Tranquil dawn at Lai da Palpuogna

A peaceful dawn at Lai da Palpuogna with the mountains Piz Ela and Piz Üertsch catching first light in the background. This Swiss lake is located at the Albula Pass near Bergün (by Johan Peijnenburg)

First light on Piz Ela and Piz Üertsch at Lai da Palpuogna

[ 24mm - f/11 - 1/15sec - ISO100 - D800E with 24 f/1.4 ]

I just got back from my 4-week fall trip to the Swiss Engadin region and am starting to go through the results right now. I didn’t get everything I wanted, however that is to be expected in the Alps in Autumn. Weather tends to be very unpredictable and being in the right place at the right time can be quite a challenge. Getting a snow dump half way through my trip didn’t help either :)

This image features a lake called Lai da Palpuogna. It is located at the Albula Pass near Bergün in the Swiss canton of Graubünden (Grisons). In the background you see two mountains called Piz Ela (left) and Piz Üertsch (right).

The general consensus in Switzerland is that Lai da Palpuogna is one of the prettiest lakes in the country. One of my goals was to catch it with some nice soft early morning light, perfect reflections in the water, larch trees in their brightest yellow fall coat and of course a touch of first snow. That combination didn’t happen unfortunately … despite visiting the lake about 10 times. I can’t complain though. It definitely ain’t a bad place to enjoy a sandwich with tea while waiting for the first light to hit the scenery and it gives me a good reason to go back next year again. I did get away with quite a few nice shots of the lake anyway … so you will get to see more of it in the near future!

I captured this image using my 24mm f/1.4 wide angle lens. My favourite lens on a Nikon D800E. I used a 2-stop and a reversed 1-stop gradient ND filter to control the brightness of the sky and the reflection in the water. The image was processed in Adobe Lightroom 5.2.

Click on the image, if you are interested in buying a print or license. For more images like this:

Visit the Waterscapes gallery
Visit the Mountain Landscapes gallery
Visit the Twilight gallery

262 Responses to “Tranquil dawn at Lai da Palpuogna”

  1. This picture is beautiful

  2. Interesting text and beautiful capture Johan Peijnenburg !

  3. Stunning capture ! :) Wonderful scene.

  4. Wunderschöne Landschaft mit grossartigen Spiegelungen Johan!

  5. Tom Tran says:

    Welcome back Johan! :)
    Love the tranquility of this scene, my friend. I can see why you’d want to return to this place time and again.

  6. Enjoying my sandwich, tea and the view here right now, Johan … :o))

  7. So beautiful, Johan! Nice to see you’ve been busy!! ;)

  8. Amazing beauty! Perfectly done!

  9. Wow, look at those reflections – beautiful…

  10. Stunning image, Johan – beautifully done…

  11. Nice Johan!! what a fantastic way to open up this morning.

  12. Very inviting image, my friend, excellent color and reflections. 

  13. Wow… this is spectacular image and great place, wonderful reflections and great compositions… I can just feel the fresh air, compare in Houston sticky, warm & humid… 

  14. @Mikko: thanks Mikko! :)
    @Leyla: thank you! It is going from freezing cold, to warm and sticky to very windy here :) Autumn! ;)

  15. Fantastic reflection and picture Johan 

  16. Excellent work! Beautiful reflection! Welcome back!

  17. Wonderful landscape!

  18. @Anna: thank you very much :) Glad to be back! Hope all is well with you?!
    @Kaatje: dank je wel! Daarom woon ik nou in Zwitserland :D 

  19. Thank you very much Javier! :)
    @Debbby: dank je :D 

  20. Prachtig Johan, Beautiful!

  21. I understand when you have one image in mind and nature gives you another. Good for you making the best of it!! And like you said, having a sandwich and a cup of tea in that location, well, you could do a lot worse! :) Can’t wait to see more.

    • It might take me a couple of years to get what I want Barb. This area usually gets covered with too much snow fairly early in Autumn, which makes it hard to reach and hard to shoot like I want to. Will try of course :) Thank you for the visit and compliment !

