Sunday, 29 May 2011

A trip into No Man's Land

In the last blog, I wrote about how a wildlife photographer always must be versatile and ready for the unexpected. This was certainly true for this week's blog. A very good friend and colleague of mine, Kjetil Schjølberg, and I had for a long time planned an Iceland trip to photograph some of its amazing wildlife and landscape.

However, the evening before departure, one of Iceland's many vulcanoes started to rumble and airports were closed. One and a half hour after our flight got cancelled, we were on our way to Finland and a major road trip layed ahead of us. Bears and wolves were our target at one of Finland's famous feeding sites for these spectacular animals.

Due to the Norwegian government's successful policy of actively trying to eradicate the Norwegian populations of the four large predators in Scandinavia, Norwegian photographers need to go abroad to have a realistic chance to experience these species. We spent three nights in the hides on the border between Russia and Finland, and since there are no hunting or people allowed into these areas without special permition, this area is extraordinarily rich in wildlife. However, there are still a lot of luck involved to get the animals to perform as a demanding photographer wants to. The large predators are mostly active in the darkest hours of the night, and they don't always appear as close as one wants to. Anyway, I think I managed to catch some of that mystical atmosphere that these animals are surounded with into my images. If you agree, then I feel I have succeeded.

A lonely brown bear cub feeding at a carcass, perfect old forest setting. A few minutes later, it was hunted by three wolves and dissappeared into the forest and probably up into a tree. I had never expected either wolf or bear to be able to run this fast. In the books it says about 60 km/hr, my estimate would be well above a 100 km/hr.

The wolverine is one of my favourite mammals in the world. Within 24 hours, we managed to see wolf, brown bear and wolverine - something that is virtually impossible anywhere else in Europe.

Close up portrait are not always the way to describe an animal in an image. Unsharp in an old forest scenery captures some of this shadow's myths.

The alpha male carries food back to the nearby den, and the waiting alpha female that probably is resting with small puppies somewhere in the forest.

- EG -


  1. Nice, Eirik! Where in Finland did you go? I was near Vartius early May. I kind of recognize the trees ;)
    Well done, 3 out of four in a few days. I "only" had Brown Bear and (a very nice) Wolverine (see my blog).

  2. We were at Kuikka camp (Lassie Rautiainen) This is probably the best place in Europe to see wolves, and I think wolves have been seen from the hides virtually every day the last two weeks. Going in May means less bear activity, but all animals still have their thick winter fur intact, which I think makes a big difference compared to the thin and skinny look they might have later in summer. We had 5 or 6 different wolves (about 1,5 hour observation time in total) during our 3 day visit.


  3. Hi.

    Ilove to go there, but time has so far not permitted me to do. Always facinating to look at the pictures from the area.