Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Finland / Lapland

Just before Christmas, we were lucky enough to spend a week in Northern Finland, in the resort of Levi.  Not many people would have chosen Northern Finland as an obvious place to go skiing/boarding, but with a chance to also see the Northern Lights, it was worth a pop!  And in fact, it was a terrific holiday - a catered chalet, virtually deserted pistes, adventures on snowmobiles, driving ice karts and husky sledding!

It certainly wasn't a photography break (I even read a fiction book!), but there were some opportunities to take the camera out...

Northern Lights

Despite it allegedly being a spectacular year for the Northern Lights, this isn't that useful if it's cloudy (it almost always is in Finland in December!), or if Auroral activity is low (this was a great site to check activity).  However, near the centre of Levi was a frozen lake, which was a 5 minute trudge to get away from some of the light pollution to maximise the chances of seeing anything.

I spent 4 nights on the frozen lake, with durations ranging from 30 minutes, to nearly 4 hours.  It's virtually impossible to describe how cold -25°C is, with a wind chill as low as -31°C, but suffice to say with 7 layers on my top half, a balaclava, two hats and a hood, three bottom layers and three paris of socks, I was still very cold!



Whilst waiting for the Northern Lights, I helped pass the time by taking a series of photos of the cloud formations, which I've made into a short time-lapse video:

 


Eventually, when the clouds did disappear, on the Northern horizon, there was a bit of a show, which was great.  Not the 'over the head' displays which can be seen sometimes, but at least there was something!  And I was very grateful for my new Canon 16-35 f/2.8 L II, which not only performed amazingly in the cold conditions, but also gave me a wide enough angle!






And here's an example of the Northern Lights, but severely impacted by light pollution (I'm pretty sure the vertical lights were floodlights from nearby buildings.)


Finally, there's no daylight as such in Northern Finland during the Winter, but you do get some amazing light none-the-less...




And cute huskies!






And even reindeer!







And is that Santa and a couple of elves on the ski-lift...?