An Alpine Wilderness Easy Accessible For Landscape Photography – Oy Valley

The Oy valley or Oytal is a high alpine valley at the Southern tip of Germany. It is one of the most popular destinations among tourists and hikers staying in Oberstdorf. Trips into the Oytal start straight near the valley station of the Nebelhornbahn ropeway. From here a couple of trails lead towards the Oy valley. One trail leads to the pitoresque Trettach valley first (where the Oy valley begins at a fork) and to a first grand scenic view with the tops of the Allgäuer Alpen in the background. Another trail leads high up over the lower part of the valley and offers many vistas. The Oy valley is top destination also for filmmakers and photographers throughout the year.

Trettach Valley near Oberstdorf

What’s special here is that nobody has to leave the road or very comfortable trails to get to places for fantastic motives for video and photo. There is a road (closed for normal traffic) leading to the Oytalhaus, a traditional mountain inn with excellent food and more spectacular views. You reach this lovely mountain inn after 1 1/2 hours walk.

The trails from the Nebelhornbahn ropeway til the Oytalhaus are no problem for normal walkers and easy accessible. There are no steep climbs. It’s more a continuous ascend. The lower trail beginning at the bridge over the Trettach is called Dr. Hohenadl Weg. It leads through an impressing mountain forest.

After a few bends the high and intimidating high peaks of huge mountains show up. Then the trail reaches an alley with trees which is another unique feature in the Oy valley. During the season a lot of tourists use this road.

The valley broadens and on the left side the well-known Seebachwand comes into view. It is a huge intimidating rock-face. Here are some water falls and indeed there is one of the highest waterfalls in Europe here right across the Oytal Haus Mountain inn. If you want to takes pictures of the falls the best time is in spring when a lot of water comes down. The water falls in the lower part of the valley are in some distance. It’s good to have a long focal length. Both in spring and autumn you see wonderful colors in this unique mountain wilderness.

Impressive water falls, Seebachwand

The trail between the Oytalhaus mountain inn and some alpine farms leads to more and more impressive sights of the peaks and their unique shapes. Spring is again a good time as long as the mountain tops are white with snow from the last winter. To the left and to the right there are alpine meadows with rare alpine plants. Please be careful, because this a nature reserve and help to protect animals and these rare plants. There is really plenty to shoot for video and photography straight from the trail.

Oytal Valley

If you want to take pictures and need a quiet atmosphere during the week, for or after the main holiday seasons or on a day with cloudy weather conditions is a good time. During afternoon in summer tourists can rent special scooters for a fast journey back. And there can be a lot of people out there on weekends. There are also plenty of mountain bikers often. Nevertheless there is enough room for anybody to enjoy the fantastic nature.

The trail from the Trettach valley bridge and the Oytal Haus is only part of a much bigger network of trails which lead high up into the mountains. It is for some time still very comfortable (til the next alpine farm) but its lengthy and in the higher part there is a steep ascent. There are more alpine farms up there which offer food and drinks during the summer time. Another huge waterfall is further down the trail (Stuibenfall), which is closer to the trail then the first ones and it looks fantastic, but this is another one and a half hour walk from the Oytalhaus.

In some areas there is still snow in April

A typical thing for these regions are grassy mountains. They should never be underestimated by climbers because they can be very challenging. The region is due to its different type of mountains and the materials they are made of highly interesting for people who are into geology. You see outstanding forms of rock, mountains and different earth ages.

High grass mountain

Good preparation is key as always in alpine terrain. The Oy valley is easy accessible but its good to know about distances (walking times) and what are further options. During summer there is also an exhausting round trip possible with a descend into another mountain valley. However, these might be more for people with a good condition. Weather conditions could change quickly, too.

Sometimes, in spring, water runs in small creeks over the trail in the upper parts of the valley. There might be also snow even in late spring some years in shadowy parts of the valley (proper shoes for hiking strongly recommended). In summer the upper parts are exposed to the sun.

For the high part with mountain peaks and more attractions like the Eissee high above the valley please keep in mind that there are completely different conditions as in the bottom of the valley with comfortable roads and trails. It’s difficult rocky and alpine terrain. It requires experience with hiking in the mountains and it’s a fascinating but also potentially dangerous wilderness region. Tourist offices in Oberstdorf and other towns and villages in the Allgäu-Region can certainly help with good advice. They can tell you also if trails are open or closed or if moutain huts are open. The Oytal trails are accessible by train and by car. There is a huge parking slot near the Nebelhornbahn ropeway station. But it’s great to use the train and the buses, which run frequently.

SAHARAN DUST IN EUROPE, MARCH 2022

From Peter Engelmann, March 19, 2022

Saharan Dust in Europe appeared in the second week of March 2022. This is not an unusual weather pattern in spring. This year, however, there was a very high concentration of Saharan Dust in the atmosphere. It was even labelled a “dust bomb”. It led to an unparalleled otherworldly if not apocalyptic scenery in many places around Europe. The phenomenon was accompanied by rain in some places. This rain is called blood rain, due to the reddish colour. The blood rain was a bad omen in former times. The blood rain was a harbinger of the Black Death in Middle Ages or war and other apocalyptic events. The term blood rain is associated also with other phenomenas in nature due to bacteria or other where rain is red coloured.

