A mountain lake sunrise: Waiting for the light

Mid October, I went up to the Derborence valley in the Swiss canton of Valais very early in the morning. The plan was to shoot the mountain lakes there with fall colours in the soft morning light. In retrospect, I could have slept in. I found out that the light only starts to hit the valley at around 10:30 am. Although mountains are one of my favourite subjects, they do get in the way of the sun sometimes. 😉

Lac Bleu in Autumn

Fall colours and reflections at Lac Bleu in Derborence, with the mountains Les Diablerets and Tête à Pierre Grept in the background.

I used the waiting time to scout the valley a bit better. Additionally, I looked for a mountain lake that I hadn’t found before with the name Lac Bleu. And I found it! It turned out to be a bit of a hidden treasure. It is a crystal clear mountain lake full of trouts and surrounded by a variety of trees in different colours. This mountain lake has a bit of a surreal fairy tale feel to it. When I discovered it, I sat down on a rock. I quietly enjoyed my breakfast and coffee with a gorgeous view while I waited for the light to arrive.

As soon as the light arrived, I made a tour of the lake and got away with a nice series of autumn photographs. This photograph was one of the first ones I shot. The light was still lovely and soft, and there was hardly any wind. I composed the image a bit tight to give you the impression that you are sitting next to me on that rock to have a coffee and to silently enjoy nature’s beauty with me.

I captured this photograph using a Nikon D800E and a 14-24 f/2.8 wide-angle lens. No filters were used.

Cheers, Johan

292 thoughts on “A mountain lake sunrise: Waiting for the light

  1. Krystyna Balunda says:

    Chciałabym w tym miejscu być.
    Dużo uroku wyraża zdjęcie,zatrzymuje
    wzrok na długo w pamięci.Pozdrawiam

    • Johan Peijnenburg says:

      thank you Lizett. This is actually one of my favourite places to go shoot. It looks different in every season. Pitty I can’t reach it in winter time … 

  2. Johan Peijnenburg says:

    @Mady: thanks mady!
    @Sinead: thanks Sinead 🙂 Glad you like it. One of my favourite places. Unfortunately it isnot reachable in winter time … 

  3. Johan Peijnenburg says:

    Thanks for the compliment Lord Parker. Nice to meet you 🙂
    @Paula Ellison: thank you as well for the kind words 🙂

  4. Johan Peijnenburg says:

    @Malcolm: thank you Malcolm and nice to meet you!
    @Paul: thanks Paul! It’s a very nice place to go shooting!
    @Shane: many thanks Shane!!

  5. shane holsclaw says:

    stunning! so stunning Johan. so many wonderful details to take in. almost feels three dimensional. wonderful work.

  6. Johan Peijnenburg says:

    @liliana: thank you! Gracias!
    @Alex: thanks again Alex!
    @Wes: a well hidden lake which doesn’t get a lot of wind 🙂 Thanks Wes! 

  7. Johan Peijnenburg says:

    @George: thanks it was fabulous. Went bak there today actually to shoot it with a bit more snow on the mountains. There stille were some fall colours left 😀
    @Gaurav: thank you Gaurav!!
    @Kerry: Thank you Kerry! The place is very peaceful. Not many people know about it and go there 🙂 

  8. Johan Peijnenburg says:

    @Christof: thanks for the great feedback! Yes it looks very nice when viewed big 🙂 And there is a possibility to print it on DIN A1 😉
    @liliana: gracias!
    @Gail: many thanks Gail. Glad you stopped by 🙂 
    hank you Нина Верба! 🙂
    @Maciej: ow yes it is a very beautiful place. Thanks! 

  9. Christof Simon says:

    Great scenery Johan. I like the fine details in the tree parts and the light spots in the mountains in the background. I wish I could see that image printed in DIN A1 :-)

  10. Morkel Erasmus says:

    beautiful serene image Johan!!
    how are you enjoying the D800E? I am getting a D800 myself in the next few weeks…

    • Johan Peijnenburg says:

      Thank you Morkel! I am enjoying the D800E a lot. The dynamic range is even better then what I was used to with my previous camera. Sold the latter now and will get another D800E or D800 as a second body now. It is a great camera in a size/weight that makes a lot more sense! You won’t regret the choice Morkel!

  11. Johan Peijnenburg says:

    @Margaret: thanks Margaret! Glad you still like it 😀 Thanks for the share as well !!!
    @Davorin: many thanks Davorin! 

  12. Johan Peijnenburg says:

    @Johan: thanks Johan! Likewise 🙂
    @Lorenzo: thanks for the compliment and for stopping by Lorenzo!
    @Andy: nice to see you around again Andy. Hope all is well!? Thanks for the kind words! 

