Monday, April 28, 2014

Wildromantisch! (or what's in a word?)

   ...from a photographer's notebook

"Wildromantisch" - Zügenschlucht from Bärentritt, Canton Graubünden  ©Steve Ember

As someone who enjoys photographing wild, craggy, Alpine settings, there is a German word I really like – Wildromantisch.


Nothing more really than the German combination of “wild + romantic.” But, it’s so much more…evocative…than just one of those big, long German words made up of more than one component.

Say it with me…this time with gusto… 


Now, can’t you just hear a glacier-fed river rushing through a craggy gorge? Conjure up the scent of pine trees and other evergreens?

It wouldn’t surprise me a bit if the French, the Spanish, the Romanians, any language groups whose country contains regions with evocative craggy gorges and deep, dark forests, have a word that evokes such wild beauty. But, since I so enjoy spending time in craggy high altitude parts of Germanic Switzerland, I have to say Wildromantisch just does it for me!

Going through some long-neglected color slides, I came upon the very slide that coincided with Wildromantisch becoming a part of my vocabulary. Thought I’d share it with any wild romantics who might be among the assembled eyeballs of this kleine Blogchen.

It was a Fujichrome which I shot in a wild mountain region of Switzerland’s Canton Graubünden on the 27th of September in 1989.

I remember my second visit to Switzerland, coming a year after my first autumn visit, as a most enjoyable introduction to the wildly romantic delights of Graubünden.

A chance meeting with another Graubüunden- (and train-) lover, who was visiting with his wife from the Taunus region of Germany, appropriately enough, in the driver’s cab of a Rhätische Bahn Bernina Line train about to depart Pontresina...led to a more extensive experience of Graubünden than I might otherwise have enjoyed as a first-time visitor.

Tom and his wife, Ello, had their car along for the trip, and they invited me to do some exploring with them (and Felix, their doggie).

One highlight of the first auto-touring we did was an exploration of some of the areas I’d passed through a few days earlier on my first ride on the Glacier Express train from Zermatt to St Moritz. Specifically, the rugged Albula line of the RhB, under – and above – the soaring Landwasser Viadukt, which carries trains high above the gorge of the Landwasser River, and into some equally Wildromantisch areas nearby.

At Filisur, close by the Landwasser Viadukt, two lines of the Rhätische Bahn converge. The major route is the Albula Line, but Filisur is also the changing point for RhB shuttle trains running to Davos. The Davos shuttle trains also run through wild and rugged scenery and also cross impressive stone bridges, and it was in this direction that we headed by car.

This is what we call Wildromantisch!

At Bärentritt, we viewed the gorge known as Zügenschlucht. It was here that Tom said to me, with great gusto, “Steve, this is what we call Wildromantisch!” And did that word ever find a home in the nooks and crannies of gray matter that sit behind this photographer’s eyes and between his ears.

It would emerge countless times in future visits to Canton Graubünden, including while shooting the dramatic Wildromantisch of the Via Mala Gorge in 2010, and exploring other parts of the region a year later with my Bündnerfreunde, Beatrice and Ruedi.

“Wildromantisch” was captured on Fujichrome-100 slide film in my Nikon FM, through a Tamron 24-48 mm SP series lens.

Incidentally, the manmade structure you see in the photo is a very short railroad bridge that carries the aforementioned Filisur-Davos trains between two closely spaced tunnels on their route through this dramatic landscape. I think it should be called the “Augenblick Viadukt,” for if you’re not really quick (as I wasn’t) with the camera, you can miss a really neat motif, as a bright red RhB locomotive emerges from the tunnel on the right. Well, sure, you can catch a blur of train on the bridge, but as we train photogs know, “close, but keine Zigarre!

Goodness, have I just planned me a return trip to Graubünden? If so, I know a location that has moved to the  top of the shoot-list!

Wiedersehen, and here’s wishing you some Wildromantisch moments.

©2014 Steve Ember
PS: “Wildromantisch” will be available in archival gallery prints and as a custom printed Photo Note Card. To see it in higher definition, please follow this link.

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Blogger Unknown said...

Hi Steve, thank you so much for sharing again these great moments there in the "Bärentritt"-gorge, meanwhile so many years ago!

And just to add to the "wildromantisch" feeling there, may I add to the beholder to imagine that right behind that barely to be seen litlle bridge - shorter than the all-over length of a locomotive! - the creek in forground immediately turns in to a 60m high waterfall ending up deep in the gorge - yeah, thats indeed WILDROMATISCH!

We should return to that great spot once in a lifetime! And yes, the little red trains still run through here! - Wanna see how that gorge looks from above? Drop in right here, you´re welcome!

Best regards so far!


May 13, 2014 at 8:18 AM  

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