#905. A Scandinavian Midsommar Undestination.

By Mark Raugas | Travel Photography

Sep 20

I keep returning to Scandinavia, often to Stockholm, and enjoy walking through its urban expanse, finding photos amidst both crowds and quiet. I find during summer, when the days grow long, it can become something of an un-destination as areas empty out a bit. For example, Helsinki becomes somewhat of a ghost town as people vacation further north. For a traveler from abroad, jet lag combined with the late sunsets makes (for me) acclimatizing to the local time challenging. For many days, on a recent trip to Uppsala, I found myself up through the night, wandering in thought, leaving me during the days to move through the city almost in an in-between state.


So, maybe more a product of a particular mental state than a physical sensation, I offer up something of a record of an un-destination trip through Uppsala, Oslo, Bergen, Stockholm, and points in-between. Recently, I have taken to travelling quite sparsely in terms of equipment, to narrow my technical choices and thus attempt to force a more pronounced need for creativity.


On this trip I only took two fixed lenses, one wide angle and one telephoto, forbidding a standard perspective. At the same time, maybe due to jet lag and increased amounts of caffeine, I struggled to provide a documentary style to the work, but documentary of what exactly, I was not sure.


Uppsala’s central district, approaching the University, one of the oldest in Europe, is a mix of older and newer architecture, transected by a stone canal on which cobble stone walking paths border.


Oslo, in comparison, near the central station, was raucous all through the night, with youth celebrating the middle of summer. I enjoyed walking through some of the excitement but dreaded an early morning departure by train, through the mountains towards Bergen.


But, what a reward, that early morning alarm, getting us to central station on time. Travelling by rail towards the old port city of Bergen was a study in moon-like landscapes quite different from the lush forest and placid fjords surrounding Oslo.


I am more comfortable in solitude and the crowds of tourists around Flam, waiting for a packed ferry to transit the Sonjefjord towards Bergen, quickly brought me back to earth. Headphones helped to restore a sense of isolation and mental space to be able (for me, at least) continue to appreciate the surrounding lanscapes, with small villages bordered by dark green hills.


It is here that my jet lag finally won, as I am told by my wife that I slept through some of the most beautiful areas, finally having secured a seat. Un-destination indeed. Bergen was altogether different, with a quiet beauty informed by stone plazas running up towards a steep hill. I was reluctant to take the Fløibanen funicular up to the top of Mount Fløyen, but we managed to make time before our flight to Stockholm.


For our troubles, we were well rewarded by a garden of Trolls, and the opportunity to hike back down in with more quiet and space than the narrow funicular afforded.


Stockholm in late evening was a study of light in transition and attempting to capture, ever more slowly, the quality of how the light reflected from windows and water, and shadows played across old stone.


On this trip, pictures were shot with Sony A7R Mark III with Zeiss Loxia 25/2.4 and Leica 90mm Summicron-M (pre-ASPH) lenses, developed in Capture One.


P.S. Oh yes, one more picture of a bicycle, in Dear Susan tradition:


Some more of my work can be found at http://innercapture.com.


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  • Sean says:

    Hi Mark,
    Nice story and accompanying series of images. I sense you crafted these images in response to both what had spoken to you, and what you reacted to, in relation – or relating – to prevailing circumstances at the time. Hence the personal that’s being expressed, within the personality of each of these images.

    • Mark Raugas says:

      Thank you — once I thought through my travels in an attempt to view them through the lens of the undestination concept, a subset of my memories from the trip seemed to align. I am glad a bit of that spirit came through successfully.

      • Sean says:

        Oh indeed; as you’ve stated “… a bit of that spirit came through successfully…” is evident. The images are not esoterically coded jottings, but more like personal visual notes – very atypical of a tourists set of cliched location images.

  • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    Mark, living in a sub-tropical climate as I do, and having come here from the tropics 50 years ago, some of these scenes have me reaching for another sweater!
    It’s always fascinating to “travel” to other countries like this – places I’ve read about but never seen, and given my age, likely never will see.
    I can’t share your reluctance to jump a ride on the Fløibanen – I pushed my wife onto something similar above a lake in Italy, and shortly after we arrived at the top of the mountain & settled ourselves down for an afternoon snack (I won’t say “tea” – I never drink the stuff!), we found ourselves with ringside seats to a colourful display of paragliders who were riding on the up currents on the side of the mountain and floating past where we were sitting, barely a few metres from our seat in the garden of the restaurant. “Never say never” – till you’ve at least tried it once! The photos I took were stunning, filled with movement and colour, with a sensationally spectacular view of the lake and surrounding mountains.
    (Actually it was better than that sounds – I was facing the lake, my wife had her back to it while she picked up her cup of coffee and started to drink – and I said “have a look over your shoulder”. When she turned to see what I was talking about, she almost dropped the coffee cup!)
    Not quite sure about the garden of Trolls – I always thought trolls were those horrible people who amuse themselves on the internet, being rude to everyone else.

    • Mark Raugas says:

      It was indeed cool up in the mountains, even during the height of summer. The views from above Bergen were worth the lines and crowds getting onto the funicular. As for the garden of trolls, these would be quite helpful if they ever were on the internet. You will just have to go and see, but I I will provide you a singular example:

      Troll Statue near Bergen

      I remember seeing paragliders near Chamonix and wanting to get closer to them.

      • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

        Our paragliders were so close that we could almost reach out and touch them, at times. And I had to wait till they rose a bit further, before it was possible to photograph them. They looked best a bit lower, so I could line them up with the lake. It feels a bit weird, photographing paragliders from above them (instead of standing on a beach, watching them soar overhead).
        That troll looks very happy – I don’t think internet trolls know HOW to smile!

    • Kristian Wannebo says:

      Try this one, Jean Pierre, for John Bauer’s version of trolls:

      I-net “troll” is supposed to come from “trawl”.

      In the Nordic countries trolls live inside mountains and rocks.
      Occasionally they stole a young woman or exchanged a baby for one if theirs.
      You could defend yourself with steel as they couldn’t come close to it, and they couldn’t survive in the sun. If you found their gold they made it look like dry leaves, and if you managed to hold on to it despite their scaring you it became yours, but your hair had turned white during the night.

  • Kristian Wannebo says:

    sad that you had so little time for so many places!
    Yet I think you captured very well the atmosphere and mix of new and old. And the landscapes.
    ( Those who want to see photos of the famous places when one comes home can look at the i-net – right?)
    The Oslo – Bergen railway is famous for its views, glad you made (most of, 🙂 ) it.

    ( Btw., that strange structure in the top half of the third photo under “.. across old stone.” is the top of a ~15 storey hotel.
    What *do* they think of! )

    Next time, may I suggest e.g. Sigtuna (Sweden’s oldest town, north of Stockholm, – Tant Brun café recommended) and Bohuslän’s coast north of Gothenburg?
    [ Google for (touristy!) photos.]

    • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

      Mark, I think Kristian’s just mapped out an interesting itinerary for your next trip. Let us know what Aunty Brown’s cakes & coffee taste like, and don’t forget to share the shots of the western coastal area.

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