Posts Tagged ‘Finland’

Night Photography in Stockholm and Finnish Lapland (and Photo Tips)

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Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) in Finnish Lapland, as photographed on my Canon 5D MK III

One of the reasons I chose to go with Photo Enrichment Adventures to Lapland and Stockholm was for another chance to photograph the Aurora Borealis. After aurora hunting in Iceland in October, I got hooked on the phenomenon and know I’ll be seeking out more opportunities to see the Northern Lights.

Photo Enrichment specializes in small group cultural tours with an emphasis on photography. I enjoy night photography but it’s definitely not my forte, and welcomed the chance up up my night photography game. Shooting after dark involves long shutter speeds and that means a tripod is required.

I brought tripod set-ups for both my DSLR, a Canon 5D MK III as well as a far more compact version for my iPhone 6s.

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Stockholm’s Parliament building illuminated at night 

Situated between the head of Lake Mälaren and the Baltic Sea, Stockholm is hella windy at night and the night I spent shooting after dark in Stockholm was by far the coldest.

The most important gear in addition to a tripod is the right gloves. My hands tend to get extremely cold and I’ve been shooting with mittens over texting gloves, trying to find the correct pair or combo since I visited Iceland last fall.

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iPhone 6s Slow Shutter Shot of Stockholm at night

Since I know I will be doing more night photography in cold conditions, I’ve now purchased a pair of heated gloves. After a lot of research I figured out that the gloves for hunters and snipers have the same features photographers need, including a free trigger finger. The Heat 3 Smart Gloves came highly rated but with a steep price tag, so I opted for the slightly less expensive Swany Arctic Toaster Mittens.

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Stockholm at night, a Canon 5 D MK III shot

The Aurora Borealis only showed up one night during my stay in Finnish Lapland, and earlier than expected, so I only photographed them using my Canon DSLR setup.

The other nights I tried shooting with both my Canon and my iPhone 6s, using the Slow Shutter app, and overall I was impressed with the resulting images from my iPhone. The photos from Stockholm blew out some of the details in the highlights that my Canon was able to capture, but I am still happy with the images.

The Slow Shutter app also has an intervalometer feature built in so you can set exposure times and shutter speeds. Slow Shutter’s intervalometer was more intuitive than the stand alone remote timer I used from Canon.

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Cabins in Kukkolankoski, Finland (iPhone image above)

Slow Shutter produced images that were a bit noisy, but editing them and blending together a few of my favorite edits using the Image Blender app makes the noise less noticeable. They don’t have the same sharpness as the shots from my Canon DSLR but they certainly captured the mood!

I plan on doing more night photography in the coming months so that my comfort level and skill improves.

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Cabins in Kukkolankoski photographed with my Canon 5D MK III

The other piece of gear which is so essential for cold weather shooting is extremely low tech: large Ziploc storage bags. After shooting in extremely cold conditions, you take out your battery and SD and CF cards and place your DSLR and lenses in these to prevent condensation when they warm up to room temperature. Very useful!

For more tips on photographing in extreme conditions, check out Dan Carr’s excellent post on Cold Weather Photography and Extreme Conditions.

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Exploring Lapland: Dogsledding in Kivalot, Finland

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The view from my dog sled

One of the highlights of my recent Arctic Adventure with Photo Enrichment Adventures was the afternoon we spent dog sledding in Finnish Lapland.

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Huskies are ready to roll

We drove about an hour from our cottages in Kukolankoski to the hilly area of Kivalot where we were greeted by the howls and whimpers of thirty Siberian huskies ready to roll. There we met Ulla and Paula, a mother/daughter team of mushers with over 30 years of dog sledding experience. Ulla is a serious competitive dog sledder, but her B-team of dogs is at the ready to entertain tourists with scenic dog sled tours.

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Off duty dogs

Huskies have a human like howl that made it a bit difficult to hear the instructions of how to drive the dog sleds, which are crafted by hand by Ulla. We split into teams and had an awesome chance to take in some of the local scenery by sled (or sledge, as they call it in Lapland).

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Left: Paula and Sitka, the puppy Right: Paula with one of her prize huskies

While the person riding in the sled had an awesome perspective to take photographs and video, this experience was about much more than photos. The howling huskies became quiet the second they hit the trail. It was a really fun way to explore the countryside.

Dog sledding video shot on my iPhone 6s

The sounds of the paws against the snow, the cushy ride afforded by the fluffy layer of snow. The sensation is a bit like cross-country skiing, but more fun because of the six wagging tails in front of you.

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The view from the dog sledge

Dog sledding was a great way to experience the beauty of the Lapland wilderness and bond with nature.

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Sam and a brown and blue-eyed Siberian beauty

Dog sleds are driven by fully manual transmission, and there were a few memorable mishaps. I got flipped in the sled while riding around a corner. But it only added to the experience, and the snow guaranteed a soft landing.

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Sitka the future sled dog hopeful.

I’m not sure which I preferred– riding in the sled or driving it. Both were fantastic. We even had a touch of snow to add to the winter wonderland atmosphere. Everyone on the trip thought this was an absolute highlight and was a bit bummed when our ride ended.

Ulla and Paula invited us into a tipi-like tent for some coffee and introduced us to Sitka, a five-week old husky puppy who is a future competitive sled dog hopeful.

It’s experiences like dog sledding in Lapland that made me glad I took a tour. Our group loved discussing this experience and having it together made it all the better. Much thanks to Ralph Velasco and Alessandro Maccari of Photo Enrichment Adventures for putting together this amazing trip.

Photo Enrichment Adventures

1643 North Alpine Road, #190
Rockford, IL 61107

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