I Have Been Photographing Alps For 10 Years James Hawk September 25, 2017 Lifestyle, Photography 73 My name is Roberto Bertero, I am a mountain photographer and a professional musician (a classical organist) based in Turin, Italy. I have been shooting mountains since 2007, but my love for those pristine places has always been part of me. Being born in the region of Piedmont (whose name literally means “at the foot of the mountains”), before I even begun my hiking/alpinist activities, my own imagination as a child was already up there, wandering around those wild alpine areas. To me, the Alps have always represented: adventure, grace, freedom, and mystery. I would say all elements that can help inspire an existence. The act of conquering a summit for me doesn’t make any sense if it is not part of a complete alpine experience, like living the mountain at all hours and being able to solve problems related to the survival on the spot (find water, prepare a shelter for the night, etc). Because, in my point of view, only this elements have an authentic charm, and can transform what could be just a sporting activity in a complete life lesson. There is no “conquest” in the mountains, there is only inner search, desire to liberate oneself, focusing all senses on what really matters in life. I am distressed by the Italian disinterestedness towards everything that makes culture and valorization of the territory. Most of the time local societies do not have money, and whoever has some funding always invests in the usual clichés. Such a waste of potential. “Oh mia patria, sì bella e perduta!” Giuseppe Verdi (Oh my country, so beautiful and lost!). I would change things if only I could!… but I’m just a small person with ordinary resources, one like so many. All I can do is to focus on the real natural beauty of my country and, possibly, when I can, portray it. I want to close with a quote from the film Seven Years in Tibet by great director Jean-Jacques Annaud, who perfectly synthesizes also my vision of the mountain. “Then, tell me what you love about mountain.” “The absolute simplicity. That’s what I love. When you’re climbing your mind is clear and free from all confusion. You have focus. And suddenly the light becomes sharper, the sounds are richer and you’re filled with the deep, powerful presence of life”. May I add something more? I guess no. Here you are some shots that I hope can offer an idea of my own journey, both physical and photographic, undertaken during the last 10 years. Thanks for watching and for stopping by! More info: robertobertero.com The Birth of Light Sunrise admired from the summit of mount Rocciamelone (3.538 meters / 11,603 feet), Italy, near a snowy crest.Below, mountain summits shaking the sea of clouds like the bow of a ship. Cloud Wave I took this photo at dawn on September 10th 2010, after a night spent on the summit of Mount Rocciamelone (3,538 m – 11,608 ft), Susa Valley, Italy.The rising sun was magically enlightening rivers of clouds sinuously caressing the steep mountain ridges below. Moments of Contemplation Self-timer shot, taken at sunset from the summit of Mount Rocciamelone (3.538 m), Italy.Here you can see the sun caught in the exact moment before its final setting, behind the mountains of the Vanoise National Park, France… it just began to assume the contours of the distant ridges. At this point, generally, we only have one more exact minute before saying good bye to our star 🙂A huge bank of clouds and high mists, fluttering all around the summit, made the landscape very ethereal, visionary, somehow constantly evolving in terms of lights and shapes… nothing is more fascinating of what we can barely glimpse.This side of the Rocciamelone is exposed to the west, certainly the most austere and impracticable face, with 3.000 meters of ridges rushing down, till to the plain.Nevertheless this spot was pretty safe, as I still had a rocky prominence under me. Mountains Dream Too Shot taken on September 7th 2012, at 7:15 a.m. from the summit of mount Rocciamelone (3,538 m), Italy.Distant valleys, ridges, shrouded in the ethereal golden light that follows the sunrise, seemed still wrapped in a mystical dream.As in an ancient Chinese print…Picture captured with a 300mm telephoto lens. These are places quite far from the summit of mount Rocciamelone, but to be looking for these details, “fragments” in an immense landscape, is always my priority.Actually to search the otherworldly on Earth is my priority. Sea of clouds and shadow of Earth One of those situations with a high rate of majesty mixed with