Market in Byske

Today I visited the autumn market in Byske, a small coastal town 40 km north. If was smaller than expected and I was through it quite soon. The two main topics: Things to eat and things to keep you warm in winter. The former was divided into meat, bread and goodies, the latter one in thermal boots, warm socks, knitted Lovika mittens and last not least fur, mostly in form of warm hats.

The marketer showed me the parka on the first picture. It is greenlandic and made of sealskin. He told me, that it’s hard to get these parkas nowadays, since sealskin products are only available in Greenland and then sold to Denmark. Once he sold a parka to a professional landscape photographer, but cost 3500 Euros or more. I’m glad, that I have a huge down parka to keep my warm in even the coldest winter. I would feel a bit odd wearing a sealskin parka without being an inuk or living in greenland by myself.

Just two other random shots of today: A wave at the sandy beach in Byske and a small lighthouse on the other side of the Kågefjärden. I considered first driving to the lighthouse but changed plans, which was a good idea as I realised later, since this lighthouse is not onshore, but on the island Bergskäret.

Just testing the new Nikon 35mm f/2 AF-D

Yesterday my new Nikon lens arrived: A Nikon 35mm f/2 AF-D, which I got secondhand on Tradera (the Swedish Ebay) for less than 200 Euros. So I was out yesterday evening and today morning to make some more or less silly test shots. Today I had a workshop in Malå, which is 126 km in the inland. We arrived half an hour too early and drove onto the Tjamstanberget, where we had a view over Malå and the hilly landscape behind. “Click”, another test shot.

Tonight I left the house to make photos of the starry night, but it was a bit hazy and making pictures didn’t work well. So I made a photo of the copper smelter Boliden Rönnskär instead, which shows quite big but nice stars on the lighting. I’m quite happy with the new lens.

Then I headed back to the car looking at that stronge cloud, which was quite greenish … And if clouds get greenish you either smoked the mushrooms instead of photoing them or it’s no clouds but Northern Lights. And thus it was! I just managed to make some shots of the pilot boat with the aurora above before it got weaker again and faded to some kind of greenish glow, hardly visible. Not the best photo, but I like the motive.

Now I’m hoping for many starry nights and polar light, I need more practise.

November: sun and ice

I love the combination of sun and snow, or sun and ice. Today I got the latter. I woke up 5:45 and after a short breakfast I drove to Långhällan, where I’ve been four weeks ago. First I tested my new lens, but quickly changed to my old wide angel lens, since I don’t have a 52mm filter adapter for the new one. It was quite cold for the first of November: between -8 °C and -9 °C. The sun slowly went up but was hidden behind a wall of clouds. Långhällan is just a big rugged rock but I could take photos again and again, always trying to find new and better motives. Today I tried to catch both the cold ice covered puddles and the sky with its warm daybreak colours.

After a while I turned the car and drove back a bit, but stopped at another shallow beach. In contrast to Långhällan which is quite exposed, this small bay starts to freeze over. The ice is still very thin and even small waves can break it into large, irregular pieces.

All grass and reeds where covered with hoarfrost which gave the landscape a quite wintry mood, even if it’s only first of November. First I was annoyed with myself because I left home the macro lens. But the new wide angle is surprisingly good for near shots, too.

Now it got cloudy and warmer, +1 °C. So I guess I can have a lie-in tomorrow.

Kajak home

Two photos from a small kayak trip today: Between these two photos lie round 2.5 kilometer, enough for a change from idyllic islands to grey industry, and 30 minutes, enough for a weather change with gathering dark clouds and increasing wind.

But it’s the same tour, the “bring-the-kayak-back-into-the-garage-tour”. Yes, I could have gone to the tiny private beach where my kayak lay under the summer, take it and just drag it homewards. But that’s boring. So I paddled it to the small boat harbour Killingörviken, which is quite nearby from my house. The tour is just 6.5 kilometer long but shows the different sides of Skelleftehamn: The beautiful small islands with forest and summer houses, the open sea, the industry on the peninsula Rönnskär, the small but active port and last not least the small boat harbour that probably won’t see any boat before April next year. Season is over.

We’ll see when kayak season will be over. As long as parts of the Baltic Sea are clear of ice I’ll try to be out, but that may change quite soon. At least the kayak is back in the garage where it is sheltered from the upcoming winter weather.

