One Night In Lapland

I used a few days off to start my vacation with a short photo-trip to Lapland.

It has become a habit, that I as soon as my vacation begins head out and spent some time doing my landscape photography. In fact I usually take the liberty starting a little early, which requires me to be back for my last day at work, hence the first one is usually only a one-nighter.

The distance of these locations appears to get larger each time and this year it took me Finish Lapland, to a lake called Ukonjärvi. I passed-by there during my trip to the Finmark area in the north of Norway last year where I spotted a few nice locations along this lake. Then I had no time to explore this area, but at least some ideas came to mind, as for example the panoramic image, which I hoped to be able to take this time.
Continue reading “One Night In Lapland”

Big Rocks And A Little Island: Isoniemi

In this second post I would like to introduce you to another of my favourite locations a beach/area called Isoniemi. Even though it’s easy to reach, the location itself is a bit hidden in the forest and it’s definitely not one of those you accidentally run into. Within about 30min from home it is a good place to return to once the conditions look about right.

Besides a sand beach and some smaller rocks it features a very small island just a few meters off the coast. During spring and summer the island serves as a breeding ground for birds, which, aside from looking nice, is actually the only use of it.

My first visit took place during a warm spring evening close to sunset when photographer Kai Tirkkonen introduced me to this place. Even though the conditions were rather nice that evening I only took a few images. During this first visit though I got a good impression about the potential of this location. The beach is faced to the West and since during Summer the sun sets more to north, the light of the setting sun almost sidelights the scene.

Spring

It took almost exactly a year though until I finally had the chance to experience this nice sidelight on another lovely warm spring evening.


Continue reading “Big Rocks And A Little Island: Isoniemi”

My Favourite Locations #1: Three Lakes in the Forest

In this first post in this series I would like to introduce you to a place which I have visited frequently over the years now. It’s a group of three lakes in the vicinity of my home. With a distance of roughly 10km the location is easy to be reached by car in about 15min and in my pre-car era in about 30min by bike.

It was about three years ago, that I started to explore the near-by areas for suitable locations. Since I generally enjoy to photograph water, lakes, rivers and I then primarily searched for lakes and rivers. At that time I didn’t have a car and the range of locations which I could reach such as before or after work was naturally rather limited.

I spotted these lakes on Google Maps, and even though the satellite imagery was rather unsatisfactory, I could at least see, that they are located in the mid’s of the forest and most likely I would be able to get some nice photographs there. Then I didn’t know, that this place should become one of my favourite places around here.

A first visit here at the 1st of May showed potential already. Even though I was visiting on a warm spring day in bright sunlight, the lakes were still frozen. Much to my own surprise I learned that there’s a little island just in the middle of the lake, something the maps didn’t show. After a quick explore of the scenery I decided to return once the snow and ice finally melted away.

Finland-2

My first photographic visit was a few weeks later a clear, early spring, evening just around sunset. I started to explore the scene in this nice and soft evening light. As a bonus I found this old boat, which unfortunately isn’t there anymore. During this visit I concentrated only on the first of these three lakes. I should though return later again and work a bit on the other bigger lake, but didn’t get some satisfactory work.

Autumn

My next visit here took place a few months later during a cold and dark autumn morning. The streets were already frozen and I remember slipping badly with my bike on my way to this location (I already was on Twitter then and posted from there). At that moment I didn’t knew that this morning should turn out to be very successful.

Niilesjärvi-Autumn 2008

I started out just before sunrise on the biggest of the three lakes, Välkiäsjärvi, in summer a popular for swimming. A few rocks in the lake and the grass growing at its beach gave good foreground interest for image and the reflections of the clouds in the lake round-up the scenery and my composition. The light has a wonderful cold quality and the images only need little work later in Lightroom.

Niilesjärvi-Autumn 2008-2

Once the sun rose a bit higher, I change my spot over to the other lake hoping to catch the light falling on the little island. I’m in luck and the conditions just play along nicely. It’s absolutely calm and the lake turns into a giant mirror, reflecting the light of the sky and mirroring the island.

Niilesjärvi-Autumn 2008-3

In the mist above the lake a dead tree coming out of surrounding forest gives another welcome subject. I have tried to photograph this tree again on many occasions afterwards, but so far not yet captured a definite composition on it. Though another image taken in on foggy morning proved shows some potential.

Niilesjärvi-Autumn 2008-4

The sun is now slightly above the tree line and I change my location to the one small lake, just between the two larger ones. The mist and the reflecting clouds provide some interesting conditions, which I unfortunately not entirely well manage to photograph. I should have used a longer lens in this case. One is always wiser afterwards. I have waited for similar conditions ever since, and the waiting still continues. Another argument for getting right the first time.

