German Alps 2021
Berchtesgaden and Allgäu
Early this summer I had 2 opportunities for short hiking and photography trips. The first one was safe early on as I have never been to the Allgäu in Bavaria and I would have a local friend with me to hike up the mountains and visit the famous landmarks of that area. The second one was an even bigger opportunity as it would be a rare trip with brother. The first destination that we had in mind was the Matterhorn in Zermatt Switzerland. But because of the pandemic this wasn’t an option. So we decided to drive to Berchtesgaden.
But first things first. On my way to South-Germany I passed Baden-Würtemberg. The Blautopf was another location that I always wanted to photograph. As so many of the more famous spots it’s overrun by tourists. From my experience it always effects the same locations. Always those which can be discovered easily and that are conveniently accessible. On the of the visit it wasn’t an exception. Yet it was quite easy to find a composition and set up my tripod, but it was hardly possible to get a shot without tourists in the frame. So Photoshop becomes your best friend again. The composition benefits from its lovely scene. The Blautopf with its dark blue and glasslike surface. The foliage in the foreground and the watermill in the background. I took some shots but as soon as I was sure that I had a decent shot on the SD-Card I left the crowded place, heading for the Allgäu in Bavaria and hoping for less crowded photoshoots for the upcoming days.
The next morning, me and a friend went on early to hike up the mountain to get some of the best views on the famous Neuschwanstein Castle. I wasn’t in the best shape and honestly without my friend I would probably have given up. But the view was worth it and the beer that was served on top of the viewpoint as well. Over the weekend we also visited the Lechfälle and the Buchenegger waterfalls. The Buchenegger waterfalls are quite remote and chances are good to have the place on your own.
On my way back I took a detour to another castle. Castle Hohenzollern. As I am more into landscapes than architecture and especially castles I always try to include more of the landscpaes around the castle into the frame. Castle Hohenzollern is best to be photographed from the top down. In the morning you will perhaps be surprised by fog and mist. But when photographing from below the castle, it gets hard to get an interesting picture. Especially when there is no drama in the sky. I was lucky to be able to include some trees and their pink buds in the foreground.
2 weeks later it was already time to travel to Berchtesgaden. I have been there 2 years before and I immediately fell in love with this place. I think it has the highest density of scenic locations for photography. This time my little brother was onboard. As he’s into hiking alot but not so much into photography we decided on leaving out the sunrises, go for extensive hikes during the day and shoots in the evenings.
It was just glorious. I revisited the Hintersee, the Zauberwald, the national park Berchtesgaden, the Watzmann, Maria Gern and the Königssee. To my surprise it was all as impressive as it was on the first visit. In addition we visitedthe Obersee and the Parish church St. Sebastian in Ramsau. I discovered new takes on the Watzmann and hiked up the mountain from St. Bartholomä to the ice chapel for the second time in a row just to figure out that it was still covered by ice and snow. Anyway, me and my brother had a blast. Miraculously the weather turned out better than expected. Everyday we expected rain but we were surprised by pure sunshine.
On the last day we went on to discover the Almbach Klamm. It was so impressive to hike along the stone walls and waterfalls for hours. By the end of our last day the long awaited storm came up. Have you ever seen a thunderstorm coming up in the mountains? You’ll feel humble and small. After the storm, came the fog. When we got up in the morning I asked my brother to postpone the departure for at least one hour. The conditions at the Hintersee were so unique that morning that I had to shoot it. There were shots everywhere. I had to put on my telephoto lense and search for the little spots where the trees peaked through the layers of fog and mist. What a great way to end the second trip to Berchtesgaden. I’m glad I could share it with my brother.