Chase the light

I needed to make some preparations for my cabin in Messlingen and that was just the perfect excuse to take out a day to do some photography in the mountains as well. I checked three different weather forecasts and they all said different things, it could be anything from rain to sunshine and in between but changing weather can also bring with it some wonderful light so it wasn’t all bad.

Väster-Storbäcken
Väster-Storbäcken at 20 sec and stitched from two horizontal frames

The first photo op came up at the Väster-Storbäcken brook near Mittådalen. I always make sure to check it out when I drive past but it’s been years since I’ve stopped to photograph it. I was wondering if I could do anything I hadn’t already done here, but it was easy in the end – on with the ND64 and polariser and I was able to get down to 20 secs to get that silky smooth water. Add a small stitched panorama and I was happy!

The Mittån valley
The Mittån valley in sunshine, Ånnfjället in the bg

I had a plan for the day but a lot depended on the weather of course. We had barely started when the rain came, but it was only a local shower and we could see in the west that the sky was getting brighter. Which was just as well, because I had planned to drive west anyway to Mittåkläppen and Djupdalsvallen (any excuse for a waffle). When we got there, the promise of rain was still in the air so we had our waffles and waited for it to clear. After a while it did look better, so we set out on foot and as if by magic, the sun started to break out when we got to the ridge! It was absolutely fabulous with the afternoon sunshine and dramatic sky, which got us into a photography frenzy because the light could disappear at any moment so we’d better make full use of it. I can’t claim that I spent a lot of time contemplating over my compositions but this was such a gorgeous place that it didn’t really matter, it was looking good in almost any direction. The intensive clicking of shutters stopped abrubtly though when we heard something that sounded very much like thunder, accompanied by a big dark cloud. The top of an open ridge is not a place where you want to be when the lightnings start striking, so we packed up quickly and made our way back into the relative safety of the forest and hoped to reach the car before the raining started. It turned out though that it wasn’t as bad as it had looked at first, so a few drops of rain is all we got and a few pictures along the way as well, because we couldn’t resist stopping when we came across an opportunity, darks clouds or not!

Cloud reflections
Cloud reflections

There’s a nice little tarn next to the Mittåkläppen road with great views towards Skarsfjället. In the right light and calm weather it would be a great place, but this time we only really got one out of  two – it was calm, but the sun didn’t want to show itself again. Very dramatic skies though, a worthy subject in itself.

Since it looked like the cloud cover was lighter in the east, we decided to drive back to the Ånnfjället view instead of waiting and hoping for the light to happen at Mittåkläppen. Chasing the light this way is a bit risky – you can’t really ever be sure that the light is still there when you are but this was a calculated risk on my part. The weather fronts often get stuck in the mountains between the Norwegian and Swedish border, so further in the east your chances improve for good weather. Well, that’s my theory anyway and stick to it, because the light was indeed still there when we got to our spot! Frantically I unpacked the camera and set up the tripod, all the while hoping that the light would last a few more seconds so I could get at least one frame. The light did last, a whopping 20 minutes that gave me the best pictures of the day!

Magic light at Anåkroken
Magic light at Anåkroken (stitched panorama of 2 horizontal frames)

This is the first time I’ve visited the mountains in August. I was surprised to see the signs of autumn everywhere, this is quite clearly a time of transformation when the summer ends and the autumn begins. With the weather as it was today, it all made for a few memorable minutes of magic light that proved beyond any doubt that changing weather is a photographer’s best friend!

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