Two Rainy Mornings, Water and Clouds

Last weekend, the weather was not ideal for taking great photographs. On both days, it was very cloudy and rainy, but there were no “interesting” or dramatic clouds that would have looked nice in a composition, rather high clouds that looked a bit dull.

Does it always have to be sunny? Is it ok to have rainy days? I think it’s all part of life so I decided to go up to the mountains and to spend some time outdoors. In the end, it’s not just about photography but also about getting some fresh air, peace and quietness. Also, overcast weather can be good for taking detailed shots of details in a landscape.

Both mornings, I set off very early to get to my destination with the first light (and to be back home for breakfast with my family).

Rainy spring morning at Le Lac Bénit (1452 m)

On Saturday, I went to a little lake called Le Lac Bénit which is set in a beautiful mountain scenery underneath the steep limestone cliffs of a mountain called Le Petit Bargy. The last time I came here was last summer with Jen and Sophie and it was the hottest time of year. Sophie had spent an hour sitting in the water and watching the tadpoles nibbling at her toes!

This Saturday, however, the lake was still frozen and a lot of snow was still covering the forest around the lake. I arrived too early and started to wonder if it had been such a good idea to come here, especially when it started to rain lightly.

As there was clearly no photograph to be taken in these conditions, I decided to wait for the morning light and listened to the birds singing their morning song. The dark of the night slowly disappeared and I could suddenly see my surroundings. I often feel a bit scared walking up a mountain or a forest in the night, everything looks dark and every little noise and shape looks unfamiliar, especially on a cold and rainy morning like last Saturday. But then morning comes and all the irrational thoughts disappear.

A dark shadow that had appeared to be looming close to me for half an hour and that looked a bit like a person crouching in the dark or an animal looking at me turned out to be a small pine tree, and the steep slope I thought I was standing on turned out to be a harmless little hill.


Snowcovered Lac Bénit on a rainy morning

Frozen Lac Bénit in spring, just before melting.

The light wasn’t amazing but I still managed to take a few pictures of the snow-covered lake. There was an interesting star-shaped form in the middle of the lake where the ice was probably going to break open soon.

On the way down, I was also drawn to a view of the valley below with a menacing sky above as well as the steep limestone cliffs of the Petit Bargy on the right. By then, it was starting to rain and I was feeling cold so I decided it was time to go back home for a nice family breakfast.

Wet start to the day at Col des Aravis (1487 m)

On Sunday, it was raining quite heavily when I got up at 4:30 am and it didn’t look promising at all. At first, I wondered if there was any point going out at all but then my curiosity of what might be out there took over.

I drove up in the dark with the rain falling heavily on my windscreen. I went up a mountain pass called Le Col des Aravis which is a 45 minutes’ drive away from where I live. On the way there, I drove through the famous French ski resort La Clusaz, now looking rainy and drab. I thought to myself that the winter season was clearly over as I drove past wet and melting skiing slopes.

It was 6 am when I parked the car next to the mountain road close to a little tunnel and a noisy torrent. Even though it never really stopped raining, I go out of the car and spent an hour observing the wet mountains. It was nice to be so high up at a funny hour of the day. It made me feel like all every little problem was far away now, small and insignificant. Also, the wind helped to “blow away the cobwebs”.

I think that wet and rainy really is the best way to describe what everything was looking like, from the gushing water of the torrent to the wet and dirty snow higher up.

Curvy rainy road at Col des Aravis

Early morning at Col des Aravis on a wet and rainy day in April.

On the drive back down, I stopped to take in the view of La Clusaz down below with the dense forest as a backdrop. I noticed the contrasting fresh greens of the deciduous trees spread out in the middle of the darker pine forest and couldn’t help thinking that the autumnal colours must be impressive around here!

Even though, photographically, these two days didn’t offer very interesting weather and light, I realised that it’s important for me to make the most of being able to spend precious time outdoors and that that’s more important than to come back with a great shot. Also, you never know what you’ll find out there, and if you don’t even make the effort to go and look, you might miss out on great experiences.

I’d say that this weekend was less about enjoying a beautiful scenery and more about mystery and questions. Also, Saturday’s hike to the Lac Bénit motivated me to come back with Jen and Sophie this summer for a family picnic, hoping that it would be less rainy the next time!

Right now, the weather doesn’t look great for next Saturday but I might get lucky on Sunday morning. I’ll let you know next week!

What did you do last weekend? Did you get to go outdoors? Was it too wet? How about putting on those waterproofs and jumping up and down muddy puddles young kids? 

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Thomas Bürkl

Thomas Bürkl is a blogger and photographer who loves spending time outdoors and escaping the strict rules of everyday life. His aim is to help people see the positive side of life through his photography and writing. Thomas comes from Bavaria in Southern Germany and now lives in the French Alps with his wife, daughter and son.

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