  22. @Renay: thank you ! Nice to meet you :)
    @Елена: glad you think so. Thanks! :) 

  23. Claudia T says:

    Just great Johan :))

  24. Many thanks Claudia ! :)
    @Jenn: hey Jenn thanks! Hope all is well ?! You should visit this part of Switzerland one day if you haven’t yet :) 

  25. Oh so beautiful a place Johan 

  26. I love those photos with the mirror reflections. Your work is pure beauty with fantastic light on the mountains with amazing sky and clouds. I am sure waiting for the morning light with the sandwiches with Swiss cheese was a great pleasure. Is your 24mm lens a fixed lens? Quite bright… it must be a killer for the Milky Way or Aurora Borealis shooting… Superb details on your photo Johan!

  27. @Rosie: it definitely is a a gorgeous place Rosie! :)
    @Grzegorz: many thanks for the very kind words Grzegorz! Glad you like it :) I have two zooms that include 24, but I always grab this fixed 24 f/1.4 when I want to be near 24! The results are always very crisp with loads of micro contrast. Gotta love that! How have you been ? 

  28. Fabulous photo Johan, and what a nice place to come back to 10 times for morning photos! It looks vaguely familiar, but must just be similar to a few places here. It looks like you were waiting for something even better than this, buts its hard to picture more here…a dusting of snow maybe?

    • Many thanks George! I went back with pleasure each time. Caught it with crappy weather as well though :) I wanted to get this one with the trees a yellow and a dusting of snow indeed. That is a challenge though as this place gets snow usually quite early in Autumn. So luck, patience and endurance will play a big role in getting what I want. Might take another few years :)

  29. You might not have got the picture in your minds eye Johan, but you certainly have a perfect view of mountains and their reflections here :) And a very valid reason to go back :)

  30. An immense beautiful capture Johan. There are so many ways to look at this shot and eather way it comes out perfect. I as a foreigner already have a weak spot in my heart for this beautiful country called Switserland but when a Swiss person looks at this shot he must fall in love with his country once again and be very pleased to have the priviledge of living there….

  31. I knew it :)) Like those “alter Schinken hinter Omas Sofa” nur viel besser :))
    Now try to get that, lololol

    Great image, I have expected that from you :)

  32. @Margaret: many thanks Margaret! Appreciated :)
    @Joan: that is a very nice way if putting it and very nice to read Joan. Thank you for that :) 

  33. This is beautiful, Love the reflection…… hard to tell where it starts and where it ends! :)

  34. Stunning light! so high quality!

  35. Thank you Mady :)
    @Joann: many thanks ! 

  36. Ian Good says:

    It must be hard having to look at this scenery all the time Johan – I feel for you. ;) Beautiful shot.

  37. Thanks for the compliment Anatoliy ! :)
    @Ian: yes it is awful. Dunno why I keep at it ;) Thanks! 

  38. Stunning shot Johan, very beautiful indeed.

  39. Fantastic symmetry, and an excellent exposure Johan 

  40. Many thanks Dermot !
    @David: thanks for the compliment David! :) 

  41. How gorgeous Johan !! I love those reflections!! Beautiful!

  42. Everything in this stunning photo is just as it should be Johan . Bravo my talented friend!!! And I hope the sandwich taste good too? ;-)

  43. Gorgeous mirror for a gorgeous sky!


  45. wonderful shot and reflection Johan. I love the line under the trees and the tones, great light too,

  46. Very peaceful indeed, quiet perfection that dawn brings. Beautiful photo Johan. I always look forward to seeing your imagery!

  47. Beautiful shot Johan!

  48. Nice to see your contribution after quite some time. I like the composition and reflections utilized to create an engaging composition

  49. Love the reflection! This is just stunning!

  50. Incredible photo! Beautiful colors and composition. If it were mine, I’d frame it!

  51. Paul Adim says:

    Great picture you have there. Seeing that scene live will be rapturous. Almost unbelievable! 

