Winter landscapes in Finland

Winter landscapes in Finland

In January this year I traveled for two weeks to the north of Finland, to Lapland, to photograph the impressive winter landscape and the polar lights.
The landscape is dominated by deep snow-covered forests and coniferous trees. Sometimes you can also see native animals like reindeer, squirrels, swans, ptarmigans or other birds.

One week I spent, together with other photographers, near Muonio at the border to Sweden and a second week I visited Riisitunturi National Park near Ruka.

In January, the chances are good to photograph the trees completely covered with snow. This is not always the case. But if you are lucky, the trees are completely snowed in, so they look like
towers of ice or trolls of snow. But this only happens when a lot of snow has fallen, it has been windless for a long time and it is also very cold. Then the snow freezes on the trees and the branches bend down under the weight of the snow. The firs then look like huge spears of ice reaching into the sky.

But if it is too windy, the snow is blown off the branches. The temperature in the north of Finland in January is about -10 °C to -35 °C.

In February the temperatures are often a bit warmer and the chances to see the trees completely covered with snow are lower. In December, on the other hand, there is not yet enough snow.
Of course, these are only experience values. It can also happen, depending on the weather, that you can find perfect conditions in December or February.

The sun remains below the horizon at the beginning of January. From mid/late January it rises only 1 to 2 degrees above the horizon. Therefore, there is perfect light for photography in January! The first light, at blue hour, is at 09:00 am in the morning. The last light in the evening is until 04:00 pm. In between you can experience an incredible play of colors in the sky!
The light is from blue/purple in the morning to pink to orange at noon and in the evening it becomes purple/blue again. This light, which exists in our latitudes only for about 15 minutes, exists there in the the whole day! A paradise for nature photographers!

The long nights offer great opportunities to photograph the aurora! Aurora Borealis is created at an altitude of 300 km by the solar wind. These charged particles (electrons and protons) need about 18 hours to travel from the sun to the earth. They hit the magnetic field of the earth and react with the oxygen and nitrogen atoms in the atmosphere and ionize them. Because the magnetic field lines converge at the poles, this is where auroras form. The gases in the atmosphere begin to glow.

So much for the theory. In practice, however, the weather must cooperate and there must be no clouds. In addition, the solar wind must also hit the earth. And if all this fits, you can see great auroras. Unfortunately I was not so lucky.

In the first night it was starry, full moon, absolutely no wind and the temperature was -36.5 °C! Perfect conditions for aurora. Disappointingly, the aurora forecast was very poor. During the night, a tiny bit of green aurora appeared on the horizon for 3 minutes and that was it.

The following days the weather became bad and worse. It was completely cloudy. Everything was gray in gray. No structure was visible in the clouds and of course no light. In addition, it was getting warmer, much too warm for this time of year. Every day it got warmer by 5 to 10 degrees. 3 days later the thermometer showed only -1 °C°. That is 35 °C warmer than the first day! You don't want to call it a heat wave, but it was something like that.

Unfortunately, the weather remained bad for 6 days. Only on the seventh day the clouds moved away and in the afternoon the conditions were very good for photographing.
But a day later it was again densely cloudy. In the next week I should get one more really good day for photographing.

Conclusion of the two weeks: I had two good days for photographing and 3 minutes of aurora! But I am satisfied. It was still worth it. On the two days many great photos were taken, which I would like to show in the Finland gallery! For me it means: Next year I will travel there again, because the north is just magical!

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