Sunset And Foehn Effect

October 31, 2018 was a day with an unforgettable sunset in many places. On the eve of the Halloween night the sky was burning. Bright yellow and red colored clouds illuminated the sky. The extraordinary evening glow is a typical phenomenon in autumn.

In Upper Bavaria the foehn effect delivered the perfect conditions for the fire in the sky. The Northern side of the alps was very lucky since there were normal weather conditions during that evening in a year full of extremes. These extremes still continue. The foehn effect was generated by the torrential rainfall on the Southern side of the mountains. Subsequently, wet air was rising on one side and descending on the other side.

Shortly before sunset: The Sun illuminates the cloud layer

Before that Halloween evening there were also severe weather on the Northern side of the alps in Bavaria. There was an extreme windstorm which inter-cut railway connections in Upper Bavaria. Foehn windstorms can be dangerous particular on the mountain tops and some valleys.

Typical Foehn sky: a very clear view of the mountains

During the day the weather had calmed down and there were these impressing cloud patterns in the sky. The good thing was that the clouds got stopped and had not moved too much to the south. Therefore the sun appeared shortly before sunset.

These conditions happen often in autumn and also around New Year in Bavaria. This is always a good time to take pictures.

Intense orange and yellow colors in the west

The hilltops in Upper Bavaria are a good place to watch the foehn effect. The sky is very clear and there are a lot of details visible of the alpine silhuette in the South. However, days are already short and it gets pretty fast very dark.

Unlike some so-called-weather-rules the evening glow doesn’t necessarily indicate a change of weather. The next days were calm on the Northern side of the Alps.

nature as an artist: shortly after sunset

Severe weather continues in many parts of Europe. Particularly in Italy a disastrous situation due to thunderstorms and torrential rain developed. In some higher areas there was a lot of snowfall. Tourists were trapped for some time.

October 2018 was another month in Germany where the weather-anomaly continued. It is still too dry and too warm. Sunshine was above average. A new term was coined in Germany: October-Summer.

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The dramatic “Halloween Sky”

Mist On A Lake – November 9, 2016

November is often seen as boring month (for photographers) due to a lot of grey and dull days. Daylight is also very limited. However this time of the year is often underestimated. There are wonderful plays of colors and many different moods with colored leaves, intense sunsets and fascinating meteorological phenomena. The lower light can also create very interesting effects. Unlike summer layer clouds often fill the sky. This could be very interesting for pictures when the sun is very low and the clouds are illuminated from beneath. After a very cold October and early winter days in Upper Bavaria there was a dramatic sunrise on 9th of November, 2016 in the “Ammersee Region”, a popular tourist destination during the summertime. However there is a lot to see at any season due to a spectacular and many-faceted landscape. Not far from the alps this is a lovely countryside with lakes, bogs, forests and hills which were formed during the last ice-age. At the southern end of the second-biggest lake of the region, the “Ammersee”, the river Ammer enters the lake. The south-end of the “Ammersee” is an important nature reserve. Many different birds could be found here. There is a huge marshland and a peninsular called “Schwedeninsel”, which demonstrate the constant change of a landscape formed by rivers from the alps.

In the surroundings of the “Schwedeninsel” wet fog appeared before sunrise during this days and was illuminated in different colors later. It was a very impressing experience, and the wet fog created a truly magical atmosphere. Temperatures were below zero during the night. In November sometimes the water is still warm compared to the cold air. These are the conditions for such weather phenomena during autumn like mist on a lake. Often the mist disappears later when the sun warms the atmospheres. Thus it is important for photo- and videography to stand up very early. The lakeside promenade in Diessen on the southwest side of the lake was a very good place to watch or to make some photos. Further on there is a watchtower at the south end which could be reached by foot. Diessen and the southern and west region of the lake is easily accessible: During summer the tourists arrive with an extravagantly restored steam paddler. For the rest of the year there is a train station nearby with trains arriving every hour from the city of Augsburg. The motorway is a 20-minutes drive away. On the other side of the lake there are bigger hills. On top of one hill of the east-side of the Ammersee is the famous “Andechs”-Monastery. Hills and lake have also an effect on the microclimate in the region. It’s possible that there is snow in the upper regions of the hills but it’s always a bit warmer when you get closer to the lake. Mist or fog mostly appears when there is very little wind. The 9th of November was a short window after low pressure from the west brought rain and snow and before the next active front appeared. Often it’s the short time when weather calms down to experience such spectacular settings.


