Photographing Golden Morning Alpenglow

Alpenglow is seen high in the mountains where the peaks are illuminated with light reflected through the snow, ice or water particles suspended low in the atmosphere.  This light forms a horizontal red glowing band directly opposite the horizon of the rising sun and is one of nature’s many spectacles.

Alpenglow on a Norwegian mountain

The fiery reds and oranges appear more intense as the atmosphere removes the blues from the white light. Unlike a normal sunrise or sunset, the alpenglow lights the mountains long before the sun actually comes above the horizon although sometimes it will merge into the Blue Hour.   This can look more beautiful than the actual sunrise, coating the mountain in a golden haze and is the inspiration for many quotes about mountains.

Photographing Alpenglow

To photograph the Alpenglow, normal photography is all that is needed.  Shooting in RAW allows lots of manipulation and given the intensity of colours in post-processing these can ‘pop’ into life.  Saturation and vibrance can be vivid and enticing.


Finding Alpenglow

Alpenglow is found in any high mountains.  It just requires being in the right place at the right time with the right atmospheric conditions.  This spectacular glow was seen on Monte Tronador on the Argentina – Chile border. 

Alpenglow in Patagonia

A night in the mountains at the base of Monte Tronador was cold.  The sky clear with millions of stars.  Slowly as morning arrived the sky changed from a purple, star filled hue to a light blue.  Barely blue, but blue was there.  As the sun rose the magic began.  The mountain peaks began to glow.  Gentle at first, becoming fiery as the sun got closer to the horizon and then suddenly the switch was flicked, the sun was over the horizon, the sky was a piercing blue and all of the alpenglow was gone for another day.