'Scenic Europe 2' - Behind the Scenes

Following the release of the two 'Scenic Europe' themepacks by Microsoft, I have received encouraging messages and questions from a number of people across the world. Overwhelmed by this feedback, I was thinking that some of those appreciating the themepacks may be interested to learn more about the locations depicted in the images. For those interested in such 'Behind the Scenes' information, the following article provides some interesting background on locations, motifs and shooting conditions of the 12 images covered in the second themepack. You like the photographs and you would like to obtain a gallery-quality canvas print for your home or office? Well, here is good news: For each of the photographs I provide a direct link to the fineartinternational.com store. Getting a gallery-like canvas print is now only one mouse-click away! If you want to use one or more of the photographs commercially, e.g. for book projects, advertisement campaigns or commercial websites, please do not hesitate to contact me.

The second themepack Scenic Europe 2 contains 12 images covering scenes from Hungary, Corsica, Switzerland, Scotland, Germany and the United Kingdom.

  1. Scene 1: The Danube at night in Budapest, Hungary




    With about 1.7 million inhabitants, Budapest is both the largest city of Hungary as well as its capital. In fact, Budapest consists of the two cities Buda and Pest which are separated by the Danube. The name Budapest for the combination of both cities did not occur before the 19th century, even though the two parts of the cities are more than 2,000 years old. The photo included in the themepack shows both parts of the city, Buda on the left and Pest on the right. In the picture, both are connected via the chain bridge. On the right bank of the Danube, one can actually spot the towers of the Hungarian parliament.

    Being on a research stay in Budapest for almost a month in August 2011, I had plenty of opportunities to capture the manifold beauties of the city. On this particular evening, I had climbed up the Gellért hill to the old citadel of the town. Especially at night, this elevated spot offers a perfect overview over the city. Since I had cought a severe food poisoning a few days before, walking up the hill and exercising the patience to take a series of long exposures turned out to be particularly challenging. For this particular shot I used a 50mm prime lens stopped down to f/16 and exposing for 13 seconds to show the motion of ships on the Danube.

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  2. Scene 2: Old Genovese Bridge over the Tavignano River near Altiani, Corsica




    Apart from offering one of the most spectacular landscapes of Europe, the Mediterranean island of Corsica has a long history of foreign occupancy. Having been ruled by the Greek, the Romans, the Vandals, the Goths, the Lombards and the Roman Catholic Popes, in the 14th century Corsica fell to the Republic of Genoa, which ruled the island for close to four centuries. And even today, numerous churches, citadels, towers and bridges scattered across the island stand witness for the Genovese rule.

    Some of my most vivid memories are associated with the beautiful Corsican landscapes, which I had the pleasure to explore in 2009 and 2013. During an extended cycling trip in 2009, I had a chance to circle the whole island, exploring close to 1,000 km of coastline by bike. Having arrived at the East Coast in Aléria the day before, me and some friends decided to cycle to the city of Corte in the center of the island. On the way there, the road passed the Tavignano river via this old Genovese bridge, which is classified as a National Monument. Since it was a very hot day, we took the opportunity to refresh ourselves at the river bank, from which I took this picture.

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  3. Scene 3: Lake Lucerne, Switzerland




    Situated between the three original Swiss cantons of Uri, Schwyz and Unterwalden, Lake Lucerne is the fourth largest lake in Switzerland. The comparably mild climate, the majestic surrounding mountains and the crystal clear water make Lake Lucerne a popular destination both for Swiss and international tourists. Swimming in the cool, clear water of Lake Lucerne during a hot summer day is an amazing experience, especially as you are likely to see one of the four still operational paddle steamers pass by.

    Lake Lucerne is not far away from my home town Zurich, so I enjoy going there from time to time, especially during summer time. On this particular occasion we had decided to visit Weggis, a beautiful little town situated directly at the lake. Weggis not only has cafes, restaurants and beaches at the water front, it also offers spectacular views of the lake and the surrounding mountains. Walking across the lake promenade, I came across this nice view and captured it using a 10mm wide angle lens.

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  4. Scene 4: The Old Man of Storr on the Isle of Skye, Scotland




    Scotland is world famous for its brusque, characterful and mystic landscapes and the Isle of Skye in the northwest of Scotland is no exception. The Storr, situated at the eastern coast of the Trotternish peninsula is maybe one of the most iconic landscapes of the Isle of Skye. This rugged area with its prominent cliffs and pinnacles marks the southeastern end of the Trotternish ridge, which is the longest landslip in Great Britain. The old man of Storr, a rock pinnacle almost 50 meters in height, is probably the most remarkable feature in the area of The Storr. In this image, it can be seen as the highest of the three pinnacles in the background. The old man of Storr is particularly well-known since 2012, when its alien appearance was used in the opening shot of Ridley Scott's Prometheus.

    I will never forget the day when I took this image, as it marks one of the most memorable - and reverential - experiences of my life. Starting in Flodigarry, our original plan was to take two days to hike along the Trotternish ridge. Apart from the camera gear, I carried full trekking equipment, but a strong storm that would not stop for a minute did not allow us to pitch a tent at the ridge. Our only choice was to hike along the whole ridge, resulting in a total distance of more than 30km across mountains, marshes and rubble, while carrying more than 25 kilos of equipment. We finally managed to reach the Storr shortly before sunset, and I will never forget how relieved we were to leave the strong winds at the Trotternish behind. This experience was topped by this beautiful view of the Storr and the Sound of Raasay behind. I captured this memorable in this image.

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  5. Scene 5: Winter shack near Hasliberg, Switzerland




    Switzerland has no lack of beautiful regions and the Bernese Oberland area is by no way an exception. The area is full of rich green meadows, impressive mountainscapes and beautiful clear lakes, and home to spectacular sites like the famous mountain group of Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau. Just a few kilometers north lies Meiringen, a cozy town beautifully located in Haslital, a valley bordering Lake Brienz. In winter, the mountains surrounding the town are famous for winter sports, in summer they are a paradise for hikers.

    A former colleague of mine was kind enough to invite me and some other colleagues to visit his hometown over a weekend in March 2013. We decided to use the sunny day for an extended snowshoe hike across Hasliberg, a mountain offering spectacular views over the valley and the surrounding Alpine panorama. We reached the top of the mountain in the afternoon, and decided to take an easy way down by renting a sledge. While sleding, we came across this snow covered shack, located just beside the sledge trail which can be seen on the right. The roof deeply covered in white, the shack had seen some weeks of particularly heavy snow falls. I stopped my sledge and quickly got my camera from the backpack to shoot this photo.

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  6. Scene 6: Long tree Shadow in Munich Olympiapark, Germany




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  7. Scene 7: Stones at the shore of Cap Corse, Corsica




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  8. Scene 8: Siehlsee and Alps close to Einsiedeln, Switzerland




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  9. Scene 9: Rocky shore near Cap Corse, Corsica




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  10. Scene 10: New Brighton Lighthouse at the Irish Sea, England, United Kingdom




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  11. Scene 11: Blue Hour at the Limmat in Zurich, Switzerland




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  12. Scene 12: Glen Sligachan on the Isle of Skye, Scotland




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'Behind the Scenes' information on the first themepack Scenic Europe can be found in this article.