One of my closest friends moved to Zurich a few years back. He is just as in love with the mountains and outdoors as I am, the difference is that he lives in a country where mountains are right outside your doors.
We went skiing together in Switzerland several times and we've been talking for a while about heading into the mountains in the summer. So last weekend the stars have finally aligned and we were headed south from Zurich towards the Italian border, in a small rented BMW, packed camping gear, food and of course cameras. Pasha was packing his Nikon, and I had my a7R with two Leica lenses (35mm Summarit and 90mm Cron) and Voigtlander 15mm VM.
We only had two days, so we planned a nice alpine trek around Albigna glacier lake and dam on the first day, climbing above 2,700m, and a more relaxed route around lake Sil on the second day.
The weather in Switzerland has been very unreliable in the last few weeks and we had to change the dates of our trip once - it's not fun to camp in the rain and taking photos can be tricky as well. But this weekend was panning out to be sunny and, as we were heading across the Alpine massif to the Italian side, we expected a warm weather even at higher altitudes.
The Alps are a great place for photography and both of us got trigger happy from the get go. I came back home with over 400 shots to sort through and it took me a considerable part of this week.
Looking at my gear, I am still on the fence about the Voigtlander 15mm f/4.5. But despite the amount of work required in post processing this lens makes me happy - it is so nice and small on the a7 body, I just wish it would perform as well as it does on a Leica.
The 90mm Summicron is definitely my new favourite. It is as sharp across the frame from f/2.8 as Sony FE 55mm. And to be honest you wouldn't take many shots with it wide open anyway - depth of field is hair-thin in the foreground, you will struggle to keep a subject in focus. I have wrote a separate review of the Cron here.
LANDSCAPES IN PASTEL
Lately, I have acquired a taste for pastel look in post-processing. I like the mood it creates, kind of nostalgic and mellow. There is a sense of honesty in pastel processed photos, honesty that we are not used to being surrounded by bright and oversaturated imagery most of the time.
I thought that pastel look works only with human subjects, but editing photos from the Alps I discovered that even landscape photos can benefit from it as long as I push blues and greens a bit. Pastel look gives landscape images certain serenity. I think it accentuates the emptiness of the landscape making it more noticeable to the eye.
One setting to be careful with when going for this look is Clarity. Easiest way of getting a pastel or low contrast effect is reducing Clarity into -20 to -50 range. While it works well on people, softening their skin, it can easily ruin the fine detail of a landscape image.
In most of these shots I tried to keep Clarity at +25, while compensaing for it by offsetting Contrast and keeping the blacks low. Reducing saturation works very well, especially when combined with increasing Vibrance. You can also play with HSL and cross-processing settings to fine tune the color balance, but I would leave it for last.