Most photographic compositions are not apparent at first sight. But tenacity and experience will eventually lead the way to success, even in difficult situations. Often the best compositions will ly behind you, only visible by a look over your shoulder.

In October 2015 I have spent a few days in the region of Schladming, exploring the wonderful landscapes in the heart of Austria. A couple of weeks earlier I had read an article about a narrow gorge in Ramsau, not far from Schladming which made me want to explore it with my camera.

So I drove the few minutes to the starting point of the hike into the ravine.

From there a small path was leading ever steeper up along the rushing stream over wooden walkways and staircases deeper and deeper into the narrow canyon.

In my first attempts to to capture my impressions I created some almost abstract close up images that certainly did not convey the beauty of this landscape.

The rock walls were closing in tighter while the path got ever steeper and more daring above the rushing waters. The views got more and more restricted after every corner and the wooden stairways began to dominate the whole scenery. Slowly I started to lose sight of this place’s true character. My images degraded into merely documentary snapshots of my hike along the path, losing any emotional aspect.

My images degraded into merely documentary snapshots of my hike along the path, losing any emotional aspect

Eventually I reached the end of the ravine where the valley suddenly widened, forming an amphitheater at the base of the mighty Dachstein mountains. The stream disappeared in a vast bed of rocks and pebbles, and all that was left of the claustrophobic gorge was an indifferent clearing in the sparse forest.

I had to concede my failure, not being able to capture the hidden beauty of this landscape. 

So I turned around to begin my long descent back to where I started.

But as soon as I caught my first glimpse back into the canyon, the composition suddenly began to take shape. The gorge offered views down into the valley. A feew steps farther the rock walls started to form a spectacular v shape with the faint mountaintops in the far background, framed by the sheer rock faces and wonderfully accentuated by the vegetation clinging on to the rocks and withstanding the forces of nature.

In this very moment the true essence of this landscape,  shaped by secret views and remnants of erosive forces in these mighty and still fragile rocks of the Dachstein, materialized in a simple image.

The technical execution of the photograph was fairly straight forward. I was careful not to let the view of the distant peaks become too dominant, but still clearly visible. Finally, all that was left to do was to give the shadows their open and luminous quality, which is the hallmark of this photograph.