The Saharan Dust in March was not only impressing because of the yellow-orange tinted skies but because of the vast dimension. The dust came from Marokko, entered Spain, reached Germany and was seen in UK too.

A map provided by French Meteorologist Guillaume Suchet shows the fast range of the saharan dust plume which reached even Norway and Sweden:

Saharian Dust Over The Alps

This is not very often. In Bavaria the phenomenon was extraordinarily intense in the afternoon of March 15. It created “Martian Skies” for hours. Around noon the sky was cloudy but colors were still normal. It was a milky grey sky. Later the day, in the early afternoon hours, the sky became intensely orange and red. The webcams on certain mountains showed that the orange sky was nearly everywhere. The sight remained good. There was no mist. But the clouds became thicker and thicker. Between 3.00pm and 5.00.pm it became really dark. It was necessary to turn on the lights inside. Such a darkness had never occurred before. It contributed much to the “apocalyptic mood” of the day. Later the sky returned slowly to “normal mood” again. There was some rain. Cars, roofs, everything was covered by a thick layer of reddish dust.

The camera looks to the south-east. At the horizon there is still less concentration of dust particles. The thick yellowish clouds were coming from the west.

The pictures reveal even more unusual things which happened during this weather pattern. Colors weren’t changed here. The sky had indeed these reddish colors. Dust removal effect in photoshop however shows some unusual patterns inside this clouds. There is a detailed structure in the clouds which wasn’t so clear to the pure eye. There is nothing added or manipulated here. It seems like an unusual coincidence between saharan dust and a certain cloud weather pattern.

Rayleigh scattering phenomenon

There is another interesting phenomenon here. The saharan dust creates the so-called Rayleigh scattering phenomenon. Met Office meteorologist Dan Stroud explained the phenomenon: “The dust in the atmosphere causes the light to be more refracted, so you get the dominance of the red and orange tinges of the spectrum”. Rayleigh scattering is “the dispersion of electromagnetic radiation by particles that have a radius less than approximately 1/10 the wavelength of the radiation” The dust in the air originated from the storm Celia and swept as a plume over Europe.

Rayleigh scattering during saharan dust in the sky is very interesting from a photographic standpoint. It creates different lighting conditions as on a normal sunny or cloudy idea. It is more like a studio light, a diffuse light not so much a directed light. You see no shadows. In film and photography this soft light coming from different directions is often a desired effect. It’s also a effect used in the artificial sky atmosphere of the Unreal Engine software where the Rayleigh scattering can be “regulated”.

The Rayleigh scattering effect might be a reason why some people are having an uneasy feeling during such weather events. It has an apocalyptic feel because in natural conditions. It feels somehow “wrong”.

Rayleigh scattering is also present on normal weather conditions and is responsible for the blue sky on a normal day. However the effect is much different as during a saharan dust event. During the appearance of the saharan dust cloud there are many additional particles in the atmosphere.

When the darker clouds arrived there were unparalleled cloud structures.

The air was not either cold nor war. Of course, the quality of the air was bad and that bad quality lasted long. After the saharan dust an unusual high pressure system begun to form over Northern Europe. That’s bad news since the continent urgently need more rain.

The moment when the thickest clouds were hanging in the sky. In the afternoon around 3.00.
An atmosphere like in a doomsday movie. Late afternoon March 15,2022.T
Intense orange color late afternoon of March 15, 2022. The Rayleigh scattering phenomena creating a diffuse unnatural light.

The lower part of the atmosphere was very clear all the time. Camera looks to the south west towards the Allgäuer Alpen in Southern Bavaria

Winter Storm Nadia, January 30, 2022

End of January shores at the Northern Sea and stretches in different countries were hit by winter storm Nadia. This was a low pressure system which changed weather condition in Germany after a quiet period with high pressure. Most of the days there were low hanging mist, some snowfall and lots of sun in the Alps. The weather change is not unusual for this time of the year. Winter Storm Nadia did serious damage on the island Langeroog, Hamburg and Berlin. In Langeroog the sand of a shore was swept away and what was left was some kind of newborn cliff.

Windy Sunday Morning: Fast moving clouds, waves and snow on the hills in the background

In Southern Germany there was a windy night between January 29 and January 30. The wind calmed down a bit in the morning of Sunday, January 30. There were moderate winds at the Lake Ammersee. Temperatures were up a bit after some cold days. The snow remained in the higher places of Upper Bavaria. As often there were interesting atmospheres and cloud patterns during that stormy winter day. Even the wind was only moderate on the ground, the clouds were moving fast. It was a quick change of conditions with sunlight and overcast sky. The air was very clear This is always a condition after a storm and very useful for taking pictures or taking videos.

