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Winter Landscape 
in Engadine


Text e photographs by Cristina Archinto

Driven by the desire to change my visual horizon, I found myself in the high mountains in a wonderful place so loved by both the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche and the painter Giovanni Segantini who often portrayed his landscapes; the Upper Engadin valley. The striking high snow-capped mountains laying below they are covered by dense dark woods of pines and stone pines, which contrast with a vast flat area with its white frozen lakes.


After a day spent on the tops of the mountains where the landscape was breathtaking but very "postcard" and perhaps not very intriguing, I opted for the plain. First a walk in the neighboring woods and the day after a fascinating walk on Lake Sils, to discover its ice, its crevices but also its songs. Yes, because I discovered that the frozen body of water sings, emitting cracks and harmonies that almost recall the song of whales, a phenomenon that occurs only in certain moments when the expansion and contraction of the ice occurs due to changes in temperature . Definitely intriguing but also a little scary especially when you find yourself in the middle of the lake.

In general, even if it is stimulating, it is not easy to photograph the snow, first of all you have to pay attention to the exposure meter, which, struck by the intense light reflecting on the snow, will push you to take darker pictures. Autofocus is also not happy when trying to focus when aimed at a very white surface. Also you have to be careful with the shot, it is not trivial to photograph the white expanses without flattening the whole landscape.

Photo notes

The snowy woods are wonderful, they are silent, very silent. In this case, given the scarcity of snow, there were also pine needles which, lying on the white mantle, create an interesting texture. I tried to capture that silence and contrast. An interesting part of photographing a snowy landscape is that the colors decrease significantly but the hues increase. In this case, after removing the black and white, we end up with only greens and browns.


With blurs you can create the depths of an image, in this case I put the young wild reed in focus with the snow around with the macro mode totally blurring the background.


The reflections on the still waters are always my passion, in this case since the subject is the river and the reflection of the mountain covers only a small part of the frame, creates depth and the illusion that there is snow on the river, also here too the colors are two browns and blues.  


To tell the vastness of the frozen lake, my dog Cannella was propitious, as was the lady with the hat, making the photograph even more interesting.


In this image I tell the power of the landscape, with the mountains and sinuous white streaks of snow that stands out in an intense blue resting on the vastness of the lake.


Photographing ice is very difficult!

Difficult to focus on it, find the right exposure and above all walk on it without ending up upside down with a camera!


A good escape point and consequently depth is coffender

with a nice fence or tracks in the snow.


And that's what I mean when I suggest watching great artists to learn their framing!

Giovanni Segantini,

The death

(Triptych of the Alps)



Why in this photograph, which I've transformed into black and white, does the snow looks like sand?





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