Etang de la Gruère is a small lake in the Swiss Jura mountain range which was formed in the 17th century when a dam was built for a local mill. To me, these mountains which demarcate a large part of the Swiss-French border, are among the most beautiful places and always worth a visit, with large areas of untouched and wild nature, woodlands, lakes, and mountain peaks. You can also find wildlife such as lynx, and even black bears are said to have returned to the area.
The lake is very small; a leisurely walk around it takes no more than 30 minutes. It is about a 90-minute drive from where I live, which means that it’s outside of my usual perimeter of photography as I tend to shoot very locally, and my definition of local is what I can scout on a mountain bike. But I had wanted to visit this lake for some time, and this April I finally took the time to go. The weather forecast had predicted unstable conditions and low temperatures, so I came equipped with winter gear and a big thermos of hot tea. And thank God I did. I arrived under a sky of deep and heavy winter clouds, only for them to be replaced by a blue sky ten minutes later. Another few minutes later heavy snowfall came down on me, and so on for the entire day. Photography heaven, in short.
The dead tree in this picture is one of many along the lakeshore, and I liked how it stood out among the green conifers around it. I first spotted it when the sun was out and immediately saw the composition, but with direct sunlight on the trees the picture didn’t quite work. I was about to pack up, but then the sky got darker and darker, snow started to fall again, and the wind picked up. So I unpacked my camera, set it up where it had been just a few minutes before, and frantically kept pressing the shutter until the storm was over about 3 minutes later. I experimented with different shutter speeds to make sure I get the snowflakes in various degrees of sharpness and blurriness. The chosen image has a slightly longer shutter speed, which I think depicts best the snowstorm and moodiness of the moment and gives the image a painterly look.
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Dimitri Vasileiou • Editor