The Sun does not set in Lapland, and the nature is blooming. One might still see some snow here and there, but almost all of it is gone. Instead we have beautiful greenery all around us. Here are some photos to show you what the Midsummer looks like in Lapland.
Some people think that Santa lives in the North Pole, but that is not true at all. Santa and his elves and reindeer live in Lapland, Finland. Click here to see what Santa’s childhood home looks like, and here you can learn more about his reindeer.
We want to show you the magic of Lapland and wish you a Merry Christmas. Below there are seven photos from Lapland that we think will make you smile!
Merry Christmas and happy New Year!
As the nights get darker, northern lights can appear again. One night I was waiting for them with my friend. According to the forecast there should have been an amazing light show coming up due to a G2 geomagnetic storm. The auroras should be so bright that they could be seen even in Helsinki, and we were in Lapland! However, the sky was getting cloudy…
Internet and social media are full of beautiful photos of northern lights. However, photographing or even seeing them is not always a peace of cake. Clouds are the biggest problem. Great job if you’re in Lapland and it’s winter – your chances are really good. That’s why I was very optimistic that night.
We made a campfire on our yard and started waiting. The radio was on and we made some tea. But the clouds were coming and I started to wonder if we’re going to see anything at all.
Around 10 pm I took the first photos of the sky. I didn’t see any northern lights yet, but if there’s any light in the sky, the camera can see it even when the naked eye can’t.
And there certainly was something going on.
This was a good time to check that the camera settings were ok for some serious aurora shooting. Maximum ISO and F value, shutter speed about 5 seconds… and focus to infinity. Let’s try with that.
As I was adjusting the camera settings, the sky exploded – but only for a few minutes.
To the naked eye it did not look this green. As I said, cameras can see more than we can. That’s why photographing the auroras is so much fun, it feels like magic!
Before I knew it, the show was over. Reality check: it was way too cloudy.
This is how it can go sometimes – the nature decides whether we can see auroras or not. But nevermind, we had had a great evening anyways!
Spring in my opinion always feels very short in Finland. One minute it’s snowing and the next there’s green everywhere. I’ve been happily taking photos on the lake shores again now that the ice has thawed away. Old and familiar rocks have popped up and have been happy to model for me once again, their stoic expressions unchanged since last autumn. I have also been incredibly fortunate enough to capture some amazing photos from the first storm of this past spring, a memory that I will never forget. Below are some photos from spring.
Above: Out of the winter and into spring. This photo was captured during the early period of spring when the lake had not yet completely thawed. I was so happy to see some nice reflections again in the lake. Things were beginning to wake up and slowly come to life.
Above: A cloudy and windy day in the beginning of May. There were still a few days of snow during that month.
Above: Golden reeds at golden hour along a lake shore in Joensuu.
Above: A fine art landscape from a lovely sunset here in Joensuu. I’ve been happy to get back into these kind of simple Finnish landscapes. The water is always so clean and inviting, despite how cold it can be at this time of the year.
Above: The start of a stormy night. The clouds moved with power and showed their dominance over the evening sky. This photo was taken shortly after sunset. I decided to stick around just in case I could be lucky enough to photograph a great storm.
Above: This was from the same stormy night as the previous photo. The storm came right over me and I was so lucky to capture one of my best images of this year. The timing could not have been better and I was extremely satisfied to capture these two lightning bolts in one photo. This was the first storm of spring and an incredible experience to be a part of. I cannot get over the wonders of nature.
Above: Another photo from the stormy night.
Above: The green has returned! It’s amazing how quickly the scenery changes around this time of the year. This is just a simple image of some birch trees here in Joensuu. It’s gotten even greener since then.
Now that summer is here, the endless nights are here too. I look forward to spending late nights and early mornings exploring in the Finnish nature. It is a blessing to be here and every day brings new possibilities and new sights to see. It’s time to grill, sauna and swim 🙂
I hope that you all have a fantastic summer and enjoy the beautiful Finnish nature!
