Inner Circle - Life in Finnish Lapland

 

The Arctic Circle is easily considered as one of the more inhospitable climes on the planet, Visions of months of darkness, vast empty swathes of bleak and barren tundra, eye-wateringly low temperatures, and the presence of mysterious and fearsome wildlife, is usually enough to dissuade the curious traveller. However, it is between these parameters, that it is not only possible, but almost inevitable that the beauty of this wilderness can be found.

The start of the big freeze. Ice encroaching on one of the hundreds of lakes. 

 

The northernmost region of Finnish Lapland is relatively low on most travellers’ radar, the more dramatic Nordic countries, such as Norway or Iceland, have a much more explosive appeal and, thus, draw the travellers in vast numbers. However, it is upon occasion that the path less travelled can often yield the greater sense of reward, in that one has to look harder, and past the showstopper locations, to find a sense of tranquillity and quiet beauty.

Under a veil of mist, the subtle tones of Polar night warm the landscape. 

 

The first breath taken in the morning, over a steaming cup of hot coffee, fills the lungs with an icy blast of the purest air that one could hope for, a pure white blanket of perma-snow softens the landscape, and receives the smooth and subtle tones of Polar Night, painting the gentle rolling hills in the most sublime palette of pastel purples and pinks. The sun sets in early December, and won’t rise again until the end of January. Whilst the radiance of the sun is not felt, one can find solace in the array of subdued colours that exist in hours of twilight. The silence can be almost deafening, however clichéd that may sound. Never has the sound of one’s own breath, or the gentle squeak and crunch of fresh snow underfoot seemed so apparent. It is this heightening of the senses, that allows the visitor to immerse themselves fully in this sublime Arctic landscape.

The landscape blanketed with snow, whilst the high cloud accentuates the Polar colour palette.

Yet on occasion, there is life that breaks the deep silence. In early winter, the lakes creak and groan as the ice forms; what might appear as a lifeless skating rink is bursting with energy under the surface, fish continue to swim beneath the insulating blanket of snow and ice. Hardy birds continue to prise the last nutrients from the seemingly endless pine forests, jumping from branch to branch, causing a thud as snow laden branches dispense of their load onto the ground below. Across a lake a herd of reindeer may pass, walking in careful formation to minimise the exertion of breaking trail. Foxes and stoats scurry through the forest, searching for prey that exists underneath the insulating blanket of snow.

A traditional Kota offers shelter from the elements, and the welcome flicker of an open fire. 

A traditional Kota offers shelter from the elements, and the welcome flicker of an open fire. 

Whilst these moments exist in the brief daytime, it is at night that the Arctic truly comes alive. As twilight fades, the bright twinkle of stars arrives to the North. It seems only a matter of minutes, until the skies are awash with a dazzling array of light. Around a new moon, the darkness is indescribably deep, drawing in your attention. It is at this moment, that one can hope to witness one of the most spectacular phenomena on the planet.

Aurora Borealis - The most enchanting natural phenomenon.

Although the sun is not seen for many weeks, the effects of its power are still most apparent. Ejected solar particles, carrying an electrical charge, are projected towards the earth and, upon collision with the atmosphere, result in a light show incomparable to anything else on this planet. Whilst initially attracted to the magnetic poles of the planet, with only a minor fluctuation in the polarity, the sky appears to catch alight with flares of green and pink, swirls and pillars of dancing light. This is the true magic of the Arctic, the seemingly dormant landscape set on fire by an explosion of colour that draws the breath from your lungs. These displays of solar activity can disappear in minutes, or on rare occasions, paint upon the dark sky for hours on end, an ever changing, morphing wonder, a bewitching force, blessing those brave enough to withstand the elements, delivering a reward so great, that the rest of the world has yet to find an answer.

 

Aurora Borealis over a fire tipi on the shore of Ukonjarvi.

 

 

Adventures in Finnish Lapland

Its fast approaching a month that I have been based up in Finnish Lapland, working in my new role as an Aurora Guide. It's been a fascinating and exciting few weeks, exploring a corner of the world that I previously knew very little about. I have been lucky enough to witness the transition from Autumn into the first stages of an Arctic Winter.

The landscape here is very empty, bleak and barren, and a far cry from the mountainous terrain that I have grown accustomed to. This is proving to be a huge challenge photographically, with none of the dramatic compositions that the varied topography of the Lake District, or the Scottish mountains present to you. Whilst it has so far been a little difficult, I find myself searching the landscape for patterns, or features to tie a photograph together. I feel that I will gain a better understanding of how to put a photograph together, additionally, I think it is forcing me to connect with the landscape in a stronger sense, which can only be a good thing. 

Here are a few shots from the first few weeks of my time here. 

Solitude - A misty moment on one of the many beautiful lakes.

Solitude - A misty moment on one of the many beautiful lakes.

Traffic on the roads at rush hour

Traffic on the roads at rush hour

Detail of the freezing river in Inari

Detail of the freezing river in Inari

Late Arctic light on a frozen lake

Late Arctic light on a frozen lake

Hoar Frost, Inarijoki

Hoar Frost, Inarijoki

Cloud Inversion over Derwent Water

I was lucky enough to make an early morning trip with friends over to the Lake District, on a promising forecast for a cloud inversion. The cloud was very localised, but our choice of location overlooking Derwent Water from Catbells was prime positioning to capture the conditions. 

 

Standing in the face of the spectacular

Golden light accentuating the Autumn Mist

An island on Derwent Water looking sublime through the cloud

Italy

3500 Miles, countless espressos, fantastic cuisine, and a few photos too! Forza Italia!!

Torre Di Diavolo - Dolomites

San Quirico D'Orcia

Lago Di Braies

Lago Di Landro

Lago Di Antorno