Chamonix and Mont Blanc

This is the fourth post in a five-part series on my recent trip to France.

During our stay in France, we took a three-hour drive for an overnight stay in Chamonix. The skiing season had just ended, so there were no large crowds. The afternoon and evening we arrived we strolled around Chamonix and dined on raclette, a regional specialty consisting of far too much melted cheese grilled at the table, then scraped onto the plate over potatoes and cured meats. It’s delicious, heavy, and filling, and perfect fuel for a day of skiing or mountain climbing, which weren’t doing. I think I’m still recovering from it!

We woke early the next morning to ascend the mountain via a two-stage cable car trip to L’Aiguille du Midi, the observatory with panoramic views into France and Italy. When we reached the summit at around 9:00 a.m., the light was already high and hazy. I tried to make the best of it, and again I used some HDR techniques to process my photos. There were a few views with a surface to place my tabletop tripod for better stability.

A view at dusk in the town of Chamonix.

One reason I love to visit France is for the macarons. They’re as tasty as they are photogenic.

Making lemonade out of lemons: The light was bright and uninteresting. So I pointed my camera directly into the sun for some dramatic lens flare. (Warning: Never look directly at the sun through your viewfinder; it can cause serious injury. Instead, it’s safe to use live view or hold out your thumb to cover the sun as you frame your shot.)

The highest peak slightly to the right of center in this image is Mount Blanc, the tallest mountain in the Alps.

Another beautiful view, though you can see the haze midground.

The awesome size of the mountains dwarfs the people and leaves me feeling insignificant.

That day it was impossible to tell where the snow ended and the clouds started.

A digital SLR camera’s meter is set to record white and black as medium gray. Therefore when photographing snow scenes, it’s necessary to open up about a stop to ensure the show appears bright white and not medium gray. When shooting in aperture priority, I do this by adjusting my exposure compensation.

I waited a long time for this man to get ready to repel down the peak. I wish I had a long lens for a closeup, but I’m satisfied with this shot that puts him in the context of his environment.

This is the same man as in the photo above, and he’s still getting ready to repel. I waited so long that clouds began to move in behind him. Compare this vertical image to the horizontal one above it; this one places more emphasis on the sheer verticallity of the mountains and suggests how high the elevation is.

Paragliding (parapente in French) seems to be a popular sport in the Alps. I captured this image while waiting to transfer from one tram to another midway down the mountain.

Read the first post in the series: French Landscapes
Read the second post in the series: Nine-hour Layover in Paris
Read the third post in the series: A Day in Lyon
Read the final post in the series: Curiot Mining Museum in Saint-Etienne

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