Carved in snow

Alpine winterland scape with carved snow at the Simplon pass

Carved in snow
February 21, 2013 Johan Peijnenburg
In Photography
Snow dune winter landscape at the Simplon pass with Spitzhorli (2737m) in the background. (Johan Peijnenburg)
18mm – f/11 – 1/800 sec – ISO200 – D800E with 14-24mm f/2.8

I usually spend quite some time (together with my partner) figuring out where to go for a winter landscape photo hikes in the Alps. We look at maps, scout the terrain on Google Earth, figure out where the sun will be at what time during the hike, check if the area got fresh snow during the past days, see if there will be clouds and fog and how those are likely to develop, etc, etc. The weather part helps a lot. The maps and terrain part is a bit tricky though, as the impression you get from it can be very wrong.

I shot this winter landscape at the Simplon pass, one of the few passes that connects Switzerland with Italy. The location wasn’t very high on my list, as I didn’t expect too much from it based on earlier research and passing it summer. We ended up going there anyway a few weeks ago, because it was the only place where the sun was expected to break through the clouds. So happy we did! Turns out that it was a place where not a lot of people go, with very nice wide views, huge snow dunes and nice curvy terrain with great details. There was loads of deep virgin snow as well. All in all a great place for photography! Our dog Izzi had lots of fun as well. Most of the time, only his head and tail were visible 🙂

In the background you see a mountain called Spitzhorli (2737m/8980 ft). The structure you see in the snow in the foreground is a result of the strong winds that are quite common up on a pass like this. I used my 14-24 lens at 18mm to include the carved snow to add some foreground interest and depth to the image. Initially I was afraid I overdid it, but I like how it came out. Hope you do to!

The image was processed in Lightroom 4.2. No filters were used.

Comments (254)

  1. Gemma Costa 7 years ago

    very nice white panorama!

  2. Mark Esguerra 7 years ago

    Simply awesome! Great work!

  3. Eric Delcour 7 years ago

    Beautiful !

  4. Shelly Gunderson 7 years ago

    Very beautiful!

  5. Author

    Thank you Gemma!
    @Mark: many thanks Mark!! 

  6. Author

    Glad you like it Eric 🙂
    @Shelly: Hey Shelly! Thanks :)

  7. Michel paulin 7 years ago

    Beau cliché Johan

  8. Debby Vos 7 years ago

    Like :-)

  9. Author

    Hehe merci Michel 🙂
    Thanks Debby! :)

  10. Breathtakingly beautiful!

  11. Manuela Azevedo 7 years ago


  12. Jutta Sötje 7 years ago

    great mood

  13. Author

    @Manuela: glad you like it !
    @Jutta: danke Jutta! 🙂 

  14. Sheila Lewis 7 years ago

    I love breath taking scenery.

  15. Gerard Charnley 7 years ago

    Lovely work Johan 🙂 so will you be going back to this location in the future now you’ve found it?

  16. Author

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

  17. jany viala 7 years ago


  18. Marc Briggs 7 years ago

    Nice clean details, especially the texture of the snow in the foreground.

  19. Author

    @jany: merci Jany! 🙂
    @Marc: thanks for the kind feedback Marc. Much appreciated!

  20. Javier Esvall 7 years ago

    Great work

  21. Jean A 7 years ago

    so nice!

  22. 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 :)) 

    • Author

      thanks! He did a submarine once in a while as well. He must have been cold … down there at his curry wurstd 😉 

  23. Wonderful landscape!

  24. Milena Llieva 7 years ago

    So Beautiful Winter image! 

  25. Beautiful photograph Johan 

  26. Shawn McClure 7 years ago

    Gorgeous image, Johan… Very enjoyable post, too – love hearing those details…

    • Author

      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 ;)

  27. Dalibor Pačić 7 years ago

    wonderful shot Johan
    I entered Swiss here on Simplon pass last year :-)

  28. Bill Pevlor 7 years ago

    A clean, refreshing image! Nice work, Johan!

    • Author

      many thanks Bill! So you like snow ejh!?

