Keeping my eye on my weather app is an ongoing activity, especially during my favorite season of the year; Autumn. In the past year, I’ve visited the German region ‘Harz’ twice, and since my previous visit, I’ve kept a return to the Harz in consideration, in case the weather predictions were going to be good.
In this case, ‘good’ means foggy. Foggy and Autumn. This combination basically is a guarantee for moody nature photos. I just love the yellow-orange-red tones paired with the dark atmosphere and dimmed light. It stands for a fairy tale setting, especially in the forest.
The Harz region is located slightly north of the center of neighbouring country Germany, and is divided by 3 different districts; Niedersachsen, Sachsen-Anhalt and Thüringen. The Harz mountains is a lower mountain range that has the highest elevations in Northern Germany. With an altitude of 1141 metres, the Brocken is the highest point of the entire Harz mountain range and also the highest point in Northern Germany. Apart from the Brocken, The Harz has many locations that would be worth a visit with a camera; the historical villages and cities of Goslar, Stolberg and Quedlinburg are built following the typical traditional German architecture and all contain the typical ‘Fachwerk’ houses. From a nature point of view, the main locations worth a visit are the Ilsetal, Bodetal, Rosstrappe, Teufelsmauer and ofcourse, the stretched out woodland of the Nazionalpark Harz where you can encounter a lot of different wildlife like foxes, deer, boar and maybe even lynxes.
Prior to the the trip, my plan was to do a combination of different locations, without having a schedule that was too tight. In that way, the clock was my friend I was never going to get rushed. Because the Harz is located at roughly a 4 hour drive from my home in The Netherlands, I decided to set my alarm at 3 AM in order to catch the sunrise on my first day. My plan was to capture the contours of Wernigerode from a viewing point which I found on Google Maps. As I’ve never been yo the exact location before, it was a huge guess and I could only hope for a good result. After a pretty nice hike through the forest covered hill, I arrived at the viewing point, minutes before sunrise. However, the castle was nowhere to be seen because of the thick fog. Part of the castle became visible when the wind started to blow. Only for a second though. So as carefully chose my composition and adjust my tripod and camera settings, I waited for another gust of wind to lock the autofocus of my 70-200 2.8 lens. I thought a bit of foreground would work well in the image and because of the coloured foliage, give it an extra sense of Autumn. So I flipped my camera and made three individual vertical photos which I would later stitch into a vertical panorama. At least if everything would turn out like I planned. I wasn’t disappointed with the outcome.
As minutes went by, the light became a bit brighter and it revealed a magical dreamlike forest. Almost all the beech trees turned to their almost fluorescent orange colours and fog remained nice and thick. During my hike back, I shot some delightful forest shots, possibly some of the best I’ve ever taken. Whereas I’d normally equipe my camera with a telelens, I noticed that using a wide angle lens worked best for me in this case, as the colourful leaves allowed me to make some sweet frames. Also, the forest didn’t have too many straight and open places which made it quite difficult to find a clean composition with a telelens.
Looking back at the images which I’ve taken that morning, I now realise that I should’ve taken even more time trying to get more shots. Instead, I went to find my next shooting location, the Bodetal. Read all about photographing this stunning mountain creek in my next blog.