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Yorkshire based Professional Landscape and Wildlife Photographer

Adventures in the Arctic 2015/16 part 3 (Sami, puppies and crazy ice)

Posted on 21/02/16

Leading on from the last blog Eva and I had returned from Norway and on the first nights work I got a text from Chad asking if I wanted to take an opportunity to photography a Sami event called the breaking of the herd (I'll explain what that is in a moment). The answer to this was a definite yes as it's not something many people get chance to see.

The breaking of the herd is what happens when the Sami people (the indigenous people of Lapland) bring in the vast numbers of reindeer that have been living in the wilderness. They herd up all the separate reindeer groups during the winter and then they bring them to a corral. The separate Sami families then enter the corral and find there reindeer and split them apart. They have to do this so that the reindeer can survive the winter. The winters are tough for the reindeer as they eat moss which is under the snow. This way they can increase the survival rates for there reindeer.

So the following morning Eva, Sarah Skinner and I drove towards Kiruna in beautiful but very cold conditions (-25C). We met up with Håkan who was our Sami contact who took us to a spot where we could photograph this event in safety.

There where 2000 reindeer which came into the corral in small groups. This event has happened like this for 100's of years and it did feel very privileged to witness the event.

Even the Sami children are involved.

With the cold temperatures there was lots of freezing reindeer breath. I did expect the reindeer to make more noise but it was an eerily quite event.

The Sami people wear a mixture of traditional and modern clothing as can be see in this picture. This man is wearing traditional Sami reindeer trousers and boots but with a modern down jacket. I was wearing all modern clothing and I bet I was colder than he was!

Splitting the herd really was a spectacle to see and a massive thanks to Håkan for allowing that to happen.

The landscape here continues to change and now there is more light. Here is a view of Narnia looking like an ice wooly mammoth! For the technical people this is 3 shots with the 24mm TSE and the 50MP 5DS so it's one huge photograph (just need to get rid of that dust spot).

That evening whilst running a photo tour we had the most magnificent moon rise with a whole load of rainbow coloured clouds. Must be related to Nacerous clouds we have been seeing but this was different as the Nacerous clouds had not been seen for some weeks...

The following morning I photographed my neighbours dog!

Funnily enough the same day I went to photograph Tomas Haverskog's beautiful husky puppies! At 10 weeks old they just wanted to run, lick and nibble!

Trying to get one to stop still so I could use the macro lens was a challenge!

I had an interesting night guiding a group of people from London. It was a night of heavy cloud and light solar activity but with usual "Abisko style" the cloud cleared and we had very strong aurora. Now these may not be the best aurora pictures I've posted but they do help illustrate a point. That is when it's really bright aurora it is really hard to photograph! A lot of people want to come and photograph the aurora when there's no moon (like in this shot) and every one wants to see bright aurora (like in this shot). In this shot the shutter speed is only 1/2 a second and I managed to capture some of the definition of the aurora.

Then it got even brighter and this shot is taken at 1/5 of a second and the aurora is a little over exposed even at this very quick shutter speed. Because of this the foreground is very under exposed and therefore the difficulty in photographing very bright aurora is shown (it was a flipping amazing show to the naked eye).

The later in the week I was leading a landscape tour (part of a 4 day expedition) and found this amazing ice formation. These form after warm air increases the humidity and then cold weather causes that humidity to freeze. I've never seen an ice formation like this one.

Then some heavy snow came in and I saw this couple walking on the lake. They stopped to take a selfie and I took the opportunity to grab a photograph.

That night we went to the aurora sky station with the guests. That was fun with nice light aurora and when we got down at 1:30am the aurora suddenly went crazy so i took the quests to another location and we stayed out till very late shooting the aurora!

This one reminded me of Gandalf!

The 4 am finish didn't stop me from going to further investigate the ice formations in the cave I'd seen before. The had changed but no less stunning smile

We then had a visit from Martin and Alex Keivers who run Mull Charters which is an amazing boat trip to view the white tailed sea eagles in Mull. There website can be viewed here and this was then by Narnia smile

Final two images are when I was setting up one of the sites whilst great aurora was happening. My friend Ruben (and his friend) came past on his cross country skies. His beard, the best in Abisko, was covered in ice so I took the opportunity to get some icy beard aurora portraits!

Well it's Sunday night and I'm not working. It's snowing and blowing a gale so off to the pub for my tea smile

Any questions or feedback just let me know.

Happy clicking,

  • great blog, it is such a beautiful place to photograph. I am coming for an Autumn tour with Chad, shall buy my new lens first ! Will you do a blog from your trip to Lofoten?

    lynn - 21 February, 2016
  • hello oliver,
    last saison i really was fond of your blog and i loved to feel with you.
    this season I’ve missed your blog very much….....but i didn’t search for it…..
    i just saw your pictures in spaceweather.

    now i did!

    what wonderful adventures i see here… pictures….real winter….now it got quite a bit cold in front of my mac.!!!

    thanks a lot for sharing your days at abisko in this blog ......and your pictures let me feel once again.

    andreas from Switzerland

    andreas brodbeck - 11 March, 2016
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