First onset of winter?

Yesterday I took in my kayak and that might have been a good idea, since according to SMHI we’ll get a snowstorm tomorrow afternoon. Today SMHI, the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute, released a level 2 warning snowfall for the coastal Västerbotten, which is quite high since there are only three warning levels.

Varning klass 2 snöfall som kan ge kraftig drivbildning

(Warning level 2 snowfall which can give strong snowdrifts)

smhi, 2014-11-03

SMHI writes about 15 cm snow fall (locally more) and wind up to 19 m/s, which is almost 70 km/h. The days after we’ll get permanent frost so that snow will remain on the ground which will instantly transform dark and rainy autumn into light, white and snowy winter, at least for some days.

Especially in Skelleftehamn, where I live, and in Bureå 10 km southward, we sometimes get a weather situation called lake effect, which can bring huge amounts of snow in a short time. People living near the Great Lakes know what I’m talking about. So I’m quite curious how much snow we’ll get this time. 10 cm? 40 cm? 80 cm? I bet on only 10 cm, but who knows …

Here’re some photos from the lake effect snow we got on the 1st of December, 2012:
From bare ground to 83 cm snow in 24 hours.

Update (4th of November, 15:07)

An interesting combination: The level two warning is still active and the wind already increased, but the SMHI forecasts exactly 0 mm precipitation for Skelleftehamn. So I guess we won’t get a single snow flake this time.

Update (5th of November, 07:53)

When I was out shopping food yesterday I saw some lonely snowflakes that immediately melted on the still wet ground. That was all. This morning we have -6 °C but no snow at all. Pity!

Day and night boat

Today we had the first day with 24 hours frost and a maximum temperature of -2.8 °C. When I was out this morning both the sea and most parts of the lake Snesviken where free of ice. When I was out tonight, temperature dropped to – 9 °C, big parts of both sea and lake where covered with ice, the sea with very soft ice, the lake with a surprisingly thick layer where you could even stand on – at least near the shore and if you where really careful.

The first image got blurred because I pressed I stood on the thin ice, as well as the tripod, and pressed it down some centimetres with my weight. Then I continued to make photos of the same motif as in the morning: A frozen boat. I prefer the night shot with the full moon illuminating boat and ice, even if I dislike the blurred stars.

The night showed both an almost full moon and polar light, quite weak again. I made two shots neither focussing on moon light or polar light, but showing them anyway. The pictures are more experiments than good shots. But showing those is part of the blog, too.

From bed to sun rise in 11 minutes?

Today I woke up 7:26, sun rise should be 7:37. That’s eleven minutes to get into warm clothes (-11 °C!), get the camera, change the lens, change camera mode, get the tripod, put all stuff into the car and drive to the peninsula Näsgrundet. This should be one of the last days where I can make a photo of the sun going up behind the light tower of the island Gåsören. Eleven minutes were slightly too short and I arrived two minutes late. So I was a bit in a haste but at least could capture the motif just in time, even if the light tower is not perfectly in the center of the rising sun. But anyway, it was really nice to be outside and I continued being outdoors.

 

What a Diff’rence a Day Makes

Today (6th of November) was probably the coldest day this season by now. When I left the house the thermometer showed -11 °C. I was a bit in a hurry to get the sunrise photo in time. After that I had a bit more time and drove to the lake Snesviken where I made the boat photos yesterday and last night. When I looked at the lake I was stunned! Yesterday only a minor bay was covered with thin ice, today – just 24 hours later – the whole lake.

And we’re not talking about a tiny duck pond, but about a lake one kilometre long and up to 500 meter broad. Amazing, how a single frost day can change the surface from small gurgling waves into a solid ice cover.

The evening before I was a bit angry with myself that I already dragged the kayak home again some days before, but when I came to the little beach Storgrundet I realized, that even this sheltered part of the Baltic Sea was completely covered with ice. Ice you almost could stand on and therefore much too thick to break it with the plastic blades of the paddle without ruining them.

It will get warmer the next days with even some rain, but I guess that kayak season is over, at least as long as I want to set in the kayak at the beach Storgrundet or at the boat harbour Killingören.

Wintry moods round Norsjö

Yesterday I had a meeting in Norsjö, which is round 100 km away. The meeting already started at 9:00 with a breakfast at 8:30 and ended 12:00 with a lunch.

