Sunset preview from 20 May 2014

Last night I was photographing a wonderful sunset above the Baltic Sea with marvelous reflections. It’s been a very long time since I was out with my camera, as life is pretty hectic at the moment. Today Iwant to share a little preview with you 🙂

Copyright: Thomas Kast


And here is one of them, I named it ‘Stare’ as I felt the sun was staring right back at me.

Copyright: Thomas Kast

‘Stare’ – captured at 22.50

Hope you’ll see a wonderful sunset also 🙂

Behind the camera – Memories of 2013

While spending time with my family at Christmas I thought about listing my top photos of 2013. In the last days of 2013 I saw that many others did just that. So I felt like doing something different.

Here are some photos from 2013 which I haven’t shared with anyone yet. Each one is a memorable moment for me and I want to tell you what happened around each photo.

Party crashers (19 Jan 2013 – 23:55 hrs)
On that windy, cold night I was out shooting a timelapse sequence with a friend. Our cameras were set up on the frozen Baltic Sea and we enjoyed dancing auroras. About an hour in, two snow mobiles drove into the scene from North. Always expect the unexpected, I guess.
At the top of the photo you can see how the cold and moist wind started to freeze over my lens. A while later my gear was completely covered in ice and part of me was happy to have an excuse to go back to my warm home 🙂

Copyright: Thomas Kast

Uninvited guests

Shadows by moonset (18 March 2013 – 01:27 hrs)
A wonderful night filled with amazing auroras came slowly to an end with the moon making its way towards the horizon. The more it came down the more it turned orange, just like the sun would set.
In this photo I tried to capture the shadows cast by the moonlight together with auroras. About one kilometer away was a great field of snow with trees positioned a lot better for this shot. To be honest I was totally exhausted after more than six hours running around with the camera and couldn’t be bothered to walk there.

Copyright: Thomas Kast

Moonlight shadows on the left

Lost in the Baltic Sea (4 May 2013 – 23:19 hrs)

I was happy to witness a great spring sunset over the Baltic Sea with literally no wind. The water was dead still and I got wonderful reflections. At some point I wanted to get a nice reflection also from the paper factory steam. So I went into the water and set up the tripod there. After capturing the photo below I tried out many more things before packed my gear away. It was then when I noticed my tripod foots were gone. Looking for them didn’t help so I went home. On the next day I picked up the tripod and made a mess at home. The legs were filled with – now dried – sand. Always learning new things it seems 🙂

Copyright: Thomas Kast

Reflected steam

Put away the camera (27 July 2013 – 22:22 hrs)

A summer night out with a friend who was visiting me. We had our gear and eventually ended up at Nallikari beach in Oulu. Seeing some guys throwing frisbee gave me two thoughts. First: Take a photo, this may be a great silhouette shot. And so I did take this one with the reflecting sun in the water. Second: Just sometime put away the camera or leave it at home. Easy to say and easy to write, not all that easy to do. And after all, I was out with my friend and instead a frisbee we had each a camera 🙂

Copyright: Thomas Kast

A summer moment

Enough air (29 Sep 2013 – 15:19 hrs)
On this autumn day I drove a forest road to a hiking trail. The trail was great and I got some nice photos. On the way back home I drove over a big stone with both my right tires. Bang – bang. I stopped and had a look but couldn’t find anything. Relieved I made it home. The next morning I forgot all about it and went to work. Well, actually I made it only for 15 metres. Something was wrong and I had a look. One of the tires was flat. In the evening I changed that tire and then noticed the second one was flat too! There was no choice but one: I changed all four summer tires into winter ones 🙂

Copyright: Thomas Kast


And so this flashback to 2013 ends. If you want to see other photos, just visit the galleries on my webpage!

Good photos can be a matter of seconds

The past two weeks, taking photos was all about being quick enough. Here is what I mean.

During one night I’ve been at a lake to capture some auroras. Before anything happened I explored the lakeshore and found a few good spots. Auroras appeared and I started to take pictures. I hoped for good reflections, but from the place I was at, it didn’t come out all that well. The lights in the sky were quite good and I feared the best part would be over until I would be at the better spot. I really didn’t know what to do, but the Northern lights made the decision for me. They got much stronger and I grabbed my gear and ran to the other spot, almost dropping my camera. It was all worth it and I got some nice shots with good reflections.

Copyright: Thomas Kast

Auroras are reflected in this calm lake with a satellite flare.

Days later I’m back at the same lake. Now with a friend and this time we set up the cameras at the ‘good spot’. We waited and waited. Nothing to see but a thin, blurry arc, just over the treetops. At one point, we gave up, packing our cameras neatly into the bag and folding away the tripods. As we walked to the car, Lady Aurora suddenly put up a bright show into the sky. With curses running through our minds, we ran back to set up as quickly as possible. After the first shots it came to my mind that I forgot to focus! So I focused the lens and just after that the show was over, leaving me with so-so photos.