Nightless Night – Outdoor Photography Workshop is an Instagram & Outdoor photography event that will be held on the last weekend of June 2019 in Finland’s biggest National Park Lemmenjoki, in Finnish Lapland.
The event is meant for anyone who shares the passion for outdoor life, photography and story-telling through social media – regardless how beginner or advanced one feels as a photographer. Outdoor-related photography workshops will take place throughout the weekend in breath-taking arctic landscapes in the most instagrammable spot of Lemmenjoki area.
Every summer we want to bring something new to Nightless Night – this time we proudly present Camping Crash Course as a pre-program of the Nightless Night! Camping Crash Course is a 24 hour outdoor workshop that will take you to the basics of Finnish outdoor life and camping. The crash course is held by a professional wilderness guide and accompanied by like-minded campers. Excellent for outdoor beginners and for those who want to share a trick or two!
Article by Inari-Saariselkä, featured image by Jan-Eerik Paadar
Text and photos: Rayann Elzein
I am going on my eight consecutive winter chasing the elusive Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights, all around Inari, in the very north of Finnish Lapland. Sure, I have also seen the Aurora in Norway and even Greenland, but every single winter I am drawn back to Inari for photography and to help people enjoy this magnificent show of nature. I am often asked “why do you always go back to Inari?” or “why don’t you try somewhere else?”. I always wanted to experience the northern lights, but at first the only thing I knew was that I had to go somewhere north. But where north? So after a long process and weeks of research I set my mind on Inari.
Inari is right under the Aurora oval
The Aurora Borealis appears under a huge doughnut shaped ring that is centred on earth’s magnetic north pole. Without getting too much into the science, this means that if you travel to a location right under the “doughnut”, or Aurora oval, you maximise your chances to see the northern lights, even when the activity is very low.
Inari is located at 68°50’N – 265 km (165 mi) north of the Arctic Circle. This positions Inari right under the ring, almost guaranteeing to see some northern lights on a clear night. This probability based on scientific facts is the most important criteria in my decision to visit Inari and return there so often.
An excellent road network
When you want to see the northern lights, you go “Aurora chasing” with a guide or your own car. In reality, it would be more accurate to say that you are chasing the good weather as you cannot see the Aurora if you are under clouds. Although I am no meteorologist, my personal opinion is that there are often clear nights around Inari. However, if this does not happen during your stay, don’t worry: there are several roads radiating from Inari to all directions. You might even end up on the shore of a fjord in Norway! This makes it very easy to chase the good weather.
Some words of caution: when you are driving yourself, be careful in difficult weather. You also have to be careful of reindeer and elk that are frequently standing or sleeping right in the middle of the road. If you don’t have experience with winter driving, or just want to relax and not worry about anything, then hiring one of the several professional guides is a safer idea.
Much more than just Aurora
There are many places in the world that are located under the Aurora ring but only few of them are inhabited and accessible. Despite being located so far north of the Arctic Circle, Inari-Saariselkä offers a full range of state-of-the-art tourism facilities: comfortable hotels, excellent restaurants, safari companies with a broad range of services. The entire area is also culturally rich, as the home of the Sami people. You can learn a lot about this at the Siida museum. And for a total immersion, an excursion with a reindeer herder will teach you more than any museum (you can even pet the reindeer!)
How to photograph the Aurora
With these few recommendations and just a bit of practice, it is actually quite easy to take some good Aurora photos. A camera with manual mode and a tripod are all that you need. The basic settings that you can use are the following:
- Sensitivity: +/- 1600 iso
- Aperture: the largest possible aperture (the smallest number on your lens, i.e. f/2.8-3.5-4)
- Shutter speed: this one depends on the brightness of the Aurora. Start at 10 seconds and move up or down depending on what you see on your camera screen.
Focussing is the hardest thing to do at night. If you don’t manage to focus on stars, ask someone to stand about 30 meters from you with a flash light, and use auto focus on this light. Then switch to manual focus (MF) and don’t touch this setting anymore.
Tip: practice with your cameras before going out for Aurora, so that you know where all the settings are.
