Winter at the Simplon Pass: Carved in snow

I usually spend quite some time figuring out where photograph winter in the Swiss Alps. I look at maps, scout the terrain on Google Earth, figure out where the sun will be when, check whether snow fell recently, see if there will be clouds and how those are likely to develop, etc. The weather part helps a lot. The maps and terrain part is a bit tricky, though. This photograph of winter at the Simplon Pass proved that looks can be deceiving.

I captured this winter landscape at the Simplon Pass. This pass connects Switzerland with Italy. The location wasn’t high on my list, as I didn’t expect too much from it based on how it looks in summer. We ended up going there a few weeks ago anyway. It was the only place where the sun was expected to break through the clouds. So happy we did! Turns out that it is a place where not a lot of people go.

Additionally, it has impressive wide views, massive snow dunes and beautiful curvy terrain with great details. There was loads of deep virgin snow as well. All in all an excellent place for photography! Our dog Izzi had lots of fun as well. Most of the time, only his head and tail were visible 🙂

Strong winds are quite common at this altitude. As a result, the snow often has an interesting structure as this photograph illustrates. I used a wide-angle lens to include the carved snow. It adds foreground interest and depth to the image. The name of the mountain in the back is Spitzhorli by the way.

Cheers, Johan 🙂

254 thoughts on “Winter at the Simplon Pass: Carved in snow

  1. Indrayani Ode says:

    Wow verry beautifull… would love to state that there is snow.
    Johan, try to Indonesia, there are many interesting things you can photograph.

  2. Johan Peijnenburg says:

    @Ian: I do my best Ian! Thanks for the compliment!
    @Margaret: thank you! 🙂
    @Joan: thanks again Joan 🙂 

  3. Johan Peijnenburg says:

    @Paul: thanks again Paul!
    @Nora: wow, long time no speak 🙂 Nice to see you again. How have you been? You would get used to the winter 😀 

  4. Nora Carol says:

    awesome! i love to shoot on Winter Season too but i’m not sure if i can stand the coldness. I so used to 25-30 deg celsius hehe. 

  5. Johan Peijnenburg says:

    It is Chris! Thanks 🙂
    @Carsten: thanks again Carsten! I can imagine. I wouldn’t want to live further away from the mountains anymore 🙂 

      • Rikard Lindby says:

        Sadly no, I haven’t Johan. Currently looking for a place to go skiing this coming weekend. Looks like it’s gonna be Verbier. Hopefully I can get some nice views from there.

        • Johan Peijnenburg says:

          Verbier should give you some nice views Rikard. Think you should be able to see the Mont Blanc massif from there :)

  6. Johan Peijnenburg says:

    @Joel: thank you Joel!
    @Marilou: glad you like it Marilou. Thanks for stopping by!
    @Yasmin: you are very welcome Yasmin. Having fun at it. Thanks!
    @Beve: thanks Beve! 

  7. Yasmin Simpson says:

    As always first class scenes!!! :). Thank you for bringing these gorgeous images to my world, friend Johan.
    I really enjoy them when I am inside in a warm home… :)

  8. Kurt Harvey says:

    Excellent choice in destinations Johan! Beautifully framed and captured! The trackless snow is incredible gorgeous.

  9. Johan Peijnenburg says:

    @Grzegorz: the D800E in combination with the 14-24 is brilliant Grzegorz! Get one quickly! 🙂 Thanks for the great feedback. Much appreciated!
    @Mikko: thanks a bunch Mikko!
    @Nikola: dank je wel opa! 😉 

    • Grzegorz Piechowicz says:

      Thanks Johan ,definitely I am going to buy D800 soon. D800E produce more moire effect which I would like to avoid, as apart landscapes I take some architectural photos as well. Thank you very much for all your recommendations, now I am sure what I should invest in ;)

  10. Grzegorz Piechowicz says:

    Hi Johan, this time no discussion about D800 😉 Your photo is absolutely stunning, great landscape, beautiful lights and shadows, dramatic sky, superb composition. Always appreciate people for their efforts to take wonderful photos in the mountains taking heavy gears on their back. Great work Johan, well done! :)

  11. Johan Peijnenburg says:

    @Alycia: thank you Alycia 🙂
    @Jim: great feedback Jim. Thanks!
    @Tom: i’ll go check them out 🙂 

  12. Jean-Michel Taconné says:

    Wonderful mountainscape at the Simplon pass ! Great perspective. I like the nice structure in the snow in the foreground ;-)

  13. Lella H. says:

    Very nice shot, like the motion of the clouds. I know Simplon pass quite well, traveling it every winter during Christmas time and so I remember it nearly in every weather condition … :)

    • Johan Peijnenburg says:

      thank you. Yeah, I guess you go back and forth between your 2 home countries a lot, like I do with CH and NL. Simplon is indeed quite nice :)

  14. George Marquardt says:

    This looks great Johan! It all sounds very organized and well planned, and it looks like you’ve hit some great snow.