I started quite early to make some fotos on the way to Norsjö, but the trip took longer than expected and I just made an extremely boring photo of a big lake, completely overfrozen and covered with two millimetres snow.

After the meeting I took a detour round Norsjön which was covered with ice, too. It started snowing.

I continued my way with another detour and crossed two rivers. First the minor Malån which was mostly ice covered, than the big river Skellefteälven that enters the Baltic Sea in Skelleftehamn, where I live. The Skellefteälven was completely open. That was the last photo I took yesterday. Even if it was only three o’clock it was already so dark, that I had to expose 3 secs (with f/9 and ISO 200).

By the way: älv means “river”, älven is the definite form meaning “the river”. Å is a minor river and ån is the definite form.

Ice fishes, a deadly meteorite and an almost secret cave

The present day I spent with my friends Lasse and Martine. Well, not the first part because I was awake earlier and went down through the forest to a small bay of the river Skellefteälven. The bay was covered with several thin layers of ice. I fell through with each step and the only reason why I dared to go there, was that I know that the water is quite shallow. The atmosphere is always a bit spooky – decades ago this place was a forest but I was cut down because of the water regulation. In summer you can still see the cut-off trunks standing in the shallow water.

After an extensive breakfast – ok, let’s call it brunch – we made a trip to two special places. Look at the next image which is probably the awfullest photo ever I published. But the history is quite interesting.

Let’s go back to the 20th of May 1900: Ludvig Lundgren just left the house in Kvavisträsk to visit Fredrik, his neighbour. A bad idea, because just this day the place was hit by a meteorite. Ludvig wasn’t hit directly but found unconscious just 50 meters away. He died some days later probably of the consequences of the pressure wave. This is probably the only documented case of a deadly injury connected with a meteorite impact.

The next photo (back and white for technical reasons) is a place hardly known even to the locals. It is hidden in the middle of a forest and probably almost undiscoverable without knowing the GPS coordinates.

This cave is connected to World War II where it was used as a hiding-place for locomotives. Up to eleven engines found place in this hole in the mountain. It was locked for many years but now both the gate in the fence and the big folding doors of the cave are unlocked and you can enter it. We didn’t have any flash lights with us but the three LEDs of our smartphones where bright enough to see floor and walls. It was both fascinating to see this place as terrifying.

It is always great to travel with Lasse since – as a journalist – he knows so many fascinating stories and interesting places. Without him I’ll probably would have continued to make pics of ice and snow. A welcome variation!

On the way back (and what a way with frozen tracks so deep that the car was steering itself and occasionally hit the ground) we saw a lot of reindeers. They don’t pay attention to cars, but as soon as you open a window to make photos or even leave the car they probably will leave the place. But quite often they will stop again and watch you carefully. That’s the chance for photos. (None of the pictures became really good, but I’ll publish them anyway).

Thank you, Martine and Lasse for yesterday evening and for this nice day!

Northern lights and truthfulness

What a nice surprise: After 10 days of dull, cloudy and overcast weather sky cleared up this afternoon. You don’t have to go outside, just have a look at the thermometer: A temperature drop almost guarantees a cloudless sky. But you have to go outside if you want to check for the faint Northern Lights. And this evening I was lucky: a large pale bow of  the aurora borealis was visible in the sky.

Some minutes later I stood beside the small haven tjuvkistan and made the first photo. Click: 15,0 sec at f/2.5, ISO 800 35mm.

Whoa! The whole sky is green, it’s like diving into Fluorescein! Just too much green color! A great deal too much!

I made another photo, knowing beforehand it wouldn’t work. Click: 1,0 sec at ƒ/2.8, ISO 400 35mm, which means only 2.7 % of the light compared to the first photo.

Yes … um … interesting … . Is it art or may I trash it? Too dark! A great deal too dark! This image is just a dumb proof to the platitude I already knew: Cameras need enough light to make good pictures, even a Nikon D800.

Let’s take the 1st photo: I’ll show it again. And again – and again! I cropped it to the same 5:3-format, but processed it in three different kinds.

Version 1: The kitsch-version: I kept the extreme colours and increased contrast, especially in the center. Bang – that’s the photos you show on Facebook!

