If there is something that I’ve been wanting to photograph since I got my first camera, that would be stars and starry skies… And this is something that somehow I can never do! Sometimes is the weather, other times it is the moon, and some other it is the tiredness after a long day hiking… there always seems to be an excuse! Well, now that I have a better camera and a better lens (with an aperture of f/2.8, my new lens is way more luminous than any of my others!), I want to learn and explore with new techniques. And night photography is one of them!

As you probably know, last weekend were the peak days for the Perseids, the meteor shower that always falls in August. And this year, all forecasts promised that it would be a great show, as it coincided with the new moon. That’s why we wanted to plan something special for that weekend: hiking in a remote area in the Alps and try to spend the night in one of the Berggasthaus (little hotels and restaurants in the Swiss mountains, normally only accessible by cable car or by foot)… Because we were waiting for the weather forecast before booking anything, we ended up not getting a room in any of the Bergasthaus in the area we wanted, but that didn’t stop us.

We wanted to watch the meteor shower in a beautiful area, but also a place that we knew we could return to our car at night with just a torch. So we chose a region that we already know: Alpstein, Appenzell (I already showed you some photos from this region: Seealpsee in winter and spring and the Saxer Lücke in spring). This time we explored it from a different trail, hiking up in the mountains from Wasserauen and along the ridge, enjoying the panoramic views of this magnificent part of Switzerland.

In our way, we passed along the now superfamous Berggasthaus Äscher (it was the cover for a National Geographic book a few years ago, and now is the most famous touristic spot in the area) and the Wildkirchli, a restaurant almost hanging on a cliff and a little catholic chapel in a cave that is still in use. Once we left behind these touristic spots and Ebenalp, we continued walking almost alone, with the only company of the pretty Swiss cows and goats grazing on their summer pastures in the mountain, until we arrived to Berggasthaus Schläfer and we saw in front of us the impressive peaks Altenalptürm and Ageteplatte and the others around it. What a view!! From there, the path became more difficult, as we started to descend along the ridge on a very steep and narrow trail until we reached another Berggasthaus, Mesmer, where we had dinner just before heading to Seealpsee to see the sunset from there. After that, we waited until the night came and the stars appeared… and then, we saw the meteor shower! Not a lot of shooting stars, but the few we saw were long and very bright and intense! And even if the day started cloudy and grey, the night was super clear and we could even see part of the Milky Way rising from one of the sides of the Valley…

What an experience!! The Alpstein region never disappoints with its abrupt peaks, deep valleys and beautiful lakes. It is a place where you know you’ll never get bored! And this time it wasn’t an exception! It was a magical day and night, enjoying the meteor showers with a dark sky full of stars in complete silence, only broke by the occasional sound of the cow bells in the valley.

Here are some photos I took during that day. What do you think of my night photos? I know I have to practice a lot more… this is just the beginning! 🙂

Paragliders. Canon EOS 5d Mark IV 35mm f/9 1/800sec. ISO100
Swiss cows in Ebenalp. Canon EOS 5d Mark IV 70mm f/9 1/160sec. ISO100
Summer in Ebenalp. Canon EOS 5d Mark IV 70mm f/9 1/160sec. ISO100
Seealpsee from Ebenalp. Canon EOS 5d Mark IV 33mm f/11 1/400sec. ISO100
Swiss cows. Canon EOS 5d Mark IV 42mm f/11 1/125sec. ISO100
Alpstein Peaks. Canon EOS 5d Mark IV 24mm f/11 1/400sec. ISO100
Altenalptürm. Canon EOS 5d Mark IV 39mm f/11 1/400sec. ISO100
Path to Altenalptürm. Canon EOS 5d Mark IV 24mm f/11 1/400sec. ISO100
Ageteplatte. Canon EOS 5d Mark IV 70mm f/11 1/250sec. ISO100
Golden hour in Seealp. Canon EOS 5d Mark IV 27mm f/11 1/100sec. ISO100
Golden hour at Mt. Säntis. Canon EOS 5d Mark IV 42mm f/11 1/30sec. ISO100
Sunset in Seealpsee. Canon EOS 5d Mark IV 24mm f/11 1/2sec. ISO100
Shooting stars. Canon EOS 5d Mark IV 24mm f/2.8 20sec. ISO10000
Night at Seealpsee. Canon EOS 5d Mark IV 25mm f/2.8 10sec. ISO10000


  1. Oh my, I don’t know what to wow first: the amazing scenery, or your photographer skills. Or your attitude, standing on that path, up up there, between two slopes, and taking photos and no panicking, haha.
    Anyway, great job, Mercedes!!!

    • mercedescatalan

      Thanks a million for your comment, Marina!! I’m so happy you liked the photos! 🙂
      The merit is all for the gorgeous mountains in Alpstein… this part of Switzerland is magnificent! I’ve been there a few times already, and each time the landscape leaves me breathless!! It’s such a joy to go there with the camera!! 🙂
      About my hiking skills… it’s still super hard for me, but after a few intense months hiking almost every weekend, I’m starting to feel I’m improving… a little and very slowly! But I’m happy to be a bit more in shape than a few months ago, hehehe…. But there are some paths that still scare me to death!!! A few weeks ago in Matterhorn I had to go back after I got paralyzed by fear in a super narrow and steep trail!! So I’m still in the easy-medium level, hahahaha!
      I hope the selling of the house is going well! Have a great week! 🙂

      • The merit is surely that of the mountains, but you did a good job climbing up so high, holding your camera steadily and doing all the right things with it – to give us these wonderful images. Bravo!
        Oh my, it sounds like you have made a certain progress hiking. You know, it is all about the journey not the destination, they say. As you make the progress, it is just so impressive and valuable. I am sure you could beat many if you would wish a competition :))

        • mercedescatalan

          Hahaha thanks a million again, Marina!! Comments like this make me want to challenge myself a bit more each time, reach farther and higher places and show you more hidden gems of Switzerland!!! I’m already looking forward to the new season! Hiking in autumn is delightful here in Switzerland, with its mild temperatures and its awesome colors! 😊 I hope i can show you more beautiful places!

  2. Simply beautiful! I don’t think it’s as much the new camera and lens as your growing ability. I know from personal experience that a good lens will give you a better picture, but you have to know how to compose and set your camera. My astronomer husband was upset that I didn’t want to go up to his observatory to view the meteor shower. I didn’t because while the observatory is in a place great for astronomy, it has no forground for great photography. I’m so glad you were able to take advantage of this experience. Try star trails next.

    • mercedescatalan

      Thanks a lot, Anne!! Well, the camera and the new lens help a lot! It’s such a difference in sharpness, noise and colour… but I like to think that in the past three years I have improved a bit too, hehehe… not so much, just a little! I think that this year it’s being also a difference… I’ve never gone out so many times as this year!! Between hiking and visiting other Swiss towns, I’ve been going out almost every weekend, and that means more and more photos and practice 🙂 And chances to learn new things too!!!
      I’ve tried astronomy photography before, but my first camera was horrible for that…. I hope this one lets me explore this area of photography a bit more!! Not that I want to focus only in that… I love landscape and wildlife so much, hehehe. Now I’m going to Spain and I’ll be a few nights in the countryside, so I hope I can chase a few more stars… And maybe I could try star trails!! I’ve never tried before, so I’ll have to read some tutorials first, hehehe
      Have a great week!! 🙂

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