This post sees me exploring the great German outdoors in search of minimalist landscapes. I head towards the town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen in southern Bavaria and end up on Germany’s highest peak. Come find out more about my new project!
I started this blog and my initial ‘52 rolls of film’ project as a bit of an experiment and a way to force myself to practice the art of photography more, in particular working with the challenging (yet also immensely rewarding) medium that film is.
I was happy to finish that project as it gave me a break from the weekly planning around what film and theme to shoot (more on my observations from that project here), and it gave me some decent content for my blog.
Since then I have worked on a few side projects, but nothing overly specific. I realised I have been missing that specificity for the last few months and have been thinking for a while now what project I can do that will give me more focus in my photography.
About the location
I took a very early train on a recent Sunday from Munich central station towards Garmisch-Partenkirchen, about 90 minutes away. Arriving shortly before sunrise I headed through the town on foot towards the famous Partnach gorge (more on that here), a natural formation that runs 700 metres between 80 metre high limestone walls. From there I visited the open areas sounding the town and as the weather was so good I decided to talk the slow cog train from Garmisch all the way up the Zugspitze, Germany’s highest peak at 2,962m.
About the gear
All square 6x6 shots were taken with my Hasselblad camera and primarily with the hefty 350mm lens (sometimes also with an orange filter attached), on Fuji Acros 100 for the black & white shots and Kodak Ektar 100 for the colour ones. The 35mm shots were taken with my tiny Rollei 35s camera and Kodak Gold 200 film.
Let’s see the photos!
Whilst not overly minimalist, I am always drawn to patterns and shapes in landscape photography. I think this shot has a nice balance of emptiness with some leading lines
Even though this is a very busy shot, the scene was wonderfully calm, cold, and eerie all at the same time. The fog is not very visible in this shot but was making its way through the middle of the scene. For me this shot was minimalist in the very cold and crisp morning feeling just after sunrise with the emptiness of the landscape.
Despite some busyness around this large tree, I was fascinated by how solitary and different it was from everything around it. Shot from a distance with my 350mm lens.
A large amount of cloud moving fast towards the Eibsee lake, which is eventually draped on all sides. Shot from the top of the Zugspitze, luckily I had a steady tripod to counteract my very unsteady feet (this is very, very high up!).
I actually missed my ideal shot as it took me a while to get everything setup whilst forgetting that the earth doesn’t stop rotating to help my compositions! And in case you wondered that is the moon just before sunrise.
One of the many fascinating views in the Partnach gorge. I have heard this place is absolutely magical in winter when it has snowed. Whilst a very busy shot, the simplicity of water creating such a large formation over millions of years is always amazing to me.
Nothing overly special about this shot, if anything it is too simple, but I like the lines and implied emptiness.
Shot from the moving cogwheel train (which when not on the cog part of the track moves relatively quickly). I like how early morning fog comes and goes so quickly.
There is something very simple about the different intersections in this kind of shot. I like how black and white really brings out the textures and patterns.
One of my favourite shots. Also as I just stumbled on the view as I was walking along the streets and saw this wonderful light in the distance. Shot with the 350mm lens at a distance.
I wanted to see how it would look in black & white so I took the same shot again! The colour shot has more character to it in my opinion.
The precise top of the Zugspitze, only accessible by a very precarious route, which I was happy to not attempt and watch from the very large viewing area next to it. I wish the guy in the middle was waving at me or someone but sadly he is taking a selfie!
In case you didn’t believe me…!
These types of shots always look the same, but I still like taking them!
If it weren’t so cold up here, I could have stayed looking at this view for much longer, I am always fascinated by being above the clouds. I love how simply this photograph is, yet I know how complex the various climatological processes are that are working underneath me.
One must always photograph a hut (or two) in the great outdoors.
Similar shot as above but on 35mm instead, always curious to me how two different films and camera mediums (35mm vs medium format) can produce such different images.
Huts, huts, and more huts.
Nothing minimalist about this shot, I was just fascinated by the very long and very steep tunnel the cog wheel train took to the top of the mountain, talk about wonderful engineering!
My intent was to look for minimalist shots without the need for expensive filters or undertaking any significant post processing, as well as enjoying a long day out. I think I achieved this to some extent, where I really enjoyed visiting the area in and around Garmisch-Partenkirchen (and really recommend it as an easy day trip from Munich), and also trained my eye around composing for minimalism in landscape photography.
On reflection I think many of these images are more of a documentary style and I may try a second version of this with some ND filters and black and white photography for some more striking empty and minimalist shots. However, I am still very happy with these shots, primarily because I enjoyed taking them and the experience of the outdoors. It also showed me that looking for minimalist shots probably requires more time than I was able to give it this time round, where I also wanted to be adventurous and visit quite a few places.
But in the spirit of this new project, I had an idea around minimalist landscape photography and went out and gave it a go…practice makes perfect as they say!
I hope you enjoyed this first post of my 100 ideas on film project and needless to say I will be back with more (happy to also take bets on how long this project is going to take to finish…!)
See you for Idea#2 soon!