In June I spent three days at three different lakes in Austria: Grüner See, Fernsteinsee and Samaranger See. All three lakes have very clear water and I wanted to do some underwater photography there.
Grüner See is famous for its high water-levels in May/June. The water-level can be up to 10m higher than normal due to melting snow from the mountains. All walking tracks and bridges near the lake are completely underwater under these conditions. I did some shooting at the lake but was not that impressed by the underwater view. In addition it was rather crowded with too many divers.
But despite the underwhelming underwater experience the surrounding landscape at the lake was quite nice. On my hike around the lake I only carried the Nikon 1 AW1, which is not the best landscape camera but with good light you can get some good results.
In addition I found some lovely flowers near the lake:
It’s a beautiful place to visit but I would not recommend it for just snorkeling or underwater photography.
After visiting the Grüner See, which is close to Graz, I drove 500 km to the Fernsteinsee located near Innsbruck.
To dive or snorkel at the Fernsteinsee and Samaranger See you need a permission which you get free of charge if you spend at least two nights at the Hotel Schloss Fernsteinsee.
The hotel has some lovely interior. The offered food is ok but for the high price I had expected something better. But since both lakes are extremely beautiful it’s definitely worth to stay there for two nights.
Here are some underwater images of the Fernsteinsee:
At one side of the lake you can find the source point with extremely clear water and some lovely algae. It is strictly forbidden to dive or swim at the source but I was able to shoot some images from the water’s edge:
Next to the Fernsteinsee is the Samaranger See. This lake is much smaller and access is limited to a maximum of four people at the same time. You have to book a 30 minutes time slot in advance at the hotel. Here are some images of the Samaranger See:
Both lakes are very cold (4°C in the Samaranger See, a little bit more in the Fernsteinsee). You therefore need either a very thick wet suit or a dry suit. I used an 8 mm wet suit. All images of the Fernsteinsee and Samaranger See were shot with my Nikon D800E with Zeiss 21mm lens in a Seacam housing. You can find some of the underwater images in larger sizes in my underwater gallery.