minimalism that only high mountain can offer.Here, literally, there isn’t much of landscape 🙂 it is essentially a giant carpet of clouds stretching to the horizon. The only earthly presence is represented by the summit area of Punta Lunella (2.772 m), Val di Susa, Italy.Shot taken at sunset from the summit of Mount Rocciamelone (3,538 meters/11,603 feet). Since we are looking towards the east, in the sky is perfectly visible the shadow cast by planet Earth in its own atmosphere (the blue band). Magic Night A beautiful carpet of clouds was silently shrouding the world below… so, with my friend in the photo, I took all the time to admire it 🙂 simply following the trail near La Riposa (2,205 meters), Mount Rocciamelone, Italy.Here the view point is exactly behind the sea of clouds. The whole scene is illuminated only by moonlight, while my dear friend holds the pose for 10 seconds, to avoid movements during the exposure.Top left is clearly visible the constellation Scorpius, with the red supergiant Antares. Ibex with her cub These are two ibexes I’ve met at 3.538 meters altitude, on the summit of Mount Rocciamelone, Susa Valley, Italy.Unlike most wildlife shots I haven’t used any telezoom here, a simple 55mm was enough, since I was two meters away from the mother, and… as you can see, she was really not in the mood to let me go near her cub… obviously I respected their privacy.On the top left you can see part of the glacier below, at 3.200 m altitude. Baby Marmots I’ve always thought that marmots were cute animals… well, when they are cubs it’s even better.Just met these two soft puppies in the Gran Paradiso National Park, Italy. Mmmmh? This wasn’t here yesterday… While I was waiting for a gorgeous sunset from beneath the Aiguilles d’Arves, France, a cow was wondering about the presence of my tent 🙂 The Secret Path Mist, reddish leaves on the ground… the torpor of the woods… a prelude to autumn that was approaching. Oniric Landscape Rocca Bianca (3.021 m) and Mount Baueria (2.960 m) snorting through the clouds and mists of the high val Maira, Italy.When mighty mountains can become almost… intangible. Vallée du Vénéon A look on the Vallée du Vénéon in autumn livery, with the French road D530 that runs along.Écrins National Park (France). Shades of the Evening A sunset rich of nuances, calm and expressive, viewed from the hill above Lake Rosset (2.709 m), Gran Paradiso National Park, Italy.In the distance, across the valley, you can see the Piccolo Paradiso (3.926 m), Gran Paradiso (4.061 m) and Tresenta (3.609 m). Aiguilles d’Arves at Sunset These are the gorgeous Aiguilles d’Arves (Savoie), also nicknamed by the French local as “the three sisters”, admired at sunset during a cold evening at the end of March.From left to right: Aiguille Septentrionale (3.364 m), Aiguille Centrale (3.513 m), Aiguille Méridionale (3.514 m). Matterhorn West Face from my Tent The west wall of the Matterhorn (4.478 m) stands outside of my tent!Shot taken on the highest point of Stockji glacier (3.600 m), a hundred meters below the summit of the Tête Blanche, along the ski mountaineering Haute Route Chamonix-Zermatt.When I can, I do not miss the opportunity to take a picture from the inside of my tent 🙂 whose tentine, by their very nature, lend themselves to frame the subject. Also it can be fun to try correlations between the geometric interior design of the tent and the structure of the landscape outside. In photography the geometry is relevant as well as the light. Above the Mists of Valsusa Val di Susa and Val Sangone observed from above the mists.In the distance the easily recognizable pyramidal shape of Mount Viso (Italy). The Secret Eye of the Night Night shot, long exposure, portraying the righteously world famous Swiss side of the Matterhorn mirroring in the calm waters of lake Stellisee (2.537 m).I liked how the clouds – stretched due to their movements during the exposure – formed a sort of eye, within which lies the Matterhorn.Actually, you can never exactly predict how the clouds will look like at the end of a long exposure, and this is certainly one of the most fascinating aspects of this photographic technique. The Creation Rosengarten, Dolomites. The Vajolet Towers at dawn, mystically shrouded in mist.There are scenes, moments, experiences of our lives, which can hardly be expressed in words. In some cases a simple image can be more direct, although even here it is not always easy to “grab the instant” but it’s always worth at least a try. Grandes Jorasses, Pointe Walker Night Shot, portraying the Pointe Walker (4,208 m; 13,806 