Return of the Arctic Sun
This 6-day photo workshop around Äkäslompolo in Finnish Lapland takes place just after the end of the polar night. We will have very special light conditions, because the sun appears only for short times. Before sunrise and after sunset there will be usually several hours of moody light. Photo subjects range from winter landscapes, snow-covered trees, details in the snow, huskies in action, reindeers and of course the ever-mesmerizing Aurora Borealis.
A maximum of six participants make this an intimate workshop. Each person will have a lot of time for in-depth discussions regarding photos, gear and anything else.
As always and everywhere, the weather is an unknown. The program and its order might change depending on the weather conditions.
– 12-17 Jan 2019 (seats available)
– Jan 2020 (date to be confirmed – Seats available)
minimum 4 participants
maximum 6 participants
Required photography skills
This tour is open to all skill levels, from beginners to professionals. Of course it is also possible to go on this tour without a camera.
Required fitness level
This tour requires a basic-active fitness level. We will have short hikes through the snow. Riding the snow mobile requires some strength as well. Please keep in mind that if the nights are clear, we will spend part of it to search for Northern lights.
Double room: EUR 2.270,00
Single room supplement: EUR 300,00
Surcharge for own snow mobile: EUR 120,00
Included in price
– transfer from/to Kittilä airport (KTT) at predefined times
– B&B accommodation in Äkäslompolo, every room has a kitchenette
– a 25km long husky safari / 2 persons per husky sleigh
– at least one snow mobiling tour / 2 persons per snow mobile
– warm overalls and shoes. Helmets for snow mobiling
– all transfers to photo locations
– flights in and out of Kittilä (KTT)
– photo gear (camera, lenses, tripod, filters, etc)
– travel insurance or any other private insurances
– alcoholic drinks
Our workshop starts with the transfer from the airport Kittilä to the Lodge 67N in Äkäslompolo. After a one-hour drive we will check in and go out for dinner. Weather permitting, we grab our camera gear and head into the night to look for the Aurora Borealis.
During these days we will visit several locations to photograph open water, snow-covered trees and more. At least one half-day snow mobile excursion is planned to reach locations which are otherwise difficult to access during winter. We will also visit the local husky farm and go on a 25km long husky safari. While one person steers the sleigh, the other will be able to take action photos on the go. About half way through there is usually a chance to switch places.
Some locations we might visit twice – in daytime and nighttime. As with all nature-related activities, the weather situation dictates when and which spots we visit. The goal is to provide you the best possibilities for great photos throughout the tour.
As mentioned, the sun will be only above the horizon for a few hours. Nevertheless, we will have lots of hours with great light. Twilight is divided in three different phases:
– Civil twilight (sun position between 0°…-6° below the horizon, it is very bright)
– Nautical twilight (-6°…-12°, it is bright enough to see the horizon, stars appear)
– Astronomical twilight (-12°…-18°, many stars are visible as well as auroras)
To give you a better understanding here are the times of our first full day:
After breakfast this week will unfortunately come to an end and we will have to pack our things to drive to Kittilä airport.
All program is subject to the weather.
Äkäslompolo is located in the municipality Kolari in the Northwest of Finland. About 140km North of the Arctic Circle and 25km from the Swedish border, here live 500 people. The village lies at a lake and is surrounded by seven fells. Temperatures in January are on average about -15C (5F) and can drop down to -40C (-40F) for short periods. In normal winter conditions it is here, where frost, snow and wind transform ordinary trees into mysterious snow giants.
Important for night photography and long exposure photos. The tripod will minimize camera shaking. Handheld photos in darkness will not be sharp. To adjust settings comfortably, the tripod should be nearly your height.
Most suitable will be a dSLR camera where you can exchange lenses. Your camera needs to have the option of manual focus and a complete manual mode which allows you to adjust aperture, exposure time and ISO separately. There are also a bunch of suitable mirrorless cameras out there. Pocket cameras with a zoom might be ok in some cases, you can contact me for that when booking.
For night and aurora photography you should bring a fast lens (meaning wide aperture, with a small f-number like f/2.8 or better) to make the most of the available light. Lenses with f/4.0 are doing fine also but you might have to crank up the ISO. Auroras often stretch all across the sky. To capture a big part of it, you want to have a wide-angle lens (24mm or wider).
For daytime photography it is good to have a couple of lenses. A zoom (24-70mm, 24-120mm or the like) for diverse photo compositions. A lens like 50mm f/1.8 will be useful to emphasize details in snow or trees, leaving the horizon of the photo blurry.
Remote control (optional)
Use during night photography or long exposures. The remote allows you to take photos without touching the camera.
If you want to take photos of smooth water or moving clouds, you will need a neutral density filter. A polarizer can be used to create better contrast between white snow and blue sky. A graduaded ND filter will help to balance the light difference of ground and sky.
Head lamp / Flashlight
Will be important during the night. If you can get a head lamp with a red light option, it will be helpful.
In cold weather your batteries will discharge quite fast. It will be important to have at least three extra batteries with you. Using hand warmers, you can revive the batteries to get the last bit of energy out of them.
To read more about aurora photography, check out my aurora guide ‘Fox Fires’, part 4.
Make sure you have the right clothing. With average temperatures of -15C (5F) you need to be prepared. The temperature might drop down to -25…-35C (-13…-31F). You will receive an overall and thick shoes but under it it is important to have several layers.
Best is a woolen layer. For example, merino wool is excellent.
Another woolen layer and some fleece layers usually work well.
Top layer (under the overall)
Top your layers off with a winter jacket, best for them will be windproof.
Shoes, socks and gloves
They will be essential as your toes and fingers will be one of the biggest challenges to keep warm. Hand and toe warmers can easily be purchased online. Please bring those with you. Important: Operating the camera in the cold without gloves can be tough. Get a thin pair with which you are able to press the camera buttons. These thin gloves can be worn under thick ones.
Head, face and ears
Make sure to properly protect your head and ears against the cold. Having windproof, fur type of hat with ear flaps makes a big difference. A balaclava helps to keep your face warm, especially your nose and cheeks.
For hot juice, tea or coffee to keep you warm during our excursions.
To backup your photos from the camera and editing in Lightroom.
During this workshop we will explore the nature at least once on snow mobiles. This excursion usually lasts between 3-6 hours, with the main time focusing on photography. Usually two people share one snow mobile and take turns in driving. If you want to drive yourself all the time, it is possible to book a snow mobile for yourself for a surcharge.
To be the driver of a snow mobile, you will need to have a valid driving license. If you rather sit on the back and don’t want to drive, no license is needed.
Before we head out, everyone will get an introduction on safety, how to drive and driving rules. During our excursion, a professional snow mobile guide is with us all the time.
15% due within 14 days after registration
85% due latest 30 days before tour start
Cancellation and refunds
Up to 60 days before tour start: Full refund minus an administration fee of EUR 100.00
59-30 days before tour start: 85% refund of the entire trip’s cost
29-15 days before tour start: 50% refund of the entire trip’s cost
Less than 15 days before tour start: 5% refund of the entire trip’s cost