You may have seen this photo of the Neuschwanstein castle in Bavaria million times. The overview of the castle which opens from the Marienbrucke – a bridge over an 80-meters gorge with a waterfall – is captured by thousands of photos, posters, puzzles, mugs, mouse pads and so on.
Sure enough I wanted to take some original shots, to find an unusual, undiscovered angle. Finally, this is what I came for to Bavaria.
We always see the results of a photographer’s work, but sometimes the history of taking a photo is even more interesting than the photo itself.
I spent the whole first day shooting Neuschwanstein castle from all sides, inside and from all scenery spots, but as far as it is surrounded by the treed cliffs from three sides, there were only three of them. So, if you are not provided with the climbing equipment (and not able to climb the cliffs) or a helicopter, you will fail to find some unusual shooting angle for Neuschwanstein. Your only choice is experimenting with light.
Having observed the castle on all sides and determined the cardinal direction, I thought that at the crack of down the rays of the rising sun will appeal out of this rock, lighten the sleepy castle, illuminated by the night spotlights from outside, with the tender light, and the mix of the different streams of light provides the extraordinary exposure and the original picture as a result. I should come here by night-time, climb at Marienbrucke, wait for the breaking of dawn and – the super shot will be in my pocket!
As the saying goes: if you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.
I parked my car at the footprint of Neuschwanstein in the night, went out of the car, looked at the starry sky and wreathed in complacent smile – all gets an A; the stars are shining, so the sky will be clear and there will be the dawning sun. I even left my umbrella, usually used for covering the camera when it is raining or snowing, in the car, and started to climb the mountain. Cheerful Hohenschwangau cheerfully gave me a wink – so well-lit, yellow and cozy – as much as to say, well, well, you’d better photograph me; I’m not worse and it’s light enough in here, and all the normal tourists are sleeping in their hotels.
4 o’clock in the morning. Neuschwanstein is not highlighted, as well as the forest. Nothing is highlighted at all! My torch was the only illumination. When I was walking up through the forest, an encouraging idea that wolves did not show up in here for quite a long time shot in my head several times; however everything looked completely different – it felt like the forest has all inhabitants which he must have.
And here is the castle. The tower was illuminated by the tractor headlights. Two workers paid no regard for me. Sure enough, what wonder? It’s a rainy late autumn, five o’clock in the morning and an idiot, dressed like an alien (there were so many clothes on me, and thanks God, as turned out a bit later), equipped with a tripod is climbing the mountains with a torch in his hands. A usual routine.
When I reached Marienbrucke, I made sure there were no competitors – there were fears that they would, – but instead there was the chilling cold wind and almost completely dark Neuschwanstein (only a couple of shining windows). The first screw-up: there will be no night photo of the castle. I stepped back a bit, right behind the cliff, where a small bench stand, and having refreshed myself with reasonably stockpiled red wine and protein bars (Weider Corporation, you may order a link – your bars managed with the task), and began to wait for the dawn.
The stars slowly disappeared, and the drizzling rain began (umbrella stayed in the car); thanks God, the jacket had a hood, and a pair of pants, Docker boots, two jumpers and even knitted gloves (I was really well prepared) helped me struggling against the wind. But an hour later I started to freeze up, and then the reserve troops – a 30-millilitre bottle of cognac from Duty Free – was thrown into the battle.
The darkness broke away. I fixed the tripod and found out that it was not high enough. The second screw-up: the camera lens occurred right at the handrails level of the bridge. Okay, I will have to place the camera at the rails, not to blur the pictures. And suddenly a heavy mist came down and it began snowing hard.
Meanwhile the light was growing, and Neuschwanstein was getting awake deep in the mist. Well, it’s time to work. Have I already mentioned I left my umbrella in the car? And the wind did not let the snowflakes falling down peacefully – they were blown up angle-wise and of course directly to the camera lens. So I had to run along the bridge and shoot, covering the lens with the glove. It did not help!
Almost at once my Sony got the severe injury – a huge snow flake right to the lens – and was hospitalized (to the bag). The reserve Nikon camera rushed into the fight. Of course it is weaker under the unfavourable conditions of shooting, but what else could I do – the main player needed reanimation.
It was getting lighter and snowy as well. Neuschwanstein gradually showed through the mist, but with no rush. I took some more shots for an hour and realized that there will be no expected dawn that day; that “milk” was everything that the nature decided to provide me with today. I guess God laughed enough.
In spite of the losses in technique, I still managed to take some unusual shots. But were they successful – it is another question.
On the way back the castle turned and said over his shoulder,
“I’m sorry, I have no power over nature. Will you come back?”
And there was no one around, just me and the world’s most beautiful castle – Neuschwanstein.