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located here: gulf of bothnialappland

this christmas, we visited ivalo in finnish lapland. we had plenty of snow, it was freezing cold (between -13 and -30 degrees celsius), and the sky was often clear – perfect conditions for auroras!

during daytime, short as it was, we did an excursion to the siida museum in inari, to saariselkä, and via utsjoki to norway.

finally, here are some aurora animations:

one reason why i like the north so much are northern lights: aurora borealis. lappland is a good place to see them, as is northern canada. thanks to the cloud cover, i missed several great auroras (judging from shots people did in this area during these days), but i still saw something. the first set of aurorae appeared when i was outside of guesthouse husky, during one night:

while visiting inari with some other guests staying at the guesthouse, we met andy keen, an aurora hunter and photographer. he gave us a lift back to ivalo, and told us a bit about his history and his fascination on auroras. well, two days later, one other guest and me went on an aurora hunting trip with andy. unfortunatley, we weren’t lucky enough to get a full-blown aurora. but we still saw something, at least! for that, andy drove us somewhere north of inari, near to a lake, where we had a great view over the lake in the direction of norway. the moon was shining bright, and without the stars it almost seemed like daylight. (i guess without the moon the aurorae would have looked more intense as well…) here are some impressions from the lake:

we later continued to another very nice spot, of which i already showed two photos here, and on the way back we stopped on a bridge where we got another wonderful view. (the last four photos of the previous post show these locations.) unfortunatley, both times without auroras. but that’s the problem of aurora hunting, you’re depending a lot on luck. (according to murphy’s law, there probably was a wonderful intense aurora as soon as we were in bed ;-) )
if you’re ever around this area and want to see auroras, do not have a car (to escape the clouds) or just don’t know what to look for, ask andy. he’s a nice guy :-) and it’s nice to be able to start dozing off while someone drives you home in the middle of the night…

the following photos were taking during night. some of them look like taken at daylight, wouldn’t there be stars at the sky… especially with full moon, the snowscape is just so bright.
the photos in the second row show the guesthouse husky, and the left photo in the third row is from näverniemi lomakylä. the last two rows are somewhere north of inari, the other rows are near to the guesthouse and/or the lomakylä.

the following photos show the winterish lappland in its full beauty. the first two photos show part of the näverniemi lomakylä.
essentially all photos have been taken on the second and the eighth of january.

how is lappland in winter? how is polar night? something i had to find out, and so i was here for almost two weeks, staying in ivalo, a village in northern lappland which is now somewhat familiar to me.
the first three days i was staying at näverniemi lomakylä, and the rest of the time at guesthouse husky. two wonderful places!
i was somewhat lucky and unlucky. lucky in the sense that usually, it is much colder here, around -15 to -25 degrees; i mostly had -5 to -15. not that -25 scares me, having lived for two years in calgary. but doing a nice walk at -15 is just much nicer than at -25… :-) i was unlucky in the sense that most of the time, it was overcast. only very few days lacked the dense cloud cover which is painting the snowscape in grey. still, a beautiful grey! the first set of photos i want to present you is from the overcast daytime, and mostly looks like black and white, or blue and white. the truth is somewhere inbetween, as the light here is quite bluish.
i also did a husky tour on one of the greyish days, as you can see below.

here’s my project 52 shot for the thirtysixth week. the topic was


a quite obvious choice for this topic was something from a certain night near ivalo in the finnish lappland. the scenery was so beautiful, just so fantastically, with the fog creeping around, at low level, not too dense, while the mostly clear sky depicted auroras. this shot has no aurora – i already used that here – but fits in my opinion even better to this week’s topic. i enhanced the colors a bit in gimp. please click the photo to get a larger version:

technical details: 25s, f/8, 50mm, iso 3200. modified using gimp.

here’s my project 52 shot for the thirtyfourth week. the topic was


a mouse. killed from behind, while being trapped. gone to water. already dead, probably for some days. it’s hard to say who killed it. was it the boat owner, by leaving the boat there? was it the rain, by filling up the boat? was it suicide, as the mouse entered the boat by free will? or was it chased there? are there any witnesses? any alive ones, even?
photo taken at lake inari; an overview of the “crime scene” can be seen here. please click the photo to get a larger version:

technical details: 1/125s, f/5.6, 400mm, iso 800.

the last days, i’ve been travelling back south, arriving at helsinki airport tomorrow to fly back to zürich. when i started driving south in lapland, it was still ruska time:

(these shots are from the first time i the clouds broke open and let sunlight through on my way south, after having seen a dense cloud cover for the last whatever many days.) the farther south i got, the less colorful the landscape got. but then, there were other interesting things to see.


on my way north, i drove directly from kemijärvi to sodankylä, hence missing vikajärvi, the town i stayed in for 10 days last year in march. but on my way back south, with my first stop-over being kemi, the best way was going straight through vikajärvi. i couldn’t resist to get a better view of some places during fall:

compare the first photo to this one, and the place where i shot the last two photos is depicted here. everything looks quite different, eh?


my first stop-over was kemi, finland’s northernmost city at a coast to an ocean. (it is located at the bothnian bay.) here are a few impressions from a stroll to the old harbour:

lumijoki: bay of bothnia.

continuing the next day to vaasa, i did a stop in varjakka near lumijoki to get another, more beachy view on the bothnian bay:

unfortunately, the weather got bad around that point, as on the way to varjakka and back there were a lot of nice views…

(lumijoki lies in pohjois-pohjanmaa, which roughly translates to northern northland. considering that there is a lot more north of it, the name is quite a fail :) )


somewhere before vaasa, i took a small detour and visited the island öja. unfortunatley, the weather was still not very exciting…

from vaasa i continued further south to turku.

turun linna.

when arriving in turku, i was too early to check in into my hotel, so i drove in the direction of the harbour to see some sea. but then i saw turku’s castle and decided to take a closer look at it. the castle was built over 700 years ago and is still mostly intact. one can nowadays walk through a maze of rooms and enjoy many great views, on both medieval and renaissance parts, and there is also a prehistoric exhibition running. it’s definitely a great place to visit! here are some impressions:

turun tuomiokirkko and surroundings.

after dropping my stuff off at the hotel and refreshing myself, i went to see the tuomiokirkko and its surroundings. here are some impressions:

here’s my project 52 shot for the twentyfirst week. the topic was


this one wasn’t too hard. instead of photographing chocolate, alcohol, computers, cats, i chose something making me go outside several times a night during the last days: northern lights, also called aurora borealis. these ones i photographed next to my mökki near ivalo, lappland. please click the photo to get a larger version:

technical details: 2s, f/4.5, 16mm fisheye, iso 3200.

while staying in ivalo, i did a daytrip to kirkenes in norway, and dipped my feet into the barents sea. it was pretty cold, and didn’t got any warmer while staying in it a bit longer. i’d still jump in if i would have taken my swimming gear with me… this is a thing you don’t do that often. as before in ivalo, it was cloudy. and rained a bit. but nonetheless, it was beautiful. lappland is just beautiful. the barents sea reminds me a lot of the north sea. which reminds me that i haven’t been there for quite some time.