Made-Up Bits

a personal blog, by Sven Seebeck -

Another Journey To The North 2/2 - Saana, you're looking good today

Tl,dr: On last day of this journey I was able to get the image that I had envisioned a long time ago.

The mix of snow and rain which is hammering onto the car wakes me up after a couple of hours of sleep in the front seat of my car, which I have left on a beautifully located parking area. I’m looking out of the window and the stormy conditions out there are really not very encouraging. I’m still in Norway and between me and the hopefully better conditions in the north of Finland is only the road through the mountains.

Sunrise is still a few hours ahead but waiting here and not doing anything is not really productive so I start the car and head over back to Finland on the dark and now much more slippery road. It’s roughly a 40km trip and the longer I drive the less rain is pouring on me when finally, on the highest point of road I finally see stars! The sky is clear, lit by stars and a heavy wind blows the snow over the road. Wonderful! The forecast in fact seemed to have been correct.

I continue driving a few more kilometers until I reach the village of Kilpisjärvi and I start to inspect the scenery as much as it is possible in the dark. The sky is full of stars with a few clouds appearing in the dark sky. This seems to be promising.

I have one image in mind, a panorama of Finland’s highest mountain, called Saana. On my very first visit to this place two years ago I already had the idea for this image, but the conditions then simply weren’t right. Today, two years later, it seems to be a lot different and it finally might work out.

It’s still a while until sunrise and I decide to explore the mountain road again in the now slightly brighter conditions. There were surely a few nice images out there, but the very heavy wind on the pass would make a sharp and usable image very unlikely. I decide to head back to my panorama vantage point, to make sure I’m not missing the right moment.

Where’s Frodo? I took this image on my very first visit to this area. It was a very grey moment, and even though it was in the beginning of June the lake was still covered with ice. A little later snow started to fall. Exif: 1/80 sec at f6,3 17mm ISO 200 Processed in SilverEfexPro2

As opposed to my first visit here everything comes together just fine. A few clouds show up and the sun rises just at the right spot. To reach over the tree line I would need a slightly higher vantage point, which naturally happens to be more or less in the middle of the road or on the hills behind me. Getting on there without snow shoes is not going to be possible and since traffic at this time in this area not worth mentioning I opt for the road.

A first test image already shows potential, and I continue my setup by carefully aligning and leveling the tripod. The sun now slowly rises over the mountains and not only lights the mountain, but also illuminates the clouds above Saana in colours of purple. Wonderful. This is the image I planned to take two years ago. I expose a series of images for two different panoramic images and once I’m done the best light is over and it becomes rather bright.

Exif: 1/10 sec at f/14, 150mm ISO 100 7 Exposures stitched in PS CS5.

I explore the area a little further but nothing really catches my eye in this light anymore. The panoramic images of today, the views of Signaldalen and my impromptu project from yesterday make up all in all about 20 keepers and I have the feeling that I made of the most of this short trip. It’s actually way more than I have expected. With a good feeling about this outing I’m driving back home.

Loose snow is blown over the road by the heavy wind and besides a few reindeer, there’s not much other people out here on this road. It will be like this for quite some time and it should take a many hours until I’m home and import the images to see whether my feeling about the images was right. Luckily it was.

Some statistics from the journey:

  • Auroras sighted: 1
  • Kilometres driven: ~1700km
  • Energy drinks: 2 ltrs
  • Coffees: many, but still too few
  • Mentionable Food: 1 bread, porridge and 1 piece of cake (of course)
  • Hours slept: some

The images of my project I hope to have here on the blog during the next week.

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