ft), main summit of the Grandes Jorasses, illuminated by moonlight.Mont Blanc massif, Italy. The Mystic Planet It is night and I stand on the highest mountain of the Vallée Étroite, the Mount Thabor (3.178 m), Hautes-Alpes (France).The mists along the valley, illuminated by the pale light of the full moon, offered me the opportunity to admire this almost otherworldly scene. The colors and the moderate brightness is perfectly faithful to the observed scene.For an instant I’ve thought to be landed on a distant planet, lost in space, were it not that my eyes could still recognize the various surrounding mountains, like: the Grand Seru (2.889 m), Guglia Rossa (2.548 m), Fraiteve (2.702 m), Rognosa di Sestriere (3.280 m), Chaberton (3.131 m), Pic de Rochebrune (3.324 m)… Valleys in the Mist at Moonlight A succession of valleys shrouded in the mystery of a misty night, in the distance on the left stands the lovely Pic de Rochebrune (3.324 m).Shot taken during a night spent on the summit of Mount Thabor (3.178 m), Hautes-Alpes (France). Mystical Intersections The Milky Way aligned with the north east face of the Tre Cime di Lavaredo (Dolomites) seems flowing into the two rivers of clouds below. Hence the title of this photograph.Among the many stars, is perfectly recognizable Altair, the biggest and brightest on the left of the Milky Way.I’ve then mounted my tent (visible in the lower center) for the night. Wuthering Heights Actually this turned out to be really a great night! No real climate problem (also thanks to the cozy bivouac). Anyhow I think that the title “Wuthering Heights” can offer really a good idea of what it means to be at 2.437 meters in front of the Argentera massif (Italy) whipped by strong winds and huge banks of clouds. An evening/night undoubtedly of great character and charm.From left to right: Cima Sud Argentera (3.297 m), Cima Genova, Passo dei Detriti, Cima Paganini, Cima di Nasta, il Baus, Cima del Lago di Nasta, il Bastione, Colle di Bròcan, Cima di Bròcan. Frozen Landscape The simple oneiric beauty of a pale sun setting over an entirely frozen landscape.Down you see the plate of the frozen lake.Col du Mont Cenis (2.083 m), Savoie, France. 85 km-h Winds Garstelet glacier (3,600 m), Monte Rosa massif Colors, Forms and Light A detail of Pointe Clairy (3.161 m), located in the Mont-Cenis area (France).Nothing too fancy, but I’ve loved how the clouds were caressing the snowy ridges as well as the dialogue of colors & light that was emerging thanks to the light of sunset. Adaptability Just a detail of a waterfall.Interesting especially because it shows the water ability of adaptation to the slightest geometric shapes… which reminded me a lot of the most useful skill that it’s necessary to have on the mountains: the ability to adapt (to places and to atmospheric agents).Location: Gran Paradiso National Park (Italy). Monsters in the Mist Autumn is primarily known and appreciated for the falling leaves and the ever changing colors of the trees… but there is another aspect that makes this season unique: the foggy and cloudy climate.At high altitudes, where trees are just a memory, this climate is showing fascinating aspects… actually this is something that you either love it or hate it.Anyhow, I guess it is rather difficult to remain indifferent to the vision of huge “monsters” proudly emerging among oceans of clouds and mists…So, this is also a face of our beloved autumn, a cauldron of desolation and sadness… or, at least as I see it, of extreme beauty and strength, which recalls a primitive condition of the planet.Shot taken in the Écrins National Park (France). Slapped by the Wind Here you can see part of the Aiguilles de Chamonix (Mont Blanc massif), in the exact moment when a turbulence began to set free a few summits, revealing a magic world completely encrusted in ice.A view that does not happen every day, even in winter, because of the very vertical walls.This is the light just before sunset. I would say the best one for this kind of subject, since a warmer light would have somehow interfered with the glacial atmosphere.From left to right: Aiguille de Blaitière (3.522 m), Dent du Caiman (3.554 m), Dent du Crocodile (3.640 m), Aiguille du Plan (3.673 m). Solitude A little tree somehow “lost” in vast expanses of pure snow, when, towards evening, it takes shades of colors ranging from white to delicate blue. Dolomites Kaleidoscopic Sunset This sunset didn’t prove to be particularly striking on a matter of intensity of colors, in the sense that I’ve witnessed definitely more “burning” mountains here and there