      • Bill Pevlor 7 years ago

        I like snow when it looks that clean and pretty…and I don’t have to shovel it or drive in it. :)

        • Author

          like me 🙂 This was very deep snow by the way. Even with snow shoes I sank in half a meter …

  29. Doug Hagadorn 7 years ago

    Beautiful white snow against that blue sky, great shot!

  30. Domique Hilbert 7 years ago

    It is a very beautiful capture of this great view. What’s not to like? Best wishes!

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

    • Author

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

  32. Subra Govinda 7 years ago

    Wonderful work and what a scene !

  33. Francisco Oliva 7 years ago


  34. Mady Sach 7 years ago

    wonderful snowlandscape

  35. Dwayne Oakes 7 years ago

    nailed the exposure and WB

  36. Author

    @Subra: thanks a bunch Subra!
    @Francisco: thank you! 

  37. Author

    @Mady:Thank you very much Mady!
    @Dwayne: thanks for the compliment Dwayne. That wasn’t easy in this case.

  38. Robert Skreiner 7 years ago

    Great photo and work!

  39. E.E. Giorgi 7 years ago

    fantastic as always, Johan!

  40. good day good year and all of good for all family and friend wonderful for your heart Johan Peijnenburg for your heart

  41. Author

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

  42. David Orr 7 years ago

    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 !

    • Author

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

    • Dominique Dubied 7 years ago

      Thanks David, maybe Johan and me should become touristic agents for Switzerland hahaha ;-)

  43. Fantastic winter scenery, great processing

  44. Perfect winter statement :-)

  45. Author

    @Leyla: thank you so much Leyla!
    @Marianne: glad you like it Marianne 🙂 

  46. 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 :-)

    • Author

      thank you, he had 🙂 These places are hard to find unfortunately Michael. And I do prefer my snow unspoiled :)

      • 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 :-)

        • Author

          Post some Michael! I have also taken away a nice series from this specific day. More are likely to pop up in my stream at some point :)

          • Michael A. Koontz 7 years ago

            oh i will Johan – if i like any of them once i get time to go through them :)

          • Author
            Johan Peijnenburg 7 years ago

            hah I know that problem 🙂 

  47. Jerry Johnson 7 years ago

    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!!

    • Author

      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 ;)

  48. Absolutely stunning, Johan!!

  49. Carolyn Fahm 7 years ago

    Staggeringly beautiful. You have made me love winter in a way I never have before.

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

  51. Ruben Marquez 7 years ago

    A lot snow!!!! Nice

  52. Natalie Kaleva 7 years ago

    Fantastic pictures! and very interesting blog

  53. Vitor Ferreira 7 years ago

    Love this one :)

  54. How beautiful!! I love the patterns in the snow made by the shifting winds!! Great shot Johan !!

  55. lizett Beltran 7 years ago

    wonderful winter scene ! love it :)

  56. Syuhadha Yusof 7 years ago

    very,very beautiful

  57. Sumit Sen 7 years ago

    Lovely shot!

  58. Alina Mazwin 7 years ago

    beautifull view

  59. Gina Lislov 7 years ago


  60. Author

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

  61. Author

    @Vitor: thank you Vitor 🙂
    @Margaret: you are very welcome and thank you for the kind words! 

  62. Author

    @lizett: thank you very much Lizett!!
    @Syuhadha: thank you!
    @Sumit: many thanks Sumit 🙂 

  63. Author

    Alina and Gina: thank you very much! 

  64. Martin Rak 7 years ago


  65. Ada M 7 years ago

    such an amazing place! Beautiful!

  66. Wonderful place and capture!

  67. Author

    Thank you Ada and Stavros !

  68. 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!

  69. Paul van de Loo 7 years ago

    You didn’t overdo it! Very cool shot Johan !! Love the feeling of depth here ;)

  70. Andreas Levi 7 years ago

    Absolutly wonderful, Johan! Thank also for the details :)

  71. Thomas Schaller 7 years ago

    Lovely one… the strukture in the foreground…..

    Snowshoe hike?

