Kågnäshällan – between land, ice and sea

Kågnäshällan is a small island in the Baltic Sea with a lighthouse. The linear distance is only 7 km, but it’s 18 km by car. Since I cannot fly (and neither skies or kayak would do neither) I took the car this morning to Kågnäsudden, the cape nearby to take some photos on Kågnäshällan.

The sea is almost free of ice, only at the coast and between the islands there’s a thick layer of ice left. That makes the area quite amphibian. I took snowshoes and pulka for walking along the coast and for crossing the wet but safe ice between mainland and Kågnäshällan. Then I wanted to get near the ice edge and chose waterproof equipment. The waterproof Nikon AW-1 for taking photos and my red immersion suit to keep my warm and dry in the ice cold water. I felt like a bright red seal hunting for photos, not for fish.

The shortest night of the year

Sunset on the 21st of July: 23:27 – sunset on the 22nd of July: 01:47. It’s the shortest night of the year and the night is bright.

Although we were quite tired, Annika and I took the car to Långhällan last night because I wanted to make some “night images”. When we arrived the sun had set just 10 minutes ago. The sky was quite clear and the sky above the northwestern horizon glowed in an intense orange.

The sky above the eastern horizon had a completely different colouring. It was of a pale purple hue and the colours were reflected by the surfaces of the many small ponds.

I went down to the rocky shore and looked at the Baltic Sea. Both rocks and the sea were bathed in purple. The darkest minute of the brightest night had arrived.

When I looked back to the north the horizon was still coloured orange. The darkest moment had passed and the sun would already rise again an hour later.

Tired we returned home. When we arrived in Skelleftehamn sunset was just minutes away. We decided anyhow that it would be totally ok to miss the sunset and went to sleep.

There’s a reason why I hardly make any photos in June. The most beautiful light is simultaneously with my deepest sleep. From now on the days will become shorter, but it will take weeks until the first stars are visible again in Skelleftehamn.


A clear winter morning at Långhällan

Today I took time off work. I stood up quite early and at 7:30 I took the car to Långhällan, a place by the coast which I love for photographing. Today I tried out my new Tamron telephoto lens (150 – 600 mm) and I’m very contended. All photos shown here are made with this lens and focal lengths between 400 and 600 mm.

The morning was cold with temperatures round -10 °C and the sky was completely clear beside of a layer of clouds at the southeastern horizon. The locals call this cloud phenomenon “vinterväggen” – the winter wall. Although it was more than one hour before sunrise, the horizon was already of a bright orange colour. The first photo.

As usual the other side of the celestial sphere was of a pale purple colour. The ice and rocks however were still of cold blueish colours. I could have waded to the rock with its shining ice cap, but I wanted to test my new lens. Photo number two.

Långhällan’s shore is partly solid rock, partly round stones of different sizes. Each of the stones, that are partly below and partly above water has such an ice cap as on photo number two. Photo number three – just for the impression.

On one of the rocky salients there’s a small but deep puddle of water which was covered with ice too thin to bear me. I could have tried to walk on it (I wore waterproof chest waders) but probably I would have destroyed the motive: a small ice pane sticking out from the icy surface. Another good argument for a telephoto lens. Photo number four.

While I looked round and breathed the crisp air the sun has started to rise, still invisible since it was behind the vinterväggen but the rim of the clouds were illuminated in a bright glowing orange. I had taken some other pictures of the lighthouse before, but this photo wins. Photo number five.

When waves splash water on the frozen stones long chains of icicles are formed. Some of them were already in the sun (Photo number six) …

… while most others still were in the shadows of other rocks. These icicles had reached the ground and created a row of ice pillars in a ice portal. Photo number seven.

I looked at the sea. Parts of the ice covered rocks were sunlit and glowed orange-colours as if they would gleam from the inside. The good thing with chest waders is that you can kneel down into the water for a better perspective without getting wet. Photo number eight and the last one of today’s series.


Four images from the coast of Kågnäsudden

When I arrived at the former fishermen’s village at Kågnäsudden I realised that I almost came too late for the beautiful pre-sunrise colours. The sun had already risen above the horizon, only covered by some clouds lingering at the horizon far away. I just managed to take a picture of the big lumps of ice before it rose above the clouds.

The sun illuminated the Baltic Sea which was covered with rough drifting ice floes to a great extend.

While I continued my photographical promenade the sun rose higher – what a difference to six weeks ago, where it more rolled along the horizon and hardly rose at all.

Round some of the small rocky cliffs the sea was still partly open but the first heralds of frost were visible. Finally we got a bit colder weather and the temperatures next night expect to be round -15 °C. This could be enough to make the surface to freeze over.

Perhaps I’ll check the same location again tomorrow, but then I’ll have to leave earlier because sunrise is already before 8 o’clock.

Långhällan again

Two days ago Annika and I walked on the sea ice outside of Långhällan and had a view on large patches of open water.

Today I visited this place once more, but the whole area was covered with ice again. Some areas were covered with dark solid ice, some with ice floes that have frozen together. You could see walls of broken ice and dark channels between the different parts.

When I entered the terra incognita I half expected to fall through the ice and was equipped with the following:

  • my immersion suit, which is completely waterproof (and warm due to the thick neoprene)
  • isdubbar – handles with sharp peaks for pulling oneself out of an ice hole
  • my Nikon AW1 – a waterproof camera

To my big surprise all ice was thick and stable enough to bear my weight.

I couldn’t see any open water, but I could hear the sounds of ice and water below me. The cracking and clicking, the low, sonor pulsing drones echoing under the icy surface and sometimes even rhythmical beeping noises – like the Baltic Sea sending Morse code. An experience both fascinating and frightening.

Some impressions of today:

First day of spring

Today it’s the first day of spring. In the forest you could see the first snowless patches of soil covered with blueberry plants and the first birds sang their spring songs. But if you continued your walk through the woods until you reached the shore and had a look over the Baltic Sea, it looked like winter would be endless and continue forever:

But if you went on the ice and looked closer you could see, that the frozen surface only covered parts of the Baltic Sea. There was open water ahead. Blue open water. Blue open water with tiny little waves.

Oh, what I longed for my kayak – I would have loved to paddle on the crystal clear sea to the icebergs that you could see near the horizon.

The first day of spring in Skelleftehamn – still wintry but with a promise of spring coming soon.