Monday, August 12, 2013

An Alpine Antidote to August

...from a photographer's notebook

                             Gornergrat Glacier in Switzerland's Valais Alps, captured on AgfaPan 25 film                                                                         

By this point in an East Coast summer - and ours has been, by and large, a hot steamy one of late - thoughts can begin to turn toward cooler, less oppressively hot/humid destinations. Whether or not your thoughts turn Alpine with visions of glaciers, abundant snow and deep blue skies at, say, 10,000 feet, and steep rack-and-pinion railways to get you there, I thought I'd offer this as a wee antidote to your possibly sogged out spirit as August continues with her hot moist breath.

It's an October afternoon in 2011 on the Gornergrat, in the Valais Alps of Switzerland. The weather has been sunny, crisp, and clear on each of the three days the cameras and I have made the KulmHotel 3100 our high altitude eyrie, high above Zermatt...even higher above the Rhône Valley.

While most of my shooting on this splendid afternoon was digital, the film cameras were most definitely active participants in the high altitude sunshine. The trusty Nikon FM was loaded with a precious freezer-stashed roll of that lovely fine-grained Agfa APX-25. It was looking out over this magnificent glacier at 10,000+ feet through a Tamron 28-200 lens wearing a red 25 filter.

I'd just had a lovely visit with my friends Beatrice and Ruedi in Graubünden over in southeastern Switzerland and decided to round out the trip by tracing in reverse most of my first trip on the Glacier Express back in 1989. That trip had not included staying on the Gornergrat, but it had been on my A-list for all those years, and with weather conditions looking promising, I was fortunate in getting a reservation for my three nights, as well as a room eye-to-eye with the mighty Matterhorn.

Happy photographer...and if cameras could talk, that 1987 all manual, all metal, bullet-proof machine hanging from my neck was probably singing the Japanese equivalent of "Ach, wie so herrlich zu schauen..." at the beauty of nature it was capturing. Come to think of it, it might also have been adding "...sind all' die lieblichen Frauen." For, as I recall, there were many.

I hope the photo makes you feel the Alpine-pure air...and low humidity.

This image is available in archival gallery prints, either giclée or silver gelatin, including very large (thank you, tiny little APX grain particles!), and as a custom printed Photo Note Card. For more information, feel free to contact me at the phone number in right column. And if you'd like to view "Gornergrat Glacier" in higher definition, please journey over here.

Photo ©2011/2013 Steve Ember

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