Become a better wild-life photographer in Swedish Lapland

In Skellefteå there are 1,500 lakes, five rivers, a 300 kilometre coastline and innumerable brooks and mires. "All this water is fantastic", Emma says with a laugh. "A sky, shot with the right exposure, reflecting on a blank water surface somewhere in the majestic forest landscape, need I say more?"

BEHIND THE CAMERA

Emma Dennehy wanted to experience what is sometimes referred to as the last wilderness in Europe — whilst also becoming a better photographer. She travelled to Kalvträsk and to see Conny Lundström.

WE ARE SEATED at a kitchen table in Kalvträsk, me, Conny and Emma Dennehy. We have Emma’s laptop in front of us and she’s showing a picture of a large woodpecker in flight.
– I’m really pleased with that picture.
– It might not be the rarest bird in the world but it is a really good action shot, Conny says, complimenting the picture. It is very sharp and the colours are good.

Conny Lundström is a wildlifephotographer offering nature photography experiences in the Skellefteå Area. Emma is a wildlife biologist from Ireland, having studied the impact of wind power construction on the Spanish wolf population, amongst other things. She is also an amateur photographer. Emma has spent almost ten days in Kalvträsk.
– I have never been this far north, she tells us. I really love the environment here. The feeling that everything is real, that an elk or a Siberian jay can show up at any time, it is priceless.

BETTER PICTURES

Emma also hopes that her visit in Kalvträsk will result in her becoming a better photographer.
– Before, I just took a picture. If I saw a bird on a branch, I took a picture of the bird and the branch and went on with my life as if nothing had happened. Now it’s different. Thanks to Conny, I’ve really raised my standards. I really try to stop and think. What composition works best? How is the lighting? Are there distractions in the background?

Emma also tells us how she feels about clear blue skies.
– They’re overrated. Clouds, on the other hand, are good. They give life to the entire picture and character to the sky. An overcast day is a pretty day too. It gives a soft, lovely light that is excellent when taking portraits of animals.

WATER AND BRIGHT NIGHTS

In Skellefteå there are 1,500 lakes, five rivers, a 300 kilometre coastline and innumerable brooks and mires.
– All this water is fantastic, Emma says with a laugh. A sky, shot with the right exposure, reflecting on a blank water surface somewhere in the majestic forest landscape, need I say more?
The bright nights were also fascinating for her.
– On the second night, we were concealed in blinds, photographing the mating displays of black grouse. It was about three o’clock in the morning and just before the grouse began their display, I thought to myself that I should be tired, but I wasn’t. The light was fantastic, dreamlike somehow. The birds came so close and the water on the wet mire was splashing in all directions.
– It was magical.

WHIMSICAL WILDERNESS

Emma has also managed to photograph elk, boreal owl, Ural owl, reindeer and osprey, amongst other things.
– We caught the osprey on the first day, whilst paddling. Just before that, we also discovered a large bull elk on the shore. Unfortunately, the elk was too far away, but it ended up being a great bird picture and Emma was about to get a second chance at photographing elk.
– We found a cow elk and her calf just outside the village, says Conny.

Emma’s enthusiasm is unmistakable. It is explained to me how the elk picture came about. Then she happily tells me about the posing Ural owl.
– He sat there so patiently and  waited for the signal from his mate. That was lucky, because it meant
that I could wait for the clouds to soften the sunlight.
Then she pauses and says:
– This is probably still my favourite. It’s a boreal owl that has just woken up and is peeking out from inside a hollow tree trunk.
– In a way, I can relate to that owl,
laughs Emma.

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