A Serene Awakening In The Mist

Hello dearest friends.

As I mentioned yesterday, I had a date with Jay and the harvester. It’s not by any means one of those bigger models, but it weighs over five thousand kilos and is big enough for someone who thinks a tractor is big. When I sat up in the cabin of the harvester the tractor that usually seems so huge appeared to be oddly little next to it. This is the only harvester I have seen up close and personal, but can you believe it is operated by what looks like a gaming joystick? Push forward for driving forward, pull back for reverse, and the buttons control the tray and the big barrel that grabs the stalks and pull them toward the cutters. I can imagine it’s fun… once you learn.

Oh, it was very tricky and I didn’t get a hang of it this time. At one moment, when I had to reverse, Jay opened the door to step out on the landing to look and tell me when to stop and turn. I have just started to get a feel for the turning circle on a tractor, then this! Haha I was so awkward with my movements that the entire harvester jerked as I tried to maneuver it, and I can’t remember what I did but suddenly that big machine launched forward. If Jay hadn’t held on to the railings he would have flown right off! He took it all in good humour, but I felt so bad. No wonder he didn’t ask me to come back after I went to pick up our daughter from a birthday party. Haha

dewy-webbed-flowers

Earlier this week I had the greatest pleasure and fortune to witness one of the most beautiful and mystical misty mornings, and ever since I have been wanting to tell you about it.

When I left Sweden after finishing my studies, I have had this tendency to compare these surroundings to the majestic forests and mountains of my childhood regions. I have thought of Ångermanälven and its enchanting veils, the shifting tones dressing the mountains and valleys around it as we move toward winter with a sense of wistful longing. While mist isn’t uncommon here, and the forests are just as deep and mystical, I seem to have had it in my head that it isn’t the same. That somehow the spirit of these forests is a different one and we haven’t gotten fully acquainted yet. Does that make sense?

misty-veils-across-fields

Regardless, mornings like these carry a very special magic. When these flowing veils dance on feathered feet over the lands, they bring a quiet with them that seems to turn up the volume to an otherworldliness without definition. An atmosphere of something else entirely, something that at other times can’t be sensed. Have you ever felt it?

That night I was outside working with Jay and stood in the open doorway to peer into the grain container, I swore I could hear women singing. It sounded like they sang in Finnish, but a very unfamiliar kind. I explained to Jay why I went to stand in the corner where the mist couldn’t get into the building. I wasn’t so much frightened than just puzzled as to why I could hear it when the mist flowed past me and not when in that corner. He told me, jokingly, that perhaps it’s time I get my head checked.

dead-tree-in-hazy-morning

There have been times throughout my life when I have been more heart than head, more emotion and unheeded reaction than thoughtful action. Moments wherein I have been like a leaf in the wind (as my father so often called me), but words of caution, responsibility, right or wrong, echoed with every step I took. As a result I always felt a sense of choked delight. As though while I went my own way, my feet felt shackled and my heart torn. Shame. Shame for my dreams, for what I wanted and chased after in spite of those reprimanding voices in my head. I traveled wide and far in my little cage, with my wings constantly getting tangled up in the bars around me.

And for every lecture, for every time I received criticism or was prompted to think about what I was doing — what are you going to do with your life? — that door to my cage I kept rattling slammed into my face. Yet somehow I managed to keep on going. I adapted a way to be, since I didn’t even know how to free myself. I didn’t even know I could.

deer-in-misty-glowing-field

I have heard that people who lose a limb can still sense it there. Wiggle the toes of an amputated leg, feel an itch, even if it’s not there. That is how I perceive this cage I lived with it so long. Now that I am finally rid of it I still feel its remnants around me.

I have to fight just as hard to walk my own way as I did before, only the battle is wanting to, telling myself what I once didn’t have to, what I just knew, yet felt such deep shame for. Get your camera and go outside. Take out a piece of paper and draw. Go explore the forest. How can something that brings so much joy and soul-deep happiness be so exhausting to make myself do? Once I am there in the moment, I let go. I feel the wind on my face, the flow of life around me. But to get there I have to work my butt off on many days.

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On this particular morning I didn’t even have to conjure the thought process. I looked out the window and knew that as soon as my daughter walked out the door to her taxi, I would join her with Loke by my side.