Niilesjärvi-Autumn 2008-5

During the following winter I haven’t been visiting this place, even though I have had an idea for an image of the island similar to the autumn version, but in heavy snowfall. Somehow though the conditions never worked out so far.

Almost a year will pass by until I “re-discover” this location when my photography awakes from its winter hibernation and I start off the season with a fresh explore of this area.

Spring

The lakes still turned out be slightly covered with a thin layer of ice and I experimented a bit with the panning technique to make the most of the situation.

Occasionally these lakes turn out to be a little tricky to photograph since the conditions usually most to my liking when I have nice reflections in the water. Windless days are a rarity though and more often than not I returned empty-handed.

For this season I also planned a panoramic image, which until now, not yet entirely worked out. Once the light and the reflections are working out usually clouds are amiss. Still waiting though.

Autumn

During the autumn time I found one morning promising looking foggy conditions and I decided to give it a try. As mentioned earlier, it turned out to be a tremendously foggy morning in which I was able to photography a few very interesting images. I just wished there wasn’t so much grass in the lake and my foreground would have been a little clearer.

But again, I was able to take very different images of this location.

Winter

My plan of taking an image of the island in heavy snowfall is still in the back of my head, but also during this last winter I still wasn’t able to record this moment.

I was though happy to capture a fresh take of this island from a totally different angle. In summer it is not possible to take an image from these spots, unless one has a boat of course. With the lake now frozen over this is of course a lot easier (a quick write-up on these you can find here).

The waiting for the yet to be recorded conditions still continues. Since the place is close it’s only a matter of time until I will finally be able to get the image I’m waiting for, or some totally different ones.

And the exploration still continues. Somehow it has become a tradition of mine, to kick off the photographic season in this location. This year though, I took a totally different approach and focused more on the smaller landscape and details, something that I’m usually not so comfortable with.

For the complete series and to view the images in a slightly larger format please visit my galleries.

On A Little Island – Winter

The forecast for today didn’t look too good in fact and I’m up for a couple of hours already. The sun rises late at this time of the year and every time I watch out of the window it’s dark and appears to become just another grey day.

On A Little Island

At one point though it seems the conditions change and quickly I decide to grab my gear (which is always ready to go here) and quickly head out to a familiar location.

I have been visiting plenty here and have had an idea for a specific composition, but it never worked out so far. In the end it turns out I will not get the image I was looking for, but I was able to get some different and fresh compositions from this island.

I’m quite satisfied with this one as it is a fresh perspective on a familiar motif to me. Looking at the island from this perspective is only possible during this time of the year, when the lake is frozen over and the sun coming from slightly behind me. I was in luck, that there weren’t not too many tracks in the snow and this composition just works out nicely. I compose another image taking advantage of the tracks of a snowmobile and then finally leave home.

The Second Frost

It had been the third day with gorgeous light in a row, something that I believe to be happening rather rarely during this time of year. Two days ago, I used the chance to visit this small beach, named Isoniemi at sunset and photographed this island in a nice warm light evening light alongside with some interesting structures on the ice. It was very cold then, and at home I got some more ideas for this location. At home! Well, that’s surely too late and I had to hope to find similar conditions the next time I have time…

The Second Frost

Next time is today, two days after my last outing here. Yesterday, the sunset was gorgeous and naturally I witnessed all it’s beauty on the way to work… Talking about getting things right the first time. While cloudy through the night, this morning though the sky looked promising and I decided to make the most of the situation and go back.

The sun rises late these days and from my experience with the conditions around here I knew that I will not need to hurry. It will take around one and a half hours before the sun will be high enough to not only light the scene but also to light the few remaining clouds in the sky with it’s now almost constant warm orange light. Constant means the roughly 4 hours the sun is actually up here in the beginning of December.

After my arrival I had to realize though that light snow has covered the structures and shapes on the ice which I hoped to capture. The light though was soft and warm turning all available colours into shades of pastel. Conditions like these make me forget the freezing temperatures I’m in. I walk on the ice looking for shapes and structures which I can put into the foreground of my image.

It doesn’t last long until I find a composition worth framing. Setting up and composing the shot is the easier part. After finishing my image I continue exploring the scene, looking for something else to photograph. The moon still high up in the sky gently appears between a layer of pastel coloured clouds. Isn’t landscape photography just wonderful?

I continue looking into some detail images but somehow they didn’t really work out and I head back home. Three good images in one morning is more than enough.

During this outing I recorded a quick videoblog which I published just recently. Feel free to have a look.

