Throughout the past 30 wonderful years of my life I’ve been to and photographed thousands of mountains. Growing up in Colorado my favorite activity was taking a Sunday drive to see the peaks and valleys of the Rockies. Nowadays I spend the majority of my time traveling all over to find some of the most impressive landscapes that exist on this earth. I’ve photographed the tallest peaks on 5 continents and was in awe of all of them. That being said, if I were to put all of the mountains I’ve photographed in a pile without names I (and most people for that matter) probably wouldn’t be able to name even half of them by sight. But recently I traveled to the Alps of Switzerland to visit what is probably the most recognizable peak of all, the Matterhorn.
Perhaps it is its unique shape, like a giant tower shooting up from a valley, or perhaps it is because Disneyland made one of its most famous rides based on it. Whatever the reason, the Matterhorn of Switzerland is one amazing mountain. It is because of this that I had a hard time deciding how I was to photograph this icon of the landscape world.
Recently, my wife and I spent 3 weeks in the Alps and 5 days of this was dedicated to the town of Zermatt, which lies at the base of the Matterhorn. I knew we would have little time for an expedition and because of the days we were there we were limited with transportation to a few choice spots. So I had to go about how I wanted to photograph it based on what a typical tourist might have access to. Now when I say “tourist” I don’t intent to say that it is a bad thing, only that I was limited to the areas easily accessible close to the town. It is because of this that I decided to focus on a few different aspects; banner clouds, its position in the valley, and its view from atop the many cable cars in the area.
The famous banner clouds of the Matterhorn are simply amazing! When the wind blows against the peak it is forced to lift. Air cools as it rises and the water vapor within it condenses to form a cloud. As a result clouds form at the Matterhorn that blow away looking like a banner. These not only create a great sight but also beautiful photos. On one particular evening I was able to spend a great amount of time getting shots of this unique occurrence.
I also wanted to show the view of the Matterhorn in relation to the surrounding area. Its all good and fun to zoom in on a mountain and show it is size but to show it in relation to other things helps to give a bit of perspective. I knew the main shot I wanted to get; a blue hour shot of the mountain with the city lights on in the foreground. There were also loads of other great views from which to show this point!
Lastly, I wanted to show the Matterhorn from atop other mountains. Luckily there are several gondolas and cable cars that will take you to the peaks of other mountains where you can get a great view. Plus if you go for a sunrise shot you will ride up with Olympic athletes going to the year-round ski resorts that reside at these high altitudes (true story).
No matter how you go about it, the Matterhorn is truly one of the most impressive mountains on the planet.
© 2015, Tony. All rights reserved.