The Ten Most Beautiful Lakes in the Alps to Photograph
THE HEAT COMPANY Ambassador Roberto Sysa Moiola reveals his personal ranking of the 10 most beautiful lakes he has admired and photographed in the Alps in 20 years, from the Dolomites to the Matterhorn, from Mont Blanc to the Engadine.
Every Alpine lake has something that is characteristic of it and makes it unique. Therefore, the more you see of these mountain lakes, the more you want to see. The colour of their waters varies endlessly, from emerald green to sapphire blue. For Roberto Sysa Moiola, the lakes exude a melancholic poetry, which is why he returns to these places again and again. Since he started exploring the mountains of the whole world in 2000, he has seen and photographed countless lakes. Today, for the first time, Roberto shows us his TOP TEN of the most beautiful lakes in the Alps and gives professional tips on how to best set the scene with your camera.
10 – Lago delle Forbici, Valmalenco (IT)
This is the only 'local' lake I have included in this special ranking, but it could be any of the beautiful lakes of my local valleys. The moment of thawing is one of the most exciting. The timing has to be chosen carefully and requires a long wait, often comprising downfalls. But if you are lucky like me to be able to return, sooner or later you will be able to admire it in a completely unfamiliar light. And then the image will not be trivial. To take advantage of the colours of the thaw, look for times when the blue will be at its best.
And don't be afraid to get into the water! Certainly in these situations it will be essential to dress well, covering above all your hands and feet, thus being able to concentrate totally on the shot without any 'external' discomfort. Fortunately, THE HEAT COMPANY gloves and insoles never let you down in these situations!
warm feet during the long wait for sunrise
In winter and spring, waiting for the sun to rise in the high mountains involves a lot of physical effort to brave the cold. I never run out of insole warmers in my backpack to keep my feet warm! Well begun is half done!
9 – Lago di Braies, Dolomiti (IT)
It is inevitable that the easily accessible and spectacular lakes will over time become hot spots for hiker, photographers and influencer. And as time passes, the original shot becomes more and more difficult. My advice is to add a technique such as a long exposure. After several minutes the clouds and the effect set on the surface will be the stars of a postcard shot.
Pack a polarising filter for the Lago di Braies
Among the various camera filters that a landscape photographer should always have with him, I would like to highlight the polarising filter, with which the intensity of the reflection on the water surface can be wonderfully enhanced.
8 – Mürren-Birg, Jungfrau Region (CH)
Sometimes there are unknown, little photographed lakes where you can capture special images as a first. I still remember: I was away from home for a week and came back to this lake and was rewarded. I love photographing the moments that make the day: the blue hour, the transition from sunset to night, the moment the moon rises over the mountains, the change in weather at sunrise. These are moments that can provide incredible surprises and break the monotony of a hot, cloudless summer day.
use apps to take awesome photos
Planning is one of the most important factors for success. Therefore, it is important to learn how to use appropriate software and smartphone apps that allow you to predict, for example, the exact position of the moon during the day or a specific constellation. For this composition I have used the app called Planit Pro.
7 – Misurina Lake, Dolomites (IT)
It is not easy to photograph a lake in winter, especially when it is already covered in frost and snow. Sometimes, however, this endless white desert in the foreground can become a motif that lends harmony to the photo and guides the eye towards the horizon. If you add the evening lights of a village to your capture, you get an atmosphere of warm and cold colours in a single shot, which together create a magnificent concert of nature.
Use the mixed light of the peak season for special photos!
In winter, go ahead and go to places where you hope to catch some artificial light to add to your landscape. It's best to do this during peak season so that you will find as many lanterns and house lights as possible at the blue hour.
6 – Lago Bianco, Berninapass (CH)
The panorama reflected in all its beauty in an Alpine lake is a timeless classic. But sometimes I try to go further and look for something unique and original, something that might convey a special feeling to the viewer. The warm light, a familiar, attractive shape, the presence of a person that tells us something about a situation, all these together can create a special harmony. These are unique, unrepeatable images that I cannot plan. The most beautiful.
Safety always comes first!
Never go into dangerous situations alone! Check with the locals if a particular situation is considered safe. On frozen lakes in winter, a rope and ice axe are a must!