Moments like these give me strength and energy beyond imagination. On my worst days they confound me but give me hope. Underneath the weight of a heavy heart and bones lies a knowing the feeling will pass. I tell myself that one day I will have done more living than slumbering, and I will have regained my balance once more.

In the meantime, I want to stay awake and alert, even when it seems like all I can do is wait for that mystifying apathy to pass. I want to learn as much about myself and this stage as I can. And I hope with all my heart that one day what I go through can somehow help others through their dark hours. To know it won’t last forever.

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thick-mist-sunrise-treeline

To even think I was alone in this put me in isolation. Like I swam dark, deep waters with no sense of direction of the shore. Was there even a shore? Was this to be the rest of my life? Now that I know I am indeed not alone it has helped me to stay afloat when the night closes around me.

dew-drops-in-misty-sunrise

Sunrises, just before they happen, are to me so incredibly beautiful. That rimmed glow of the clouds, the clean golden shimmer kissing the tree tops. Ever so slowly that shimmer melts into a white glow, and when those first rays hit — I can’t describe it as anything other than life. A serene awakening of the cells in my skin.

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When I sat down to work on this post I intended to publish it by lunch time. It is now past midnight and with the fewer hours sleep I have been getting this past week again, I feel it has gotten to such a point I lose track of time and the trails of my thoughts. So if I seem disjointed or if anything sounds odd, that is why. Haha But I want so badly to share this morning with you that I have returned to these slow-filling lines in spite of my brain constantly begging for a shut-down.

Also, there is something else I have been wanting to tell you about, something I am so excited about. A dream I have carried deep down for the longest time, and recently I grabbed onto it with both hands. But I do want to practice that one-step-at-a-time thing. For the sake of my scatter-brain, too, I know it is easier to focus on getting one thing done before starting another if I want to succeed. And still I want so much, so many things, at the same time and try to do them. I can’t imagine how this must sound, but I will just let it be so. Creativity and inspiration that has been sleeping for so long seems to have an erratic effect on me when it awakens.

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I want to wish you a wonderful week ahead. Good night, and see you soon!

Much love. ❤

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Searching A Path And Meeting The Mist

Yesterday I went in search of that lake I have been wanting to visit. The wish to go has been with me for many days now, but the battery on our 4WD has been acting up — well, the battery is fine, but for some reason it keeps de-charging, even if we have bought a new one — so it went into the car shop. And when I looked at the lake I saw that the only road-like formations that lead anywhere close to the lake look like paths made by forest machines. But yesterday evening, after not being able to shake the incredible urge to go, I packed my camera gear and took the Volvo. I thought I’ll just go by foot.

I was so surprised when I followed the navigator on my phone and turned onto a gravel road just outside of Lappi town. After a few houses the forest completely enveloped me and there was nothing out there except a few fields here and there.

ThroughTheVeil
I edited this quite heavily to try and emphasise the feeling I had out there.

Once the lake showed up in the Google Maps app, I pulled onto a slab of bedrock by the side of the road and walked straight out into the forest.

The ground beneath my feet was almost bog-like in places, and I called up Jay to let him know where I was and to come look for me if I didn’t call back in fifteen minutes. I love how he knows I will be fine, even when I don’t — it took me over twenty minutes before I called him again and he hadn’t expected anything else. It occurred to me today that every once in a while wolves have been spotted around these parts, so I will keep that in mind for my next visit.

Even if deep, dense and dark forests are intimidating, I was more concerned about the waning daylight and stepping through the moss. I remember when we were little and how my father warned us kids about bogs and where not to step–deep, black pockets of water that will swallow anything or anyone. I have since then always heeded his words when coming across anything that remotely resembles a bog.

Have you tried to use Google Maps when navigating on foot? I find it a little iffy, like it can’t figure out my direction. Which makes sense, since we move so slowly compared to when in a car. According to the map, though, the lake wasn’t even one kilometer from where I parked my car, so I figured I can’t get lost. And I didn’t. I felt strangely guided by my feet which steered decisively in one direction. I did stick to the clearer areas and avoided the thick, black forest which appeared to consume the little light that was left.

spider-web-dusk
With the light metering showing me heavy underexposure I was amazed at how well this turned out.

