Mountains in the sunset

Sunset Photography
by Kristel Schneider

Wow, what a reward it was after a hard climb up to a 1,746-meter height on snowshoes!


Puy de l’ angle – Massifs de l’ adventif
Auvergne | France

A snowshoe hike I will surely never forget.
That day was the 3rd time I got on a trail with snowshoes on, so the mere idea of climbing up to the top of the high mountains in the Sancy was exciting and hard at the same time, but also sounded like a real adventure. My friend, photographer Cyril Coudert had said, “Pack light: your bag has to be very comfortable! Bring a couple of lenses and remove everything you think you won’t use”. I followed the advice and took my only heavy lens, the Canon 70-200L lens.

We started to move around 4.00pm, along the Val de Courre, a beautiful valley now entirely covered in snow. The sun was getting lower and lower, its shades already visible in the whiteness of the snow. Looking to the summit, you could see an almost transparent line on top of the mountain range. The snow was a bit frozen on top and the only thing you could hear was our moves making that unique crispy sound at each step.


Val de Courre – Monts Dore
Auvergne | France


Val de Courre  – Monts Dore
Auvergne | France

Contrary to me, Cyril knows this part of the mountains by heart and he had started the hike with his mind set on a shot he really wanted to take. As a consequence, our goal was to reach the 1,746-meter height, and then, take a little break at the summit before we could head right and hike along the mountain range. This way we would see the Puy de l’Angle in the declining lights of the sunset.

Once we reached the mountain top, the view was so magnificent that we got carried away and forgot about the time: our little break had become a little longer than originally planned, and Cyril had to rush to his location to take the image he had had in mind for such a long time. The sunset was very light and delicate, and, as always, very short, so we had to act and work fast before night fell. I didn’t follow Cyril, and let him fulfill his dream-image: I was just there, looking around, overwhelmed in the beauty of the moment, totally unable to even consider composing a mental shot, let alone looking at the scene through a camera lens. At one point I really made myself think and get started not to get back home with an empty memory card.

Puy-de-Chabane-detail_other-wbPuy de Chabane (detail)
Auvergne | France

The scene was moving in an amazingly blue light lingering on the whiteness of the snow. It was really difficult to get what I think was the right foreground. As we were standing on the ridge of the mountain, there was no way I could move forward or backward, considering that it was slippery and steep.

As always when you merge in the beauty of a landscape and let yourself be guided by your camera, you totally forget about the time. That’s what happened then: time flew by and it was dark before we could even think twice. We sure had to hurry. Luckily enough my tripod was not being difficult on me that day and my cable release had just enough battery spare for me to take the last images I didn’t want to miss.


La tour carrée
Auvergne | France


Puy de Redon
Auvergne | France

Walking up was something, but it was nothing compared to the way down. There is no true word to define that trip down, even “adventure” doesn’t do it justice. The nice snow-covered valley was now a pool of darkness and the hill down a steep of ice. Cyril told me how to use the snowshoes efficiently not to slide all the way down, warning me about muscle-pain in the morrow! He did the walk backward: we only had one headlight and he wanted to be sure we stayed in contact with each other, in case.

And we made it! Safe back to the car. A trip that I will never forget, photography-wise (because I had to act fast in a difficult light) and mentally (because I think I passed all the mountain-hike tests in one go!

%d bloggers like this: