Vernissage - Into the Light

2017-10-25_Into_the_Light_flyer.jpg

 On Friday, December 22, 2017, with my Vernissage and Exhibition 'Into the Light', I brought my Swiss mountain photos home. This two year journey of photographing mountains in Graubünden coincided with a major life change for me. Changes in my personal and professional life: death, divorce, chaos, new adventures and a new life. These mountains provided me with a metaphor for life - obstacles, challenges, darkness, happiness, light and summits finally reached. It is in the wide open spaces of being in nature with only these massive edifices in my view that I was able to see clearly my path and find my purpose. The story is in my photos. Where the mountain represents the journey, the summit represents the success.   

People have often asked me why I show my work in black and white, and I always respond that it is simply how I see nature. I see beyond the colours to the forms - I see the light and the shadows. It is in the juxtaposition of these two elements that I see the form. Colour often detracts from these basic elements and when it is removed I can see structures with clarity.

I was thrilled when Wera Graber invited me to show my photos at her Restaurant Dorta, in Zuoz. Wera has been supporting artists for years by hosting exhibitions in her culinary Mecca. As well, Martin Müller, director from the art Hotel Castell assisted in organising the Vernissage by the initial introduction and as well, hosting many friends and collectors who had come from all over for the Vernissage.  It was an amazing opportunity for me to show my mountain photos in the place where they were taken. Thank you to everyone who came out to support me and for those who are interested, the Exhibiton is on until April 9, 2018. So if you are passing through the Engadin, stop in at the Dorta for the most amazing Fondue, and a viewing of 'Into the Light', finished with a cocktail in the famous Red Bar of the nearby Hotel Castell.  

For more information: 
Restaurant Dorta
Hotel Castell

 

 

Finissage - "Summits" final days

2017_03_19_zrz_finiss_dmp.jpg

My solo photography exhibition "Summits" is soon coming to a close at Gallery StileVivo in Männedorf. It has been an amazing two months and I am really thankful that I was given the opportunity to host my first exhibition in the community where I live. The support of the ladies at StileVivo, my framer Werner Pfister, my printer at Fine Art Prints, my partner Christian Rogantini and everyone else involved has made this show a great success. From the opening of the exhibition to regular days at the gallery, people are coming from near and afar to see photos of the spectacular Swiss and Dolomite mountains. I am thrilled that my photos have now found homes in Whistler, Chamonix, Sweden and as well as locally in the Engadin and Männedorf. Join us for our Apero Finnisage where I will be talking about my journeys in the mountains and hosting a book signing of 'Into the Light', a hardcover collection of the "Summits" exhibition photos and more.  Here are the Finissage details.

Vernissage - "Summits" Part Two

On Saturday February 21, my photography exhibition 'Summits' opened with a day long Vernissage. The doors opened at 10:00 and I stood wondering if anyone would show up. It was kind of like that feeling of yonder years when you wonder if people will show up to your party. It was a cold, grey Saturday and I thought that many people would be escaping to the sun and snow for sure to be found in the mountains. I arrived just before the opening, poured myself a glass of water and waited. At 10:00 am we unlocked the doors and  people immediately started arriving. All kinds of people. Friends, former classmates from language and photography school, people whom I have gone on remote photography trips with, former teachers of mine and my children's, neighbors and clients of the gallery. It was a full house all day and I honestly had no idea I could talk so much. It was inspiring to hear the guest's stories of their experiences in the mountains whose very images were hanging on the wall. It seems everyone loves the mountains. And everyone has a story to share. I love stories. A few older gentlemen shared their personal stories of climbing some of the mountains when they were younger, and as they looked at the images I could sense them vividly remembering each step of their trek. It was a magical day for me to share my photos and to watch the visceral reactions they evoked. Here are some of images of the day.

Stay tuned for part three - Summits - 'Into the Light'

My first Exhibition - "Summits" Part One

2017_01_12_ExhibitDMP_plakat_72dpi.jpg

On Saturday January 21, 2017, my first solo Photo Exhibition opened at Gallery StileVivo in Männedorf, Switzerland.  The show opened with a Vernissage, which included the launch of my first published book ‘Into the Light’. ‘Summits’ and ‘Into the Light’ are the culmination of a 15 month journey into healing my shattered soul where I walked hundreds of kilometers, hung precariously out of helicopters, repelled into glaciers and took thousands of photos. While healing myself, I documented my journey and climbed my own metaphorical summit. This is my story.

Almost two years ago my mother died, and my long marriage ended. To deal with my grief, I started walking. I walked in the mountains, sometimes for a few days, sometimes for weeks. Whenever I could get away, I would find the highest accessible location and walk. Up to the summits and down into the valleys. Sometimes with a guide and sometimes with friends. Being in nature helped me to breathe and to calm my mind. It’s easy to not be preoccupied with one’s own thoughts when climbing on the side of a mountain. ‘One foot in front of the other’ was often my mantra. I always had my camera with me and would make time to stop and take a photo.

There is something incredibly cathartic about being high on a mountain. It’s no coincidence that mountains have historically been portrayed in literature as obstacles to be overcome, or symbolically as overcoming obstacles. In religious communities and writings, mountains are sacred, representing a fully aware state of consciousness and are the destinations of spiritual journeying. The world is full of sacred mountains, which climbers, pilgrims and adventurers have all flocked to in the hopes of experiencing spiritual transformation.

For me, mountains and their summits are pinnacles of power and grace. I personally feel an incredible surge of physical strength when I am standing on them. Geologists state that the Eurasian and African plates are still converging and the process of mountain building continues to this day at the rate of 1mm to 1 cm each year. I think this energy is palpable.

My exhibition ‘Summits’ is the culmination of my journey. At the beginning, I had no idea that it would result in anything at all, at the very least I was hoping for a bit of emotional healing. But I received much greater gifts. I have witnessed the inexplicable beauty of the most rugged and uninhabitable places; the poetry of nature’s creation that is pure and raw. But I also saw things that disturbed me like evidence of glaciers retreating, which is occurring at an alarming rate. Some areas that I photographed will look entirely different in a few years. This concerns me.

I have decided to use my photography not only to document what I think is beautiful in this world but also to show areas of concern that I feel need addressing. On a positive note, I believe we can all be engaged to make a difference in this amazing world in which we live, and to contribute something meaningful that we are passionate about. ‘Summits’ is my new beginning. I hope you enjoy the show. For further details about my exhibition, look here.

Stay tuned for part Two - "Vernissage" coming soon...

My Ansel Adams Tour - Part Three.

yosemite_sign.jpg

Yosemite is a really popular destination and while I knew that, I actually didn’t realize you need to book one year in advance if you actually want to stay in one of the three hotels in the park. I booked six months in advance and managed to get the last camping spot in the entire park. I was told it would be in Housekeeping Camp which was more of a massive tented city where campers shared a structural tent separated by a wooden wall in the middle. The walls and door were made of canvas and the front flaps were tied together for privacy at night and to keep the bugs out. As the ties to my side were broken they did neither; no privacy, and tons of mosquitoes. It was very basic to say the least and resembled more of a jail cell than anything else. Staying in House Camping Camp was good in the sense that it motivated me to get out and shoot. Up at 3:30 to head out at 4:00, no problem. Stay out all day, no problem. Head out to shoot at night and stay until the early hours, no problem! The first day we spent 22 hours out scouting, hiking, shooting and just enjoying the views. The few hours sleeping at the end of the day was like being in a coma so the camp surroundings hardly mattered in the end.

Traveling around Yosemite with someone like Michael, who as a conservationist and photographer, was the best experience I could have asked for. He was able to show me things I would have never seen or found on my own and as well treated me to a rare opportunity to visit Ansel Adams' original studio and home. Ansel died at the age of 82 in 1984, but he used the studio well into his 70’s and often held workshops there. The Ansel Adams' Gallery is now run by Ansel’s grandson and is built on the original property where visitors can buy Ansel Adams’ prints, cards and original signed photographs, as well take photography and walking tours.  Visiting the original home of Ansel Adams and looking at many of his beautiful signed photos was a perfect way to end an amazing journey.

My Ansel Adams Tour - Part Two.

I have not had much experience with Astrophotography but I really wanted to shoot the Milky Way in Yosemite. My first day there I had already been up since 4:00 am preparing for the sunrise, but I managed to find a second wind to keep on going and stay up to shoot at midnight. After dinner, and in the dark with headlamps as our guiding light, we hiked up Sentinel Dome to the location we had scouted earlier in the day. I was well aware, that unlike in Switzerland where I live, bears inhabit the Yosemite woods. I am very afraid of bears! Anyone who knows me, knows that I take being in bear territory very seriously. Having had encounters with both Grizzly and black bears alike, has made me very respectful when traveling in their space, especially during cub season. As I was thinking about this walking up the trail and breathing through my fear, I saw a pair of red glowing eyes looking directly at me.  I almost passed out! I held my breath for what seemed like forever until I could make out the faint lines of a deer in my headlamp's glow. It's amazing how the range of emotions can go from sheer terror to ecstatic relief in a matter of seconds. On the remainder of the hike we were accompanied by the Eagles playing loudly on my phone. Talking the entire way as we summited was out of the question and I needed a strategy to alert the bears of our presence. It worked beautifully. Well for me at least. On the way down, Michael, my Ansel Adams guide, told me he didn't like the Eagles! Who doesn't like the Eagles?!

Once we arrived at the top of Sentinel Dome there was a lone photographer but he was soon on his way down and we had the entire dome to ourselves for hours enjoying the milky way dance around the midnight sky. Hard to believe that there were hundreds of thousands of people somewhere in the valley below. As I mentioned, photographing the Milky Way is not something I am familiar with but with a bit of research and patience I found it to be a great experience, especially as I chose to shoot it with a fallen Jeffrey Pine in the foreground made famous by Ansel Adams.

I enjoyed photographing the milky way so much I decided to try it again the second night and found a great spot to set up with El Capitan in the horizon which was to be my foreground shadow. Well, sometimes things don’t turn out as planned. The police showed up on the road adjacent to where I had set up in the bushes and they had their red lights flashing as they pulled someone over. For hours. Literally the entire time I stood there waiting to take the photo was impossible because the red flashing light from the police car illuminated the entire forest of trees at the bottom of El Capitan in a bright red glow. So I took a photo of that instead and chatted with some lovely Germans whom we had met in the morning and invited them on their first milky way shoot. You win some, you lose some.

To be continued....

My Ansel Adams Tour - Part One.

yosemite_sign.jpg

Visiting Yosemite Park has always been on my top ten Bucket List goals since I fell in love with Ansel Adams’ photos as a child. I would look at the photos he made over decades and dream that some day I too could visit these spectacular spots and take my own pictures. The intensity of the black and white images set in the dramatic landscapes of massive granite domes and billowing cumulus imprinted themselves in my mind. It was only a matter of time!

Recently, I made the pilgrimage to Ansel's home and playground, where I had the privilege of having assistant Curator and photographer of The Ansel Adam’s Gallery, Michael Wise, as my guide for two days. I wanted to see all of the places that, up until now, I had only seen on paper and in the images of my own mind: Half Dome, Vernal Falls, Yosemite Falls, Sentinal Dome, Taft Point and the majestic 2307 meter granite boulder known as El Capitan.  It was a bit daunting that 2016 is Yosemite’s 150 birthday and the park has anticipated over 4 million visitors, mostly in the summer, when I was also going to be there. For someone who prefers to be in the mountains alone, and who has an aversion to large crowds, this was a huge challenge to take on but I had no other choice. Michael was amazing because he not only preferred to travel against the grain, but he actually had special places where we could be off of the beaten track. We were able to find places to shoot where we were often the only ones. This was paradise for me.

Our first morning we met up at 4:00 am to catch the sunrise coming up behind Half Dome. Yosemite is huge and it often takes hours to get anywhere especially as there is only one main ring road, which is often backed up for miles with traffic. But at 4:00 am we were the only ones around and quickly arrived to make our way to set up on Glacier Point. One of the things I love most about being a landscape photographer, besides being in nature, is that I actually live and breath the making of my photo. It takes me a while to set up because I want to know the space, so I often sit and just look around and feel where I am. Being at Glacier Point standing out on the 2199 meter high precipice at 5:30 am waiting for the sun to rise was an incredible experience.

There was no one around. No other tourists or photographers. Standing on top of this point looking out over Half Dome and all of the other granite mountains in the valley which were formed over hundreds of thousands of years during several ice ages, made me realize yet once again, how miniscule we are in not just our size but also the in the time which we inhabit this planet on which we live. It brings very clearly home the importance of  sustainability and how absolutely necessary it is if we are to continue to enjoy the beauty of nature’s bounty. I feel privileged to be able to document the things I see.

Stay tuned for more adventures on my ‘Ansel Adams’ Tour’ which involves the Eagles, police and campsite like no other. Photos from my real camera can be seen in the Yosemite 16 folder.

Ansel Adams is calling.

Since I was a child I have been mesmerised by the raw and dramatic beauty of Ansel Adams' photographs. I love black and white images and the different tones in his photos are so diverse, yet so subtile. It is the combination of all of these tones and his use of natural light which create the depth and dimension we have come to know as a recognisable Ansel Adams photograph. His commitment to obtaining the perfect photo was unparalleled and is well documented. His creation of the Zone System enabled him to create his images with mathematical precision. He would often stay out in his beloved Yosemite Valley for days at a stretch to reproduce the perfect image that he saw in his mind's eye. I have dreamt of visiting Yosemite Valley for decades to follow on the footsteps of Ansel Adams, and this summer my dream is finally coming true. In the upcoming months, I will be following Ansel's footsteps and seeing what he saw, albeit with a digital DLSR, but with a similar amount of unbridled passion. Of that I am sure.  So stay tuned to see the photos from one of my 'bucket list' adventures.

Our Portfolio Days were a smashing success.

My year as a student of CAP Fotoschule is over. The last official event was our CAP Portfolio Days, held this past weekend in Zurich, Wollishofen, in one of the School's Studios. We all proudly displayed selections from our year culminating in our own individual Portfolios. So many people came that there were often lines queuing to see some of our works. It was fantastic and wonderful to receive such amazing and positive feedback. I will miss the camaraderie of my classmates and the skilful tutelage of my teachers, but most of all I will miss the regularity of hanging out with a group of people who are as eager as, and obsessed with photography as I am. So for your viewing pleasure, here are a few impressions from our Portfolio Days. 

see the gallery

CAP Portfolio Days, 2+3 july 2016 in Wollishofen, Zurich

It has been a wonderful year long journey! A visual feast for my curious eyes. Taking photos of people, shoes, mountains, flowers, architecture and everything in between. It's been a wild, crazy and fun filled year. I made wonderful friends with my classmates and teachers alike, created some photos which fulfilled my expectations, was on a learning curve travelling around the speed of light and improved my rudimentary German skills. My year long studies at CAP Fotoschule in Zurich has officially come to an end and we will all be celebrating this weekend at CAP Portfolio Days in Wollishofen, Zurich. I invite everyone to come and take a look at what my 12 colleagues and I have created. Have a drink, a chat, let us inspire you to unleash the creative being inside you, or simply to just say hello. Everyone is welcome.  

My Portfolio book is published.

It took a long while and the path was full of seemingly unsurmountable hurdles, but finally my 'Portfolio Book 2015-16' is finished and in my hands. My Portfolio is an overview of my work since I started my professional photography studies at CAP Fotoschule in Zurich. It is full of photos taken in class, outside on assignment and as well on some private photography trips I took during the year. I will be unveiling my Portfolio this weekend at our CAP Portfolio Days along with the launching of my website. So stay tuned for next week's blog.... 

dawnamueller.com is online!

Yes it's online now!  I am happy to present my own website with a first overview of my work! I would be thrilled if you stopped by and had a look. Let me know what you think. I would love to hear from you.