Photographer Tiina Törmänen is known for her stunning arctic landscape photography. She’s often used the Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights, as subject matter, however, for her latest project she made it more personal, and posed with this breathtaking natural phenomenon.
Aptly titled, Wanderer, the project features a solitary Törmänen posing in the middle of the Finnish wilderness under the colorfully dancing colors that fill the night sky on clear, dark nights near the Arctic Circle. To make the shots a bit more interesting, she shone a headlamp on the ground to add a contrasting element to the shots, while putting the vast, sweeping expanse of the psychedelic night sky into perspective.
The project was conceived while Törmänen was working as a chef in the remote village of Kilpisjärvi in northern Finland. When her shift ended, she’d take a snowmobile (and skis as backup) and head into the wilderness on her own to scout locations and find the perfect shot, travelling nearly 150 miles, and enduring temperatures as low as -13 degrees Fahrenheit.
In order to capture the vivid night sky in all its glory she set her Canon 5D Mark III for long exposure shots, using a timer to delay the shutter, and enable her to get into the shot and position the light from her headlamp.
“I was so impressed with the loneliness, the air and the silence, out there you feel so small because there is only cold and ice,” said Törmänen in an interview.
To enable her to cope with the extreme winter temperatures, Törmänen wore special boots to keep her feet warm, and kept her camera batteries inside her jacket to keep them from getting damaged by the cold. She was so committed to the project that she even spent the night in a small wilderness hut all by herself, miles away from civilization. Törmänen grew up in northern Finland, so she’s accustomed to those harsh winters. “I’m very comfortable with winter, it’s definitely my favourite subject [to photograph].”
The loneliness of her photographic adventure comes with the territory, and she already plans to go back in during the endless nights of December or January to capture these incredible dancing lights.
“Sometimes I might feel lonely, but I just keep calm and think about how I’m capturing moments I can share with others.”