A frequent question is how often it is possible to see the Aurora. On a clear night, it is almost always possible to catch at least a glimpse of the northern lights. It might not always be some intense colourful outbursts, but if you are lucky you will see some light dancing in the sky. That’s why I always go out at night if there’s even the slightest chance to find clear sky.
My Aurora chasing usually begins in the early afternoon, when I browse through several weather forecast websites, and exchange text messages with other Aurora chasers all around the region. With this information I make an action plan and will usually start driving around 7 PM. I have often witnessed Aurora in the very early evening, so I like to be in position as soon as it’s dark! During the polar night, this can even be much earlier, like 3 PM or 4 PM.
Once in position, the waiting game begins (unless the Aurora appeared unexpectedly much earlier while still on my way!). Clouds might disturb the view to the stars, so I check the weather forecast once more, and call my friends again to have the latest update of their location. If needed, I will drive again.
The Aurora starts dancing in the sky. I am in my element now. I know how it moves, I anticipate its movements, I can be ready to take the best possible pictures. Sometimes it surprises me, actually quite often, and this is why I never get bored. I always return, and participate in the dance. You might even hear me scream “wow” or something in French. I take photos of my happy guests under the Aurora. I can never decide when to start driving back, because I know that another outburst can always happen. But I know that the Aurora will be there again tomorrow, and we finally drive back to the hotel, with beautiful images in our memory cards, and amazing memories in our minds.
We have already passed the winter solstice and days are getting longer, but the polar night is still going on in Lapland. There’s only around four hours of day light depending on which part of Lapland you are, and the colours of the Polar Night are magical in the winter wonderland throughout the short day.
Together with a group of friends we rented a cottage in Enontekiö, which is located in the North-West of Lapland near the Ylläs-Pallastunturi National Park. In this area it is pitch black during the night, and with a clear sky all the stars and the Milky Way are visible. We also had a lot of powder snow and just quiet backwoods around.
This was propably one of the best New Year’s Eves at least in my opinion, since everything was so calm and quiet and not a single fire work was seen. Only the nature’s own fire works; the northern lights. It was pretty awesome to end the year 2018 seeing auroras in the wilderness. For me it was the first time to capture them on camera! Although I live in Finland, and even not in the southern part where there are more human made lights, I’ve seen the northern lights only a couple of time in my life.
On the New Year’s Eve we grilled sausages by the camp fire on a Finnish laavu (lean-to) shelter, I was skiing cross country and on the evening we had sauna in our cottage and just had relaxing time before the polar lights!
On my behalf I wish you all a happy new year 2019! May it be great and filled with outdoor experiences spent in the nature!
After 3 months of being on student exchange, the time had come for me to embark on a long-awaited Christmas adventure to snowy Finnish Lapland. This experience is literally the polar opposite of what it’s like in my home country, sunny Australia. I was especially looking forward to the untouched nature and of course the elusive northern lights.
After over 12 hours of being on a bus, my group finally arrived at the pine-tree filled winter wonderland that was Saariselkä. We were staying in a rustic wooden log cabin complete with a fireplace and sauna.
There was fluffy snow up to the knees everywhere. Being above the arctic circle, this time of year is the polar night, where the Sun does not rise for several weeks. However, there were about 3 to 4 hours each day with twilight conditions. Being an avid aurora-chaser, it makes for an ideal opportunity to catch a glimpse of the northern lights – if only the clouds stay away at night.
Beyond searching for the elusive northern lights, this place was an amazing location for a wide variety of activities that I tried, including husky-sledding, snow-shoeing, skiing, sauna, ice-swimming and of course nature photography. It was especially great to meet some husky puppies. But more than anything, it’s a place to wind down and take in the quiet and fresh air of the nature on short walks. It was indeed one of the most peaceful places I’ve ever been.
I actually have a very funny story to tell about my phone whilst husky-sledding. After my turn on the sled was complete, I realised my new Finnish Nokia smartphone had fallen out of my pocket (duh!) and into the snow somewhere in the arctic wilderness.
