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Ruska relief: 35 stunning photos of Finland’s autumn colors

Yellow autumn leaf on the ground, photo by Tom Woodward

Finland’s climate is notorious for skipping long intermediary periods of warmish spring and fall. Summer turns to… something else pretty quickly. That somefthing else usually happens in September, in Finnish literally “Month of Autumn” (syyskuu).

If you’re out and about in Finnish nature during late September throughout most of October, you might witness ruska. That’s a Finnish word for autumn colored foliage. In many places over the world, ruska puts up quite the show.

But due to the long, dark winter in Finland, ruska really is last call for enjoying nature. Unless you like stumbling around in the cold and dark. Which is totally okay, we’re not judging.

In any case, we went scouting Flickr’s community for some ruska goodness. This writer also pillaged his own archive if Instagram snapshots, for your enjoyment. So, whether you prefer the great outdoors in urban streetscapes or out in the middle of nowhere, we hope we can remind you to at least enjoy a few more strolls outside before the long grey dark sets in.

 

1. If you’re in luck puddles or lakes might remind you to look up at the trees.

 

 

2. Lapland is stunning during ruska.

 

3. But so are all the lush suburbs all around the country. This view is from a high-rise building in Vuosaari in Helsinki.

 

4. I prefer staying in my inner city hoods, around Kallio and Vallila. But not because of some pretense of hipness…

 

5. …but because it’s going to retain a sense of place when ruska is over and fall is at its worst.

 
 

 
 

6. To each their own. But the point is: nature lovers, don’t waste a minute of this.

 

7. Anyway, you can’t get this in the cities.

 

8. However, nothing will stop you from enjoying wild cloud formations wherever you can see the sky.

 

9. Seriously, these skies are quite something.

 
 

 
 

10. Let’s cut the BS though, we were talking about autumn colors, ruska.

 

11. Again, available wherever they haven’t cut down the trees.

 

12. Autumn colors are caused by the process during which chlorophyll levels decrease in leaves.

 

13. Chlorophyll, the bringer of greenery, and an essential component of photosynthesis, is replaced by cork cells as sunlight and wamth decreases.

 

14. Eventually leaves drop. Without photosynthesis, they’re redundant. So, unless you have matching facades, get your nice photos taken while the leaves haven’t yet fallen.

 
 

 
 

15. Eventually, the end result is this: naked trees, with leaves in a slowly decomposing brown mess.

 

16. Luckily, some trees stay green.

 

17. So, if you notice moments post August 15 that pass for summer, be mindful and savor them.

 

18. One week, you’ll be out and about and enjoying everything about your surroundings.

 

19. Then, it’ll suddenly get rainy, in a way that just feels chilling.

 

20. And before you know it, you’ll just forget to enjoy your everyday surroundings. Moving outdoors becomes a tiresome chore, one which requires preparation.

 
 

 
 

21. Sure, those August and September sunsets are quite something.

 

22. They almost make you appreciate the looming darkness.

 

23. But by early November, a handful of pretty sunsets are among the few outposts of sanity you’ll have left. In Helsinki, you’ll miss the show if you don’t leave work between 4 and 5 pm. Farther up north, any typical office gig will leave you out of daylight.

 

24. With my brain chemistry, only something like this furball can force me to leave the house while there’s light around noon on November weekends.

 

25. But of course, outdoorsy people will crawl the forests for some last edible berries or mushrooms.

 

26. Or they’ll be using their inexplicable energy, to take some last sips of whatever magic takes place at summer cottages.

 
 

 
 

27. Make no mistake, to take a photo like this, you’ll need to get our in the middle of nowhere and be prepared for the freezing cold as soon as you’re not in direct sunlight.

 

28. Here, a regular human just sees a weird big rock, maybe with some understanding that the ice age dragged it there. Outdoorsy folks probably measure it up as potential shelter or whatever.

