I have to confess I’m really not a morning person. Really not. If you were to see me shuffle around my apartment, half asleep and cranky, on an average work day morning at 6.30 am – you wouldn’t think I’m a person to get up prior to sunrise for a photo shoot. And to be honest, I don’t do it very often. A few times per year, at most. Usually early in the autumn, once the sunrises aren’t as early anymore. That’s the thing about living in Finland. During the summer sunrises are too early (or there’s no sunset to begin with) but once you wait a bit, they become more “available”.
This past Saturday, September 7th, sunrise was at about 6.37 am or thereabouts. I had decided I would go for a dawn photo shoot to capture the stillness of a lake under morning mist and the dew drops in the forest, glistening as the sun rises. This all sounds nice, doesn’t it?
To complicate things a bit, I had decided I would go to Teijo recreational area, which is much like a national park, but without the official status of one. It’s an hour’s drive from my place. So, let’s do the math.
Sunrise at 6.30 am, need to be on location a bit before sunrise, an hour to get there… Yes, I voluntarily got up at 4.30 am on a Saturday morning. Ridiculous o’clock, as I like to call it. Packed my gear, made some coffee and sandwiches to take with me and started driving at about 5.15 am. It was still dark when I started out, but a while into the drive and it was getting light already. The mist was rather thick and I was sure there would be some fancy photo ops once I got to the lake and the forest. And I wasn’t wrong.
It was glorious. Just plain glorious once I got to the lakeside. A few shots of the boats waiting for the fishermen to wake up (it’s a popular place for recreational fishing) and row out to the lake. And then, up on the path that would take me around the lake. It was going to be about a 6km hike, so I thought. Before I took a wrong turn somewhere and ended up hiking about 10km…
If you’ve never been in a dawn dewy forest with your camera, I strongly recommend you find a place where you can see one for yourself. It was like walking through a world of diamonds. The thousands of tiny cobwebs were glistening with dew drops, the mist made the world soft and dreamy… And there aren’t many things in this world that are more wonderful than the silence of nature at dawn. Wind is still, the birds are only just beginning to stir and tentatively chirp… I mean, if you’re looking for some zen in your life, this is what you need to experience.
My hike took me not only around the lake, but also to some more marshy (or swampy, I’m not sure which term is correct in English in this case) surroundings. I wanted to see a moose in the mist, but perhaps it was best that I didn’t. I did see a black grouse fly over and a stork of some sort (my knowledge in birds fails me here), a few woodpeckers and some squirrels. Other than that, I guess I was making enough of noise to scare everything else away. No wolves or bears crossed my path.
By the time it was 9 am I had hiked for almost 3 hours, shot probably closer to 250 frames. As soon as I got to a spot where I could sit down and have a nice view, I got my coffee out and had the best (second) breakfast I’ve had in ages. Coffee never tasted as good.
After my well-deserved coffee break, I still had a few kilometers to hike back to my car and it was getting warm. It’s been a wonderful autumn so far around here, with temperatures uncharacteristically high for a couple of weeks. Which in this case means about 20C and full sunshine. I was getting kinda toasty. And the world wasn’t as pretty anymore, as all the mists had evaporated and the light was a mythical, soft early morning light no more.
When I got home and uploaded the images on my computer (about 300 frames), I knew the hike had been worth it. Worth getting up at an ungodly hour, easily. We live in such a beautiful world and it doesn’t always take grand surroundings to capture the beauty. A small lake, a bit of swamp and forest will do.