I spotted water through some trees shortly after I found one of those forest-machine made tracks I had seen on the satellite images. At the same time I realised I would not be able to make it there and back before dark fell, so I turned around. The area between me and the swathes of water I spied was brushy and my instincts told me I would not find a safe passage through there. I decided I will return during the day to find a better path.

mystical-oats-in-mist

For a while now I have had this wish to take a photo where I am in a tarn. The problem has been my wild fear of black water. Mostly because of the unsettling feeling of what might hide in the dark olden depths of these woodland ponds.

I have a distinct memory from my childhood. We were out camping one summer — we drove around in the southeastern parts of Sweden, in Småland — and we stopped in a small town. There was this lake there rich with reed, and a jetty leading out some ways. I ran along it with my brothers and jumped, feet first, straight as an arrow and shot downwards just as lithely.

And I sank. And sank. Deep down into something so cold and frightening. I can’t even put into words the horror that gripped me when I struggled to kick myself loose of that chilly denseness that gripped my feet and legs. That was the last time I jumped into water with my feet first. I have been swimming since then, but I prefer the ocean. I did go swimming many years ago in the lake where Jay’s father built the summer cottage. Jay and I swam far out, and suddenly something cold and bristly wrapped around my feet and I screamed. I have never swam so fast as I did when I flailed my way back to the jetty. Since then, on the very few occasions I went back in, I made Jay keep me in his arms. But it has still been a few years. Maybe it’s silly, and I have rationalised that it was merely seaweed, but that old memory from my childhood became renewed — magnified somehow. Together with the heightened senses I gain when I am in water, I just can’t seem to get past that fear. I do try to challenge it when I can, but in certain situations it goes so deep that I end up giving in to it.

misty-fields

As I drove back home, I came through this field in the middle of the forest to see the mist weaving its way through the tree line and out across the oats. I find fog to be incredibly beautiful, always have. There is something very enchanting about it in the last light. Magical. Like the illustrations from the books I read as a child.

dansande-älvor
I never believed mist to be anything other than airborne water particles. I dreamed and imagined, even wrote stories of how they appeared when gateways between our world and another opened up. Like the atmosphere of the two meeting and the veil being revealed. A young girl who followed a ribbon into the night and ended up in another realm. / Book in photo: “Tomtebobarnen” by Elsa Beskow

After I got out of the car, I stood and watched these fascinating veils, and it looked like they were carried across the grain by invisible beings. An urge to walk into it took over and I strode ahead with a little smile on my face, like the years and years peeled back and fell onto the trail behind me. Something about my walk through the forest just minutes before had turned up the volume to something deeper, something older. Out here, I gain back my sight, my ability to hear and sense what busy, modern life seems to numb me to. Maybe it is all the technology that is the “magic”–the spell. And this — naked earth, naked nature–is clarity. I don’t know, and that is all right, but I think and wonder about it sometimes. More so these days than ever before.

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Whether or not those flowing wisps of white are more than just a natural phenomenon, no matter what my beliefs are, I marvel at the artfulness in it too. The mystical forms that take all kinds of shapes through the haze. I lost my remote shutter for my camera this Tuesday. I forgot I put it on the roof of the car when I got my tripod out for my forest walk, it just slipped my mind, and as I got onto the 80 km/h road on our way out of Rauma later, I heard a scratching noise of something sliding across the roof. In the rearview mirror I saw something black twirl through the air and shatter as it hit the asphalt behind us. Such a typical thing for me to do. And then I had recently, with a bit of luck, found my glasses which I dropped in the forest while taking photos, and didn’t realise until I was halfway back to the car. Can you imagine trying to find black glasses among moss, lingon-and-blueberry shrubbery? Lucky.