Copyright: Thomas Kast

Nice auroras, not so nice focus

Two nights ago I was out for a sunset. The weather has been quite unstable, lots of rain showers with bits of blue sky in between. An hour before sunset I saw a big hole in the clouds just above our house with clouds moving towards West. I packed my gear and knowing the sunset time, I drove to the North of Oulu. While driving I noticed the clouds were moving much faster than I thought, so – once again – there was no time to spare. When I arrived at the beach, the sun was shining through some clouds at the horizon. To my delight it was low tide and some pools of water reflected the sunlight. There were many people out walking in the sand and piled up stones they found. I went to one of the piles and took a few pictures. Then the clouds already covered the sun and all the good light was gone.

Copyright: Thomas Kast

Between rain. Short time to capture a nice sunset

Of course for all of these shots some luck was needed, but sometimes it is up to yourself just how lucky you get!

Auroras are finally back

If you are like me and Northern lights are ranking higher than a summer with nightless nights and warm temperatures, then I have good news: the long wait is over, the lights are dancing again in the skies here in Oulu, Finland!

Copyright: Thomas Kast

First auroras over the Baltic Sea, just past midnight on 22 Aug 2013

There is something special about early autumn auroras. The sun doesn’t dip far under the horizon, so between sunset and sunrise there is  an orange glow at the horizon, twilight. Lakes are not frozen and not covered by snow. So on a quiet night, wonderful reflections of Northern lights can be seen. The nights are mild around +8..12C, so dressing up is not an issue (yet).

Copyright: Thomas Kast

Spell-bound: This aurora was huge, you look at 114 degrees view!

During these first nights I was lucky to see many different shapes of auroras. I’ve spend many hours outdoors and now I’m happy to share some photos with you.

Did you see any auroras during the past days or weeks? Let me know about your experience!

Copyright: Thomas Kast

The observation tower ‘Majakka’ (light house) at Nallikari beach, Oulu.

Young green spring

My favorite moment during spring is when leaves are growing out of trees and bushes. At that time the color of these young leaves is a bright, soft green. I also like the strong, dark green leaves in summer, but the innocence of the ones in spring carries a lot more magic for me. Perhaps it is only then that summer will really come?

Here in Oulu area the growth starts usually during the second half of May. When it’s very warm – like this year – it takes only a few days for the landscape to change radically. There is so much light (right now about 20 hours of sunshine), that everything grows extremely fast.

A few days back I went out on a photo tour. It was late in the evening and the low standing sun brought just the right amount of light onto the thin leaves of some birch trees. Here are some results of that evening.

Quick tcameratippip: Once you took the picture as you planned, don’t leave just yet. Walk around the object and look at it from all angles. Take your time. You may be surprised to get some more ideas and great pictures right there.

Young birch leaves backlit from the sun

Young birch leaves backlit from the sun

The fresh grass is a good contrast for the white of the birch.

The fresh grass is a good contrast for the white of the birch.

A 'jungle' of birch leaves

A ‘jungle’ of birch leaves

Aurora season coming to an end

Being able to see auroras in Oulu during mid-winter depends basically on two things, clear skies and activity from the sun. In April however, there is one more challenge: it needs to be dark as well! To see Northern lights, the sun needs to be around 10° below the horizon. Today’s sunset was at 8.38pm and it took two more hours for the sky to be dark enough.

At the moment we get one additional hour of daylight every nine days (7min/day) and bright nights are not far away. To understand how quick the season will end, look at the dates and how long will be dark enough:    April 12: 5,5 hrs    April 26: 2,5 hrs    April 29: 1,3 hrs
April 30: not dark enough anymore

Copyright: Thomas Kast

First aurora of the season at Nallikari, Oulu, in August 2012

Going on the aurora hunt on weekdays starts to be challenging due to the day job. So I’m waiting for the few weekends ahead.

It really is kind of bittersweet now. While I’m looking forward to the summer and months of nonstop daylight, I’m also a bit melancholic because Lady Aurora may be hiding her colorful face from me until next autumn.

Copyright:Thomas Kast

Midnight sun at Nallikari, Oulu, June 2012

Of course, this time brings a lot of advantages with it. I’ll be able to sleep a lot more and have time to be with my family. Also I won’t be checking the internet for aurora alerts (which I do almost every night since August…). Last but not least, I’ll be taking photos of the midnight sun and I won’t have to wear my winter stuff!

Ok, that’s it for now. I really need to check if there are some Northern lights outside!