The Sunmountain

I have stopped counting the times I was in Solberget, the beautiful wilderness retreat in Swedish Lapland. This time I was asked if I want to join a three day first aid course in Solberget. Since my last one was long ago I accepted gladly.

The course, arranged by the German Outdoorschule Süd, was both intense and fantastic and I’m glad that I was able to participate. I stayed another day after the course to make a ski tour. It has snowed quite a lot in Lapland in November and round about 60 cm of snow covered the forest soil. I started the tour at 8:30 – an hour before sun rise. The air was crisp and cold with temperatures round -15 °C. I borrowed a pair of wooden Tegsnäs skis. They are long and broad and fit to every boot which makes them ideal for the powdery snow in the Northern forests. I crossed the street and entered the narrow forest path that leads to the hill which bears the same name as the wilderness retreat: Solberget – the Sunmountain. I crossed the Solbergsvägen, which was covered with a half metre of snow and soon went slightly uphill through the old forest with its mighty spruce and pine trees.

Even though I didn’t take the smoothest way up it didn’t take long until I arrived at the top of the Solberget, which is 459 meters above sea level. I ignored the cozy mountain hut and went straight to the old fire lookout tower which provides a unique 360 degree view over the landscape.

As fastly as I arrived at the tower as slowly I climbed it, since the handrails and the steps of the three ladders were covered with a thick layer of hard and crusty snow. Finally I was on the top of the tower, just in time to see the sun rising above the hilly horizon.

I stayed on the tower for more than an hour, happy to see the snow covered trees in the warm and ever-changing light of the low hanging winter sun. First the sun got free of the clouds and started to illuminate more and more of the scenery. The colours changed from a pale pink to shades of orange and many other colours I don’t have any name for. After a while a cloud layer approached from the north changing the mood of the landscape again. At the end almost the whole landscape was shadowy beside of the fog that still hung above the swampy areas in the southwest.

Finally the sun vanished behind the cloud layer. I climbed down the three ladders of the tower and continued my ski tour. First I headed southeast, then I turned more and more to the right while I descended the hill. After a while (and a bit of squeezing through the pathless thickets) I reached the Solbergsvägen again, however more in the south. This part of the path was completely untouched beside of a track of a hare that you still could guess under the fresh snow of the last day.

After a while I came to the turn-off to the swamp Solmyran which I followed a bit. The sun was low again and illuminated the snow in bright orange colours, while the snow in the shadows looked more blueish. There are many colours in winter, you just have to go out to spot them.

The photographer and his studio:

Links

I can highly recommend both a stay at Solberget and the first aid courses of the Outdoorschule Süd. In February you can combine the two, if you can speak and understand German.

Orange is the colour of the sea

Another clear and frosty morning in Skelleftehamn. I stood by the Baltic Sea in good time before sunrise which was 9:24 today. The sky was orange, the sea was blue and the mirage of the coastline lingered at the horizon.

I changed place right after sundown. Here at a more sheltered part the sea had started to freeze over. I laid down onto the icy shore to get a picture of both the island Gåsören and the crisp structures of the newly built sea ice. Then I realised that the Baltic Sea is not blue, it’s of pure orange – almost amber – at least when it’s early morning and your chin is hardly above sea level.

Photographers hints: use a tele lens, try out extreme low angle shots, dress properly due to the weather, use the warm morning or evening light ;-)

Four icy points of view

Another clear and cold day today with temperatures round -14 °C. This time I took the car to the coast of Fäbodarna near Burvik. The Baltic Sea was partly open, party covered with drifting pancake ice. Today I tried different approaches of taking (and editing) photos which the goal to only show water, ice, air and light.

Landscape

How to show landscape without showing anything other then the elements above. Well, I failed since I wanted the sun within the image and there were trees at the horizon. The only chance was to use a wide angle and go close to the motive to decrease the size of the forest line. (I had one foot in the water and had the camera so low, that I had to lift it up for every tiny wave rolling in.)

Architecture

I didn’t plan to make architectural photos but when I found this group of icicles I thought it looked like an old Greek temple or a portico. Again I had to lower the camera, the icicles weren’t so large.