With longer exposure times pushing the button on the camera, even with it sitting on a tripod, can create camera shake and blur. I also believe I should have upped the ISO (light sensitivity — I kept it at 100). Either way I really wanted to show you these photos, especially the next one. I found it so eerie yet beautiful somehow. Those shapes in the mist, which are only flowers sticking up in the background or foreground, look like ghosts. Shadows from another time and place. And the flower itself that got blurred still speaks of peaceful solitude. Not very unlike my own feeling out there in the quietness. I wanted to take a self-portrait but couldn’t get the focus. Afterwards I thought it wouldn’t have mattered. If anything, I would have melted into the mist and appeared as just another ghostly spirit.

mystical-shapes-in-mist

I hope to return for another try to reach the lake soon, and during daylight. But the photo I want to take will require either morning or evening light, and I can’t wait too long if I am to get in the water. Soon the temperature will drop closer to zero, and I think it will be enough of a challenge to fight through my fear for those black depths, right? 🙂

Wishing you all a peaceful Wednesday. Much love. ❤

Light The Gateway To Times Of Old

Light. This is my one true love and obsession, and I think many (if not all to some extent) photographers always have light in the back or forefront of their mind when they aim their lenses. Without it, what is there to capture? The presence of light, the strength and angle at which it hits the world around us is what decides what we see. How we see it. Take any scene or object and the light will dramatically affect and change the image reflected back at us.

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AugustMistyRoad

I drive and walk on these roads on a daily basis. Before I picked my camera back up, it didn’t really occur to me how different these very same fields, forests and the scenery they are a part of can look. At least I didn’t consider it on a conscious level.

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AugustPineGlow

I have these distinct memories from when I was younger. We lived in Helsingborg, which is on the western coast of Sweden. It was autumn and it had just rained. I walked along the pavement with my mother’s camera–I was on my way to a place where these big, old beeches grew. The clouds were grey in the sky above, it wasn’t daylight, not quite dark either, but the yellow-orange light from the street lanterns shimmered across the wet asfalt. A soft mist clung to the air around me and as I write I can feel it, smell the fallen leaves that sometimes stuck to my shoes when I wandered across a pile amassed by the wind. I even remember what clothes I wore. Black comfy pants, a blue, shiny jacket way too big for me, and those flat-bottom skater shoes. I think they were blue, too, and made out of leather.

And all this is connected to that sombre mood of one autumn evening from almost twenty years ago. That is how strongly that particular light permeates my entire being. I have throughout the years been thrown back to that day on many occasions. Every single time I encounter the same light conditions.

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Low light, dimmed light, or those few stray pillars finding their way through crevices in obstructions–this stops time for me. Shadows blending with areas of light. It is like opening a book and reading the most captivating and mysterious story. I can’t tear my eyes away and my entire being is filled with wonder.

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AugustRowanGlow

I find all our four seasons very special and enchanting in their own way. This summer, however, as wonderful as it has been with warmth after our long winters, I have been getting exhausted by the long days and short nights. Light may be my muse, and even though it is so much softer during high summer than in other places in the world where I have lived, I still feel myself breathing out now that autumn is on its way. And with it I can feel my creativity returning.

AugustWebGlow

August can be very different. The air can feel like gods of old are breathing heat and moisture on your face. It can also be a soft and subtle warmth. But with the days growing shorter and the nights longer, there is respite. And the mornings and evenings seem to open gateways to other realms, older times.

AugustBirchGlow

AugustFlowerBokeh

Light’s magic is what moves me. Light–in the many forms it comes–is what ignites the connection to these beautiful and wondrous lands I live in.

Process And Reflections

Hello, everyone. I hope you are all having a good start on the week. On Thursday, Lilli goes back to school. To third grade. She is getting so big. For a nine-year-old she sure is tall. After this year I will probably have to start hiding my shoes. Although I guess I get what is coming to me, after all those years I borrowed my own mother’s shoes and raided her closet. Haha

We did some back-to-school shopping last week and I’m glad because we probably missed the rush of all those last minute shoppers (I’m usually one of them, dragging my feet to the very last moment since I really don’t like shopping.) It was kind of peaceful and quiet, though, which I, who don’t particularly enjoy walking around in shops unless I already know beforehand what is needed, appreciated.

WideAngleCorrection

Today I thought I would share a little more of my process. In the latest photo challenge I mentioned my disappointment over my wide angle lens, but even so I just want to add that I do also love it because of its characteristics. Once nature starts bursting with autumn vibrance, I will get started on a photo project I began planning earlier this summer. And if all goes according to how I have envisioned it, the wide angle will see a lot more action.

