Friday, 18 September 2015

In which I take to the skies for some aerial photography with Hans Strand.

autumn in Abisko

I am on my way home from Swedish Lapland; the land of reindeer and forests, where I have been doing some photography in Abisko National Park.

Everything about it was golden. Even the sign that sits by the Abisko river gorge.

Abisko National Park

According to our hosts, Better Moments, the golden hues of autumn in Abisko last for about 1 week in mid September.

I was there.

One of the attractions for me was the opportunity to experience aerial photography with master landscape photographer Hans Strand.  Hans is well known for his photographs of Iceland, and his beautiful book 'Iceland, Above and Below' , and of course I wanted to have a go.

The heicopters take off from the helicopter station.

Abisko helicopter station

While we waited a red helicopter containing man and large dog popped in to refuel.

the dog is on the rear seat

Before we could fly the technicians carefully removed the doors and did a bit of duct tape fixing.

door removal for aerial photography

Then three by three we were strapped in safely, with an extra harness around our waists just in case we 'accidentally undid our seat belts' (which I can assure you I had no intention of doing).

ground control man

So what was it like?

Well firstly I was very hungry.

The trip was carefully designed for maximum empty stomachs. Twirling around in the air is not for the faint hearted, easily nauseated traveller. Our hosts were careful to keep us hungry, and I am glad they did.

Secondly it was windy. So windy my eyes were full of tears, and I could barely see what I was doing by the end of the 15 minute ride.

Thirdly it was magnificent, and all over far too quickly.

Exhilarating in a way that bungee jumping never would be.

jewels on the landscape

We soared over the golden forest and hovered over green and blue lakes.

Cameras set to a shutter speed of 800 and ISO 200 to allow for the vibrations of the helicopter.

Abisko River

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In the space of 15 minutes I took over 100 photographs.

Not one is in focus.

But I had an experience that I will never forget.

Abisko in Autumn © Caroline Fraser

And when I came back to earth I was so glad to have had the opportunity to know how it feels to be up there.

And to have a large piece of chocolate.