Meet Nikki the Hiking Goddess and learn how to do your own photoshoot in Austria's most famous high elevation suspension bridge.
Here's Nikki before and after. Gorgeous in both shots.
How this Hiking - Flying Dress Photoshoot Guide is Organized
Olpererhutte Bridge Photoshoot
It always takes a "dress whisperer" when it comes to flying dress photography. It's actually perfect to have a group of women who want to do it together to assist the dress and ensure nobody falls off the cliff.
It makes for a great girls weekend backpacking trip.
Nestled near many large glaciers sitting atop steep peaks in the Zillertal Alps of Austria sits the ever-cute Olpererhütte mountain hut. Why is it so famous amongst the hundreds of mountain huts in the alps?
The Swing Bridge of course! After only 1-2 hours hike up the mountain from the car park sits the Olpererhutte bridge, or the Zillertal bridge.
It's the most amazing illusion.
You can totally look like a mountaineer without having to rough it.
The Olpererhütte Hike is perfect for:
People with vertigo.
People who want a seriously cool photo.
Glamorous Hiking ladies who want flying dress photography in the Alps.
Hikers that want an aperol spritz or hot cappuchino mid-hike.
Hikers that love hearty hütten food.
The Olpererhutte Hike Problems:
People. Lots of people. It is a challenging hike, but it's not exactly a secret.
Weather. It's the Alps and it could definitely rain on your parade, or hike. The clouds can set in and obfuscate the view of the lake. It's best to plan two opportunities for the photoshoot for weather.
Flying Dress Photoshoot in the Zillertal Alps with Nikki.
It's hard for us hiking types to know what to do with ourselves in a glamour photoshoot. I mean, look at those guns! So impressive and so gorgeous and well earned with many triathalons and crossfit.
Flying dresses are typically dresses that are called "convertible dresses". That means they have adjustable ties for the chest and arm and waist area. They weigh about 4 lbs and fit size S-2XL. They highlight women's back very well, especially if you have muscle you want to show off. They also can drape certain areas you may not want to highlight.
Wear boob tape and nude underwear and you're all set. Most models do well with some makeup to accentuate the lips and earrings to have a little contrast, but it's really up to you. Headbands and florals can be very nice also. Shoes can be worn or barefoot. It's all up to your taste.
Nikki was recruited by my friend Nesly out of the Stuttgart hiking group. She's very brave to join us on this first of it's kind of "comfortable expedition" as she didn't know any of the other ladies on this trip. But of course, we were already connected (as these things tend to happen) as her husband was my classmate at the US Naval Academy!
We were in the same graduation class and attended school together for 4 years and he actually diagnosed my car problems via phone and helped me get back to Germany without having to call a mechanic. I love small worlds.
Who comes up with flying dresses and backpacking? Goddess Lens of course!
Olpererhutte Multiday Hike
This mountain hutte sits on the Berlin Höhenweg. I'll be writing another post about this one soon so stay tuned. But the best thing is that there are dog friendly options here so you can backpack on multi day hut to hut hikes with your poodle.
It's all over the place and always be prepared for rain. In September, it was warm enough to do a flying dress photoshoot comfortably. The models used jackets in between shots.
However, the next day it was quite damp and cold and it was hard to soften the face for photos due to the cold. It's always going to fluctuate here in the Alps. The most difficult problem are the lightning storms in July-August that hit around 2-3 pm most days. Keep a radar weather app open.
When is Olpererhutte Open?
Each year it varies a little, but it's basically mid-June to mid-October for the Alpine mountain huts. Check out their website here and double check to make reservations as often they close early for the year. All reservations must be made well in advance, but there are other huts nearby like Dominikushütte in case they are full.
We had a great time there and enjoyed the cheaper option of a "lager" (not to be confused with beer) and it cost us 30 euros per person per night. We shared a dormitory style room and breakfast was included.
Dinner and lunch are a la cart. Also booze, wine and beer are not included in the price of the room. Showers are typically coin operated and you pay 3-4 euros for them.
Olpererhütte Photography Tips
Here's the truth, there are a lot of people on the Olpererhutte bridge on a good sunny day. Everyone wants a million photos of themselves sitting or standing on the bridge. Most people get a friend to climb down into the creek that passes under this bridge to shoot upward with a phone. It is much better to get back further with a longer lens. Therefore you'll have to do a lot of cropping out of people.
It is not scary crossing this bridge at all.
We were the only monkeys hanging though! Have some fun and don't be boring.
Also, fog and rain roll in quite frequently.
It is essential to be adaptable. Learn how to say "excuse me" in 5 languages to ask people up front to duck down.
It's ideal if you can arrange a bed at the Olpererhütte hut and get some early morning and sunset shots. However, depending upon the time of year this puts the lake into shadow and you wont' get the brilliant turquoise.
It is a south facing slope that you're standing upon, so it's really a tradeoff between softer light and a better chance of no rain and a blue lake. There's really no hope of lighting assistance on the bridge itself.
We preferred going just past the bridge on the Berlin Höhenweg and taking photos with the lake in the background and not having to deal with the bridge traffic.
Communication with the models. The stream I was basically standing in was really loud. Yelling didn't work. And I was balancing upon rocks that were slippery and there was quite a bit of snow on them in September. So for me to motion the poses was precarious and I fell into the stream at least 2 times. Next time I'm going to get some walkie talkies.
We stayed down next to the lake at the beautiful Dominikushütte. I thought it would be easier to be close to parking. I also brought so many things that I didn't need for the photoshoot. I'll be posting about the optimal packing list soon.
Hiking up in September meant that there was ice on the trail. So we really couldn't get started until 9 going up and it takes 1-2 hours minimum. Then we were in a rush and didn't eat first. We all had some little headaches. Next time: stay in Olpererhütte and bring less props. That way we'll have all day to figure it out and eat more regularly.
My 40-150 lens worked well for bridge shots but I couldn't frame it without getting too many people. So for midday shot I used my 12-45. I had a problem with my Olympus short lens and it lost it's autofocus.
Are you kidding me??
I got some intermittent signal and reddit told me that Olympus often has a mistake where the prongs don't set correctly and the lens loses its communication with the camera. It wasn't a magical setting I didn't know about (there are many) but rather it was a fault with the manufacturer.
The 4 models were doing makeup on the mountaintop, after driving 8 hours to get here, then hiking up the mountain with backpacks filled with satin dresses and my lens was on the fritz!!!! Manual focus is NOT okay, it definitely didn't work well.
The few shots I got were edited to have a polaroid grainy effect because there was no way for me to focus it in the sun with the model, the mountains, the highlights of glaciers. Yeah right.
Luckily after 45 min of changing every button and then taking the lens off and on 10 times it finally clicked. So I refused to change my lens after that out of fear. Next time I really want to switch between the long and short lenses. With walkie talkies I think it will work to hike back up the mountain to get a better angle with the long lens, then walk down with the short one.
The model can step off the bridge and wait until I'm set. In fact, the line to get on the bridge is probably longer than the time it would take me to hike back up the mountain to get in position.
I think I'm going to bite the bullet and just buy another short lens with a lower aperture setting than F4 (my current). Just in case...
Best time of year to go : Mid-July to Mid-October.
Best hut to stay at nearby: Dominikushutte.
Name of the range of mountains: Zillertal Alps.
Closest town and train stop: Mayrhofen, Austria.