  13. Johan Swanepoel says:

    @Marianne: many thanks Marianne! thanks for stopping by 🙂
    @Magistral: merci! Thanks for sharing! 
    @Nikola: you said enough Nikola 🙂 Dank je! 

  14. Kurt Harvey says:

    I love how you composed this Johan. Its beautiful and intimate. I could easily imagine the Lady of the Lake rising and presenting Excalibur. :)

    • Johan Peijnenburg says:

      Thanks Athena … not sure if the road is still open. It was closed last week. Don’t think there will be a lot of fall colour left though …

      • Athena Carey says:

        Maybe we should look down this way then. We are just now getting our fall colours here. I guess because we have a lower elevation?

        • Johan Peijnenburg says:

          Yes Athena. The Derborence valley gets long cold nights very early already and is at a much higher altitude. 

  15. Johan Peijnenburg says:

    @Paulo: Cool. Looking forward!
    @Randall: hey busy man! Thanks for the kind words! Hope all is well with you!
    @Bill: it was wonderful indeed Bill! Thanks for the compliment and the coffee! 

  16. Bill Wood says:

    What a wonderfully still day, Johan. The textures are breathtaking. Call me any morning and I’ll bring piping hot coffee.

  17. Johan Peijnenburg says:

    @Jim: thank you Jim! You’re welcome!
    @kamal: glad you like the image and my write-up Kamal!
    @Paulo: definitely a place to re-visit with a camera, especially in October Paulo! Glad you like it! 

    • Paulo Fontes says:

      I know it quite well. Been born in Switzerland and I visit often. But yes you are correct, definitely a place to visit with a camera!

      • Johan Peijnenburg says:

        check out the Swiss Photography Club on Google+. Maybe you can join in on a photo walk one day when you are in CH! 

        • Paulo Fontes says:

          Oh thanks Johan, didn’t know that Club. Will definitely take a look and try to join one of those photo walks!! :)

          • Johan Peijnenburg says:

            We will be announcing a series of events for the winter period soon Paulo, so make sure to keep an eye 🙂 

          • Paulo Fontes says:

            I`ll keep an eye then. Would love to go! Will see what we can do 🙂 And thank you again. Will try to share some of the photos from my last visit to Switzerland!

  18. Paulo Fontes says:

    Hi Johan , been there last month, sadly without my camera!! Anyway thank you for sharing and I hope I can get such an amazing capture when I get back… Meanwhile enjoy the cheese ;)

  19. Tom Tran says:

    Kidding aside, your love and ability to capture the beauty of nature are quite evident, Johan. Thanks for sharing it.

  20. Tom Tran says:

    Fantastic scene, Johan. You painted a great visual with words as well; I find myself sitting on the rock next to you, enjoying a plate of hot breakfast and coffee, in the hot pink hair that I manage to keep out of my face due to the light wind. :D

    • Johan Peijnenburg says:

      Hihaa! Talking about visuals Tom! 🙂 You’re so cute 😉 Thanks for the compliment Tom. Really glad you like it!

  21. Johan Peijnenburg says:

    @Emanuele: And I really did Emanuele. Thanks!
    @Pam: thank you Pam!
    @Stefanie: many thanks Stefanie! I hope so as well. The damage is already done here. A glacier used to come down from the mountain to the right 🙁 

  22. Johan Peijnenburg says:

    @Gorka: many thanks Gorka!
    @Vitor: thanks Vitor! Hope you are doing well!
    @Manuel: glad you do Manuel! I love these types of places! 

  23. Johan Peijnenburg says:

    @Meg: thanks Meg. Yes true 🙂 i think I will go back once in a while 😀
    @Derek: thanks for the compliment Derek!
    @Joseba: many thanks Joseba! 

  24. Stefanie Loges says:

    Most beautiful alpine scene Johan, hopefully this view will endure for long time despite the global warming we are going thourgh!!

  25. Johan Peijnenburg says:

    @Gemma: thank you Gemma!
    @Aileen: glad you like it Aileen! Thanks for stopping by again 🙂
    @E.E. Giorgi: you are too kind Elena! Thank you :)

  26. E.E. Giorgi says:

    like all of your beautiful images, this one too is absolutely perfect — light, compositions, focus, everything. Once again, hats off to you!

  27. Johan Peijnenburg says:

    @Mikko: glad you love it Mikko!!! Thanks for the kind words 🙂
    @Michael: thank you Michael!
    @Mark: many thanks Mark! 

  28. Michael Russell says:

    A beautiful photo of a great view – I love it when a lake offers a near perfect reflection like this – so many possibilities! :)

  29. Mikko Tyllinen says:

    such a stunning view! its such a beautiful capture of poetry of nature Johan! amazing refletions on water and all othere details create such a magical mood! love it!