End of September is a good time for kites. Sunday, September 27, was a day with a clear blue autumn sky and some wind. Compared to the heat-wave in Summer September and October was cold in Middle-Europe. It was also not much rain. The drought which lasts now for months became a problem for some farmers. “Kite-Pilots” and families however certainly enjoyed the weather and gathered in Stölln, which is west of Berlin for a kite-festival. Artists came from everywhere, even from Tasmania. The “Gollenberg”, a hill in the “Westhavelland”, has also a very special history. Pioneer Otto Lilienthal made his first experiments with his gliders here. Unfortunately he also had a deadly accident on the Gollenberg. Today, the Gollenberg is an air glider airfield and was host of the German Gardening Exhibition BUGA in 2015. Foremost its an excellent viewpoint. Visitors can look really far. The clear autumn air allowed to enjoy the panorama. There is also a traditional weather-station on the “Gollenberg”. West of the “Gollenberg” are the rivers Havel and Elbe. From this little hill the typical lowland of the North of Germany could be studied. Its interesting that standing on the Gollenberg does indeed feel a bit like standing on a mountain, even its a small hill. But the thing that the whole surroundings are very flat, like in the Netherlands and therefore looking down from the Gollenberg appears maybe higher than the hill actually is. On top of hill is a memorial for Otto Lilienthal, which is a 20 minutes foot walk from the airfield. There is also very interesting vegetation on this hill. Unlike the surrounding meadows and wetlands close to the river Havel, the hill is a sandy hill with dry meadows. The impression is a bit like standing on one of the dunes at the Northern Sea. In the Westhavelland is also the first dark sky park of Germany due to its excellent conditions for astronomers. In the village of Stölln there is a Otto-Lilienthal-Museum telling his life-story. Video shows some coverage of the day of the kite-festival and the scenic view from the top of the Gollenberg hill.

Autumn Colors

Even October had been again too warm compared to average temperatures in middle Europe over many years before, the change of colors of leaves indicated that winter isn’t so far away. When green becomes yellow it’s an awesome sight. The wild Bode valley in the Harz Mountains sometimes called “the German grand canyon”, is always a great place for photography of nature, particularly in October. Vegetation looks in some spots more like in Norway or some remote alpine region rather than a forest in Northern Germany. In the lower regions of the Harz Mountains, the forest is dominated by beech trees and oak trees. The oaks are often smaller as in flat regions and exhibit bizarre forms on the top of the hills. At the “Hexentanzplatz” viewpoint above the valley and the village of Thale, you can see an endless forest with many shades of yellow and brown, and many visitors come here during the weekends.

The colors are further differentiated by the change between sunlight and clouds obscuring the sunlight. Even the so-called “Indian summer” or “golden October” is a very common motive it’s worth to take some time and watch the forest and landscape for hours.

Where we see a green sea of trees during summer there are now many details to be seen in the forest, and these details always change when clouds appear and create different settings of light. We might hope for these typical crisp and very clear blue sky days in autumn but for taking pictures a thin veil of clouds isn’t so bad because the light is softer, and you haven’t to handle as many sharp contrasts or very dark areas when taking pictures. Morning hours are often a good time before the mist has completely disappeared.

Enjoying nature or taking photographs in autumn is a lot about the right timing. It’s often only a few days in autumn where the veils of mist lift and the sun break through which offer unforgettable moments. In the mountains, one big storm or a lot of rain put the magic then quickly to an end. Unlike last year where a devastating storm hit Northern Germany in October weather was more friendly this year. Other areas in Europe weren’t so lucky when particularly in November Northern Italy and Southern France was suffering from flooding. The South side of the Alps got an incredible amount of rain. If it rains on the South side of the alps it gets warm in Southern Germany because of the “Föhn”-wind, a strong dry wind, which make the sky dark and blue and you can look very far. It’s also notorious for its effects on human health and behavior as giving you headaches. The phenomenon is a bit similar to the Santa Ana winds in California. The “Föhn” effect is also possible in lower mountain regions as the Harz mountains, however, doesn’t create such extraordinary clouds like in Southern Germany or Austria. The Harz mountains usually get more rain on the west and northern side where rain clouds from the Northern sea arrive. The Bode Valley is on the east side of the mountains. The Northern Germany region enjoyed moderate temperatures even in November and there weren’t really big disruptions from cold weather and snow so far. >