Version 2: The almost-real-version: I tried to adjust the photo to my memories of the real moment, which means for example that I reduces exposure more than 3 stops and removed saturation of the polar lights by 50%. Well, that’s the photos you won’t show anybody. They are more realistic but a bit prosaic.

Version 3: The in-between-version: I tried to find a version between kitsch and almost real. I’m not sure if it’s a good or a bad compromise between the other versions.

What do you think? Which photo do you prefer? I’m looking forward to your comments.

Ice pears and frozen splashes

A starry night was followed by a cloudy and frosty day.

First stop: The bay Kallholmsfjärden. The sea was open but the stems of the reeds were ice coated. The attached ice looked a bit like ice pears.

Next stop: Storgrundet. This sheltered part of the sea started to freeze over again with soft and thin new ice.  Because of the sinking sea level some of the older ice pieces stood erect. One of them looked like a frozen splash!

Last stop before it got dark: The lake Snesviken. Despite the last week with temperatures slightly above zero the lake is not only frozen, but you could see the first tracks of ice skating.

Some of the locals are quite experienced and they know exactly whether the ice will bear their weight or not. I’m not experienced at all. Therefore I’m nervous even if I have 20 cm ice under my feet which means that the ice would easily bear a car. Today I only crawled two meters onto the icy surface of the lake to take the last photo, well knowing that the water isn’t deep near the shore.

Sunrise colours

The sky was partly cloudy this morning but the late rising sun shone on the clouds illuminating them in warm pastel shades that changed every minute. This shot I made on a small swampy lake not far from my house in Skelleftehamn.

Preparatory consuming

In round about five weeks I’ll start my long winter journey through Northern Scandinavia. There are three types of planning:

  • Which places do I want to visit on my journey?
  • What do I have to organise before the journey?
  • What do I need on the journey?

I’m still not sure mow much I should plan the route of my journey, and I’m right in the middle of organising, but part three seems to be almost done. That’s partly because I already have a lot of equipment (and in parts more than I need …) and partly because I ordered a lot of stuff the last weeks and many small and big parcels arrived here over the last weeks.

And that’s some of the items I ordered the last weeks:

  • Top: Super warm expedition down pants from Marmot. Probably not the latest model but quite cheap and good for staying warm if it’s really cold.
  • Left: New rechargeable batteries for my GPS, for the big camera flash light and my headlamp. Most batteries I have are ten years old and I do not trust them anymore, especially if it’s cold.
  • Right: A heavy-duty green PVC smock (which is a pull-over jacket) to protect my other cloth against salt water, mud and sharp rocks.
  • Middle/right: A power inverter that transforms 12 Volt to 230 Volt so that I can charge batteries (and perhaps even my laptop) when driving.
  • Middle/left: An L-Bracket for my Nikon D800 camera that I can fix it on the tripod ball head in both portrait and landscape format.

And guess, what was the most expensive part? Believe it or not, it’s the L-Bracket which was more expensive than even the down pants!

What you see on the photo is just a part of my purchases: With the down pants I ordered the matching down parka, with the smock I ordered bib overalls of the same material.

The tripod got a new ball head and the tele lens a new foot matching the ball head. (My thanks to Jochen for the tips!)

For the car I bought snow chains, a 10 litre petrol canister and a jump starter, which is an external rechargeable battery that will provide enough power to start the car if the original battery is not working. (My thanks to Delle for the tips!)

The only things to buy that are left: A bigger waterproof bag for the camera and a roof box for the car. I know, I know, I could travel with much less equipment but since I have bought the car some years ago I love to take a lot of things with me. And know – back to planning.

Some vocabularies for my German readers:

down pants – Daunenhose
rechargeable – wiederaufladbar
power inverterWechselrichter
L-Bracket – L-Winkel
tripod – Stativ
bib overalls – Latzhose
ball headStativkopf/Kugelgelenkkopf
snow chains – Schneeketten

Ice und sun from two weekends

Yes, I’ve been partly busy, partly lazy and in addition to that a bit unhappy with my photos the last days. Winter still hasn’t come to Skelleftehamn: Sometimes it’s below zero, sometimes above, sometimes it snows a bit, sometimes it rains (preferably on frozen ground making the streets quite slippery) und quite often it’s cloudy.

