If it ain’t broken…

I had been quite busy in the weeks leading up to this year’s summer holiday, and with the weather in Switzerland potentially looking a bit dodgy, I dragged out actually planning what to do in the holiday for quite a while. In the end the holiday began, and I still didn’t have a plan. Not wanting to sit at home spending a week trying to figure out something new and exiting to do, I went for the easy solution, and repeated what had worked so well last year – and booked a hotel for a handful of nights in Lugano.

I’m usually not one for repeating plans like this, but here it made sense. There was still things I wanted to see in Lugano and the area around it, the weather forecast looked good, and I knew that I had some good places where it should be possible to just kick back and relax – which was probably what I needed the most. So off I went, and had a bunch of great days!

Hiking from Monte Tamaro to Monte Lema, checking out the Buskers Festival, spending half a day in Morcote (which I’d only had about an hour in last year), eating great food (tagliatelle with porcini as one of the highlights), and just relaxing at the hotel pool and on the nice little balcony that my room had. And obviously also spending a bit of quality time with my camera, trying not to shoot too many things that I had already done the year before…;)

Hiking in the Canton of Schwyz x2

It’s summer in Switzerland – and you’d be a bit daft if you voluntarily spend all of it inside. Thus I’m doing my best to get out of the apartment and taking in as much as possible of the wonderful scenery that Switzerland has to offer. By coincidence, this has until now meant two hikes in June in the Canton of Schwyz, basically in neighboring mountain areas. Normally I don’t put photos from separate events into the same post, but seeing as these two hikes were close together in both time and location (and as I’ve been busy and ended up processing the photos at the same time in any case), I thought it’d make sense here…

The first hike was with my parents visiting – weather forecast was a bit so-so with possible thunderstorms, so we made sure to find a route that wasn’t too far from Zürich, and that wasn’t too high up or too exposed. A route around the town of Brunni, in the shadow of the peaks of the Grosser and Kleiner Mythen, seemed to do the trick, so off we went. After a good, initial climb, we ended up on a nice route with fantastic views to the Vierwalsstättersee and the area around it – including the peak of Rigi, which incidentally was also the destination of last years hike with my parents. The weather played along nicely too, with no signs at all of any thunder or even rain.

Second hike was arranged by one of my colleagues, who had the location and route all planned out, and invited me and a good handful of additional colleagues along. Starting from the town of Stoos, it was located less than 10km south of Brunni – but with the mountains of Switzerland, that’s still enough to give a completely different experience! (although admittedly, the views were somewhat similar ;) An extra perk of the hike was that to get to Stoos, you have to take the new funicular, which at up to 110% incline is the steepest in the world – and made with nice rotating carts, to keep passengers from rolling around inside during the ride. For a bunch of engineers, that’s obviously almost on its own enough to make the trip worthwhile… After marveling a bit at the technical achievement during the ride, we arrived in Stoos, heading directly for the initial climb up to Klingenstock, from where we’d then walk along the ridge to Fronalpstock. A beautiful trail with fantastic views to both sides. Weather was pretty great too, although, being in almost 2000m height, it was a bit chilly – and with the occasional cloud passing quite closely over us too – but that mainly just made for some more interesting photos.

All in all, two great hikes – and pretty fun to be able to look towards an area you’ve been in before from afar ;)

The Rheinfalls in Full Frame

As teased in my last post, after many careful considerations, I have very recently gone ahead with a slight upgrade of my trusty Nikon D7100.
(Warning – camera tech-talk coming up – skip to the next section if you just want to read about the waterfalls ;)

After that disclaimer, back to camera-talk! My D7100 has served me very, very well, but I was getting a bit annoyed by the optical quality of my 18-200mm lens – even though the flexibility definitely is amazing, I started to often feel limited by the lack of sharpness. After having looked around a bit, I couldn’t really find a new lens that seemed like a good substitute on the crop-sensor D7100, and since I had also toyed with the idea of going full-frame, I ended up getting a Nikon D750 with the 24-120mm lens. Having read a bit around, the 24-120mm was obviously not the optically best lens available, but it sounded like it did pretty well for its zoom range (which would definitely make it better than the 18-200), and was even a bit wider at the wide end – something that I’d also wanted (although the difference isn’t huge…). And obviously, the full-frame D750 would be a good step-up from the D7100, seeing as even though the resolution is basically the same, the sensor in the former is more than twice as big – meaning more light captured, thus lower noise and more sharpness. At the same time the camera itself is basically the same size, and has the exact same button layout, so switching couldn’t really be easier. It also uses the same battery, is supported in my existing editing software, and, since it’s a couple of years old now, was available at a really good price.

