Prominent American photographer and trail-blazing conservationist Ansel Adams once mused “a great photograph is one that fully expresses what one feels, in the deepest sense, about what is being photographed.”
I wonder if his images left even him deeply surprised.
His landscape photographs were often so epic and astounding not least because they were strikingly devoid of anything man made but they captured something natural happening; affecting and changing the landscape. Changing our viewpoint forever. True feats of nature.
So my question this week is – when it comes to extraordinary landscape photography – have we seen it all? Has the best there is already been reprinted on endless calendars and posters? Or can a scenic photograph still leave you feeling entirely surprised?
I’ll boldly suggest this photograph by Thomas Uts would’ve appealed profoundly to Ansel Adams. It lovingly captures so much more than light flooding a charming – soothingly linear – woodland. It’s also more than its technical mastery and a slow – hold your breath – shutter speed. And although this photograph was captured a world away from Ansel Adam’s beloved NoCal it may just have the same ability to mystify.
This image is so surprising and utterly special for one simple reason.
Can you guess? Kan du gissa?
This incredible photograph perfectly captures the sun shining in summer.
There are a handful of countries that spill over the Arctic Circle where you can experience 24 hour sunlight but for me Sweden has been the ‘Land of the Midnight Sun’ since a family summer holiday there in 1986. I remember the idea of the sun never going down was wildly exhilarating, just as it should be for a child! We were based with local friends in Vasteras and the trip was one of the most memorable of my childhood.
Our visit to Sweden certainly left a lasting impression. There were so many sites and experiences to absorb but – for me – the most unforgettable were the brisk dips in the lakes and the trip to the family summer house. I also remember playing on the most perfect green lawn as hedgehogs rustled in the bushes, picking endless fresh berries with my sister and the air smelled of crispbread. I also remember the sun shining late into the evening.
It really was that idyllic.
So as summer begins to thaw Sweden this June, my mind is naturally turned towards buying my own delightful fritidshus or Swedish weekend home. And because I have the fondest memories of Vasteras, I am focusing my search around the nearby lakes to the town’s southwest towards Gothenburg (Gothenburg is a convenient gateway to southern Europe with regular car ferry crossings to Denmark). Although I won’t have a midnight sun this far south, we can easily do the drive north whenever the ideal weather is predicted. Bra plan?
My ideal fritidshus doesn’t necessarily need to be Falu Red but it absolutely must have character. It will also have a guest cottage or ‘sleep out’ for kids, breathtaking water views and be south west facing to ensure maximum exposure to that famous Swedish summer sun. I certainly wouldn’t want to be sitting by the fire in the dark in my summer hus staring across the lake at other cottages bathed in sunlight. Nej tack. So a south westerly aspect or sunny entertaining deck is just about essential.
With all those requirements in mind, I’ll need my entire USD $100,000 budget. Perhaps a little more.
I know, I know. This cottage is over budget. But hear me out.
This two bedroom, two story Falu Red house overlooking majestic Lake Stora Le is fully renovated yet retains rustic character. There is a matching red guest house and plenty of sunshine. Lake Stora Le borders Norway and is around two and a half hours north of Gothenburg or four hours from Vasteras. It stretches my budget and perhaps weekend driving distances but I just love its vantage point. Could it be more happily situated?
Maybe we can go halves? I’ll take it.
This pale yellow gem is a convenient one hour from Gothenburg and almost within budget. It has three rooms and lake views. What more could we need?
I’ll take it.
I’m so comforted this delightfully sunny cottage is close to Vasteras. It’s an easy 30 minute drive from centre of town on Sweden’s famous Lake Malaren and with only two bedrooms, a living area and a small updated – eat in – kitchen to maintain, it’s just the liten hus I’m looking for. Swedish flag and all.
This is the one. I’ll take it.
These simple summer houses are unquestionably picturesque and engage with the environment flawlessly. I feel an astounding inner peace just looking.
I wouldn’t at all be surprised if Ansel Adams approved of such a weekend home.