Photo Friday: Fi Bunn’s Alpine Images

This past year has been an exciting time for me as an alpine photographer. I managed to travel to southern Switzerland three times, combining trips with family and professional events in order to minimize my ecological footprint. I also brought along my new camera, a Nikon DS5600 with a 18-140mm Nikkor zoom lens. It continues to be a privilege to visit such an awesome place with mountains to climb, beautiful scenery to photograph, and great hospitality with the local mountain communities.

The Breithorn Traverse (4,164 meters) is part of the Monte Rosa massif, Pennine Alps, Valais, Switzerland. (Source: Fi Bunn)

Monte Rosa (4,634 meters) is located in the Pennine Alps, Valais, Switzerland and consists of two summits, Nordend (4,609 m) and Dufourspitze (4,634 m). (Source: Fi Bunn)

Even though I have visited many other places, it is these alpine communities that draw me back again and again. I love to see the mountains during different seasons, and that is partly why I’ve branched out from my favored black-and-white photography to shoot more color images. The results can be seen in my 2019 exhibitions.

The Ober Gabelhorn, Zinalrothorn, and Weisshorn are 3 of the 38 summits that rise over 4,000 meters in height in the Zermatt, Valais region of Switzerland. (Source: Fi Bunn)

I continue to investigate new scramble routes, meet amazing fellow “explorers,” and make new friends during my expeditions. I listen to stories from locals about the impact of climate change. This summer I heard more about the Zinal Glacier in the Pennine Alps, Valais. It is a 7-kilometer-long glacier, which, according to those who live close by, is shrinking at a rate of 30 meters per year.

Lyskamm Mountain (4,527 meters), also known as Silberbast, is situated between Switzerland and Italy. (Source: Fi Bunn)

Through my photography, I hope to encourage open and respectful debate about climate change. As the issue attracts more media attention, I was delighted and surprised to be invited to give three exhibitions in the first part of 2019. The exhibition spaces are big, enabling me to print large-format versions of my images. It has always been my hope and dream to give visitors a real immersive experience, and I can already see areas for developing more fully this sensory aspect. So this summer I will be traveling back to the Alps to research and develop ideas for the next stage in my photographic exploration of the Alps.

The Weisshorn (4,506 meters), also known as “the secret star” of the Swiss Alps, is situated between Anniviers and Zermatt in the canton of Valais. (Source: Fi Bunn)
The Breithorn Plateau forms the starting point for climbers ascending the 4,000 meter Valais Swiss alps of Breithorn, Castor, and Pollux. (Source: Fi Bunn)

Fi Bunn’s upcoming exhibitions take place May 11-18 at Victorinox, Bond Street, London and in mid-August through September at St. Margaret’s Heritage Centre, Quarry Street, Guildford, Surrey.

You can find find more of her photographs on her website, as well as following her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. She can be emailed at FiAlpinePhotos@gmail.com.

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Alpine Photographer Reflects on Changing Face of Mountain Landscapes

We live in an incredible world, with increasing access to mountain regions which have previously been remote apart from all but their indigenous inhabitants. During a time period of around 150 years, which has witnessed the birth of alpinism as both an extreme sport and adventurous scientific exploration, the mountain landscapes have had their own process of change, which appears to be accelerating, and from which there can be no return.

The glaciers I visited as a child 30 years ago are retreating and the permafrost which has held majestic summits in place is melting, leading to ugly scars and new unforeseen landscapes.

Lyskamm 4527m & ski tourer (Source: Fiona Bunn).

 

Mountain landscapes have long had a powerful ability to produce storytellers, adventurers and, I would contend, community. From John Muir to Ansel Adams, naturalist to photographer, mountains engender a passionate advocacy and magnetic attraction; and this was many years before the current noticeable deterioration that has provoked climate debates.

Glacial and summit prophets predicted the separation of the soul to materialism and destruction of sacred places which both remind us of our “smallness” and our own breath taking elevation as we lift our eyes. Which naturally leads me to ask how can the current community of mountaineers move forward as advocates?

Taschhorn 4491m (Source: Fiona Bunn).

 

Many who appreciate mountains would not even consider themselves as the latter. Some could be deemed purely as adventure consumers rather than conservationists. Even so, their shared experiences of climbs, tales of survival in risky situations and appreciation of natural beauty defines them at least as active participants.

Furthermore, this community is growing and also easy to participate in, through social media groups, alpine clubs, popular outdoor magazines and research organizations such as CRED and the National Geographic Society.

Dent Blanche – OberGabelhorn – Zinalrothorn – Weisshorn (Source: Fiona Bunn).

 

My hope is that new John Muirs and Ansel Adams will arise, who encourage aesthetic appreciation and conservation of these sacred places. We may not be able to reverse a climate catastrophe, but we can be aware of those documenting change and supportive of the indigenous communities with creative solutions and investment.

So, in closing, how do mountains make me feel as an alpinist and photographer? Safe. Small. Hopeful.

 

Fiona Bunn is a British and Swiss alpine photographer. The featured images were captured in the Pennine Alps, Valais, Switzerland. For more of Fiona Bunn’s work, visit her website at www.fiphotos.org.

Fiona will be exhibiting her work in January 2019 for one month in Hampshire, UK. Contact her via her sign up form at www.fiphotos.org for updates on her gallery events. She also now has a regular photographic column in the British edition of the Swiss Review magazine.