  52. What a great place to enjoy the breakfast, Johan!! :) A beautiful view and a great work!
    Have a great day! :)

  53. @Natascha: inderdaad Natasha. Heeft wel wat toch! ;)
    @Margaret : thank you Margaret :)
    @Jerry: thanks for the compliment Jerry and yes those sandwiches were awesome :) 

  54. @E.E. Giorgi: thank you Elena!
    @Оксана: thanks :)

  55. @Mona: thank you Mona! :)
    @Gemma: many thanks Gemma!
    @Shelly: thanks Shelly :)
    @Rodolfo: thanks for the compliment Rodolfo! :) 

  56. @Deborah: nice to hear that Deborah and thanks for the compliment! :)
    @Michael: thanks Michael!
    @Aamir: glad you like it Aamir and nice to hear that you missed me ;)
    @George: thanks for the kind words George :) 

  57. @Andreas: thank you very much Andreas!
    @Karrie: thanks Karrie! :) 

  58. @Terrie: that is nice to read Terrie! Thanks for the compliment! :)
    @Sumit: many thanks Sumit!
    @Paul: it was Paul and thank you :) 

  59. Wonderful capture and reflections! 

  60. Wow, amazing capture. Awesome reflection on the calm water, looking like a mirror 

  61. Johan the details and clarity are so good here, also the reflection and composition rocks.

  62. Beautiful light and reflections! :)

  63. So stunningly beautiful Johan !! I love the composition !

  64. What a superb crystalline image my friend! I feel the early morning breeze…

  65. Piękne krajobrazy lepiej podziwiać z piękną kobietą .

  66. @Grzegorz: thanks. I like to admire both :)
    @Mutita: thank you! 

  67. Beautiful photo and wonderful reflections

  68. Water so clear that without a filter you can drink it straight from the river.

  69. @Ralph: may thanks Ralph :)
    @Naghmeh: thanks for the wow Naghmeh ! :)
    @grzegorz: very true! I have not tried in this case though :)

  70. What a great picture Johan … but it reminds me of something. Some very talented alpine photographer once told me to never put the horizon in the middle of the picture :-) can you imagine that ;-)

    • Thanks Matthias! That very talented alpine photographer was very right. Normally it is good to put the horizon on the top or bottom third …. however sometimes rules should be broken to get a more pleasant result. In case of shooting a mirror like this that rule should not be applied … in my humble opinion :) Try it. Putting the horizon on a third here in this case would only be possible on the upper third which would require going wider and a lot lower. This would make the bottom 3rd very boring and the upper two thirds less interesting because everything would be smaller. More importantly the composition would not be balanced anymore and less strong. Obviously putting a foreground subject in could help, but in my opinion that would introduce a distraction this image doesn’t need. I obviously I tried in this case in between sandwiches :D

  71. Gah! Stunning, Johan !

  72. Looks fantastic Johan! How much post-processing was involved here? I am fine, thank you very much for asking :)))

  73. Welcome back my sweet amigo Johan .
    Always a pleasure to see your images and details.
    Gorgeous image!!!.
    Winter is coming, keep warm with your delicious hot chocolate… :)

  74. Lai da Palpuogna looks well worth your 10+ visits =) – to bad you didnt got to capture it the way you intended Johan, but on the other hand, you got to enjoy it more then once and that´s pretty great all by itself :) Nice shot too

  75. @Yasmin : thank you Yasmin :) And I am looking forward to winter already, but before I need some time to work on images and catch up a bit. I feel like a nomad at the moment :)
    @Michael : ow it certainly is and not only from this side. I also have a couple of nice ones from the opposite side :) And I guess this is not bad either :)

  76. Woow this is really beautiful Johan ! bravo!

  77. Stunning capture Johan !
    and so well done! Congrats!

  78. @Enrique : many thanks for the woow Enrique ! ;)
    @Annick : thanks for the compliment and visit Annick! Nice to meet you :)

  79. Of course we like it,Johan, photo and story :-))

  80. @Thierry Bouriat : merci Thierry :)
    @Meg Rousher : thanks. You ok? Missed you around here!
    @Heine J Melgaard : many thanks Heine! Hoep all is well with you !?

  81. This is exactly my kind of mountain lake scene. Oh how I miss Switzerland!! And I miss you too Johan :) I am glad to hear/see that your trip went well. This image is really lovely.

  82. So great! Awesome work as always Johan !

  83. Hey thanks Mark !! :)
    Thanks again Mady :)

  84. Gorgeous landscape ! I like the symetry of the composition, the beauty of the light and reflections. Great work.

  85. “Peaceful” is the word, Johan! Gorgeous scene – the reflection is so perfectly still, I could have sworn it was a long exposure.