5 – Lake Riffel, Zermatt (CH)
There are lakes and mountains that are so famous that every photo risks being a more or less beautiful copy of what you've already seen - especially today in the world of social media. That's why I often try to go to these places when the tourist time is over. November is the best month for those looking for solitude, although admittedly staying out all night with a tent at 3,000 meters isn't easy. But if you are well equipped, I am sure that you too will conquer your fears and then the grand prize will be there waiting for you. Because nature always knows how to please a photographer.
For the night in the tent I recommend the warmers from THE HEAT COMPANY, especially the back warmer and the foot warmers . Even the batteries for your camera stay toasty warm all night with the multi warmer and don't lose any power during the cold night.
Bring your own personality and preferences into your photos
Sunrise or sunset? What time of year is best to go to a particular place? Take the time to research before you travel to a location. The answer will depend on your personal preferences. Do I prefer the backlight or the sun shining over my shoulder? Do I love the green of summer and the play of colours in the flowers, or do I want to try something more expressive, like the first ice spreading over the lake?
4 – Lake Limmern, Canton of Glarus (CH)
I am often amazed myself when I come across a view that takes my breath away. It is unbelievable how vast the mountains, the Alps, are. So many lakes take their place every year after winter. It's up to us to find them, during long winter nights, daydreaming in front of the computer, planning trips for the summer. And when the time comes, you set off without feeling the fatigue or the cold. The view always warms you as long as you are in love with nature. Sometimes I show myself in the pictures to convey what I feel. Pay attention to the details and you will take great shots.
Add people into your landscape
If you decide to include people in the scene, it is important to focus on the colour harmony of the protagonists' objects and clothing. I like to choose these colours according to the seasons, for example, I often use yellow and red in winter, while I prefer softer colours in summer.
3 – Lake Sils, Engadin (CH)
The time I look forward to most every year is when the lakes freeze again. I keep my fingers crossed that the snow will come late so that I can go in search of the methane gas bubbles that remain trapped beneath the surface. I then spend my days searching for the best bubbles, always afraid of ending up in the lake should the icy surface that preserves my life break. These are very strong emotions that test me. Spending the night outside to take a photo with the stars is something magical and unique in these conditions, and in the end the result can be just as magical. This is one of the many shots of the ice bubbles on Lake Sils that I took at first light in the morning.
Warmers provide cosy warmth for cold hours on the ice
2 – Lake Bachalp, Grindelwald (CH)
A lake, especially a mountain lake, invites you to linger and it is difficult to tear yourself away from it. On its surface rest vertiginous ridges, steep walls, furrowed glaciers, but also the calm pattern of mountain rises smoothed by ancient glaciers, or the grassy hills of alpine meadows; images that invite us to linger, reflect and rest. It is up to us photographers to be artists, to avoid being overwhelmed by so much beauty and falling into the banal snapshot that could blight a very beautiful place. Try taking advantage of the sunlight, try inserting a human silhouette, and everything suddenly has something magical.
Don't be afraid of the sun and the backlight!
Sometimes I admire the mountains at sunset, kissed by the last warm light of the sun, other times I love the backlight, looking for a dreamlike mood. Which do you prefer in your photos?
1 – Lacs de Cheserys, Chamonix (FR)
"I end this summary with the lake that is close to my heart more than any other. We are in France, above Chamonix, at Lacs de Cheserys, in the middle of the Mont Blanc massif and its most famous peaks. I was waiting at the time for the first snowfall of autumn to set off in search of this particular shot. I love this reflection, the perfection in it makes me dream. I thus capture the longed-for goal of every hiker in the simplicity of a mirror."
The best season for landscape photography
There is a moment in the passing of the seasons that fascinates me the most: The first snowfall has covered the landscape, but the lake is not yet frozen. In these moments, also thanks to the complete absence of wind, I was able to take my most beautiful pictures. So remember: October and November are the best months!
About the Author:
Roberto (Sysa) Moiola is an Italian professional freelance photographer and co-founder of the Italian photo agency Clickalps.com. Roberto teaches photography classes (especially online) and leads photo tours across Italy and Europe together with Brockmann Phototravel.
Roberto loves to travel the world, always on the lookout for new visuals or different views of popular locations. As an award-winning professional photographer, he works with many renowned magazines and photo agencies, such as Getty Images. His images are regularly published in books, magazines, commercials and calendars.