Sunday, January 22, 2012


Time for a pure photography excursion. BioFoto Finland held the year meeting at Utö. This was the first visit to Utö for me, though I technically had set my foot on the island once before, when the ferry spent the night there in shelter for a hard January storm before finally going to Jurmo. Utö is a place visited mostly by photography and bird enthusiasts, at least outside the summer season. The place became more accessible some five years ago when the military left the island.

You get to Utö with a ferry from Pärnäs/Pärnäinen and the journey takes a little under five hours. Our group, consisting of almost twenty persons, met at the ferry on Friday evening. We arrived at 22:40 in the evening at Utö Havshotell, an old military barrack converted to a hotel of a good standard. A totally different accomodation than on my usual outings.

After a good nights sleep, the morning looked quite promising, despite the rather depressing weather forecast. A quick glimpse outside the hotel before the breakfast buffet showed the following view.

The morning colors were perfectly acceptable.

The Utö lighthouse...

... and a previous version?

While the military no longer have an active presence on the island, it is an important base for the coastal pilots and the coast guard, hence the radar surveillance.

I was not the only one out photographing.

Some morning pictures.

After some time the sun disappeared behind the clouds, changing the light.

A poor gull had lost its feathers (and life).

The small chapel on the island.

The lighthouse again.

We even got to see the inside of the lighthouse. It has a small ballroom and even a small chapel, available for weddings.

Occasional ice patches.

After lunch the weather changed and it started to snow a little. When we arrived there was no snow on the island, but now the ground got a thin cover of snow.

The small village. There is probably a between ten and twenty permanent residents, with a lot more people living there in the summer.

Port lateral mark.

The waters around Utö have always been dangerous for mariners, and there are lots of ship wrecks there. This is a memorial for SS Park Victory, which sank during a storm in 1947.

Changing light.

Another view.

Nature first.

Another house.

The harbor.

This is how the coastal pilots get out to the ships they are to assist. In all possible weather conditions.

The sun set behind the clouds at 16:20. It had been an interesting day with quite varying weather. The morning temperature was a little below freezing and there was no wind. Later the temperature rose a little and there was some wind. It was also snowing for a short while.

The following morning was cloudy and windy, with a less inspiring light, but there was still something to photograph.

Exposed and windy.

A Mute Swan enjoying the wind. Or not.

Our transport home, M/S Eivor, formerly Baldur from Iceland. There was plenty of time to go through the pictures and write this on the way home.

Since this was my first visit to Utö, there are a bunch of ordinary tourist pictures, but hopefully a few pictures still rise above that category.

I used my newish lightweight photo gear and did not feel restricted by it, but a longer tele would possibly have enabled some bird shots. The others all had very serious camera gear, but I have made my choice and strive to make the most of it. This time I did have my old heavy Manfrotto 055C tripod with me, since I thought a lighter tripod would not have been able to handle the wind. On the Sunday morning in the hard wind I also think a heavier camera would been more stable in the wind. The Olympus E-P2 with the 40-150 lens felt like the wind caused some high frequency vibration on it when mounted on the tripod.


  1. Great landscape photos! My big brother served his military service at Utö as a coast guard, so it's interesting to see this place through your photos.

  2. Wonderful photos, which once again convince me that I need to get better with using my EP-2, I think I need to look at the 40-150 lens as well. Was 40-150 the only lens you used? As for a Manfrotto tripod its on my list.

    Thanks for the inspiration and the excellent photos.

  3. Nice to see what Utö and its surroundings look like at this time of the year.

    Superb photos! Good choices for b&w photos, too. Really liked them all.
    You were lucky to experience all sort of weather there.

    Btw, how far the sea was frozen? Obviously Jurmo was still on open waters?

  4. Thanks for the kind words!

    The E-P2 is a good camera and does not really limit you. The 40-150 mm is a decent lens. It is sharp, though not supersharp, on all focal lenghts and is small, light and cheap. In addition to the 40-150 mm lens I used the 20/1.7 and the 9-18 mm lenses.

    There is almost no sea ice at all. Only the inner bays are frozen and the sea water is still so warm that the probability for any significant sea ice is close to zero.