    • Author

      danke! Yes this was a snowshoe hike. Very nice trails over there! 

  72. Thomas Schaller 7 years ago

    good to know…..but a bit far away from here for a day trip….

    • Author

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

  73. Author

    @Paul: thanks for the feedback and compliment Paul!
    @Andreas: you are welcome. Thank you!

  74. Neetu Sharma 7 years ago


  75. Allen Lau 7 years ago

    It’s so beautiful!! So bright so grand!!

  76. Torsten Krietsch 7 years ago

    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.

    • Author

      Thanks Torsten! Yes, it is very nice up there. One marked trail and one unmarked trail. The latter is stunning!

  77. Marco Secchi 7 years ago

    Bellissima come sempre!! well done!

  78. Davorin Mance 7 years ago

    Very beautiful photo and nice description.

  79. Richard McGibbon 7 years ago

    Very nice Johan. Keep the shots coming

  80. Very beautiful and a perfect work ! Have a great weekend, Johan !

  81. 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 🙂

    • Author

      I have the same problem. It’s hard to keep up. Keeping my presence fairly low profile on FB at the moment …

      • 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…

        • Author

          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 …

  82. Kurt Pfirter 7 years ago

    Wonderful Johan !

  83. Rohan Reilly 7 years ago

    Gorgeous scene Johan 

  84. Meg Rousher 7 years ago

    This is wonderful Johan, from your story I can almost picture Izzi playing in the snow :)

  85. Markus Landsmann 7 years ago

    Absolut wonderful Johan and have a good start into the weekend.

  86. Toshiro Ikeda 7 years ago

    Beautiful place and nice shot!

  87. Febby Haninga 7 years ago

    What place could be this??the Scene is beautiful and nice indeed.

  88. Author

    Thank you Toshiro and Febby!

  89. Dane Clingan 7 years ago

    Wonderful scenic Johan !

  90. aditya Sharma 7 years ago

    It is very beautiful :-)

  91. Author

    thanks Dane and Aditya !!

  92. Rodolfo Seide 7 years ago

    Fantastic shot!

  93. Vishal Kumar 7 years ago

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

  94. Tom Tran 7 years ago

    Beautiful. The light and clarity down that slope just draw you in, Johan. I’ll race you down, Johan! :P

    • Author

      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 7 years ago

        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.

        • Author

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

          • Tom Tran 7 years ago

            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

  95. Ian Good 7 years ago

    The detail in the foreground leads you nicely into this beautiful composition. Excellent work Johan !

    • Author

      Many thanks for the kind feedback Ian! Good to hear you like it :)

  96. Beverley Aston 7 years ago

    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!!

  97. Dominique Dubied 7 years ago

    Nice work Johan, the light is wonderful!

  98. Rosie Nixon 7 years ago

    What a beautiful capture Johan as the light carves out the scene and leads the eye towards that gap/pass in the mountain.

  99. Great light and perfect whitebalance here Johan 

  100. Gaurav Mittal 7 years ago


  101. Ric Lav 7 years ago

    Jolie expédition beaucoup de bel photographie bon talents pour le noir et.blanc 

  102. Neil Camara 7 years ago

    Amazing view! Excellent shot Johan !!!

  103. Alycia Miller 7 years ago

    A beautiful view, amazing winter scene ;-)

  104. Jim Lundgren 7 years ago

    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!!

  105. George Marquardt 7 years ago

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

    • Author

      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 🙂 

  106. Lella H. 7 years ago

    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 … :)

    • Author

      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 :)

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

  108. David Shield 7 years ago

    Nice composition and light Johan 

  109. Author

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

  110. Author

    @Jean-Michel: thanks for the compliment Jean-Michel!
    @David: many thanks David! 

  111. 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! :)

  112. Mikko Tyllinen 7 years ago

    Fantastic view! so beautiful Johan!

  113. Nikola Nikolski 7 years ago

    Cool shot Johan, I love the view.

