A picture is worth a thousand words, but it does not tell the entire story about the recent trip to the Landwasser Viaduct.

Introduction to the Landwasser Viaduct

This post was previously published on ExpediTom and adapted for ShutterTom. There is an additional section covering information regarding photography at the end of this post.

Recently, I felt the urgent need to go outside and take some photographs. Looking for a subject, I came across the Landwasser Viaduct in Switzerland, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Sight. The 60m tall stone bridge stretching 130m across a gorge and leading the train straight into a tunnel looks magnificent. However, doing justice to a UNESCO World Heritage sight was way more difficult than anticipated. Additionally, there are so many people out there who already took a picture of it and I did not just want to copy someone else’s idea.

Field Diary of the Landwasser Viaduct Journey

So I ventured to Filisur, which is very close to the Landwasser viaduct and where I slept in the Hotel Schöntal. Usually, I would have slept outdoors, but given I did not exactly know how cold it would be during the night I opted for the hotel. Leaving some gadgets in the hotel room, I left for the first southern look-out which is just a 20 minutes walk from the village. About every full hour 2 to 3 trains drive across the Landwasser Viaduct. I took some shots with the Sony A6500 and the telephoto Tamron lens 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 and additionally I flew the Mavic Pro drone.

Research

Actually, I planned to shoot the southern outlook as well as from the bottom of the bridge, but given that I arrived quite late in the afternoon and it got dark by 7 pm I did not hike down. Hence, I did not know what to expect of the bottom of the viaduct when going there early in the morning.

Yet, at home I checked the path of the night sky and I was aware that the day before I arrived it was a full moon. If I made it down to the bridge by 3am, the path of the moon should go across the Landwasser Viaduct when viewed from a Southwestern perspective.

Going back to the hotel, I put a short clip on Instagram and went to bed by 11 pm.

🕪🕪🕪S O U N D O N !🔊🔊🔊 Quick edit from this weekend, I just cannot leave so many clips unused on my hard disk so I had to up my workflow😂. . 🚁DJI Mavic Pro 📸Sony A6500, Tamron 18-200mm f/4.5-6.3 📍Landwasserviadukt, Switzerland . . . #snow #rhaetiansensation #artofvisuals #liveauthentic #swissalps #leagueoflenses #agameoftones #landwasserviadukt #beautifuldestinations #instanature #welivetoexplore #globewanderer #river #landscapephotography #mavicpro #intotheforest #droneheroes #forestscape #theoutdoorfolk #capture #planetearth #inLOVEwithSWITZERLAND #earthvisuals #dronestagram #naturelovers #bestoftheday #landscapes #waterfall @djiglobal @mavic_pro @graubuenden @rhaetischebahn @srfschweizerradioundfernsehen

Ein Beitrag geteilt von Fly Fishing Tom (@expeditom_oconnor) am

The Plan

The plan was to get up at 1:45am and being down by the bridge at 02:15. Yet, it did not come that far. I slept really bad and did not hear the clock ringing. Therefore I slept through until 05:30. I had never slept through as early as 5:30, but it can happen.

When I left the Hotel in Filisur, the milky way has disappeared already in the dawn of the new day. Given that the base of the Landwasser viaduct was a 40 minutes walk away, I made the best of it and took at least a night shot of the lovely village of Filisur. However, there were not that many stars left.

Village-scapes of Filisur early in the morning. The mountains in the background are lit by the moonshine. Filisur is very close to the Landwasser Viaduct
Village-scapes of Filisur early in the morning. The mountains in the background are lit by the moonshine.

Be flexible

Down by the bridge, my planned shot did not work out and I had to figure out some different ones. However, most of them failed in various ways. For example, I missed the train and so on and so forth. Neatly put: I was not very successful.

However, even less successful than me was another woman who got stuck with her car in the deep snow. I tried to help push her car back, but even with the help of 2 more people we could not get the car back on track. Given that the family had an event scheduled, they left the car and went away. I then had a chat with the woman, who lived in the house just below the bridge and she kindly offered me to sleep in a cabin at her place the next time I want to try to shoot the Landwasser Viaduct in Switzerland.

This view of the Landwasser Viaduct in Switzerland is more original by framing it with some scrub and trees from some distance.
This view of the Landwasser Viaduct in Switzerland is more original by framing it with some scrub and trees from some distance.

Plan B

Given that I had some more time left, I decided to go somewhere else. During the train ride to Filisur, I saw the confluence of the Hinter- and Vorderrhein in Reichenau-Tamins which looked amazing. Therefore, I went there.

Down by the river, the views were less convincing, but the water resembled the one  in Slovenia. Subsequently, I flew some rounds with the DJI Mavic Pro and returned home by train.

Plan B: The confluence of the Hinter- and Vorderrhein looks as if it was in Slovenia.
Plan B: The confluence of the Hinter- and Vorderrhein looks as if it was in Slovenia.


Take aways Landwasser Viaduct

Obviously, my prepared composition did not work due to no stars, but at least I could check the degrees where the milky way should stand to be visible for the next time. Remember to always have a plan B when going to photograph a sight where you have to travel some distance. Sometimes unforeseen things happen like the weather changes or you just sleep in and miss your opportunity. The latter happened to me this time. Nevertheless, I enjoyed this trip and met some interesting people.

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Breakfast with the Rhaetian railway locomotive at the Landwasser Viaduct in Switzerland – cheers!

Technical Aspects of Photography

Apart from the usual night photography setup with the Sigma 16mm f/1.4, a zoom lens proved very useful to get different shots from further away. This allows you to look for different framing options and longer focal lengths appear to compress the image more, so that your subjects is more prominent.

Another photographer asked me how to find the route down to the Viaduct, here’s my reply:

Check out this map here. You can either walk the designated hiking path from Filisur through the forest, but if there is lots of snow, you might consider taking the road. However, then you miss out the outlook from above. There’s a second one just on the opposite side, which is famous too. You’ll get there by following the hiking path from the bottom up.
If you’re unsure do not hesitate to ask a local, they’ll point you in the right direction.
Safe travels and good light,
Tom

Regulations Drone Photography Switzerland

Apart from a zoom lens, a drone is a second option to get a different perspective. I use the DJI Mavic Pro and am very satisfied with the image quality. Whenever you want to fly your drone in Switzerland, please check the location beforehand on this drone map from BAZL (Bundesamt für Zivile Luftfahrt) and make sure you read and understand our regulations.

If you are interested in obtaining a picture used in this post, do not hesitate to contact me.


Birds view of the Landwasser Viaduct in Switzerland on a moody morning.

Do you have any questions? Have you ever been to the Landwasser Viaduct?

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