So – fast forward to the new camera having arrived back home with me, and my fingers itching to go give it a decent spin. With four consecutive days off due to the Ascension holiday (and me having moved my labor day holiday from last week), I decided on heading north, to the canton of Schaffhausen – more precisely to the Rheinfalls. 150m wide, 23m high, and with a summer average of 600m3 of water per second constantly passing through, it’s rather impressive! Numerous platforms have been placed at the sides of it, to allow visitors to get really close to the action – and interestingly enough, without really getting wet! After having spent the early morning trying to get a good bunch of different pictures of the falls (seeing as it’s the main motif, it took some work to not get all the pictures looking the same ;), I went for a nice hike in the backcountry also. This was mostly through woods, which weren’t as photogenic as the falls though (thus the rather obvious lack of pictures from that part of the day). After the hike, I went back to the falls for a cup of coffee and some more pictures (now with afternoon sun – and a good heap of extra tourists) – before catching a train back to Zürich after a day well spent.

Looking at the pictures at home, it seems I definitely got what I expected – even though it’s probably not visible from the low-res versions of the images here, the shots are a lot sharper – and the dynamic range is insane too – lots of extra data to work with from the image files. All in all – a great day, and some new equipment that is working well :)

Four cantons, one lake, summery weather, and a bunch of great views…

In Denmark, when you head south to enjoy some warmer temperatures, people will often tell you to bring back a bit of the warmth – which rarely works though… However, ever since I came back from my recent holiday in Spain, weather in Zürich has been more or less amazing. It culminated last weekend with lots of sun and temperatures in the high 20s – which is pretty good, considering it was still only April! In that kind of weather I didn’t want to just stay inside, so I consulted the internet for some hiking routes around the Vierwaldstättersee (which I had visited the year before on my trip up Rigi) – which is not only a really nice area, but also quite close to Zürich – and found an interesting half-day hike up a hill on the south-western part of the lake.

The weather proved to be as nice as anticipated, and with spring having really arrived, had flowers and green plants everywhere. Can’t really imagine how it could have been better! After a really nice hike, I ended up spending the afternoon in nearby Luzern afterwards – which I thought was about time, after almost two years in Switzerland ;) I wasn’t the only one with that idea though, and had to share the space (especially around the iconic Kapellbrücke) with throngs of other people. For some reason the very nice area around the old city fortifications were almost deserted in comparison though, and provided a nice finish on a great day!

Looking back here a week later, I almost feel a bit nostalgic also – as this trip may be the last one documented with my trusty Nikon D7100. After more than 4 years of good use, I’ve ended up going ahead with a slight upgrade – more on that in a future post – until then, enjoy the pictures here :)

Kickstarting the holiday season

Even though spring has been preparing its approach for some time now, you can never really be sure when it’ll finally manage to send winter on holiday. Not in Switzerland, and not in Denmark. Thus a bunch of my Danish friends had been contemplating a quick getaway to somewhere that should be guaranteed to be at least a bit warmer than either – and invited me along too! So off to Spain we went, to spend a week in a pretty awesome mansion – relaxing, eating good food, hiking, sightseeing, and everything else you usually do on a holiday.

Being late March / early April, the temperature obviously hadn’t gone to extremes yet, but the 15-20 degrees and, more importantly, almost constant blue skies and sunshine, provided a pleasant change from the “have-some-snow!” approach to spring that weather had taken in Denmark and Switzerland.

In the way-too-short timespan of a week, we managed to see both Valencia and Alicante, go to the picturesque village of Guadalest on the top of a mountain, hike along rocky paths to the top of Penyal d’Ifac, eat lots of icecream, and I even got to make my very first paella (which turned out pretty successful :).

And as usual, I brought along my camera also…

Calendar says March…

…but apparently the Swiss weather doesn’t really care too much about that. After a week of bitterly cold temperatures, on March 1st I woke up to Zürich being covered in a beautiful blanket of fresh powder snow. With temperatures still well below 0C, the snow even stayed real snow, and didn’t transform into the annoying slush that is otherwise the only “snow” we’ve seen in Zürich this season – which was also the reason that I hadn’t really been able to get any half-decent wintery pictures yet.

So when the snow was still there on Saturday, and the weather forecast said that temperatures would stay in the freezing region at least until noon, I got up early and went up to good old Uetliberg, hoping for some somewhat interesting views and motifs. Down in the city it was cloudy, and the top wasn’t really visible, but I hoped that all this was below the top – and I was more or less right –
even though there was still a thick layer of clouds above, it was otherwise clear at the top, with the cold weather providing excellent views to the real mountains in the south. Having cheated a bit taking public transport to the top, I managed to get there while there was still a bit of morning light, providing for some really great views.

Afterwards I hiked back down, taking care not to be run over by the many sledges out getting the last fun out of the soon-to-be melting snow – and of course also getting in a few more shots of the snow-covered forest. And in the end, my timing was good – in the afternoon on the same day the temperatures rose, and the snow started melting. Maybe the weather managed a look in the calendar after all ;)

2017 – the lost pictures

With 2018 already well underway, and me on a busy schedule without much time for taking photos, I took a look back at last years photos to see if there was something I had missed – and indeed there was! Some had been hovering around in my “to-process” queue due to only a couple of pictures from the set being decent, some due to other things overtaking it before getting around to processing – but that doesn’t mean that there weren’t a few pictures here and there that deserved a bit of love after all.