 

29. Personally, I prefer everyday scenes like these, and muttering about things like ugly elevated highway bridges.

 

30. Luckily I can get dramatic shots like this one just a fifteen minute walk away from my house.

 

31. Again, with the clouds.

 
 

 
 

32. And I much prefer to spend the silver hour on my way home.

 

33. When darkness falls, I want to be real close to home.

 

34. This is the kind of nature sightings I like in fall: old NYC style taxis with campaign stickers for Dick Nixon.

 

35. Anyway, time to head out before everything looks like this.

 

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Thomas Nybergh is a writer and producer for Ink Tank Media in Helsinki. He’s really into topics like information security, but he writes about anything. Occasionally, Thomas gets around to sharing photos on Instagram.

Thomas also co-hosts and produces a podcast based on Very Finnish Problems, the social media sensation.




Title image by Tom Woodward

Everyday life in the capital: 19th century Helsinki, in pics

Helsinki experienced massive growth after it became Finland’s capital in 1812. As the new economic and cultural center, its population exploded, architecture grew quickly, and technology flourished. But what did it look like? Let’s take a stroll through 19th century Helsinki, courtesy of the Helsinki City Museum’s vast database of photos from the late 1800s.

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Midsummer sunset in Finnish lake landscape

Isn’t it dreamy? Save your rainy day with stunning photos of Finnish lakeside midsummer sunsets

Midsummer sunset in Finnish lake landscape

When Finnish summer weather disappoints, there’s always pictures and the internet. We were contacted by young photographer Markus Watkins, whom we interviewed earlier this year, about his fun collection of summery activities shot in winter landscapes.

Markus wanted to share another set of his with our readers. Since the sky is grey at the time of writing, we can’t think of a single reason why we should turn down this set.

Scroll down for Markus’ dreamlike lakeside shots featuring the legendary Finnish midsummer almost-sunset.

We also suggest you read our interview, if you’re not already familiar with Markus’ work. You can also follow Markus on Instagram.

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Northern lights in Helsinki

Pet peeves: 10 things Finns love to hate

Northern lights in Helsinki

Due to long winters and rainy summers, it’s not unusual for someone with the warm, yet reserved Finnish mentality to spend a lot of time being annoyed about things. If you sit down and listen to Finns you’ll probably come across more than a few pet peeves.

To help you prepare, we’ve collected a list of common gripes. If you’re hanging out with Finns, you could do worse than to make bingo cards with these.

 

 

1. The weather

What’s there to like about Finnish weather, most of the time? It keeps you from enjoying the gorgeous surroundings.

 

2. Sweden

Our western neighbor is seen as some kind of annoying big brother figure. Then there is the Swedish national hockey team, which deserves a special level of loathing.

 

3. Russia

For obvious reasons, Finland has a complicated relationship with the great oligarchy of the East. Most annoying: that grumpy bear is a vital trading partner. Infuriating.

 

4. Smalltalk and unsolicited sociability

It’s not uncommon for Finns to hurry into their flats in apartment blocks as to not have to make the choice of whether to greet a neighbor or not.

5. Wolves

Many “suburban” Finns live in what’s essentially utter wilderness. Still, they remain shocked and appalled by the occasional wolf. If a wolf is spotted, panic and hunting mania ensues.

 

6. Themselves

Let’s face it: if most people suck, you probably suck.  A popular source of communal self-loathing (‘myötähäpeä‘) is the English language. Finnish, as fascinating as it is, is a weird affair, and Finnish speakers tend to default to a slightly quirky pronunciation of English. Despite great passive language skills and vocabulary, thanks to subtitled tv, Finns tend to think they’re the only ones who default to speaking English with a distinct accent.

 

7. Sobriety

This is one of those cases where young people these days are way saner than even gen X:ers. However, you can still run into situations in Finland where people consider you a buzzkill if you don’t drink. In some circles, even vegans aren’t seen as equally annoying as non-drinkers. Doesn’t matter if you’ve discovered that you tend to ruin your life if you touch alcohol, you’ll find out who your true friends are after you decide it’s time to dry up.

