I stayed in a delightful, and tiny, cottage at Lindesnäs on a steep hillside above Byfjorden for a number of autumns. It was a long way from my work in Uddevalla, Sweden, but the tranquility and beautiful landscapes made it a great place for photography.
Cottage at Lindesnäs
September mornings often brought a thick mist before sunrise and as the sun burnt through there were ethereal views of the trees and shoreline. When it was very still the reflections and the mist made the trees and islands below the cottage appear to be floating.
Byfjorden in the mist
In this picture from the Portals exhibition you are almost pulled along into the waterway between the headlands. It is one of the earliest of the images I’m showing at this years’s National Arts Festival.
As well as the northern lights I was able to take some lovely pictures of the stars wheeling across the night skies when I was in Sweden. Hundby is a good place to do this as it is right out in the countryside with very few city lights anywhere near. The first picture is a 45 minute exposure using my Olympus’s live composition feature. It was helped enormously by a car driving past during the shoot that lit up the whole of the foreground. The rising moon behind the trees also casts a lovely glow in the thin clouds.
Hundby 29/09/2015 20:34:34
The second picture is a slightly longer exposure of 50 minutes taken from the viewpoint up above our apartment at Äsperöd. It’s looking due north with the lights of Uddevalla to the west and the row of trees masking the bright lights of Äsperöd. A flask of hot coffee kept me warm whilst taking this shot as it was a cold frosty night.
I have just time enough to visit the three elderly ladies when travelling to work on public transport. There’s a short bus connection at Uddevalla Kampenhoff from getting off the No 5 from Äsperöd and changing to the mainline 860 for Trollhättan. I can walk across to the river where it runs past the Bohuslän museum and greet the ladies.
Sometimes it’s been cloudy and raining, other times there’s been sun, but I always value the tranquility of my short walk. You go past the fruit and flower seller (usually making a purchase if going home) and then along past the avenue of horse chestnuts masking the facade of the bus station before you get to the river.
I rarely take a camera to work and so it’s out with my phone and a quick panoramic shot from the riverbank – being careful not to slip into the river from the wet wooden quay. I’ve got the free app Snapseed on my phone and so I usually edit the picture on the bus. I run the picture through the drama filter and add tonal contrast to get the punchy, vivid and sometimes unreal effects in the pictures.
I think adding a little drama is the least I can do for them. They are currently resting from a summer taking visitors and townspeople to the resorts like Gustafberg down the fjord.
Last night the good aurora forecast tempted me out with my camera but I ended up coming back with pictures of night clouds and star trails. I headed up to a local viewpoint in the forests above Äsperöd with camera, tripod, warm clothes, flask of coffee and a sandwich to wait and see if the aurora would show itself and I could get some pictures. I got some alright but they weren’t of the aurora.
As sunset approached the forecast got less and less optimistic so I tried to capture some star trails over Uddevalla. That wasn’t going to be easy either as it was getting cloudy and windy. Fortunately my new Olympus has a great feature called live composition. Last night I set it to take a 5 second exposure every five seconds for five minutes. The camera then records anything that has changed from one picture to the next. This means that stars make curved trails, planes make diagonal dotted lines (see the first picture) and clouds seem to flow. It’s the clouds that really make these pictures.
The real beauty of live composition is that the picture gets painted on the viewing screen on the back of the camera as each image is added. So you can sit and watch it develop whilst sipping hot coffee. There were, of course, some downsides. The mosquitoes were a nuisance when the wind dropped and walking back through the forest alone in the dark was really spooky. I think the pictures were worth it though. The colours of the clouds and sky were not what I expected. They changed as the sun slid further and further below the horizon and in the last picture the orange tint comes from the lights of the town.
A couple of days ago we visited Kate’s sister at Harbottle. It’s an enchanting village, quite remote at the upper end of Coquetdale, where spring flowers are still to be found in full bloom at the end of May. I’ve never seen clematis look so enchanting. The air was full of their delicate blossom and they looked like jewelled ropes strewn over the grey stone walls. The beech and oak woods were full of bluebells: this made for a slow walk with the dog as we just had to stop for photographs.
It was the very start of spring (mid April) when we arrived in Sweden. Opposite our bedroom window at Valla Folkhögskola in Linköping there’s a south facing bank of wild flowers beneath an avenue of trees. One morning in late April the light was just perfect and, with the ground being dry, I just had to go out and lie down amongst the flowers to take some pictures. There were carpets of daisies, scilla, vitsipporna (wood-anemony) and gullvivorna (cowslips). I’ll never forget the vitsipporna blossoming in Vallaskogen this year: they looked like gentle drifts of snow.
Old buildings have always appealed to me. There something about their solidity and history that makes me want to picture them. This past six weeks I’ve been right in their immediate vicinity.
At Valla Folkhögskola in Linköping we were housed next to the ‘fritidområde’ with all of the old farming and railway buildings. We strolled out in the clear evening light to relax after a long day’s work and always found the environment stimulating. Just beyond, and through the forest, is a lovely walk to Gamla Linköping: you can see our sunset shadows on the cobbled square.
Once we’d left Linköping we had a few days working with colleagues in Turku, Finland. We stayed in Villa Hortus and so walked past the massive cathedral everyday. It totally dominates the old city area, looming out above the Aura River.
And now I am spending my remaining time in Europe with my fantastic relatives at Warton Farm in Northumberland.
The monochrome/sepia treatment transfers something of the feel of all of these splendid places.