cjaimaging

Beautifully strategic



Chateau Chillion on Lac Leman (Lake Geneva) in Switzerland.
Chateau Chillion on Lac Leman (Lake Geneva) in Switzerland.
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Behind The Lens

Location
On the shores of lac Léman (Lake Geneva) in Switzerland - looking at Château de Chillon, one of Switzerland's most famous castles.
Time
Almost 4 in the afternoon - it was a long day of sightseeing around the lake and the Rhône river valley behind it. The original plan was to tour the inside of the castle, but the never-ending crush of tourist crowds made that less appealing. A short walk from the main parking lot area along the lake revealed this point of view which you have to be on foot to see - perfect!
Lighting
I always use filters on my glass - typically the B+W from Germany. Shooting w/the 10-22mm, it's almost always the polarizing filter. The general rule of thumb is to avoid harsh daylight: well if your on the road and time is not on your side...that's never been an attractive philosophy for me...so you work with what you have at the time you are in a given spot. I was lucky here since the mid-afternoon (April) gave us some perfect light to work with on a cloudy day.
Equipment
My trusty old workhorse - Canon 40D with the amazing EF-S 10-22mm. A B+W polarizing filter as well on the lens.
Inspiration
I love Switzerland - i've been quite fortunate to spend a lot of time there during my time in Europe and had a good friend of mine take me around to some great sights. We were farther up in the valley behind this castle but turned around when weather rolled in - this was on the way back. The original plan was to go inside - but standing in line behind the 3 tour buses full of folks didn't seem appealing. A short walk up the coast revealed this gem - glad to have some local knowledge to help find these points of view! As for the castle itself - this site has been full of people since the Bronze age. It is at the foot of the Alps, and one of 3 major North-South passes through the Alps lies to the south, making this a strategic control point for North-South European trade throughout history.
Editing
Just a little! I use Apple Aperture and fine tune things like adding some additional polarization effect to bring out the contrasts between the snow covered alps and the baby light blue sky in the background. I spend a lot of time trying to get it right straight out of camera, so I'm not up late at night on my computer (although since I typically shoot hundreds and hundreds of photos on every trip that still occurs - why skimp when you don't have to pay for film developing and storage is cheap? :)
In my camera bag
Usually enough to give me a shoulder ache! Before upgrading camera bodies it was the 40D, EF-S 10-22mm, 100mm Macro, 28-135mm (IS) and the 70-200mm L. The 40D now stays at home as I went up to the amazing 1DX. Always on that body is the 24-70mm L. Rounding out the bag on most trips is the 8-15 L Fisheye zoom and that 70-200mm L. I like having nearly everything covered from 24 to 200mm, with the fisheye zoom to pull off some fun shots as well. I always have a tripod and remote release with me as well on most trips, even though the tripod doesn't fit on the bag. I have a Velbron tripod with a basic Manfrotto head before going with my Manfrotto tripod with a ball head. Landscapes nearly always demand tripods...and a solid head you can trust...don't cheap on the support gear!
Feedback
Flexibility and patience! Ideally, you can sit and plan out your trip and allow for time at certain places to await ideal conditions - but I've found that's just not usually what works for me as someone who has a full time job - photography doesn't pay my bills at least not yet - right now it just adds to my insatiable thirst for more gear!) So i've learned to make the best of time that I have in places where I get to go. That's not to say you should always just wing it - it helps having at least a basic idea of what you want to cover and how before arriving on site...that way you have a baseline to deviate from. When visiting heavily tourist sites (aka tourism traps) look for ways to go off the well beaten path - in this case for me it was knowledge from a local buddy who suggested we walk up a path I would not have seen. One other thing - I always try and squeeze time to see something...either a late night out or early morning adventure to try and get to a place i'd like to photograph even if the venue is closed. Some of the best images I got from the Porsche museum in Stuttgart were at night, long after they closed...got there late and just walked around on the outside and marveled at how it looked at night with no people and everything lit up. Don't be afraid to see places after business hours (just be careful and stay safe!)

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