Saturday, 20 April 2013

A long drive for a swamp

This morning I got up before five and about five thirty I started a two and half hour drive west. I was going to take a look at a swamp. Yes, I know, there is something really seriously wrong with me. Little over 200 km drive to walk around a swamp and then the same drive back again to get home doesn't seem very smart. Especially if it involves getting up early in the morning. I don't think even I would have done it, if I wouldn't have had a meeting set up at a lean-to at the edge of the national park containing the swamp in question.

Now, the meet in question was a special one. I belong to a number of Finnish photoforums, but for the last year or so, have mainly been active in only one of them. It's not much like the others, there are only a few members and all of us have at one point or another just had enough of the other forums. They really are packed with one or all of the following: the techweenies arguing over which camera has the best qualities, (eventhough they never really utilize more than 10% of what their gear could do), the "you gave my picture favourable comments, so I'll say your picture is brilliant" -crowd, "bad reactions to critique" -bunch or "according to this or that book your picture stinks because it doesn't go by the accepted rules of a "good" picture" -comments. Our little group got together on the net and we focus on throwing comments at each other that most people would consider insults, but we all know it's done only because of a twisted sense of humor, with no real insult intended. We also believe that "going by the book" or focusing too much on technical issues takes the fun out of our beloved hobby, photography. There is really no other common factor to our photography other than it has to be fun. Most of the others are not into nature pics the same way I am and I have no interest in taking glampics of models or going to the circuit to take motorsport pictures for example. I knew a couple of this bunch pretty well and we had met up many times, but there were also a couple of actives that I had never met in person, only traded ideas and comments over the net. So, when a meet was set up and I time off from work, I felt that I just had to go.

We met up at the lean-to just after eight in the morning and after having a cup of coffee, we headed down the trail that went around the swamp. We stopped every now and then to take pictures, talked about this and that as we walked along. After our about 10km trek was over, we were back at the lean-to, got a fire going, grilled some sauseges and chatted some more. Then it was time to start the long drive home. Yes, 5 hours driving in one day is not much fun, but I am glad I went. It was fun to meet the chaps behind the nicknames in person and to discover that after all this time, it was like meeting up with old friends. I had a really great day and I hope our plans for another meet sometime in the near future will go as planned.

Here are some of the pictures I took along our little walk-about:

Monday, 15 April 2013

Gray morning and camera shy grouses

I haven't had time to do much (more like any) photography this spring. Today was exceptional in the sense that I managed to go out and even had a friend along. Usually I'm out there alone. It's nice to have someone tag along every now and then, the hours spent alone in the hide can be rather lonesome at times. If nothing else, it's nice to have someone to talk to while waiting for something to happen.

I woke up at 2:30, after sleeping for about three hours. For some reason I did not get to sleep early as I had planned. I made tea for my thermos and stuffed my sandwichbox in my backpack that I had loaded with my gear the previous evening. I turned on the coffee machine to get a few cups of much needed fuel into my system. Just after three my friend Jukka pulled up. Jukkas photocompany pages can be found here. (Finnish only, sorry) We loaded our gear into my car and headed for the swamp. I parked the car at my usual spot and we headed to my hide that I had set up the previous afternoon. After skiing for half an hour in ankle deep slush, we arrived at the hide. It was still pitch dark when we got ourselves and our gear stuffed inside.

As the sun rose, the light increased, but with a low overcast, everything was colored in dull gray tones. To make matters worse, the grouses that we had come to photograph were well too aware of my hide. The first few birds landed at their usual spot right infront of us, but there wasn't enough light for good pictures. A couple of them started to boast at each other and even ruffled each others feathers a bit. They also kept looking towards the hide almost all the time and after spotting some movement of our camera lenses, the whole flock moved further away. It would have been much better if I could have taken the hide out a few days earlier and let the birds get used to it before going out, but I was so busy around the house with family stuff that it just could not be done. In any case, the low hanging cloudlayer made sure that no real nice color tones would be captured today.

Here is a quick sample of this mornings images:

Jukka wrote his views of our trip (still in Finnish) with some nice pictures here. For our next outing I'll get us a larger hide. My little tent was made accommodate just me and my gear and with two photographers, it was cramped to the limit. It fealt great to crawl out and be able to strech my legs and back.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Up north

We did our almost traditional january trip north this week. Out of the original five, only two (craziest?) decided to go this time. The two were my good friend Jani and myself. We headed out at about eight on monday morning, with about 800 km of driving ahead of us. I took a couple of quick snapshots along the way:
As can be seen from the lower picture, there were some nice scenery along the way, but the dull gray weather did not do them justice. After about 11 hours on the road we arrived at our destination.

Our first day out in the wild was gray and foggy:
Jani took this picture of me just before the slight drizzle coming down froze on my camera and forced me to stop taking pictures:
We managed to ski quite a bit during the day and even saw some birds. Didn't catch any though. After a sauna and dinner, I had no trouble getting to sleep. As soon as I put my head on the pillow and pulled the blanket over me, I slept until the alarm clock woke me up in the morning for another day of skiing.

Our second day started out with clear skies and a nice crispy -17 C
We skied thru a few small swamps and headed up the hill that can be seen on the horizon in the picture above.
 The view from the top was spectacular:
At the top, we stopped for lunch:
With the sun low on the horizon, the trees and the sky had blue and purple color:

This time we didn't even see birds, except for one black grouse that flew across the road just as we got back to our car. Eventhough we didn't catch anything for the second year in a row, I still want to go out again in the future.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Getting ready

I'm doing a nightshift at work tonight and on monday morning it's time to head north. A couple of days of peace and quiet, skiing in deep snow. Despite all the other stuff that I've been busy with, I have managed to get most of my gear packed for monday. I'll post something from our trip when I get back home, that is, if I manage to get any decent pictures.