The story behind the pictures: Thomas Kneubühler – Electric Mountains

MEDAVIA_THOMAS_KNEUBUHLER_6These haunting photographs show how artificial lighting at ski resorts turn entire mountainsides into glowing canvases of light.

Photographer Thomas Kneubühler, 50, took the pictures after realising how artificially-lit mountains come to dominate surrounding countryside at night.

He said: “The floodlighting makes the landscape appear completely alien, like a scene you’d find in a science fiction film.MEDAVIA_THOMAS_KNEUBUHLER_5

“I was really interested in using these mountains as a light source to photograph the surrounding landscape. The lights are so powerful that the mountains become ambient light sources for the whole area.”

Mr Kneubühler believes the views of the electric landscapes, which he captured in Quebec, Canada, highlight the differences between the way European and North American skiers enjoy the natural environment.

He said: “I grew up in Europe, where ski slopes are not continuously lit. I find the Canadian practice of lighting the mountainside long into the night completely weird.

“When I first saw the ski slopes lit up and looming over the landscape I thought they looked so looked strange that for a moment I didn’t even know what they were. For everyone else who lives in the area, it’s completely normal.

MEDAVIA_THOMAS_KNEUBUHLER_7“The joy of skiing in the Alps comes from enjoying the landscape. You want to see what’s going on in the world around you while you’re on the mountain, so you would rarely ski at night. You ski in the day and party at night.

“But in Canada, people ski at all hours. I think it’s a North American thing – people don’t appear to think twice about using that much electricity. I don’t want to preach, but I hope the pictures make people think about how these ‘electric mountains’ look so different to natural mountains.

“Mountains in the Alps are never lit up at night. European friends who see my photos are always struck by how wasteful it must be to run all those lights.”

The pictures are part of Mr Kneubühler’s series of photographs entitled “Electric Mountains”.

Mr Kneubühler, who is originally from Switzerland but is now a Quebec resident, said that despite his environmental concerns, he considers the luminous mountains to be beautiful.

“The practice of lighting the mountains might be a waste of resources, but there is something beautiful about the way they look,” he said.

“I had to climb other mountains and trek through woods in snowshoes to get to a good vantage point to take these photos.”

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