Contrasts

Quite often I think, that I should make more black and white photographs. Today I started again. Especially when it comes to extreme contrasts I really like the reduction to black, grey and white. This type of photo however demands a bit more effort on the viewer’s side.

Abstract

Mostly I walked on different types of ice, each with it’s own structure and texture. Some where as clear as glass, others were composed of ice needles. I stood on the ice and tried to adjust the camera perpendicularly. This image became black and white as well and I increased the contrast a lot to make the textures more visible. After editing I started to see a cubistic figure in the photo. This was not intended but I guess that most people unconsciously try to see concrete things in abstract art.

Morning at the wintry Baltic Sea

Some sunrises are more intense than others. Today I was lucky to witness a really intense and colourful sunrise in Skelleftehamn and even had the time to find a nice place.

Even the larger bays of the Baltic Sea have been frozen up within the last two days, but the open sea is still free of ice. Only at the shore the typical early-winter pancake ice floes drift on top of the tiny waves, turning and rotating. The ice seems to mirror the bright sunrise colours even more intense than the water and the snow glowed in an almost pink shade.

Drifting ice on the bay Kallholmsfjärden

When I came back from Umeå this morning the sun was still below the horizon. I’m glad that the bridge over the river Skellefteälven has a parking bay. So I could take some image of today’s pre-sunrise landscape.

Much more interesting however was the view on the bay Kallholmsfjärden which is the part of the Baltic Sea that is nearest to my house. When I left Skellefteå some days before almost the whole bay was ice covered with a thin, white snow topping. Today the sheet of ice was broken and many ice floes drifted on the surface. It looks like some larger waves had broken the ice into several parallel stripes that then broke apart into smaller ice floes.

When I passed the same place two hours later to fetch a christmas parcel most of the ice was gone, probably it had drifted into open sea.

 

New money

Sweden is in the process of changing almost all of the coins and banknotes.

The beautiful 20-kronor banknote with the portrait of Selma Lagerlöf who wrote Nils Holgersson underbara resa already has been replaced by the equally beautiful banknote with the portrait of Astrid Lindgren who wrote Pippi Långstrump. And as you can see Nils Holgersson riding his flying goose Martin on the back of the bill has been replaced by Pippi Långstrump and her ape Herr Nilsson.

Last week I got the first of one of the new coins. The old 1 krona and 5 kronor coins are discontinued, new 1 krona, 2 kroner and 5 kronor coins have been arrived. The 10 kronor coin doesn’t change. The new coins are nice but a bit boring in my opinion. While the old coins were extremely different in size the new ones are quite similar. In the future people will have to look twice for a while when they get there change.

More information from the Swedish Riksbank: Notes and coins

Midwinter

It’s winter solstice today, the shortest day of the year. Sunrise 9:39, sunset 13:27 – that’s less than 4 hours of sunlight.

I tried to catch the sun when it stood highest, which is only 2.2 °C above horizon but clouds brought my plan to nought. Anyway, this is how it looked like two hours ago. The brightest hour of the shortest day.

From now on the days will grow longer and longer. At the same time the astronomical winter has started today. Hopefully winter will come soon, the last weeks have been much to warm and most of the early November snow has melted away.

Six month ago: Summer solstice – “night shot” in Skelleftehamn

Christmas promenade

A single photo from Annika’s and my Christmas promenade today. In Umeå we got more rain than snow yesterday and the trail Tavelsjöleden which we walked some kilometres today was completely covered with ice. However we both had spikes under our boots and so it was easy to walk. When we left the town behind the ground started to be covered with snow – just as much for a touch of winter.

Anyway it’s definitely much too warm for winter and we need colder weather and snow. Much snow! Loads of snow!!!

The last polar lights 2016

Just a photo from the last aurora 2016, two hours before midnight of New Year’s Eve.

The aurora was quite strong, colourful and vivid for some minutes. I was really glad to watch it together with some German friends that are visiting me the week round the turn of the year. Anyway I had to take a photo – the Northern Lights already were quite weak again – for the “blog records”.

The next blog post will be published next year.

Happy new year!