After lunch, the tour guide and my friends decided to make a search party. Walking through the snowy wilderness in the fading light conditions at 2pm, there seemed to be little hope, but the untouched and silent nature was just surreal. Suddenly, at the very end of the journey we found just a tiny bit of the phone sticking out of the snow. It was basically a block of ice.
But it was still on! And to my great surprise — still at 75 percent battery. The next thing to do is typically Finnish — to take the phone to the sauna so the ice can melt.
And this plan worked! Because afterwards it was working perfectly fine.
On the first night, I was most eager to see the northern lights. There were good geomagnetic conditions for aurora, so it was promising. That’s until I stepped out of the warmth of the cabin to see that the sky was mostly full of cloud. Nevertheless, I went outside as there was a few gaps where I could see a star or two. After walking around the village and shooting photos without luck for over an hour in -10 degrees, it was time to head to bed.
Then I awoke suddenly to find my cabin-buddies announcing that the northern lights would be visible soon! Half-asleep, I looked out the window to see nothing. I thought the window was facing north, but it was actually facing south, a mistake that would bite me this night.
I managed to find my compass which pointed me north, and by the time I got outside, there was only a very faint polar light show, with cloud rolling in again. The others who reacted faster saw a much better show this night.
The next night, in even colder and windier conditions, more luck was on my side, but only for a good twenty minutes. The skies cleared briefly just at the right moment to see a band of aurora flickering overhead and down to the horizon. I managed to get this photo before it clouded over again.
No matter how many times I have seen the lights, or how impressive they have been, it is always immensely exciting!
The next night had even better auroral conditions, but it was cloudy and snowing heavily so there was no point of going outside. The following (and final night) there was a few hours of clear skies in the early evening, but the auroral conditions were so weak that only those on the aurora tours managed to see them, and only briefly. Though I did hear of a couple who got engaged as soon as they saw them! That’s definitely a Christmas to remember for them. And for us, it was for sure an adventure to look back on!
On December 6 Finland celebrates 101 years of independence. Happy birthday Finland! On the flag of Finland there’s a blue Nordic cross on a white background. To show you how blue and white our nature can be, here are some photos that I have taken over the years in Lapland. Enjoy!
When it comes to aurora-chasing, any number of unexpected, lucky or unlucky things can happen. Along with more obvious hazards such as being exposed to extreme cold and simply not seeing any northern lights, there can be camera malfunctions and even trouble from wild animals, unwanted police presence and then a shooting star to break it all up.
A chase can end in total failure — or a whole-sky aurora storm. The single greatest problem is having the aurora blocked out by clouds. Much research and planning goes into understanding when is the right time to search for the lights. But when you can see them, it makes it all worth it.
I am an adventure-minded Australian that has been chasing auroras since my time on a study exchange in Helsinki in 2017. Since then, I have become almost addicted, taking many opportunities to go in search for them, even in my home in Southern Australia (where it is MUCH harder to see them).
Here is a diary of my adventures… and misadventures searching for them in Southern Finland. Note: while most of these below photos were taken by me, the few that weren’t have the photographer fully credited.
Friday October 13th 2017 — Kirkkonummi, Finland
This was to be my first ever aurora chase, and what better night to go out into the wild than Friday the 13th. To start off, I took a night bus from Helsinki that meandered its way through the Finnish countryside.
I looked at the dials that measure the chance of seeing an aurora. They were looking very promising.
When I arrived to my destination, the air was cold and crisp, with few clouds in sight. The perfect setting.
Then as I started walking towards a better vantage point along the lonely road, I wandered past a large, guarded gate. It was opening.
Coming from within, there was a menacing large vehicle. The vehicle pulled up beside me. Two heavily armed military soldiers stepped out.
They questioned what I was doing there. Unknowingly, I was in a restricted area.
The soldiers escorted me to the cell at the back of the vehicle. The vehicle started to move. There was only a tiny window in the cell. It was very dark inside. The walls were closing in.
The vehicle kept moving.
Worrying and tense feelings came over me.