WideAngleSkewed

Earlier this summer I decided to utilise my Instagram account, in addition to the blog, to try and promote my photography and document my journey. I read a few articles about it, but in the end decided that I will just apply the same method as when I edit my photos. Trial and error. Play around and have fun with it. I don’t know about you, but I found all that reading strangled my will. All those what-not-to-do’s and 15 Mistakes Photographers Make On Instagram articles. (That title is just an example.) I am not saying it wasn’t good advice; I am sure it is, and I do take some to heart. But for me, who is working on not worrying about making mistakes, it prodded too many nerves and thoughts like oh my goodness I am going to look ridiculous and fail completely.

PickASmallWish

I posted this photo on Instagram before the weekend, and I nearly fell backwards when I later that day checked in to find the likes rolling in. There are some amazing artists and photographers out there who get thousands, but to me who usually gets them on average within the thirty to fifty bracket, seeing over a hundred, then two hundred, and three–I didn’t know what to do with myself. But not only the likes. The comments. So many sweet and kind words. And then the features on accounts I myself love browsing. I couldn’t stop smiling. I thought what’s happening? What made this fleeting moment captured beside our little road so special it moved so many? And then I thought I’m moving people. I managed to reach through and I’m connecting. You see what I see.

So now I want to share with you some photos from that particular walk and how I came to pick that one photo over many, many others I loved.

Let’s start with a no-Photoshop version. The end-result actually contains two different Lightroom edits, so I’m sharing one of them. ❤

NoPhotoshop

It’s kind of funny because what I wanted was to capture the daisy only. One lone daisy stood in a sea of fading clover, but I couldn’t get low enough with my camera on the tripod where it was, so instead I picked it up. Afterward, I put it behind my ear since it felt like such a shame to throw such a steadfast little flower away when it had managed to push up among all those clovers. (And then I lost it when I let down my ponytail.)

AnotherToPonder

The second funny thing is that when I got home and uploaded all the photos, I noticed the focus was slightly off, so the daisy itself is out of focus, and only some of the leaves and one tall weed in focus. And only just. So at first I wasn’t going to pick it. My first choices were between the following (also without Photoshop edits):

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I kept returning to that first one, though. The one I eventually chose. So I named it Pick A Wish. All that I felt and wanted was captured in that one brief moment, perfect or imperfect, it didn’t matter. The feeling is what matters. And maybe that’s why it has become so loved. The perfect imperfection. The fleeting yet precious moments of life.

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When I think about it, the best photos I take are the spontaneous ones. The ones that happen when I am out walking and stumble upon a sudden wish. Motions captured in the process, and not the initial motive that made me put my shoes on and go outside in the first place.

I used to write stories once. Hundreds of thousands of words. I made up a fantasy world and even started creating languages within that world. I still have it all here on my laptop. I imagined I would maybe one day, years from now, finish it all and give it out to see if the rest of the world would find my own secret and magical lands worth becoming lost in. And somehow I ended up with the camera back in my hands. Not where I thought I would be, but I am writing. Writing and sharing the magic I encounter. Sometimes it really does feel like I am in another world–an entirely different realm. Which, truthfully, Finland is to me. Something inside comes to life when I wander these roads and forests, and I am so grateful I get to share it and connect with you.

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In all honesty, I can take a thousand photos in one week, and majority of them around our farm and in close by forests. Yet I rarely feel I have seen it all. Do you have a place like that? One that can be rediscovered over and over without you tiring of it? I really hope you do. So far, I cannot think of anything that brings greater peace and happiness than being grateful for what is right here. Right now.

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If you don’t have such a place–if one didn’t come to mind–then take a moment and think on what could be such a place. To someone else who has lived in this little village all their life, or maybe to someone who passes by on the bigger road beyond the fields, it may not look like much. So that one little corner of our world might not seem very special at a glance, but if we slow down and let ourselves be, I would be willing to bet we all find that one piece of magic somewhere close.

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A few straying rays from the setting sun through branches and leaves can turn into a glowing dream if you squint your eyes.
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Weeds and foliage can appear as a golden fantasy land in a light breeze at dusk.

I stopped on my way back to the house to capture these roadside weeds, and as I hunched down another lone flower caught my eye. Like a shimmering bell. It seemed to, just like me, soak up the last light of this wonderful August evening.

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I wish each and every one of you a great week. Much love. ❤