  114. Author

    @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! 😉 

    • 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 ;)

  115. Kurt Harvey 7 years ago

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

  116. Johan Swanepoel 7 years ago

    Perfect Johan – personally I like as much foreground as possible – love it 

  117. Author

    @Kurt: many thanks Kurt!
    @Johan: most of the time I do as well 🙂 Thanks Johan! 

  118. Wonderful scene Johan! So much pure white!! 

  119. Athena Carey 7 years ago

    Looks like a great walk – and I love the lines in the snow. Reminds me of the desert. :)

  120. Joel Tjintjelaar 7 years ago

    A white desert! Great photo Johan 

  121. Marilou Aballe 7 years ago

    Vastness so grand and white and so stunning Johan !

  122. Yasmin Simpson 7 years ago

    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… :)

  123. Beve Brown-Clark 7 years ago

    Wow…lovely winter scene!

  124. Author

    @Margaret: many thanks Margaret!
    @Julia: thanks you Julia! 🙂
    @Athena: it was 🙂 Thanks Athena! 

  125. Author

    @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! 

  126. Kerry Murphy 7 years ago


  127. Beautiful shot Johan ! I like the nuance and the great depth that you have taken with the 18 mm. 

  128. Betty Manousos 7 years ago

    Johan absolutely loved seeing this.

  129. Author

    Thank you ver much Emanuele and Betty ! :)

  130. Congrats Johan for adding some cool winter to photoextract :-)!

  131. Randall Sanger 7 years ago

    Incredible image, Johan! Such a beautiful scene!

  132. Rikard Lindby 7 years ago

    Nice one. Great feeling of depth and “vastness”.

    • Author

      Thanks Rikard! Turned out it is a very nice location in winter. Have you been there?

      • Rikard Lindby 7 years ago

        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.

        • Author

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

  133. Anna Ryndak 7 years ago

    Wow! Amazing view! I love it!

  134. Tatiana Parmeeva 7 years ago

    awesome winter landscape! the snow is quite blue, brilliant!!!

  135. Enrique Palaez 7 years ago


  136. Author

    @Tatiana: thanks Tatiana! Glad you like it!
    @Enrique: thanks again Enrique!

  137. Fantastic weather conditions ! A little jealous from Crimea :)

  138. Chris Miller 7 years ago

    Really nice shot Johan, looks like a wonderful place to be hiking.

  139. Carsten Kopp 7 years ago

    Really beautiful mountainscape . I miss the mountains so much !

  140. Author

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

  141. Paul Turkowski 7 years ago

    Very lovely composition with nice structure and clouds Johan.

  142. Nora Carol 7 years ago

    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. 

  143. Author

    @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 😀 

  144. Ian Gazzard 7 years ago

    Getting to some great locations as usual Johan. Nicely done!

  145. Margaret S. 7 years ago

    Breathtaking…beautiful…out of this world! Just Lovely!!

  146. Joan Munford 7 years ago

    You did your homework well, truly gorgeous capture!

  147. Author

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

  148. Beautiful. I love all the curves in this image.

  149. Lisa RedWillow 7 years ago

    Full of Beauty. The magic of the snow stunning

  150. Dominic Desbiens 7 years ago

    Hello from #Quebec Canada 🙂 Beautiful winter photograph! 

  151. Fatima Yousif 7 years ago

    Johan you are very talented, your photographs are amazing.

    • Author

      Thank you Fatima! That is a very nice compliment :)

      • Fatima Yousif 7 years ago

        Really, I was happy to see your photos, It makes me want to visit Switzerland one day.

        • Author

          Glad you did Fatima and yes Switzerland is really worth the visit :)

  152. Olga Tu 7 years ago

    espectacular vistas!!:-)

  153. ♥ ~❤❤❤~ ♥ 

  154. Hilda Kooistra 7 years ago

    Hele mooie foto’s

  155. Anna Rimovska 7 years ago

    Very beautiful!!!

  156. Mutita EdiblArt 6 years ago

    So Beautiful ..

  157. Indrayani Ode 6 years ago

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

  158. Author

    @Mutita: thanks again Mutita 🙂
    @Indrayani: thanks and I know! Maybe one day 🙂 

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