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Morning in an alpine village in the winter, Savoie province, France. Snow covered mountains in the background behind the chalets.
Exposure: 1/160 sec, f/7.1, ISO 100

Avalanche canons were sounding before our alarms.

A dull but heavy bang coming from a distance and echoing between the mountains around us, one every few minutes. Between these sounds, it was dead silent outside; complete calm, no sign of the previous night’s storm. Every so often the canon blast was followed by what sounded like a massive wave washing onto shore; except this was hundreds of tonnes (literally) of snow sliding down the face of a mountain somewhere up above...

Avalanches are triggered like this deliberately after heavy snowfalls to reduce the risk to people later on. But it's still worth staying cautious at all times when skiing off-piste, especially in areas far from any patrol or cell service. Checkered yellow flags were being flown up on the slopes on this day, indicating a "considerable" (or level 3 on a 5-point scale) risk of avalanche.

I took this photo from our chalet balcony just after breakfast, as we were getting ready to begin our first ski day. In aperture priority mode, I stopped down to 7.1 to get the whole scene sharp. It just about got bright enough to be able to shoot at the lowest possible ISO setting and get a shutter fast enough to freeze any movement in the trees.


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