  30. Johan Peijnenburg says:

    @Steve: many thanks Steve!!
    @Giuseppe: that is good to hear Guiseppe!
    @Julia: thanks Julia! It is indeed a gorgeous place!!

  31. Armand Dijcks says:

    There’s something about this image that makes it hard to look away from it. It’s super crisp and almost hyper real looking, almost like a computer generated image (but a really good one). Must be that extra sharpness from the D800E…

    • Johan Peijnenburg says:

      Dank je wel Armand!!! The D800E certainly has something to do with it Armand. It is amazing for scenes like this when combined with the right lens. Part of it will probably also be how I processed it 🙂

    • Johan Peijnenburg says:

      thank you! Just let me know when you happen to be in Switzerland Robby. I would love to take you there and offer you my coffee! 

    • Johan Peijnenburg says:

      You are just slow Anette 😀 Thanks. The wildlife was in the water. The trouts kept messing with my perfect reflection, but in the end I managed to get it 😀 I need to get myself that long lens soon Anette!

      • Anette Mossbacher says:

        First you need to change your brand, just heard / read how your NPS service sucks worldwide. Man not good at all. Did you ever had those probs too, bad service I mean or refused to repair…etc ?

        We can have a chat what kind is good for you, there are certain things in these days to consider

        • Johan Peijnenburg says:

          No I don’t have bad experiences so far Anette, except that they are not always responsive when you mail them 🙂 I am eying a 300mm f/2.8 Anette. Want to have something I can use for landscapes as well and IQ is just so much better then 200-400 zoom 🙂

  32. Johan Peijnenburg says:

    @Upasna: thank you Upasna!
    @Wilfried: thanks race dude! Glad you like it!
    @Robin: hey thank Robin! Good fortune is what every photographer needs once in a while 🙂 

  33. Wilfried Haferland says:

    Landscape, a camera and coffee… What more? 🙂 I really like the colours here. Thanks!

    … Crampons? I’m even driving the race track with crampons on! :-)

      • Dalibor Pačić says:

        thanks Johan
        I’m great, and you?!
        Except now is bad weather, raining almost every day so no mountains for me for two weekends… I’m so frustrating :-))
        but at least found some time to sort photos a bit!

        • Johan Peijnenburg says:

          all’s fine here as well! The weather is bad now here as well. The fall colours went a way quickly with the cold we had last week. So now it is waiting for mornings with nice fresh snow 🙂 Using my time to catch up with processing as well!

  34. Johan Peijnenburg says:

    @John: lol I have one in the pipeline too. Tried to resist for ages, but I like the ability to go wider then 24 for LE’s.
    @Lori: that probably means that you have light coming in through the curves of the hood no? The filter holder would eliminate that! 

    • Lori Hibbett says:

      Johan, I looked at a picture of the filter holder and it didn’t seem like it covered the curves of the hood so I opted to not get one. Plus I typically like to hand hold my GND’s so I can place the soft line where I want it.

      • Johan Peijnenburg says:

        then I must be mistaken Lori. I forgot about the idea of getting one quickly when I saw the prices and a find that the more recent Nikon bodies need much less GND then older ones :)

        • Lori Hibbett says:

          I just got the d600 and find it has quite a bit of dynamic range but I still get blown out skies when a GND would do the trick. I tried putting a tube of material around my lens but the reflection still was in the upper corner. I still love the lens though especially for night photography!

          • Johan Peijnenburg says:

            now that is something I hadn’t tried yet with that lens! Need o put that on my long list of things to do 😀 

          • Lori Hibbett says:

            you should give it a try Johan and let me know when you do, I’d love to see what you capture.

          • Johan Peijnenburg says:

            I have star trails and the milky way on my agenda. Now I just need to gett my butt up a high alp at night and do it 😀

  35. Lori Hibbett says:

    Johan, I have the 14-24 and love it. I just don’t like that even a 6×6 GND picks up reflections behind me and adds them to the shot. Still playing around but it is definitely worth its weight and you will love it John G Moore .
    Beautiful capture Johan!

      • Johan Peijnenburg says:

        @John: Would be interesting fo see how it holds up against the Zeiss. I think you will be amazed!
        @Lori: thank you!! I didn’t notice that it picks up reflections from behind. In what type of setting do you get that. I don’t have the filter holder for it, so I don’t use filters on it.

        • Lori Hibbett says:

          I hand hold my filter usually during daylight shots similar to this one when the sky is much brighter than the subject. I’ll have to look in to a 16-35. Let me know how you like it.

      • Johan Peijnenburg says:

        John: btw if you get the filter holder plus the glas you are paying as much as the 16-35 costs! And that’s not a bad lens to have in the bag either, especially if you also do LE work. There is no big stopper for the 14-24! 