Suddenly, the vehicle stopped. After getting out, they exchanged words with each other that I could not understand.
They approached close, looming over me. Closer yet. Interrogation.
Then they began to speak in a surprising manner.
‘Never come back here again unless you want to be arrested. You can find the bus stop further along this road.’
They trudged back to the vehicle and droned away through the cutting darkness.
I had a sense of overwhelming relief. I was free.
But it was the middle of a dark forest road. Walking was now the only option.
Tall, twisted trees loomed on either side. The night was clear with stars flickering. Leaves rustled in the distance. But no view of the northern horizon, and no sign of those elusive lights.
Then… a clearing could be seen ahead! I hurried there and set up my camera equipment in anticipation.
Looking upon the northern horizon there was a pale glow low on the sky. To my great luck, there suddenly was…
A bright shooting star!
Being still inexperienced at aurora chasing, I had no idea whether this mysterious glow was an aurora or not, so I let the camera shoot away. At home, I looked at the photos properly.
Sure enough, the pale glow was green. It was my first capture of the northern lights.
This was the aurora adventure that turned into a ‘lucky’ misadventure.
Aurora Chase Result: 6/10
Tuesday November 7th 2017 — Helsinki, Finland
There is always something mysteriously enchanting about the northern lights, even a certain sadness about them, as they have the capacity to lift ones psyche right up regardless of the circumstances. And this night truly did that.
On a relatively quiet night, where there was no major activity forecast, I was just sitting in my room reflecting on things. The shortening and mostly grey days of November give a sombre air at this time of year.
Then I got a notification on my phone that the northern lights may be visible in Helsinki imminently.
The solar activity was much stronger than forecast, and was now at moderate storm level (kp6+). These events are quite rare.
So I hurriedly raced down in the cold, middle of the night with my GoPro camera to the Helsinki ‘beach’. More like a rocky outcrop.
When I got there, to my complete shock, I saw them! They were reasonably low on the horizon, but they were moving much faster than I expected, and there was definitely some colour in there as well! There were these forms that kind of ebbed and flowed.
Unbelievable. This was my first time seeing the northern lights properly — and the best word to describe it is maybe mesmerizing. Like wow, they are really there.
I almost fell over on the rocks and almost dropped my camera in the sheer excitement.
The GoPro started beeping non-stop as I tried to set it up.
But to my great luck it wasn’t broken and I managed to make it work again.
Started to take some photos. The lighting and setting wasn’t that good so I decided to change location to another nearby ‘beach’.
This one turned out to have much better photos, and the northern lights after being quiet for some time again flared up and this time were very spectacular.
I stayed for a while longer until the show really died down.
Later, after a bit of editing the photos I thought it would be a good idea to try my luck at sending the photos to the Finnish news. To my surprise, they offered to post them on their Facebook!
This was truly a night to remember, and was one of the most widely seen and photographed northern lights events in Finland in recent years. Still the best show I have ever seen.
Aurora Chase Result: 9/10
Tuesday, December 5th 2017 — Tampere, Finland
This day I embarked on an overnight trip to Tampere to chase the northern lights. Far in advance, there was a predicted high level of activity as the region of the sun that caused the previous northern lights show in Helsinki returned to face earth.
Everything was set, and the conditions were slowly creeping up to the expected levels as night fell. But there was one problem — cloud cover that didn’t seem to be budging to go away.
As it was an overnight trip, I waited until it was almost 10pm to head to the ideal viewing location by the lake, as auroras are generally strongest and most likely around midnight. However, they can happen at any time and this came back to bite me this day.
While I was walking towards the vantage point, I could hear cheers coming from the lakefront. I figured that the people already there had seen something exciting, so I hurried to get there — but all I could see was cloud cover and a small amount of glow, like something was happening above the clouds near the horizon.
I figured that in between the heavy cloud there must have been a break, allowing the others to catch a glimpse of an auroral show, even if just for a few minutes. It eventually started snowing and I decided that was it for the night. I learned not to trust rules of thumb with aurora hunting — the lights can appear early evening, midnight, or morning.