along the Alpine range… but, in its own way, in the sleepy atmosphere of the evening, it was able to offer a gorgeous palette of lovely soft colors all perfectly blended together, a kaleidoscopical vision I might say, which frankly I had not yet ever seen before.This scenery shows the Cadini of Misurina and the southern faces of the Tre Cime di Lavaredo, Dolomites (Italy).The refuge Fonda Savio (2.367 m) is also clearly visible, below, center image. Morning on the Gardetta Plateau Early morning on the Gardetta plateau, with beautiful view towards the Rocca la Meja (2.831 m). Val Maira, Italy. Lavaredo Age of Fire Here, under the imposing walls of the Tre Cime di Lavaredo (Drei Zinnen), some people had lit a big fire for the night… which, in due distance, filled with magic the entire landscape, somehow I’ve just felt to be back to the stone age 🙂The night light comes from the moon (73%, risen on the east at 9:05 pm), appearing and disappearing among thick clouds. Autumn Slumber Autumn is not only a colorful season. It is also a season of sleep and death.The purpose of this simple shot was to render that subtle sense of sadness, mixed with torpor, that well characterizes this season. Thanks to the pale colors of a day fading away and the branches almost yearning to the moon. Awakening Mountains Sunrise as seen from the summit of Mount Rocciamelone (3,538 m – 11,608 ft), Susa valley, Italy.The first warm rays of light are shyly painting the snowy peaks of the frontal mountain range, the Valnoise National Park.Peace, silence and a gentle breeze all around.I think this is one of the most significant moments that, until now, I’ve been able to capture on the mountains.It does not have the “wow factor”… which in my opinion leaves you with the same rapidity which it appears… it’s showing instead the simple amazing grace of events that are actually happening on daily basis… just too far from the eyes of most people…A friend of mine once asked me a question: “What matters most: what surprises you or what touches your heart?” Eye of Ra View of the rising sun from the summit of mount Rocciamelone (3,538 m – 11,608 ft), Susa Valley, Italy. The Blazing Planet This has been certainly one of the most impressive sunsets I’ve seen in the Alps.Admired on September 27th 2012, from the summit of Mount Rocciamelone (3.538 m), Italy.Clearly visible the Dauphiné Alps. The Massif des Écrins with the glorious Barre des Écrins and La Meije.High glaciers and peaks were not particularly interested by the classic alpenglow phenomenon, all the slanting rays of the setting sun were concentrated on a huge mass of clouds, like a sort of devastating blaze, as on some planets that have the misfortune of being too close to their star. The Flying Mountain The Dents d’Ambin (3.372 m) photographed in the moonlight from the summit of Mount Malamot (2.917 m), France.As in the “Flying Dutchman” a legendary ghost ship can never make port doomed to sail the oceans forever, also looking at the result of this long exposure taken at moonlight I couldn’t help but to think of a mountain, destined to fly forever between oceans of clouds.Besides, this particular mountain is well suited to the symbolic concept of damnation thanks to its peaks, fitted with “horns”.I think the black and white helps to emphasize the sense of drama. The Enchanted Castle Shot taken in front of the southern side of the world famous Vajolet Towers, South Tyrol Dolomites, one of my favorite places in the Alps, if not the absolute favorite.The moment of the day is the transition between the blue hour and the night, basically when the stars are appearing in the sky, or, at least, when the camera begins to see the stars (under this aspect our cameras while working at high ISO are much more sensitive than the human eye).In the upper right corner is visible the Andromeda Galaxy.The towers benefit here of a light evidently still present in the atmosphere from the west, due to the sun below the horizon, a light that my eyes could no longer see.I opted for a black and white just to make the most from this almost “otherworldly” atmosphere. Arabesque This was taken watching upwards over my head, toward the roof of the woods.It’s just a intricate, harmonious, structure of branches in the fog.A forest shrouded in mist always turns out in something impalpable, full of grace and elegance.Thanks to the fog the play of light are accentuated, allowing to define a structure that looks almost like an embroidery, which, especially in black and white, brought to my mind the sinuous patterns of an arabesque or a mandala.