A Winter Within The Arctic Circle

I’m lucky enough to spend half of my year working in Abisko National Park in north west Sweden as a photography guide for Lights Over Lapland

I work primarily as an aurora photography guide but there is so much more to the area. It’s a photographers paradise and one of the beauties of being here, if you put a little effort in, is that you can be photographing a view or a subject which probably hasn’t been photographed before.

Abisko is a small village with a population of around 130, lying at an altitude of 400m next to the large lake of Tornetrask, 198 km north of the Arctic Circle. Quite a contrast to the environment and weather conditions of my home in the city of Leeds (UK).

This season I arrived in early October and although the autumn colours were only just starting to turn in Yorkshire, in Abisko all of the arctic birch trees had already dropped their leaves and the frosts had arrived.This does not mean that all of the autumn colours have gone, far from it, the mosses and ground plants have not yet been covered in snow and their colours can be incredible.

At the moment I’m working four nights on and three nights off, and as we are still without snow, I’m making the best of my time off and have been doing some serious hiking. This area is a wilderness and last week I trekked into the boreal forest hiking over 40km in three days and I didn’t see a soul.

Nights were spent in a tiny cabin situated at an elevation of 700 meters, consequently it was much colder, around -10C, than the village of Abisko. I had to get my drinking water from a small river and by the time I’d walked the pan back to the cabin and my fire, the water had begun to freeze. I spent some time creating some ice and water abstract images at the edge of a nearby river, using a slow shutter speed. I don’t think it will be long time before this is no longer possible as the river will soon freeze over completely.

The following day I hiked up to some glaciers at 1200 meters and had a view below down one of the valleys. This was shot at 300mm and is an example of getting those perspectives which may not have been photographed before. On the hike I also found some bear excrement which was exciting, in the woods there is also a slim chance of seeing wolverines or lynx, and other Nordic wildlife.

Many visitors are here to photograph auroras, and even though this is my third season here, and I’ve already spent some time guiding in Iceland earlier this year, I still get excited about the auroras. We have had some excellent displays so far this season and I’ve still over five months left here.

I shall be updating my blog as the season continues so if you want to see more of what Abisko offers over the winter, and it does change dramatically as the cold season progresses, you can find me at www.oliverwrightphotography.com.

Oliver Wright is a co-author with Lizzie Shepherd of the forthcoming fotoVUE photo-location guidebook, Photographing The Yorkshire Dales. Oliver is a professional photographer and photography guide. He is an all-round photographer who is at home photographing robberflys with his macro set up – a Canon 5DS with a Canon 100mm f/2.8 IS L lens and a 36mm extension tube – to wild landscapes. Later this winter we are hoping that Oliver will do a feature on his, becoming famous, Icelandic wool jumper.

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Oliver Wright

Co-author of the forthcoming Photographing The Yorkshire Dales
Oliver Wright is a co-author with Lizzie Shepherd of the forthcoming fotoVUE photo-location guidebook, Photographing The Yorkshire Dales. Oliver is a professional photographer and photography guide. He is an all-round photographer who is at home photographing robber flies with his macro set up – a Canon 5DS with a...
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