Virgin Mary that the Franciscan brother Bartolomeo d’Ivrea experienced in the night of 14/15 August 1480. The interior is highly decorated, and a platform gives a magnificent view of the city.
The sanctuary is linked to Locarno city centre by the Locarno–Madonna del Sasso funicular.

So, when I decided to to on an extended photowalk last week, it was a no brainer what I wanted to visit in Locarno. it was a nice walk from the hotel. Speaking of hotel, I can really recommend touring Switzerland in November, the hotel rate was way down, I got two nights in the four star hotel Belvedere in a nice room with a lovely view for 310 Swiss Franks.

Locarno is always worth a visit, and being just a three hour drive from where I live, I guess, I’ll be back in Spring, I think it will look lovely in April or May. And I’ll have to go back anyways, as the church seems only to be open when mass is celebrated and of course I was there at the wrong time 🙂

Madonna del Sasso, a beautiful view high over Lago Maggiore. I’m quite happy with the way the lens flare worked in this picture 🙂
Entrance to the church. I don’t know why, but for some reason the view reminded me of architecture I would expect to find in Spain or Mexico

A trip down memory lane

Ahh, it’s been a long time since I was here. Well, that’s actually not completly true, it is a long time since I spent time here.  You know I lived in that area for a few years, back in the last century (27 years ago to be precise)

Since then I often visited the area with the motorbike, but always just driving through the very lovely roads. A few days ago, I spent a day there, first down at River Thur and then went up to Schwägalp and hiked around a bit. I think I’ll definitely come back here in Summer and do some more hiking!

Giessenfalls of River Thur near Nesslau, Switzerland
Giessenfalls of River Thur near Nesslau, Switzerland
Mount Säntis in Appenzell, Switzerland
Mount Säntis in Appenzell, Switzerland

Islands in the sky

You know, there is something about Winter in Switzerland. All that snow, the blue sky, crystal clear air, snowboarding in deep powder …

It’s all a lie!!!!!

Well, unless you live in the mountains of course.  But for most city dwellers, Winter is a season of grey bleak days, where life is muffled unter a cloud of grey depressing fog.  And looking out your office window and knowing that there is a beautiful world wating for you, just half an hour drive away… is not really improving the motivation at work.

Now you probably think, I’m exagerating, right? Well, have a look at the picture above, have a look at the city of Zürich, the beautiful lake and the soft hills in the distance.  You can’t see it? But it is there,  the city and all its thousands of people. It’s just hidden under the #ç%&@# (censor beep) clouds!

Oh, sure, the fog sometimes leaves. Usually to make room for rain or a winter storm. Which usually happens on the weekend.


From RAW to final

My sister often wonders how much I tinker with my shots. Well, let’s lift the secret 😉

Here’s the shot as it was captured by the camera. Deliberatly overexposed in order to be able to get as much detail as possible in the fog when processing it.

Islands in the Sky - RAW


I then applied these adjustments in Lightroom:

Crop to 16:9 format
Exposure:     -1.6
Contrast:     +23
Highlights:  – 53
Shadows:     +74 (To get the trees in the foreground back
Whites:         +45 (To get the full tonality in the highlights)
Clarity:          +30

Islands in the Sky - RAW final

The shot is now ready for final processing in Nik Color Efex Pro. I used the “Tonal Contrast” filter, applying it to the hightlights in order to get as much structure as possible back into the fog, and then “Brighten center” filter to add a bit of vignetting and put more emphasis on the tower.

Photo was taken on the Hochwacht Tower at the Albis Pass in Switzerland using the Leica M9 and a 90mm lens

First Light of 2014

So it’s the new year. Hurray!

My inner clock woke me up at 5:45, thinking, as it is Wednesday I should get up and to work. (Curse you bio clock thingy, I have a week off!) Oh well, on my way back to bed after having done some unmentionable things, I looked out of the window and noticed it could actually turn out to be a nice sunrise.

So I took a shower, (a long one) grabbed my camera bag, grabbed the Leica as well (as I prefere it for long exposures) and left the house.  A few steps later I met an icy stair and fell head over heal into 2014. (The  Leica took it well thanks,  the part of my body that landed on the german tank looks worse).

Anyway, I took a nice, now slow and careful walk in the freezing rain to the lake and took this shot for you. As you see, no sacrifice too high for you!

And with these words, Happy New Year and enjoy the slippery 2014!

Why photowalks are a good idea

So you probably think, photography is a lonely hobby. After all, who wants to tag along with you and watch you stand at one place for an eternity while you are waiting for the light to change? Your significant other? Hmmm… lucky you!

Or then you tag along with him or her, constantly wishing you had more time, to just go over there oh, and if only you could talk with her about your passion!

See? This is where photowalks with other folks sharing your hobby and passion come in handy. Hours and hours with like minded people, talking gear and sharing stories. And chances are, you probably might learn one or two things as well. Or you do things you usually don’t do.

Like me this weekend, when we agreed weeks ago to meet on the Kleine Scheidegg in Switzerland and spend the night there to do some evening, night and sunrise photography. And of course on Friday, the weather forecast for the mountains was less than ideal, with the weather guy talking about 60 mph winds and loads of snow coming in.

But hey, we agreed to meet (and I had paid for the accomodation) and so I went there, not knowing how much luck we would have with the weather

And did things I normally don’t do. Like getting out at 9 PM into the storm, just to try shooting stars, knowing the clouds would hide them soon.


Or to get up at 6:30 on a Sunday, getting out into the howling cold wind, hoping the clouds would not come in before the sun got up.


Stormy Sunrise

Of course, there is always a downside. All that talk about thegear makes you aware of the shortcomings of your equipment and the gear aquisition syndrome starts whispering sweet promises into your ear.

But you can resist, can’t you? 😉

But maybe I need a heavier tripod. After all, most star shots were blurred due to the wind. And – a camera with better low light capabilities would not hurt either.

A nation divided

So let’s continue with the observation of Swiss Winter, shall we? In Winter, Switzerland is quite a divided country. It is not the the famous “Röschtigraben”, the line between the french and german speaking part of Switzerland I’m talking here. This division is more of a vertical nature. Those “up there” versus those “down here”. And interestingly enough, the line that divides our country can be seen. Literaly. Just look at the sky.

So, those “up there” are those lucky people who live above the high fog ceiling we have in Winter. They enjoy blue sky, winter sun, snowy landscapes, briefly they enjoy Winter how it should be. And since the invention of smart phones (curse you, Apple!), they torture us “down here” with snapshot of Winter glory.

Us “Down here” are all who live in the cities. For us, end of October, Mother Nature tucks us in under a cold blanket of grey, depressing high fog, keeping us covered until March. Of course we know the sun is still out there, it is just, we are not allowed to see it. And when it breaks through the clouds, chances are high we are at work in the office. But every now and then, Mother Nature shows mercy and gives us a sunny day or to be more precise, some brief moments of pale sunlight.

And then, all who are out on the street stop, stop, what ever they are doing, stand still and ….


soaking in sun. Shot on Kodak Trix-400 (35 mm Gelatin Silver)


Sun Seeker 1

What kind of Winter is this???

So, it is January, early January. It is cold outside, there is frost on the cars parked outside in the morning and the air smells of snow. Right?

Not really. Last weekend we had 23 degrees Celsius in southern Switzerland and, although it is not that warm here, it really starts to feel like spring. Just look at these shots I took on Sunday:

Winter Blossom

Study in Green

P.S. We now got snow on the hills surrounding Zurich this morning. Maybe there is hope. Although… probably not for the early flowers….