 

8. Neighbors

The typical Finnish agricultural landscape of disparate homesteads, rather than villages, is due to a relatively recent land reform. However, many Finns remember their roots in these landscapes and have taken to heart an attitude of Finns just being unable to bear too many people. This makes the idealized version of Finnish life a bizarre version of suburbia, highways and strip malls in the wilderness.

 

 

9. Politicians

If you’re popular for some reason, for example through some general purpose celebrity, don’t make the mistake of turning to politics. People will loathe you and move on to idealizing the police and military.

 

 

10. Being successful

The law of Jante has to be one of the most dreadful properties of small Nordic societies – don’t think you’re special or better than us. Or rather, don’t make us think you think you’re better than us. If you have ambitions, leave for whatever passes as cities in Finland.

 

Now, here’s the thing: if you’re a Finn, our list probably left out some vital object of your annoyance and hate. To tell us just how much you loathe us for missing these important facts, let your rage flow into the comment section below.

 

Title photo by Title credits.

 

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Dancing bears and mirror lakes: Valtteri Mulkahainen’s spectactular photos of Finnish nature

Finnish photographer Valtteri Mulkahainen's iconic shot of "dancing" bear cubs

 
A few years ago, Mr. Valtteri Mulkahainen of Sotkamo hit the news in Finland and globally, as his pictures of “dancing” bear cubs in the Suomussalmi forests captured the imagination of nature friendly people everywhere. We wanted to feature Valtteri in our series on Finnish photography, so we’ve caught up with him in a short interview on wolves, using camera gear in the extreme, iPhone killing cold… and Pokémon Go.

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Jani Ylinampa's photo of northern lights over a small river in Lapland, Finland

Lapland safari guide Jani Ylinampa’s Northern Lights photos are out of this world

Jani Ylinampa's photo of northern lights over a small river in Lapland, Finland
Jani Ylinampa works as a safari guide in Lapland. But on the side, he’s a photographer who’s developed quite the following on social media, in part thanks to his stunning shots of northern lights. We saw it fitting to feature Jani’s work and ask him a couple of question on his work and lifestyle.

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Young man jumping into icy lake, like it was summer. Photo in Asikkala, Finland.

The impossible contrast: Young photographer drops summer-like scenes into freezing Finnish winter

Young man stuck with rowboat in snow on icy lake, Asikkala, Finland.

At the time of writing, it’s rather cold, around -20°C, here in Helsinki. To make this a bit less insufferable, let’s enjoy some summery pictures. Almost.

Sixteen-year-old, award-winning photographer Markus Watkins has just published a very timely set of summer activities set in freezing cold Asikkala. We asked some questions about his set, which he named The Impossible Contrast.

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Aurea borealis over cottages in Lapland, Finland

Arctic #nofilter: 15 Instagram snapshots that show why Lapland’s the crown jewel of the North

Aurea borealis over cottages in Lapland, Finland

Free pro tip: too much Instagram at bedtime will mess with your sleep. On the other hand, if you open Instagram first thing after your alarm rings in the morning, your phone’s screen will help you wake up. Put simply, Instagram can be a fantastic infusion of beauty into your day when you need it the most.

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Burning street car in Helsinki during USSR air raids, 1944.

Photos of bombed, WWII Helsinki mashed up with prosperous modernity

Burning street car in Helsinki during USSR air raids, 1944.

During WWII, Finland was twice involved in military confrontation with the Soviet union. For the capital, Helsinki, the most intense air raids and bombings occurred in February 1944, a campaign which is usually referred to as The Great Raids Against Helsinki. These amazing photographs, created by the Finnish Defence Forces Combat Camera unit, mash up haunting photos of wartime destruction with modern pics from a couple years back, in nice black and white plus colour images.

The USSR was under the impression its bombing campaigns were more successful and expected Helsinki to be pretty much gone by the end of the war. The Soviets didn’t learn of the relatively limited damage until after the war when Allied Control Commissioner Andrei Zhdanov visited Helsinki.

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