Arctic December

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Coldest day of the year

imgp8270 imgp8283 imgp8303 imgp8315 imgp8333 imgp8324 imgp8322 imgp8336 imgp8378 imgp8375 imgp8363 imgp8355 imgp8350Here is a second set of winter photos from Finland. After the New Year, the temperatures plummeted to blood-curdling -28°C – with the biting wind so cold that I got frostbite on my face. But I finally deemed the ice strong enough to walk on! Not many people around, just harsh, unforgiving beauty.

All photos were taken with Tamron 17-50mm wide angle lens, and scaled to 25% with a batch editing software, which has caused some sharpness to be lost. Click to view in full size.

Lately

Every year for about six weeks I check the snow situation in Finland hourly. I gaze at the webcam images religiously and try to determine what is going on. I message friends. I hope. I think I have even prayed occasionally. The Christmas of 2013 stands out as particularly bleak – rain, no snow – while Christmas of 2014 was a delight. This year was touch and go. I arrived late in the evening, there was four inches of snow, and the temperature was at a rather delightful -18°C. Then it got warm. On Christmas Day, all the snow almost melted away.  But I got to enjoy many enough cold days and frozen toes to feel happy about winter.
Making presents. This scatter cushion cover was a last-minute idea, a gift to my godmother. This rather stretched my skills, which is good, and I liked the end result enough to buy yarn to make another. Christmas trees.
We built a fire. Christmas Eve.
…and then it got cold. On Christmas day, it rained. By 28th December the temperature had dropped so low that the sea froze over. The little speck on the horizon, just right from the centre, is another photographer, on the ice with his tripod and kit – I stood on the shore and wondered if I’m a special sort of wimp for not being brave enough even to step on the ice? Sunset.
Cold, golden winter sun.

Arctic

_IMGP2118_IMGP2181_IMGP2203_IMGP2207When I arrived in Finland mid-December, the temperature was -18°C. That didn’t last, and on Christmas Day I was seriously afraid that all the snow would melt away – and that I’d spend the second week of my holiday listening to the sound of drip drip drop as the winter fades away.
That was not to be. By Boxing Day, the temperature had dropped below zero, and by yesterday, to a mildly terrifying (to a mild climate dweller such as myself) -16. The skies have cleared, and the arctic winter is at its best._IMGP2222_IMGP2206_IMGP2200_IMGP2216The boats resting, (most likely) the final edition. The old marina took a battering in a pair of late autumn storms, which pushed these old boats from their usual stations to all over the place, scattering them around. I suspect they will be carted away with the rest of debris soon enough, so here is one last look. Previous posts with these boats can be found here, here and here._IMGP2233_IMGP2254_IMGP2273_IMGP2271Frozen waters._IMGP2313_IMGP2315Great tits, all fat and fluffy._IMGP2331_IMGP2389_IMGP2388_IMGP2435I set out to photograph my hometown today, and ended up spending so much time snapping the frozen riverside seeds that I had to abandon the task early, because my memory card stopped working and I couldn’t feel my toes. From top – frozen attic windows of my primary school, an old textile mill, now a restaurant, “Iron Bridge”, the old Astronomy Tower._IMGP2368_IMGP2383_IMGP2371
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Winter’s glory

The arctic winter has finally arrived, with temperatures dropping to -25°C, the sea freezing over and a sprinkling of ice covering everything. Days are very short, the sun barely rising above the horizon, and nights clear and starry – the council is saving by switching off the streetlights at midnight during week nights. I sneak out most nights and stand on the verandah, looking at the constellations until my toes are freezing. Sauna every night.

IMGP9135 IMGP9165 IMGP9167 IMGP9174I seem to take the same photos every year – five years from now there will no boats left to photograph as they have fallen apart after years of abandonment though, and as the land rises faster than the sea level, the marina – already barely used – will have turned into mud. My mother swam here as a child, and so did I, but already the water is too shallow for anyone but dogs.

IMGP9265 IMGP9214 IMGP9172 IMGP9154 IMGP9149 IMGP9145 IMGP9144Those puppies were not too impressed by the slippery ice creaking and cracking under their paws. The temperature has gone from -25°C to -11° to -19° in about 36 hours, freezing any humidity out of the air and onto any and every surface, turning otherwise unremarkable or even ugly things into intricate, sparkling beauties.

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