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Another Journey to the North Part 1/2 – Signaldalen

The first day, of what will become a rather successful photo-trip.

During this trip I took images all over the area up to the island of Sommaroy, near Tromsö. But the images in this post are all from the area that you can see here on the map

The journey begins just after sunset and I’m leaving home off to Norway. To make the most of this short trip I planned to be at location just behind the border before sunrise to take advantage of some nice morning light on and in the mountains. After that I shall continue to the islands north of the city of Tromsö, after a little nap that is. So far the plan.

In fact, it turns out that my plan works out nicely. My journey starts as planned and with the now already clear roads the trip proceeds without any unfortunate surprises, quite the opposite is the case: at 22 o’clock I see the first northern lights. Since I was hoping to be able to photograph some of them during this trip this is surely a good start. Unfortunately it’s too cloudy for a good view on them. Only occasionally I can see them through a gap in the clouds. These conditions will follow me during the next few hours.

As planned I arrive in Kilpisjärvi/Finland in a wonderful starlit sky, unfortunately no northern lights this time. A bit knackered I wanted to take another quick nap, but my favourite parking location between the mountains of Saana and Malla hasn’t been cleared of the snow. Too lazy to turn the car I continue my ride on the dark road through the mountains which eventually will bring me to Norway. This road is surely a spectacular sight but now in the absolute darkness there’s not much to see.

I have been driving this road plenty by now and usually I find better weather conditions on the Norwegian side of the mountains. Leaving Finland in starlit skies, this seemed to be hard to improve. And it didn’t. It has become cloudy and some light drops of rain are falling on my windshield while I finally manage to have a quick nap on a wonderful place along the road.

The iPhone wakes me up a little later and a cloudy sky greets me. It’s still dark but an occasional sight of stars between the clouds promises some interesting conditions at sunrise. I only have to find a spot to photograph.

My explore leads me back into the mountains to an area called Signaldalen. I haven’t been visiting here before but I quickly discover a gorgeous looking valley, softly lit by rising sun. Finding a good vantage point turns out to be not as easy though. As usual, it seems the best spot is always blocked by trees or has powerlines in just the wrong place in the frame. Preferably just in the middle.

It takes a while, but in the end I find a decent vantage point and I finally start exposing. The soft light is gently lighting the mountain tops colouring them in shades of blue. I compose another one and continue with my explore.

Signaldalen #1

Signaldalen #1 Exif: 1/25 sec at f11 +1EV, ISO 100, 200mm

Signaldalen 2

Signaldalen #2 Exif: 1/25 sec at f11 +1EV, ISO 100, 93mm Black and white conversion using Silver EfexPro 2.

As so often the conditions changed quickly it looks a lot different once I reach the other side of the valley. Unfortunately not to the better.

Nethertheless I continue with my explore when I “see” an image which will become the starting point of a project which will keep me busy for the remainder of the day and eventually becomes what I would consider some of my personal best work (stay tuned for updates here on the blog).

Signaldalen #3

Signaldalen #3 Exif: 1/30 sec at f11 +1EV, ISO 100, 111mm Isnt this an impressive moutain?! Views like these are what draws me to this country ever since my first visit two years ago. It would be wonderful to photograph this mountain in the warm and golden light of the rising sun. Well it didnt happen this time. It seems I will have to return here again. Black and white conversion with SilverEfexPro 2.

From now on the conditions don’t improve much, in fact they are getting worse. As unfortunate as this might seem it turned out to be very helpful for my impromptu project.

My path leads me to Tromsö and the surrounding islands but the conditions develop to the worse during the course of the day. In pouring rain I compose my last image for this day and after a check of the weather report I decide to go back to Finland where the conditions should more much better in the morning.

More to come…

  1. I can feel the remoteness and winter chill in these beautiful photos, Sven. What an imposing mountain Signaldalen must be. I like your choice of processing and monochromatic treatment. Look forward to seeing more!

  2. Thanks a lot for your comments. Glad you like the images. The next post and images should be up my next week. I hope.

  3. Certainly looks like you had an exciting and challenging trip, I particularly like the black and white images, to me they have more drama and add a harsh feel to the images. Looking froward to part 2. Phil

    • Hi Phil,

      thanks a lot for your comment. The decision whether or not to do a black and white version is often not easy, sometimes it feels necessary while it sometimes seems like a sacrilege agains the colours.

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