  86. Absolutely stunning reflections Johan! 

  87. Glad you like them Michael ! :)
    Thanks for the wow Jany ! :)

  88. John Dunne says:

    Epic mountains… epic trees… epic reflections… epic scene. Another winner Johan. I’m looking forward to seeing more from your trip.

  89. Beautiful lines and color contrast Johan! I’m sure a wonderful place to make pictures.

  90. Spectacular reflections and beautifully captured! SO envious of those clouds. I had no clouds on my whole trip except for one brief sunset. Stunning capture Johan! Sounds like an excellent 4 weeks.

  91. Enzo Ros says:

    Wow! Splendide paysage et reflets Johan 

  92. Beautiful place and capture. The early hour paid out!

  93. Wonderful scene Johan 

  94. Fantastic shot again dear Johan ! have a fantastic weekend

  95. Majestic.. Well captured!

  96. Great perspective and not to mention reflection Johan

  97. @Kurt: Many thank Kurt! Sad to hear about your lack of good skies. That’s tough. I had a mixed bag as well, but in the end I can’t complain.
    @Shawn: thanks again Shawn! :)
    @Enzo: merci beaucoup Enzo!
    @Wilfried: thank you for that :) Glad you like what I did with the place. Looks kinda different than when we checked it out together ;) 

  98. @Heine: I can imagine! Good to hear all is well :)
    @Dalibor: many thanks Dalibor! :)
    @Dominique: thanks!
    @Victoria: thanks and have a great week Victoria :) 

  99. Many thanks Jeffrey !
    @Nikola: thanks Nikola! Heb je het druk de komende weken?
    @Jackie: thank you! :)

  100. That is a beautiful scenery with wonderful reflections :)

  101. Very soothing image sir….

  102. This is very impressive Johan

    happy Monday :)

  103. Wonderful Johan! I need to spend some time in engadin. Looks like a good place to hike and bike :)

  104. @Bjarte: thank you Bjarte!
    @Kamal: good to hear Sir! :)

  105. Well thank you Betty :)
    @Jackie: thank you!
    @Kamil: thanks Kamil! :) 

  106. @Rikard: worth a visit yes and lots of ops for hiking an biking! Have a look at Diavolezza. Seen guys on bikes do crazy stuff there :) 

  107. Stunning reflections and clarity Johan 

  108. Wow, dat moet ik ook nog eens gaan doen Johan :-)

  109. Many thanks Rohan !
    @Walter: wat? Meertjes fotograferen of een maand op pad? 

  110. Impressive! Looking forward to seeing further images of this scenic lake :)

  111. David Orr says:

    What a majestic view !! Stunning !

  112. Amazing and stunning and gorgeous!

  113. @Walter: ben benieuwd wat je daarvan zou maken :)
    @Christa: thanks Christa! :)
    @David: thanks David! :)
    @Michelle: many thanks Michelle :) 

  114. Nora Carol says:

    Sweet light and reflection :)

  115. @Jayakumar: thank you!
    @Jackie: thanks again :)
    @Nora: many thanks Nora. Hope you are well! :)
    @Mieke: dank je wel ! :)

  116. I can see why it’s considered one of the prettiest lakes, beautiful image Johan!

  117. Dick Berry says:

    Very nice image Johan…would love to hike into this place!

  118. It really is so special Johan and beautifully captured..

  119. Schitterend Johan, je zou deze zo om kunnen draaien :-)

  120. A reflective piece of alpine perfection, lovely Johan!

  121. Nature plays always with own rules. I very like this result Johan! I’m also glad to hear you are satisfied and healty back from the trip. 

  122. Spectacular as always and thank you for the wonderful info about this amazing lake and capture Johan !

  123. @Steve: thanks for the wow Steve! :)
    @Paul: yes healthy and satisfied. Didn’t get everything I wanted but that only means should do it again next year :)
    @Marilou: thanks again Marilou :)

  124. Wonderful shot Johan !

  125. Amazing…..beautiful landscape and wonderful shot 

  126. Very beautiful view a shot!

  127. @Gemma: thank you very much! :)
    @Tri: thanks for the kind words :)
    @Anna: many thanks Anna! :) 

  128. Gorgeous image and reflection

  129. Thanks Jorunn and Khalid ! :)

  130. Sorry you didn’t get what you hoped for. You got this shot and it’s amazing!

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