It is the darkest time of the year. Winter Solstice occurs day after tomorrow. In southern Finland where I live it means that sun comes up at around 9.30 and it sets at about 3. About an eight-hour drive up north, in the area where I lived most of my childhood and teenage years, sun comes up at around 10.30 and sets at about two. Another eight-hour drive up north from there the sun doesn’t come up at all for 51 days starting November 26. The moon and northern lights provide some bluish light during that time, so it’s not completely dark.
In the areas where we have daylight only a few hours a day, most of the days the sun is hiding behind clouds or trees. When it comes up in the horizon, it lingers so low and its ray is so weak that you need to be in a very open place to see it. When you get a chance to witness it, it is really beautiful and certainly worth capturing. As a photographer I think about light a lot – how warm or cold it seems to be, what angle it comes from and how strong is its reflection. Sometimes it seems that objects themselves are sources of light when they reflect rays of light so strongly. What amazes me the most is the warm colors of the sun light in an environment that is otherwise so cold. You cannot feel the warmth though, except maybe imagine it when you look at the photos.
Taking photos in winter is very challenging due to the scarcity of light. You have to be very quick to catch the moment, and leaving the house is generally not quick during winter because you have to put on many layers of clothing. Winter light gives a certain kind of muted, soft, natural and monochromatic tone to the pictures. Sometimes it’s difficult to know if the picture was taken in color or in black and white. I don’t alter the tones in my pictures afterwards, so what you see in the pictures is exactly the same tonal landscape that I captured when I was there.
When it snows so much than it has snowed now during the last two years, you end up hearing lots of ‘whitemare’ stories. Driving and biking become impossible, not to mention parking. You have to clear out the snow from the driveway every day, there are lots of accidents and our daily lives become very difficult in every way. Here in the north where we have very little light snow is such an important source of light for us that we are more than happy to accept all the inconveniences that it causes us. Sometimes we get snow so late that we have to put up with rain and mud for a month or two, and that can be very depressing when there is so little light. Having snow already in November is something that all Finns are hoping for and during the last two years we have been very lucky.