From sunrise to sunset by -20°C, part 1

Mr. Winter this year is lunatic and, to be honest, rather frustrating: one day it snows (a lot), and you start believing in the possibility to go skiing, finally… except that the day after, the temperature rises above 0°C, and everything melts. Everything? No, some parks and sidewalks resist eternally against the pervading warmth, but trees are bare again, and streets are slushy brown. It’s not fun.

Purple hour

Purple hour

However, a new pattern appeared two weeks ago: one day it snowed (a lot), and then the temperature dropped… low, very low, around -15°C. A mass of cold air descended from Siberia and stayed three days, which were extremely sunny. This freezing spell didn’t come as a surprise, and I had time to get excited about it. My first winter in Helsinki was rather warm and disappointing, and last year, while I was in Denmark, I watched with envy the news about another similar episode in Finland, ferries navigating accross a sea of ice with water steaming in their wake.

Lotus, bringing fuel to the ferries

Lotus, bringing fuel to the ferries

Of those three days, two were work days, but fortunately Friday was Loppiainen (Epiphany), a national holiday. Sunrise in Kaivopuisto, that was my plan for the morning. I dressed up comfortably, wearing more clothes than ever, including two pairs of socks and two pairs of gloves, and set sail to the south of the city around eight. Perks of wintering in the north, you can have a reasonably long night yet see the sun rise.

Survival kit

Survival kit

Open sea... almost

Open sea… almost

I took my tripod with me: I thought that I would need rather long exposures in the beginning, and I actually made some frames with a shutter speed of 1 second. Incidentally, it saved my hands, because when they were too cold, I could set my tripod up and warm up easily. When I took the camera off and walked to the shore, my hands, grabbing the device, froze in no time.

helsinki-3 helsinki-4 helsinki-5

In Uunisaari, I was joined by Miguel. Surprised by my fervor when watching the sky turn pink, he asked what I liked so much about sunrise. That made me think: I mean, everyone loves sunrise, right?

First panorama attempt

First panorama attempt

I had trouble explaining it, but one aspect definitely comes from the colors: I’ve always loved colors, and that reflects in my clothing choices. When I was in high school, I always looked with disdain at the other commuters, all dressed in grey and black.


Sunset is equally colorful, and as you know, I love it too, but sunrise has a distinctive feel. Fewer people see it, because one has to wake up early to see it, therefore I perceive it as a priviledge granted only to the bravest among us. Because there are so few souls around, it’s much more quiet – and I don’t like crowds. Finally, seeing the sun rise is for me the symbol of how much I’ve changed this last two years. From a geek spending endless nights skirmishing on the Eternal Battlefield, I’ve become an adventurer, pursuing birds and sceneries around the clock. It’s been a rewarding journey, and I intend to see it last a bit longer 😉

helsinki-9 helsinki-10

The rays of light didn’t warm up Miguel, so we headed to Café Ursula, where we had pastries. After that break, we walked further along the shore. In the distance, the shifting mist sometimes revealed islands coated in frost. When I realized one of those islands was Suomenlinna, I felt a compelling desire to go there and see for myself.

helsinki-11 helsinki-12 helsinki-13

Like a promise

Like a promise

I did not hesitate very longhelsinki-15

To be continued…

17 thoughts on “From sunrise to sunset by -20°C, part 1

    • Awww Kimberlee, thank you for your kind words! Temperatures are not so exciting here anymore either, ranging from -3 to 3… just enough to form a treacherous layer of ice on paths and sidewalks!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Your photos are breathtaking!!! I’m ready to pack up and move!

    We’re having the same problem with weather here in Boston – cold, dry, warm, wet. It’s very disheartening. We also have the same problem with drably-dressed commuters! If the weather is going to be dismal, I say dress as brightly as possible!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Agreed, and do the same when it’s sunny, you’ll shine 😀 (and if you dress in black when it’s sunny you’ll boil, so better wear orange or yellow :p)
      Thank you for your kind comment, and welcome 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: From sunrise to sunset by -20°C, part 2 | Eiwawar

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