It’s not as mixed a bag as you could suspect, with pictures mainly coming from last winter (with some actual snow in Zürich!), a trip I did to the (pretty nice!) Zürich Zoo last fall, and a handful of pictures from my recent Christmas holiday in Denmark to top it off.

Hopefully there’ll soon be some new stuff also, but my current combination of being busy at work, and spending several of the past Saturdays skiing (which isn’t too compatible with carrying a DSLR in your backpack) just make things a bit difficult at the moment ;)

New York revisited

I recently had to do a work trip to Pennsylvania in the US – and as I was planning the trip, realizing that I’d need a rental car in any case to get to the slightly rural setting of Lititz, flying to New York and driving from there quickly materialized as a workable option. Or well, doing that, just flying in two days early and spending the weekend in NYC was the actual option I was thinking of ;)

Cue plane landing in JFK, and me heading toward Manhattan for a quick revisit of “the city so nice they named it twice”. The setting was slightly similar to last time I stopped by – as in that it was still in the darker months of the year, and still bitterly cold. But as the snow had been exchanged with Christmas decorations and throngs of people (it was the weekend after Thanksgiving after all), it still provided a very different experience. All in all I had less than two days, but still managed to see the Frick Collection, have waffles at the Christmas market in Bryant Park, see Central Park without snow, do a nice walk down the High Line, and see lots and lots of Christmas lights (although I’m still a bit confused as to the connection between Christmas and the Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs-themed decorations that Saks Fifth Avenue had spent a lot of effort putting up in their windows… ah well…).

I could easily have spent a couple of days (or possibly months ;) more in the city, but even so, still a great weekend!

Blue skies in Lausanne

On my quest for getting as much out of the wonderful autumn as possible, my next stop was in a part of Switzerland that I hadn’t yet visited – to the west, around Lake Geneva. I didn’t go all the way to Geneva though, but instead opted to stop in Lausanne. I had gotten a few tips from one of my co-workers who knows the city very well, so armed with that, I got on the train early in the morning. Having arrived, I did the same thing once more – got on another train (although for a much shorter ride!), to Grandvaux, just outside Lausanne, but within the large World Heritage Site of the Lavaux vineyards. The weather was perfect – slightly chilly (it was October after all), but with blue skies and wonderful autumn sun.

I had a good walk through the vineyards, learning a bit about the history and processes along the way, before ending up in Lutry, and taking the train back to Lausanne. After strolling around the city, I visited the Palais de Rumine which had an exhibition by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei. I’m normally not that big a fan of contemporary art, and initially, I didn’t really get the point of most of the pieces exhibited. When I finally got around to have a look in the accompanying booklet though, the added context and explanations turned it into a very interesting experience – especially with my recent trips to Beijing in mind.

Next stop was the Lausanne photography museum, but as I found out when I got there, it was currently closed as they were putting in a new exhibition. Ah well… I took a walk in the nearby park, and came upon the Olympic Museum instead. I wasn’t really prepared to do a full tour, but they had a special exhibition on Sports Photography, which seemed kinda relevant to me ;) And it was really good! Some fantastic and very varied photos, and some really interesting stories behind them also.

After the museum, I took a stroll along the waterfront, found some dinner, enjoyed a spectacular sunset, and then headed back to Zürich after a day well spent!

Amazing Autumn

Back in 2004 I spent August to December in New Zealand – and I think that may be a reason why I enjoy autumn as much as I do. Being on the southern hemisphere, the seasons are reversed, so I traded the typical Danish late-summer-autumn-early-winter sequence for a late-summer-winter-spring-winter sequence instead, and essentially missed a complete autumn. The year after, being back in Denmark, I remember suddenly enjoying the autumn much more than I had done in earlier years – and ever since, despite the often not-so-great weather, the autumn season has had me marvel at the fantastic colors whenever outside.

This year is of course no different. Last year I did a nice bike ride which took me along the river Sihl, and the forests it runs through – I thought that could provide another good way to spend an autumn Saturday, so I climbed on my bike and set off early (or well, early for a Saturday;) in the morning. Got a great ride with some amazing morning light along the Sihl, and stopped at the Sihlwald, where I had a good hike in the forest – all the way up to the Albis Hochwacht lookout-tower. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was certainly surprised by the view from the top! It’s not that far from Uetliberg, but its more southern location means that there’s an unobstructed view of the Zugersee, with Rigi right behind it. Sadly it was a bit hazy though – on a clear day, it must be absolutely amazing…

I totally got what I came for though – awesome colors, fresh air and fantastic views. And the fact that the rear tire on my bike was flat when I got back from the hike didn’t manage to ruin a thing (especially since the pretty great Zürich public transport system had a train station right next to where I’d parked;).