Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Neuschweinstein Castle

Neuschweinstein castle
A900, f/7.1 @ 24 mm, 1/160, ISO 200

Neuschwanstein castle is a sort of a hallmark of Germany. When you are looking at the tour guide brochures, the castle stands as the most popular celebrity on every cover. Besides, every girl has it already well packed in their sub-consciousness through the Walt Disney’s ’Sleeping Beauty’, where Neuschwanstein inspired the creators of the cartoon.
So you can imagine how glorious this place must be!

That’s why we were very surprised when told by a friend of ours that castle is a bluff, not really a castle and not even worth visiting.
We still decided to go as we knew that at least the view of the Alps would not disappoint us and our cameras. Having reached the village named Hohenschwangau, we spent the most part of the day admiring the magnificent view from the bottom of the hill and cheering from happiness of being in that place.

The castle was there - probably in the most beautiful place in the whole country - built by Ludwig II, King of Bavaria, in 1886 as his refuge from the political complications of those days and materialisation of his personal fairy-tale. The castle was built around the thematic of a swan expressed through numerous sculptures and pictures in its interior.

Ludwig II spent his childhood in the Hohenschwangau castle, built by his father Maximilian II of Bavaria, that now neighbours Neuschwanstein adding to the beauty of the scenery. Hohenschwangau was decorated with scenes from medieval legends and poetry. There still as a child the king identified himself with Lohengrin from the legend of the Swan Night which obviously took deep roots in his spirit and fantasy and finally realizes itself through the castle.
To this very legend of the Swan Night Richard Wagner once dedicated a romantic opera. In his turn, Ludwig II, Wagner’s great admirer, dedicated the composer the whole Neuschwanstein castle installing a stage ready for opera performances of the renowned musician.

There is no other way to enter the castle rather than joining a tour: as the day passes along with final calls of the visitors bus, tourist start to disappear. You can live the sunset up there almost alone. Almost cause there's always a couple of landscape photographers passionately clicking with their cameras to capture the glory of the hills embraced with the last beams of a sleepy sun.

There is a road that leads back to the village through the woods surrounding the castle:we recommend to walk down there and be alert. No-no, no-one will rob you. But… engaged by the thoughts about the fairy-tale castle, when evening’s darkness prevails the setting sun, in the stillness of the nature you can hear the voice of the Swan King calling out from the trees: ’Cu-Cu…Cu-Cu...’.

The bridge taking visitors to the castle is a very common spot to take a snapshot: we needed to differentiate our image from the thousands taken in this very shot. We chose a wide angle view framed on the left by trees and on the right by the hills to give the impression of looking at a painting. The valley in the back gives depth by adding a third plane. The shot was hand-held, but having good light we could still choose the optimal aperture of the lens (around f/7.1) that gave us a very workable 1/160s shutter speed to ensure a sharp image. The fairy tale quality we had in mind at the moment we saw the scene was enhanced in post-processing by carefully choosing the green of the trees that form the base of the image.