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The Mont Blanc massif in the French Alps reflecting in Lac de Cheserys above Chamonix at sunset

The Mont Blanc massif in the French Alps reflecting in Lac de Cheserys above Chamonix with foehn clouds at sunset

Elements of Storm

Lac de Cheserys in the Aiguilles Rouge above Chamonix offers spectacular views of the Mont Blanc massif. At the end of a stormy day the sunset dramatically illuminates foehn clouds indicating high wind speeds at height. However, for a fleeting moment the wind calmed down just enough to allow for a glassy reflection of the snowy mountain range in this beautiful alpine lake.
The rainy and chilly central European summer of 2011 was caused by a stationary trough located over the region. The upper air stream of the mid latitudes usually moves slowly from west to east, meandering around the globe. A blocking situation stopped the movement and the trough was situated over central Europe. Numerous low pressure systems developed within the associated trough that contained cold and cloudy air that originated from polar regions. The southern border of the trough was most often located in the area of the Southern Alps causing frequently changing weather associated with moving fronts and weak high pressure ridges.
Often orographic foehn clouds appeared in connection with high wind speeds over the mountains as precursors for rainy weather. Cold fronts caused thunderstorms with intense convective rainfall in the valleys and large quantities of snow on the jagged peaks. Such unstable weather produces dramatic cloud decks but also thwart the desired lake reflections due to high wind speeds. Additionally the high amount of moisture causes the 4810 m (15780 ft) high Mont Blanc massif to hide in convective clouds for most of the time.
A lot of time, weather forecasting and effort to reach this remote lake was required to photograph the snowy massif at low light conditions including a perfect reflection of the mountains in the lake.

August 2011
Canon 5D MkII, Canon EF-L 16-35 mm, f/16, 4 sec, ISO 100, Lee grey neutral density filter, tripod

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