    • Johan Peijnenburg says:

      I did George. Thanks. The organization bit is ok to do, but besides knowing what wether to expect it is not always good to do. Just going is sometimes better as prejudice about what scenery to expect doesn’t get in the way then 🙂 

  15. Jim Lundgren says:

    Oh man Johan, that snow texture is just amazing and I feel like I’m falling into the image with the swoop down to the right. Love this!!

  16. Beverley Aston says:

    It certainly is beautiful Johan and I love that touch of blue sky up in the corner also the way the light is coming in and catching across the rocky area on the R/H side gives a nice lift to the photo!!

    • Johan Peijnenburg says:

      Many thanks and that would be cool Tom. Make sure to dress first. The outfits (ahum) you are wearing these days will make you freeze vital parts off!!! 

      • Tom Tran says:

        Bwahahah! That is sound advice, Johan. Perhaps I’ve been falsely influenced by watching the vodka induced ice swimming videos my Finnish friends have been sharing lately.

        • Johan Peijnenburg says:

          Are you keeping those for yourself Tom ? Haven’t seen you sharing videos with swimming cute Finnish friends …

          • Tom Tran says:

            I saw them on FB. Had it been something I shared here you would surely be included as you’ve witnessed, but believe me, there’s nothing cute about these Finns. :D

  17. Vishal Kumar says:

    Wonderful perspective Johan ! This will look amazing in Cinematography (Moving towards Spitzhorli with this perspective).
    Lovely shot :)Have a Nice day !

  18. Serban Simbotelecan says:

    Greetings, Johan! There are too many things running on social networks that I can barely follow who I’m interested in. I really have to get organized and create some strict lists for following the updates 🙂

      • Serban Simbotelecan says:

        On G+ currently I’m totally confused. So I’m posting one time per week there. Here at least most of the people added me because they follow my work…

        • Johan Peijnenburg says:

          G+ is ok if you ignore the communities Serban Simbotelecan. But it is indeed hard to keep up with everybody. I tend to post every 2 weeks now and then try to catch up with as many as I can …

  19. Torsten Krietsch says:

    Thanks Johan for that tip. I havn’t been to the Simplon pass until now, but I think I must got to there. Nice picture.

    • Johan Peijnenburg says:

      it is. Maybe you can combine it with the upcoming Zermatt event on the 10th of March … to be announced somewhere today 🙂 

  20. Wilfried Haferland says:

    A beautiful curvy winterscape. Glad you included the Zastrugi for their structure. It’s better to shoot them than to ride them by ski – if avoidable 😉 Thanks Johan!

  21. Johan Peijnenburg says:

    @Robert: thanks for the feedback and the compliment Robert!
    @Ruben : many thanks Ruben!
    @Natalia: thanks you Natalia and nice to meet you :)

  22. Robert van Koesveld says:

    like the texture in the foreground and the sense dynamism the wide angle gives. Also good to read about your research process.

  23. Jerry Johnson says:

    You’ve outdone yourself ONCE AGAIN. I am speechless and you know that is rare for me! 😉
    I am positive I could feel the cold winds blowing on my face!!

    • Johan Peijnenburg says:

      Thank you very much Jerry! And ow yes it was a cold wind now and then. Not always handy for photography … thanks for stopping by and the ONE AGAIN entertaining comment ;)

  24. Michael A. Koontz says:

    wonderful writeup Johan and i bet your dog had at the very least just as good of a time as you and Deborah 🙂

    A great feeling indeed finding a place that isnt crawling of people :-)

      • Michael A. Koontz says:

        untouched snow really is remarkably beautiful in some strange way 🙂

        i took a similar hike myself the other day. Havent taken a look at the photos tho, but there were lots of untouched snow to enjoy :-)

  25. David Orr says:

    Fabulous ! Love how this image came out. Every time you or Dominique post, I want to run to the travel agent to buy tickets to Switzerland ! Beautiful place !

    • Johan Peijnenburg says:

      Thank you David. Actually was out shooting with Dominique on Monday 🙂 Would love to take you along when you decide to come over David! 

  26. Johan Peijnenburg says:

    @E.E. Giorgi: thank you for stopping by as always Elena! Thanks for the kind words!
    @Sandra: thank you Sandra. Nice tune :)

  27. Matthias Haeussler says:

    Terrific Johan. I might go snowboarding next week. I hope it will happen. Can’t wait … will definitely bring my cam :-))

    • Johan Peijnenburg says:

      thank you! Have fun. I should go skiing again. Only been once this year so far … photography takes too much time 🙂

    • Johan Peijnenburg says:

      Thanks Shawn! Glad you like it. Will try to include a bot more personal stuff in my posts in the future. Hope I won’t bore ppl ;)

  28. Anette Mossbacher says:

    Looks beautiful Johan. Love the snow carving from the wind in the foreground. But as well your dogface only showing the tail and head. When ours is in the snow you see only a submarine wave in the snow :)) 

  29. Johan Peijnenburg says:

    Thank you Sheila !
    @Gerard: ow yes! I have a nice series from it now, but would love to visit again. Thanks for the compliment 🙂 

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