The First Frost

“The first frost always feels the worse” were the words our local postman said to me in the elevator the other day. Actually he’s right. It had been very cold during the last weeks and finally the sea started to freeze over. The lack of fresh snow promised some nice and beautiful structures in the ice and I wanted to take advantage of the nice condition and capture some hopefully interesting views.

The First Frost #1

My first outing last week failed though. I did find some nice structures, but the light just wasn’t right. Naturally it changed during the day and was perfect in the afternoon for sunset, but of course, these conditions I was witnessing through the window at work. On the weekend though I should have another chance.

It had been a clear night and a clear, maybe too clear day, and usually that not only means beautiful warm and soft light, but also very hard conditions. Fearing it could be one of my last chances to capture some ice structures I warmed up the car and drove to a familiar location hoping to find some good foreground interest there. Luckily I was right.

Of course it turned out, that specifically this particular one spot which caught my eye, also appeared to be one of the very few spots in which the sea wasn’t entirely frozen. I’m crouched by the tripod and composing my image and at the same time sinking into the soft ice. My shoes are supposed to be waterproof, luckily they are. At the same time I hear the sound of cracking ice, a sound too familiar, but honestly not very comforting. The sea isn’t deep here and the worst possible thing that could happen are most likely wet feet, which happened to me two years ago. Not dangerous, but no fun either in these sub-freezing temperatures and it’s nothing that I would recommend to anyone. Please stay safe and don’t be as stupid as I am and learn from your mistakes.

To work the camera I had to get off my gloves and after a minutes it already starts to hurt adjusting the tripod head. Why didn’t I put on my gloves again one might think? Well they fell into the half-frozen ice/water and opposed to the water, froze almost immediately after I threw the wet gloves to the beach.

I have been photographing in these and worse temperatures before and never had any issues with my gear, knock on wood, but it seems that remote shutter releases don’t like these temperatures too much. The cable is getting stiff quickly and like last winter already, tends to break ever so slightly.

On this outing I took exactly four images and three of them turned out to be great. That’s what I would call a good rate. If it just always would be like that.

Summer Nights

I’m somewhere in the forests near Kuusamo in the east of Finland. It’s early June and during this time of the year it doesn’t get dark at all anymore and it means it’s going to be “happy-hour” for many hours. That is, if the weather agrees with that. Today is one of those days.

It has been a long day by now. I left already early in the day to be here in time to explore the area and to photograph a waterfall. I had plenty of time and basically spent the whole afternoon waiting for the right conditions.

I got a few satisfying images at the waterfall in the evening and by now I’m already on my way back home. The road, actually it’s more of a path, leads me through the forest along a lake when I pass these buildings. The light is coming from the right and nicely illuminates the buildings and just in time some clouds disappear and the moon appears in the sky. Sometimes you just have to have luck.

For the longest time I wanted to photograph a scene like this even though houses like these are by no means a rarity here in Finland. It is though surprisingly difficult to find them without any distracting forest behind them. When noticed these buildings I was immediately intrigued by the light and the way the buildings are aligned. The moon is of course a welcomed bonus.

After these images I continue my way home, still stopping from time to time to compose an image or two.

I’m currently in the process of preparing a presentation which I’m about to hold this Friday, and during this process I re-discovered this image in my archive. I have posted it though already years ago on a older blog of mine.

Things To Come

Finally! The first snow has fallen and the landscapes started to look much friendlier now. The days of dark and grey are hopefully now over. It’s amazing how much different just a little snow makes. Before it will look like this some more time will have to pass.

That said, the happiness of the snow will diminish some day. At the latest at the end of April, when the landscapes are still covered in snow. Spring is arriving expectedly late here in the north. This year it felt as if spring lasted little more than a week, before it turned to summer.

During the short winter days it usually becomes rather difficult to find the time to photograph landscapes. A lot of my planned locations are too far away to either reach them after my day job in time or to be back in time after an outing at sunrise, which made me come up with a few project ideas to photograph during this time. Just to stay sane.

I took this image while I was working on one of these projects, which as of this time is still ongoing. The river, now frozen and covered with snow, created this path through the forest and the leaning trees somehow make this image for me. After I captured this image I did not really know what to do with for quite some time. Well, I figured out now.

I always enjoy the contrast between the dark trees and the white snow. Especially when it happens to be fresh snow, as it was the case on that specific day. The snow was fresh and untouched. Normally in this place, you will find tracks from cross-country skies there already.

Hopefully there’s more to come during this winter and I find the time and the right conditions to go out and photograph those images that I have planned. Time will tell.