Saturday, January 28, 2012


The winter has continued with rather nice weather. I'm becoming slightly frustrated that I have not managed to do an overnighter for more than a month. One weekend I was sick (a tenacious flu that has still not completely passed) and two weekends have seen family stuff preventing me from getting out. Last weekend at Utö was nice, but I now long for an overnighter by bike or skis. Next weekend should be possible.

I did take a take my bike out for some exercise today and checked out the trails. Trails that have been walked on are in excellent shape. Unused trails in the forest were also perfectly rideable with the fatbike.

In open places there was often enough snow to make riding difficult.

I still managed to find some places where the water and mud was not entirely frozen, but these are becoming increasingly hard to find. The temperature has stayed safely below freezing lately.

The day is now 1 h 50 min longer than at Christmas, but it still gets dark before the evening.

PS. My own computer is now being repaired and I currently don't have access to Lightroom. After just five months of using Lightroom, using ordinary jpeg:s without any fine tuning in Lightroom feels unsatisfying. While I'm not into image manipulation, the pictures just don't fully correspond to the idea or vision I had when I took them without doing some Lightroom work.

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.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

A turning point

Sing and rejoice! We finally have snow!

While a few centimeters of powder on top of some patches of older snow hardly makes a winter, I feel everything has taken a turn for the better. Compared to November and December, we've had a lot more sun after Christmas and the temperature is now forecasted to mostly stay below freezing. The winter has started.

Yet another tree hit by the Christmas storm.

Full moon. The conditions would be perfect for an overnighter, but I since I was sick with high fever in the beginning of the week, I will have to settle for a slow ride instead. Maybe I'll be in better shape next week.

Sunset over Lake Littoinen, less than two kilometers from my home.

The day is already 25 minutes longer than at the winter solstice, but the early sunset still limits the outdoor time. Of course, you can always use lights to keep going into the darkness, but I still prefer daylight, at least when it is sunny and nice.

A small island in the lake. The fog is signal of the temperature dropping.

An overnighter would have been so nice under the full moon.

It was nice to be on the bike again, even if only for two hours.