© Philipp Zieger

Elbe Sandstone Photography: Tips from a Pro

The Elbe Sandstone Mountains are one of Europa’s most photogenic sceneries. Here are photographer Philipp Zieger's tips for better pictures of this beautiful nature.

Day time

© Philipp Zieger

The most important time slots for landscape photography are the blue and golden hours in the morning and at nightfall. The blue hour with its particularly steady light and deep blue sky starts 30 to 45 minutes before sunrise and after sunset. The golden hour is the time after sunrise and before sunset. The low position of the sun provides an intense light of reddish and orange colour and beautiful shadows highlighting the profile of the landscape. 


© Philipp Zieger

A classical motif may be rugged cliffs with morning mists wafting around them. But photogenic details such as a clifftop pine, extraordinary sandstone forms or diverse floral motifs are also worthwhile. Even in bad weather fairytale sceneries can be discovered in the gorges and ravines with their moss-covered rock sides and wild brooks.

Sea of Mist

© Philipp Zieger

The famous sea of mist develops particularly often in spring and autumn when temperatures sink low enough to reach the point of thaw. Heavy rain on the previous day is helpful, too. But the wind also plays a role. If it is too strong, the mist cannot gather in the valley.


© Philipp Zieger

A very promising position for successful photos is the area around the Bastei Rock. Countless very special motifs are all easy to access from there. However, you will probably not be alone there. Schrammsteine Rocks and Kleiner Winterberg Mountain also provide very attractive sceneries. 


© Philipp Zieger

A distinctive element in the foreground can convey the expanse and distance of the reality. The Rule of Thirds or the Golden Ratio is helpful for the composition. Many cameras in smartphones also provide the option to display a 3 x 3 grid in the viewfinder.

Must-have Equipment

© Martin Göhring

Tripod, headlamp, charged batteries, memory card, windbreaker, snacks and drink, a map of the region - saved offline on smartphone, or on paper – and a good portion of common sense.

Focal length

© Philipp Zieger

A wide-angle or ultra-wide-angle lens is an important accessory. But Saxon Switzerland also provides an incredible range of motifs for telephoto lenses over 70 millimetres. With a 16 to 35 millimetre and a 70 to 200 millimetre lens (full format) you are prepared for lots of situations.


© Philipp Zieger

Most lenses produce beautiful sun stars when the aperture is closed. However, many lenses generally lose sharpness, despite their greater depth of field. With most lenses, the best sharpness is between aperture f/8.0 and f/11.0. If you want to photograph the stars at night, you have to open the aperture wide (e.g. up to aperture f/1.8).

Beginner’s Mistakes

© Philipp Zieger

Many beginners are too quick to shoot their photo. Precision and constant attention to the composition, sharpness, exposure settings and camera position require patience but pays off at the end with better quality photos. Apart from that, RAW format photography is in fact indispensable for taking good landscape photos.

Photo Rules

© czechvibes
© czechvibes

Please note the following rules for Saxon Switzerland Landscape Conservation Area (Landschaftsschutzgebiet):

  • You should impress by your photos but leave no impressions at your photo position! That’s why it goes without saying to take all litter home and leave the place including all vegetation as you found it.
  • No photo is worth an abandoned nest! Please therefore strictly respect the breeding and eyrie protection zones and the indigenous wildlife’s need for rest particularly early in the morning and late at night.
  • It is a matter of honour to respect each other among photographers.
  • Be careful in the interest of your own safety when searching your motif.
  • To avoid frustration be well prepared to the specific terrain and to the weather.
  • The use of radio controlled flying objects is prohibited in the whole area.
  • Smoking and wild fires are forbidden.



In addition, the following rules apply in Saxon Switzerland National Park:

  • The 400 km of waymarked hiking trails should make it easy to follow the rule and use only signposted paths and viewing points in the Kernzone (core zone).
  • Taking photos together with like-minded people is good fun, but more than 20 persons at a time are too stressful for nature – so please enjoy your photo event in small groups only.
  • Spending the night outdoors in the National Park is only allowed in designated overnight places.
  • Natural motifs are good as they are, illuminating or spotlighting is not allowed.

Find the latest information on www.nationalpark-saechsische-schweiz.de


It appears that you are using Microsoft Internet Explorer as your web browser to access our site.

For practical and security reasons, we recommend that you use a current web browser such as Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Opera, or Edge. Internet Explorer does not always display the complete content of our website and does not offer all the necessary functions.