      • Johan Peijnenburg says:

        It has been my favourite since I have it John. Very sharp and not a lot of distortion! It’s a bit heavy but I always carry it around happily John! You will love it! Pitty it doesn’t take filters, but I find that it can deal with contrasty situations quite well on the new Nikon cams.

  36. Syuzanna Avetisyan says:

    The landscapes where there is mountain are always special for me , because I adore mountains …And loved this view especially because it looks sooo natural ,like I can now sign in there , sit under one of these tress !!! 🙂 mmmm now laconic – this is Breath taking picture for me Johan! 

  37. Ada M says:

    sometimes words fail me…this is one of these moments….Absolutely beautiful and I feel like I am there…enjoying the perfection of nature….

  38. Debby Vos says:

    Beautiful picture Johan and the first one with snow for this winterseason, although very delicate in this picture 🙂 

  39. Johan Peijnenburg says:

    @Doina: many thanks!
    @Jerry: lol. I am glad that I fulfill a need Jerry! Really glad you like it!!
    @Tehseen: thank you! 

  40. Jerry Johnson says:

    My processes for looking at a Johan Peijnenburg photo:

    Get a cup of coffee
    Pull up your photo on the big screen
    Admire its composition
    Study its details
    Write a comment to thank you for sharing such a high quality photo! 🙂

    This one looks marvelous on the black background, in my opinion!

  41. Johan Peijnenburg says:

    @Simply: Glad you like it Simply Arlie! Ain’t nature beautiful !?
    @Rohan: thanks for the compliment Rohan!!!
    @Aditya: thanks for the “wow” and the “awesome” Aditya! 😀 

  42. Simply Arlie says:

    Johan, there are certain photos that make us sigh in relief, “Life is Beautiful” and this is one — natural and pristine beauty. The mirror and symmetry are exceptional:)

  43. David Heath Williams says:

    Stunning photo Johan. Its front to back and left to right awesome!! Love he detail, colours and reflection 🙂

  44. Charles Lupica says:

    Johan, another magnificent mountain lake photo Johan. Perhaps in the spring I’ll be in a better position to get out to some of those mountain lakes. I’ll sit and drink my coffee and think of some of the wonderful images you brought to us over the past year. As wonderful as those images are, I can see a progression of skill and sensitivity in your work that is moving you to the top of the craft. Each image somehow seems better that the last, if that’s even possible. :-)

    • Johan Peijnenburg says:

      That is very nice to hear Charles! I most certainly work on getting better each and every day, but to be honest I am a bit clueless as to where I am 🙂 I’ll just keep at it and see where it gets me!

      • Johan Peijnenburg says:

        Btw this is a nice area to visit with the camping car by the way. The valley has a few nice lakes, great fauna, ancient forest and Les Diablerets in the background.

  45. Dane Clingan says:

    I agree – as usual, the light makes the shot. The sky and the composition are excellent, but it’s almost always about the light!

  46. Horia Bogdan says:

    Superb scene, excellent light (both on the lake shore, but even more so on the mountains behind) and terrific reflection. Overall, a splendid composition and image!

    • Johan Peijnenburg says:

      Thank you Horia! The light is what I liked best in this one as well. I have punchier and brighter versions of it, however liked this one best 🙂 

      • Horia Bogdan says:

        Absolutely. I think the subtlety of the light by the lake give the place a whole different mood and makes the light on the tall mountains stand out. If it were all lit strongly and more evenly, that effect would be totally gone and the photo would loose some charm :)

  47. Domique Hilbert says:

    Marvelous scene, I can almost feel the clean air filling my lungs. Yes you managed very well, the coffee smells delicious and the company is great :)

  48. David Orr says:

    Johan, it is awesome to see when you post ! Its always worth the wait because you know something awesome is coming ! Love that reflection ! Heck this whole photo is awesome !

    • Johan Peijnenburg says:

      And it is not that I am lazy David 😉 I think I should post more, but I always get caught up in other thinks …. mainly the urge to get out and shoot 😀 Glad you like the image. I have a nice series of that day. 

      • David Orr says:

        By no means do I think you are being lazy, 🙂 lol I know you are master of your trade out there capturing the best photo with the perfect light. Cant wait to see the rest of this series my friend ! :)

  49. Johan Peijnenburg says:

    @Yuei: many thanks Yuei!
    @Dominique: thanks! It is a cool spot. Have you been there already? It is quite a drive from us but worth it 🙂 

    • Dominique Dubied says:

      Johan, I was there once a long time ago but only on the road to Derborence with my motocycle (not pictures at that time).
      I should go back there…

      • Johan Peijnenburg says:

        yes you should! I think by now the road will be closed. It is gorgeous there in Autumn! The road to get there is kinda fun as well :D

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