With the Olympiads in Informatics giving me the chance to see much more of the world than I'd ever have by myself, I was more and more enamoured by nature's variety and beauty. It started out with the blue mountains in Australia, then the Krka waterfalls in Croatia, the mountain landscapes of Taiwan and finally the steppes of Kazakhstan. While I tried my best, there was never much time for more than a few snapshots. In 2014, I started experimenting with time lapses as a way of capturing nature in motion. They were nice, but rather boring on their own. So the next year I'd start some attempts at moving the camera itself, which is rather tricky without any special tools. I tried my luck macgyvering a grip to my tripod that'd let me use it for stabilization. That didn't work very well, but made it clear that I would no longer be satisfied by static photographs. I wanted to add something more dynamic and individual to my recordings. From a technical perspective, there were three main ways of achieving this: fixed mounts like cranes or rails, stabilization as you get with a steadycam or aerial photography with a drone.
When exploring nature, you never see a landscape as a static picture. Instead, it is usually a panorama that slowly unfolds as you're taking a corner, scaling a peak or leaving a forest behind. I wanted to capture this experience in my videos. In 2016, I was finally able to afford a Glidecam, which is portable enough to take with me and doesn't need much setting up between shots. I chose it over a drone since I felt that it lends itself to inherently more natural and fluid camera movements. Not that this couldn't be achieved with a drone, but would be much harder.
My first video shot like this was in February 2016 around Lake Lauerz. I chose the location since it was close enough to Zurich that I could get there by public transport before sunrise and it offered a valley towards the southeast, just right for the sunrise. The first day I went was directly after a night of rain, so I was guaranteed some nice, thick fog over the lake. I got to capture some beautiful views over the valley, but unfortunately the weather kept getting foggier after sunrise, so I didn't get much more than an hour of shooting time. The next day, I'd come back to much clearer weather which let me take the photo you're seeing titling this page. Having shot all the footage I needed, I found a nice piece of music from a young Italian composer called Mattia Cupelli who let me turn my footage into his official music video.
Euphoric from just how nice this first video turned out, I went on to my next project. Since I didn't want to lower my standards, this time I was in for the long haul. It started off on March 24 with a hike from Zug up to the peak of the Gnipen and then back down to Arth. This was mostly a learning experience for myself on how hard it is to hike up a mountain in Winter. While I'm usually much faster than indicated hiking times, this was the opposite. For every step forward, I'd slide back down half a step. In the end I barely made it to the peak for sunset and got a nice clip there, which was about it. On April 10, my friend Peter gave me a ride to Lauterbach, since I didn't have a driver's license at the time. We first got some nice shots of the Trümmelbachfälle, a waterfall within a system of caves, and later hiked around the area for a bit.
Two days later, I took the train to Ausserberg near Visp, on the other side of the alps where I had read that I'd find some caves. When I arrived, the hiking path was closed off due to damage from the past Winter. I still tried my luck and ended up spending a lot of time climbing over fallen rock fields. I did stumble upon a nice tight tunnel and old water conduits for irrigation. Unfortunately the bad shape of the trail slowed me down a lot and I found myself spending less time filming and getting more and more worried about the time. The problem being that I was on a mountain with infrequent public transport connections and with the alps between myself and my home in Bern. By the time I made it to the next bus station, it was already way past sunset so I had to wait forever for the bus. Once at the main station in Visp, my fears came true and the last train through the alps had already left, so I'd have to spend the night at the train station - if it wouldn't have been for one kind woman that saw how lost I was walking around the train station. It may sound like a fairytale, but is truly one of the best moments of kindheartedness I have experienced. She took me home to her family where I could sleep in their bed, eat breakfast with them and then take the train back the next morning.
On August 26, the adventure continued with a trip to Adelboden. A seemingly boring venture after the previous experiences. The weather was nice, it was warm and I got plenty of shots of lush grass and beautiful mountainscapes. On September 27, I took another train ride to Spiez to get some establishing shots of the sunrise by the lake. The final trip of this project was on October 4 where I invited my friend Pascal to join me. We started off with some more establishing sunrise shots over the lake and then took the train further into the valley towards the Engstligenfälle. They are large waterfalls that look very impressive with the sun illuminating the water droplets. Unfortunately it was too late in the year and the sun didn't reach properly into the valley, so the shots didn't look quite as good as I'd have wished. Back home, I took all of the recordings and sorted them by speed and time of day. So the video could start off in the morning, slowly build up momentum and then relax into the night. In the end the video might not be the best and the effort certainly slowed my enthusiasm, but the memories are here to stay.
On December 30th, still in 2016, I heard on the news that there was ice forming on the Oeschinen Lake. With each year being hotter than the previous, this was a chance I was not going to miss out on. I invited Peter and we made our way up there. Unfortunately we were a bit late in the afternoon and there was no more direct sunlight on the lake, so most of the footage ended up looking rather dull. I decided to make my way there again on the first day of 2017. This time I took the first train in the morning to make sure I'd catch some good sunlight. In the gondola I met up with a family of active ice skaters. It turned out that this day the lake was officially opened for ice skating! By pure luck, I was there first in the morning on the first day of the lake opening, and I met a family that I could accompany. The lake was still covered in perfectly clear, blue ice which made for some incredible shots. This one lucky day certainly paid back for all my failed efforts of the past year.