June 20, 2017

Njupeskär in sunlight

I’m the queen of planning. And not doing. If I come up with a thing I would like to do, a place I want to see, I can spend hours on finding out the best way of doing it. And then never do it. But now it’s changing – 2017 is the year of experiences for me, and now I am actually starting to do those things I’ve always planned!

Seeing Njupeskär in sunlight is one of those things. I wrote about it 12 years ago on my blog (have I been writing the blog for 12 years?!), contemplating about the difficulties of shooting the highest waterfall in Sweden. The options are very limited and the place is infested with tourists, and no angle has been left unexplored. To be blunt, if you’ve seen one picture of Njupeskär, you’ve seen them all.

But then there is this special occasion in the summer. A couple of weeks around midsummer, the sun shines on the waterfall during sunrise. And when you start searching for pictures of a sunlit Njupeskär… you won’t find many at all! First of all, the time frame is limited, twice. First by the time of the year, and then by the time of the day. The sun rises at around 3:25 in the morning – it’s not exactly the rush hour, if you know what I mean. And the light lasts until around 6am, so it’s far gone by the time the tourists arrive. And then you need to have the weather with you, it does not help for you to be there at 4am if the sky is cloudy. And another thing that possibly plays in the lack of sunlit Njupeskär pictures is that it’s not a hot subject for photographers (as opposed to tourists with cameras). So maybe not so many photographers bother to even try.

But I wanted to try. I started checking the weather forecast for Njupeskär as midsummer was approaching. Finally on Saturday I saw that Monday morning (yesterday) would be cloudless. My chance had come! So on Sunday I packed my gear and sleeping bag in the car and headed south. It’s not often I’ve been as excited about something as I was then. I kept visioning the moment I saw the waterfall in sunlight, all the while trying to calm myself down and prepare to be disappointed – never count out Murphy’s law…

I slept in my car, and surprised myself by actually being able to sleep. My car is too small for me to stretch out my legs, but since I always sleep on my side anyway with knees bent, it wasn’t a problem. I had considered sleeping in the cabin near the falls but I had a feeling that I could sleep better in the car instead (and strictly speaking, you’re not allowed to overnight in the cabin anyway) (strictly speaking, you’re not allowed to overnight in your car in the parking lot either). All it meant is that I had to get up 30 mins earlier to have time to hike to the falls. I set my alarm at 3am but I woke up at 2:30 and couldn’t go back to sleep, the anticipation was tangible!

So I had plenty of time to hike to the falls. My timing was impeccable – when I got down to the bridge in the ravine, I saw the first rays of the sun hit the falls. It was absolutely magical, not just to see that rare sight… but knowing how long I’ve been thinking about it, and then finally following my crazy plan, the relief and happiness just washed over me and for a moment I got quite emotional. Until I saw two people already standing on the viewing platform, so I just wiped my eyes and greeted them. One them had a tripod but he was on the platform, so I just took my kit and set up shop below the platform on the rocks and prayed that I would get one good shot. Just one. The other people soon left, and minutes later, a rainbow appeared. I’m not entirely sure if I was just late in noticing the rainbow, but I’m almost sure that those people missed it by leaving so early. So I had the waterfall and the rainbow completely for myself the rest of the morning!

This is the sight that greeted me when I got down in the ravine. I just took a quick snap because I was in a hurry to get to the platform. The timestamp is 03:36.

As the sun got higher, the light crept up further and further in the ravine. I found out that it wasn’t such a good thing, because the light was behind me. So if you want to include the sunlit foreground, you always include your own shadow, and the shadow from the platform. I walked down to the bridge to use the creek as foreground, but even there the better option was to shoot it while it was in the shade, rather than wait for the light and then get that ugly shadow. But then again, having seen the sweet light just after sunrise, I wasn’t so excited about the light after it reached the bridge anyway. So I stood there for a long time, looking at the sunlit waterfall, trying to decide if I can turn my back on it. Finally I did, even when the light was still there. But I was brimming with happiness, I had seen the first light and that’s really what I had come for.

Back at the parking, I ate breakfast and then drove home. It being Monday, I was sitting in my office at 8:15, for a full day’s work! Every once in a while I needed to look at the pictures in my camera, just to remind myself that it really happened. I really did it. I did it!

Now I’m standing on the rocks next to the platform. It’s 03:53.

Then I saw the rainbow

At 04:10, the foreground is being lit

A selfie… kind of

I realise that the pictures start to repeat themselves, but I just don’t have the heart to delete more than I already did. I want to preserve the memory.

I went back down to the bridge to see if the foreground would work. The small waterfalls are nice, but composition is limited – the boardwalk just barely outside the frame on the left. I took some pictures a bit later when the light was starting to reach this spot, but the shadows from the boardwalk were awful.

So I went back up to the platform for one last look. I think I managed to crop out the worst of the shadow at the bottom, it’s maybe not so obvious unless you know what to look for. But the rainbow is bigger than before! This is at 04:36.

* * *

Since I had a lot of time on Sunday on my way south, I checked out this spot which I hoped would give me a good view of Städjan. The wind and the sky disagreed.

This is not really above high enough to be tundra, but the trees have a tough time here. The mountain birches grow as bushes, not trees. And look at all that lichen!

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2 Responses

  1. Miika says:

    Hiukan kade olen kyllä, kun ei ole moista paikkaa siten, että ehtisi käydä ennen duunia ottamasa kuvat.

  2. Minna says:

    Sepä se, harvemmin tulee mieleen että aina ei tarvii oottaa viikonloppua tai lomaa että voi tehdä jotain kivaa. Toisaalta ei näitä kovin usein jaksa tehdä… jossain vaiheessa pitää ehtiä nukkumaankin. 😀

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