Today’s two images were taken on the same day as the image in Wild Camping. Many of the images that I have taken in the Alps (which will be familiar to regular viewers of this blog) might be best ascribed to the ‘Chocolate Box’ or ‘Greetings Card’ type of image. Meaning they feature clear blue skies and saturated colours. Nothing wrong with them as a photographic genre; in fact they accurately portray (maybe ‘document’ is a better word) the Alpine panoramas to be found on a pure Summer’s day, but they can also look almost too good to be true and there will be many tourists out there who look at that type of image and are frustrated by nature’s failure to deliver a day that replicates what they feel they have been ‘promised’ as part of their holiday experience according to the travel guides and brochures that they have read.
Those perfect days do still occur but it is my belief as a veteran Alpine visitor that the prolonged periods of perfect weather that I recall from 30-40years ago are not occurring now as reliably as they did then. Or maybe my memory is becoming a little suspect with age.
I digress. Back to today’s images. This was a day of fleeting sun, and changing light. both feature walkers crossing snowfields en route to the Britannia Hut above Saas Fee in the Valais Alps. In the first image it is a single person, in the second a long line of them. It was early Summer but late Spring snow remained stubbornly in place, covering paths that by now, in other years, would have been substantially free of snow. Taken on a perfect day these images would have lacked character and interest, and probably they would not have been worth taking. There is an undeniable truth about ‘Chocolate Box’ images. Tourists snap ‘em up: they make good greetings card, calendar and chocolate wrapper images that sell Switzerland as a destination but somehow they will always seem to be a sanitized, utopian, air-brushed version of the truth. In short they often lack character. It takes light in all its fickleness and transience to breathe character into a scene. Scenes like today’s won’t sell holidays. But, in my opinion, they do make worthwhile images