For me it’s still a mystery, how lakes, river and even parts of the sea could freeze over if it’s not constantly below zero for a longer period.

When I made the photo Sunrise colours two days ago, I had to wade through hip deep water and swamp to come to my desired place since the ice didn’t bear me. Two days later I saw a photo of the same spot – with a small child ice skating on the frozen surface. But I guess that the locals know the places where it’s save to enter and leave the ice.

A day later I stood at a small rocky beach of the peninsula Kallholmen looking on the bay Sörfjärden. Here you couldn’t sea any ice at all, beside on some stones that are extremely slippery when ice-covered. That’s where I made this photo:

The next saturday – exactly a week later – I was out again to take photos of the sunset. Same bay, different place – this time more upstream. The Sörfjärden is not only a bay but the mouth of the river Skellefteälven, too. The sea is still open but on the sides of the more wind protected river large parts are covered with several layers of ice. The upmost layer was so thin that the ice looked like flakes or feathers.

Today I drove to Kågehamn to take a sauna with two friends. Kågehamn lies beside of the Kågefjärden which seems to be well protected against wind, since the whole sea is ice covered. The ice is thick enough that people skated to the island Bastuholmen, which is one kilometre away from the shore.

Note to myself: Buy ice skates and learn how to skate – next winter.

While my friends did I skating tour, I was on the ice as well and – surprise, surprise – took some photos. This time mostly of ice cracks and embedded bubbles.

By the way: The first sunset photo was made 13:32, the second was made 13:08. Sun goes down quite early in this time of the year. But sun goes down quite slow as well which is nice if you like taking pictures because you don’t have to hurry too much.

Roller coaster weather

This December the weather is like a roller coaster, going up and down, bringing frost, rain, hail, sleet and storm. It’s not at all the winter you imagine when you think on Northern Sweden.

Monday started with sunny weather and temperatures round 1 °C – cold enough to cover the windscreen with a thick layer of window frost. (I prefer the German name “Eisblumen” which means ice flowers.) Then it got colder.

Tuesday it was quite clear and cold with temperatures round -7 °C with a minimum of -9 °C at 22:00. In the next three hours temperatures rose by 10 °C and the next morning we had +3 °C and heavy winds. I left my car at the car service station to get it checked before my winter journey and took some photos on the way back home. I attached spikes to my boots because the wet icy roads where extremely slippery. When I went back some hours later to get the car I was surprised at the high water level. This day the water level climbed 70 cm, that’s a lot for the Baltic Sea and only happened because of the storm pressing the sea water ashore.

The next two days were cloudy, temperatures round + 2 °C with some drizzle that instantly froze on the cold ground. Saturday evening – which was yesterday – it started to get colder and rain started to mix with snow and some soft hail. In the evening it finally started to clear up a bit und got colder.

Today it was quite clear, temperatures round -8 °C and I took a tour to the peninsula Örviken. Örviken has an area of 1 km², 400 people are living here. Even if it is quite near I hardly has being there, which is a pity since it’s a nice place, especially if it’s clear and you’re waiting for the sun rise.

And that’s what I did today. A good activity if you caught a cold and want to take it easy.

On the photos you can see the impacts of the weather: The storm destroyed the ice cover leaving a lot of floating ice floes, but in the cold night the surface started to freeze over again. Do you see the stacked ice in front of the trees? Its laying on land and I guess it was left there after the high water some days before.

After that I drove to another place I already knew and took some photos of the last motif today:

Now it’s half past five and -7.4 °C outside. The weather tomorrow? +2 °C and rain! Probably the whole day! Onto the frozen ground! Sounds familiar?

Some vocabularies for my German readers:

roller coaster – Achterbahn
drizzle – Sprühregen
soft hail – Graupel
peninsula – Halbinsel
Ice floe – Eisscholle

Déjà vu

An addendum to “Roller coaster weather”

Yesterday I already guessed that I would have a déjà vu today – and I got it! The day resembled last Wednesday in so many details: The same temperature rise the night before, the same car ride to the car service station (some additional fixes) and the same way back home by foot. Maybe a bit more rain, maybe a bit less storm, but the same clothing as  altogether the same: Waterproof parka, rain pants, rubber boots and – most important of all – spikes you can attach to your boots.

Definitely not my favourite type of winter. I definitely prefer cold weather and loads of snow.