Switzerland, August 11: Bucket-List Shot

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Landscape / Photo Log / Photography / Switzerland

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August 11, 2019; East end of Stellisee, Switzerland. Think of Switzerland and you think of the Matterhorn. Probably when you think of a mountain you think of something like the Matterhorn. The quintessential mountain. And this is the quintessential shot between two rocks at the end of the lake.

The Stellisee is about ten miles — line of sight — from the Matterhorn. People line up to get their shot from this exact spot. This makes this not only quintessential but one of the most clichéd clichés in all of clichédom. So why shoot it when it’s been done so many times before?

Because I hadn’t shot it. And now I have.

But I almost didn’t because in my excitement that morning I left my ten-stop neutral-density filter safe and secure in my room. I needed it: there was a breeze and the water had a ripple — not good for a smooth reflection. The filter would allow me a long exposure to flatten the water.

At the lake, I set up the shot, I reached for my filter, and it wasn’t there. I muttered — not too softly — a pithy expression of my disappointment, frustration, and yay, utter exasperation. Immediately there was a voice to my right: “Want to borrow mine?” Bob from Massachusetts came to my rescue. I breathed a thank you as he reached over and put his filter on my lens.

Thirteen seconds at f/16, ISO 64. Done!

Thanks, Bob.

And one item checked off the list.

A note on the sky: Photographers hate plain blue sky. Boring. No drama. But there it was. Blue. Hardly a cloud. Bah! Our schedule said this was the one day we could go to shoot the mountain, and as it turned out we were lucky: the day before and the day after both had very dramatically cloudy skies. So dramatically cloudy you couldn’t see the mountain at all. So, I’ll take the blue sky, thankyouverymuch. And the tiny wisp to the right.

(Nikon D850, Tamron SP 24–70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2. RAW processing in DxO PhotoLab 2.3; Editing in Adobe Photoshop.)

The Author

California based fine-art photographer featuring abstract, impressionist, and minimalist seascapes — near and distant — and floral-based images. Fine-art photography can be seen at www.amagaphoto.com All original images on this blog are copyright 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 Michael Scandling. All rights reserved. No images on this site may be copied, duplicated, reused, published, or re-purposed in any way without express permission from the copyright owner, Michael Scandling.


  1. The wisp in the sky at the upper right initially escaped me, so strongly was my attention drawn to the wisp in front of the Matterhorn.

    I like the insistence conveyed by your phrase “the most clichéd clichés in all of clichédom.”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. While a nice puffy or two might have been preferable, I think the solid blues top and bottom frame the central subject just fine. I would feel the same if it was mine but, in all honesty, I think clouds might detract from the wonderful solid rock of the Matterhorn which is so well framed between those mid-ground rocks. And also, as you feel, I’d have shot it since I had never before either. One less drop needed to fill the bucket.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Oliver klink says

    Darn good for a cliche shot! As you wrote, weather is everything with landscape. But I would not discard you’re Te to recognize a good composition. Well done.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. At one time this mountain was on my bucket list to climb. Now I’m older and wiser I will settle for a photograph just like yours. There are many like it but this one is mine. Nice of that fellow to lend you his 10 stop.
    All the best.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you for not ADDING a different sky Michael. So many are doing that these days that one wonders what’s real and what’s not. Your shot is fabulous, the depth of the blue is beautiful and the Matterhorn…..well, it’s the Matterhorn for heaven’s sake!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks very much. The only sky one could add would be blue, unless one wanted to modify the mountain to work with a completely a different lighting condition — and if you wanted to do that, you might as well just paint a picture. And it is the Matterhorn, and that matters.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Let me join the chorus of folks who laud your photo–it is wonderful. Your narrative reminds me why natives of a given region have a huge advantage of visitors. They have the luxury of shooting in all kinds of weather conditions with different skies and different lighting. Is it any wonder they are able to capture amazing images. You did an amazing job with your limited duration opportunity (and the weather cooperated nicely).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you very much. Yes, natives definitely have the advantage of many opportunities to work on a given scene. And yes, we were very lucky that the mountain was visible at all on the day we went.


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