Lessons in light
As you might have derived from other posts, I have a serious thing for mountain lakes. And of them has been on my list for quite some time now: The Seealpsee near Oberstdorf, Allgäu. It’s beautifully located within a huge mountain range (apparently you can see 400 different peaks from there) and the composition of the spot is just crazy. It only takes a cable car ride and around 20 minutes from the station to get to the spot where you have a great view of the lake, but also the surrounding mountains.
I believe it’s hard to take a bad picture at this place. Still, since I normally invest a significant amount of planning and thought into pictures, spots like this one normally come with a challenge. To photograph this place at sunrise or sunset, you either have to spend the night in a mountain hut, sleep in a tent or do a multiple hour hike when it’s still (or again) pitch dark. Now, Seealpsee is very close to Edmund-Probst-Haus, so you could rather easily spend the night, but still this always comes with additional cost and travel time, and you can’t even be sure to catch a good sunrise/sunset.
So, when it’s more difficult to reach a place for sunrise or sunset (normally because it’s somewhere up in the mountains), the question is: Is this place beautiful in different light as well? And this really depends. For Seealpsee, we were lucky, because there was cloudy weather, creating a great contrasty mix of brighter and darker spots in the landscape. But you won’t always be that lucky – bright, harsh midday sun normally makes it very hard to get decent pictures, if you don’t get creative. That’s why I still try to catch as many sunrises and sunsets as possible, without having too many downsides like additional cost or “discomfort”. Of course, even “normal” sunrises and sunsets come with the cost of getting up very early or staying up late, but the special light is definitely worth it in most cases.
Still: It’s possible to take great pictures in midday light as well. It’s always a matter of the exact conditions and the surroundings – and ultimately it comes down to what you’re willing to invest to take a good photo. For Seealpsee, I’m very happy with the results, but still I might come back for that unique sunset feeling one day.
By they way, don’t get confused (like many people on Instagram do): There’s another lake by the name “Seealpsee” in Switzerland, Alpstein region. It’s equally beautiful (I covered it here), but something completely different. If you get the opportunity, I can only recommend to visit both!