The winter times and morning hours are also a good time for pictures and videos, since the sun is not heigh up in the sky. Therefore there are interesting cloud colours and a crisp blue sky between the fast moving clouds. It is good to avoid walks through forest even after a frontline or a storm has passed. Open places like meadows, hills or the shoreline of a lake are safer places to capture some pictures.

Driftwood after the storm night

The shoreline on the Eastside of the lake Ammersee, the second biggest lake of the so-called “Fünf-Seen-Land” south of Munich is a popular spot for photographers. It is close to the nature reserve “Ammersee West” and there is a sense of wilderness there. There is always driftwood and whole trees scattered around. If the branches or trees last longer in the water they can turn into sculptures. Nature is an artist here.

Thus it was the idea to take a stroll at the shore of lake Ammersee near that nature reserve and take some pics with the fast moving clouds on Sunday morning. It was only a quieter moment between two storm systems. The wind was taking up again on Monday, January 31. Temperatures dropped again and snow as falling. Series of storms are not unusual for this period of the year. However, we see now unusual extremes at any time of the years in some parts of the world. Whereas winter storm Nadia was more or less a “normal” storm, the U.S. was hit by extreme winter conditions. the same time.

After a cloudy morning there were more and more blue skies. In January the winter sky has that special blue color. After the front had passed the day before it was dry til the next day. Wind and waves changing the appearance of this special shore all the time.

Peter Engelmann, 31.01.2022

MAGIC LATE AUTUMN IN THE LECH VALLEY

Photographers, hikers and outdoor enthusiasts love autumn. The colours of leaves turn from green (Summer, August) to yellow (September), orange and red (end of autumn) The breathtaking imaginary in New England created the name Indian Summer. In Europe the name is Golden October. It is indeed some times the season with golden colours. It’s the trees but also the burning skies during sunset when the sun illuminates the clouds. The fall season has indeed many faces. It is worth to dig deeper into whats happening during autumn. Because there are so many shades. Landscape photographers can discover a tremendous variety.

The Best Autumn Experience

It depends on one side on the time of the year and on the other side where you look for an autumn experience. As said before colours turn all the time: From the first yellow leaves in September often into more orange and red end of October/early November. Any sort of tree has its own color in autumn. And any forest has a different set of colours. Beech tree forests like in Northern Germany create a more orange imaginary, as the alpine forests have a unique set of colours. There are fine colours here and these colours are changing a lot. It’s always good to check weather forecasts a lot if you plan a stay in the alps to enjoy autumn or if you plan to do some landscape photography.

In some years the colours of autumn last til November or even longer. Then the mountains forests show a huge variety of compositions of autumn colours. However weather and climate in the alpine region is harsh. In some years winter begins earlier. Or a storm ends the time of autumn colours abruptly. Thus, it is important not to miss the right moment to take pictures or do a video about the autumn season in the mountains.

The second thing is to find the right place. Of course if it comes to watch the autumn colours decidous forests are a first choice. However a larch wood in autumn is also great. The needles are getting a orange color which looks great. What about a riparian forest?

A riparian forest has its own set of plants and trees. However, original riparian forests are rare. There is often flood measures or other regulations of the rivers in Europe. There are only a few real original river landscapes in middle Europe. One of them is the Lechtal in Germany and Austria. The Lech was once a wild river coming from high up in the mountains and ends in the river Danube. There is not so much left from this once intimidating river. However the Lechtal in Austria between Vorarlberg, Austria and the German town Füssen in the Allgäu region is still a unique wilderness in many places. It is a place of incredible beauty. A place for adventures, long hikes and a place to learn about nature. In this wild river region there are still impressing riparian forest. They change all the time. During autumn they present a unique scenery.

The Treetop Walk In Ziegelwies, Austrian-German Border, Füssen

Thus the river lech region around Füssen and the Lechtal in Austria is a great place to see these riparian forests. But what’s even more fascinating is to see that riparian forests from above and to learn more about it. The Ziegelwies Baumwipfelpfad offers an unique perspective. It is some meters above ground and allows to be at the same level as the tree tops. The entry is directly near the German-Austrian Border. A parking space is near the street between Füssen and Reutte in Tyrolia. It offers fantastic oportunities for landscape photography.

Here is a view from the entry area of the treetop walk. The riverbank of the river lech is in the background.

The treetop walk on the left side allows many scenic views and is an unique experience. At the highest point there is a platform above the forest.

A view from the platform of the treetop walk

The forest on the other side of the river Lech is a healthy mixture of many different tree species. The river changes the landscape all the time. Flooding kills some trees but also creates new spaces.

Riparian Forest with brighter colours. The wilderness near the river bank.

The treetop way has a length of 480 metres and a height of 21 metres. The entrance fee is 5 Euros. There is an exhibition and a playground for children. Furthermore there is riparian forest trail below. The well-known “Lechfall” is a famous photo-location and sightseeing location. There are walks to the famous Neuschwanstein Castle, the Schwansee, a geo-path and a mountain forest trail with certain stations where you can learn more about the forest and the region.