Tranquil dawn at a Swiss alpine lake: Alpine Serenity

I just returned from my fall trip to Engadin in the Swiss Canton of Graubünden. Amongst others, I was there to photograph Swiss alpine lakes. As expected in the Alps, I didn’t get everything I wanted. The 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. 🙂

Alpine Serenity, a tranquil sunrise at Lai da Palpuogna

A tranquil sunrise at Lai da Palpuogna with Piz Ela mountain catching first light in the background. This Swiss alpine lake is located at the Albula Pass near Bergün in the canton of Graubünden.

This photograph titled Alpine Serenity features a Swiss alpine lake called Lai da Palpuogna. It lies at the Albula Pass near Bergün. The names of the mountains in the back are Piz Ela (left) and Piz Üertsch (right).

The 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 beautiful soft early morning light, perfect mountain reflections in the water, larch trees in their brightest golden fall colours and of course a touch of the first snow. That combination didn’t happen, unfortunately … despite visiting the lake about 10 times. I can’t complain, though. It 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 visit again next year. I got away with quite a few nice shots of the lake though … so you will get to see more of it in the future!

I photographed this Swiss alpine lake using a 24mm f/1.4 lens on a Nikon D800E. The exposure needed to be controlled a bit, so I used a gradient ND filter. The settings were: 24mm, ƒ/11, 1/15s and ISO100.

Click on the photo to learn more about it or to buy a print or licence.

Cheers, Johan 🙂

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This Swiss alpine lake photograph is part of the Lakes landscape photography theme, which also includes:

Alternatively, visit our Swiss Landscape Photography portfolio for more photographs from Switzerland.

264 thoughts on “Tranquil dawn at a Swiss alpine lake: Alpine Serenity

  1. Johan Peijnenburg says:

    @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 🙂

  2. Paul Turkowski says:

    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. 

    • Johan Peijnenburg says:

      Haha Aline. Inderdaad, maar als je goed kijkt heeft er links net een vis gesprongen. Heb ik expres laten zitten om te voorkomen dat mensen dat doen 😉 Thanks!

  3. Johan Peijnenburg says:

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

  4. Johan Peijnenburg says:

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

    • Walter Soestbergen says:

      🙂 een maand is wat veel 😉 maar meertjes fotograferen en watervallen staan nog op mijn te doen lijstje 🙂 (en nog heel veel andere dingen)

  5. Johan Peijnenburg says:

    @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 🙂 

    • Nikola Nikolski says:

      Wat had je gedacht Johan? Het weer is verschrikkelijk slecht hier op dit moment.
      Volgende week ga ik naar Engeland voor paar dagen verder heb ik wel ruimte om iets in te plannen… Laat even weten wanneer en waar.. 

  6. Johan Peijnenburg says:

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

  7. Johan Peijnenburg says:

    @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 😉 

  8. Kurt Harvey says:

    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.

  9. John Dunne says:

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

  10. Baldur McQueen says:

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

  11. Jean-Michel Taconné says:

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

  12. Athena Carey says:

    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.

  13. Johan Peijnenburg says:

    @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 !?

  14. Johan Peijnenburg says:

    @Enrique : many thanks for the woow Enrique ! 😉
    @Annick : thanks for the compliment and visit Annick! Nice to meet you 🙂

  15. Johan Peijnenburg says:

    @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 🙂

  16. Michael A. Koontz says:

    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

  17. Yasmin Simpson says:

    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… 🙂

  18. Grzegorz Piechowicz says:

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

    • Johan Peijnenburg says:

      Thanks again 🙂 Nope, not a lot of post-processing needed. The filters did a good job. So mostly a bit of doding and burning and the regular Lightroom stuff 🙂

  19. Matthias Haeussler says:

    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 ;-)

    • Johan Peijnenburg says:

      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

  20. Johan Peijnenburg says:

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

    • Johan Peijnenburg says:

      I still feel it too Mamo. There is something about these types of early ventures that makes life a real pleasure 🙂

  21. Johan Peijnenburg says:

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

  22. Johan Peijnenburg says:

    @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 🙂 

  23. Johan Peijnenburg says:

    @Mona: thank you Mona! 🙂
    @Gemma: many thanks Gemma!
    @Shelly: thanks Shelly 🙂
    @Rodolfo: thanks for the compliment Rodolfo! 🙂 

  24. Johan Peijnenburg says:

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

  25. Aamir Shahzad says:

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

  26. Deborah Sandidge says:

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

  27. Jerry Johnson says:

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

  28. Johan Peijnenburg says:

    @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 🙂 

  29. Anette Mossbacher says:

    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 :)

  30. Joan Munford says:

    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. Margaret Wong says:

    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 :)

  32. George Marquardt says:

    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?

    • Johan Peijnenburg says:

      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 :)

  33. Johan Peijnenburg says:

    @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 ? 

  34. Grzegorz Piechowicz says:

    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!

  35. Johan Peijnenburg says:

    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 🙂 

  36. Barb Kellogg says:

    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.

    • Johan Peijnenburg says:

      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 !

      • Anja Wessels says:

        Ja, alles gaat goed, met jou ook Johan . Ik zag je een tijdje niet voorbij komen. Maar deze springt er meteen weer uit :-)

        • Johan Peijnenburg says:

          Het laatste half jaar is een beetje een gekkenhuis hier. Ik kom nog wel aan fotograferen toe maar heel veel tijd voor G+ en andere social media heb ik niet gehad. Laatste 4 weken was ik full-time op pad in het zuid-oosten van Zwitserland. Net weer terug. En volgende week weer weg … daarna wordt het lekker rustig gelukkig.

  37. Johan Peijnenburg says:

    @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 😀 

  38. Johan Peijnenburg says:

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

  39. Leyla A. Roberson says:

    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… 

      • Sandra Parlow says:

        Busy with stuff you like is always a bonus!

        Things just keep moving along here. We’ve had one snow fall do fat and it’s starting to get cold now. It won’t be long before I have new snow pictures. :)

        • Johan Peijnenburg says:

          Good to hear! I got treated with 25 inches of snow in the middle of this fall trip. Plenty of new snow images here … it was quite pretty but no what I was aiming for ;)

  40. 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.

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