On the day after, I was due to visit Suomenlinna with a birdwatching tour organized by Tringa, the local bird protection society. However, I already knew that conditions would be very different, with temperatures rising and the sun disappearing behind a veil of snow. So, after Miguel left me (click here to read the first part of the story), I embarked south. I didn’t really expect to arrive in the midst of a fairytale.
From the distance, I could see trees encased in frost, but it turned out the whole island was frozen. Bikes, cars, street lights were all trapped alike. I assumed there was a lot of moisture in the air, coming from a sea not frozen around the island… whatever the reason, it was a sight to behold.
Even odder was the absence of wind: for me, a trip to Suomenlinna had always been a windy venture, but this day was particularly calm. With the sun finally high in the sky (well, kinda high), it felt rather warm, and it was not a problem to lie in the snow to shoot the graceful Goosander (Mergus merganser) fishing at the mouth of the strait between Länsi-Musta and Susisaari.
I watched it come and go, wondering how it would feel to dive into the sea and then surface in such a freezing air… all day long. I know it’s pure anthropomorphism to think those animals brave to face the cold, because it’s probably not a conscious process for them, but still, even with the amazing equipment they’ve been granted by nature, their resilience to adverse conditions is truly humbling.
The northern part of the island, hiding from the sun all day long, offered the most striking spectacle. Imagine walking down an alley lined by gigantic snowmen pointing countless frozen arms at the sky and at you. This guy was dazzled, just like me.
On the crossing from and to Helsinki, the ferry had to find its way accross a field of fragmented ice; that was a noisy process, but nothing to slow us down.
Like often, I was at sea for sunset, and I saw the sun play hide-and-seek behind the clouds. I made an unforgiveable mistake, though: I went indoors to remove the wide-angle lens and put the telelens on. Of course, after several hours in the frigid air, condensation formed immediately on the surface of my optics… something I didn’t notice before actually looking at my first shots!
I know that, in such a situation, it’s better not to touch anything and simply wait for it to dissipate. So I waited, watching the sun disappear without being able to take a single shot… but, still, I have this foggy frame to display! WOW 😀
Technical sidenote: I’ve always had a problem with white balance, especially with blue. Often, I find my pictures too blue, and it’s hard to find the right spot before they turn too yellow. This issue is exacerbated when you realize that your shots don’t look the same on all screens… but well, when I get too pissed off by my white balance, I get rid of the problem by switching to black and white.
With snow, there’s more white than black, of course. Don’t hesitate to share your thoughts on the matter!
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