My Favourite Locations #1: Three Lakes in the Forest

April 22, 2011 ☼ Articlefavourite-locationsfinlandlandscape-photographyNiilesjärviPhotography

In this first post in this series I would like to introduce you to a place which I have visited frequently over the years now. It’s a group of three lakes in the vicinity of my home. With a distance of roughly 10km the location is easy to be reached by car in about 15min and in my pre-car era in about 30min by bike.

It was about three years ago, that I started to explore the near-by areas for suitable locations. Since I generally enjoy to photograph water, lakes, rivers and I then primarily searched for lakes and rivers. At that time I didn’t have a car and the range of locations which I could reach such as before or after work was naturally rather limited.

I spotted these lakes on Google Maps, and even though the satellite imagery was rather unsatisfactory, I could at least see, that they are located in the mid’s of the forest and most likely I would be able to get some nice photographs there. Then I didn’t know, that this place should become one of my favourite places around here.

A first visit here at the 1st of May showed potential already. Even though I was visiting on a warm spring day in bright sunlight, the lakes were still frozen. Much to my own surprise I learned that there’s a little island just in the middle of the lake, something the maps didn’t show. After a quick explore of the scenery I decided to return once the snow and ice finally melted away.


My first photographic visit was a few weeks later a clear, early spring, evening just around sunset. I started to explore the scene in this nice and soft evening light. As a bonus I found this old boat, which unfortunately isn’t there anymore. During this visit I concentrated only on the first of these three lakes. I should though return later again and work a bit on the other bigger lake, but didn’t get some satisfactory work.


My next visit here took place a few months later during a cold and dark autumn morning. The streets were already frozen and I remember slipping badly with my bike on my way to this location (I already was on Twitter then and posted from there). At that moment I didn’t knew that this morning should turn out to be very successful.

Niilesjärvi-Autumn 2008Niilesjärvi-Autumn 2008

I started out just before sunrise on the biggest of the three lakes, Välkiäsjärvi, in summer a popular for swimming. A few rocks in the lake and the grass growing at its beach gave good foreground interest for image and the reflections of the clouds in the lake round-up the scenery and my composition. The light has a wonderful cold quality and the images only need little work later in Lightroom.

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Once the sun rose a bit higher, I change my spot over to the other lake hoping to catch the light falling on the little island. I’m in luck and the conditions just play along nicely. It’s absolutely calm and the lake turns into a giant mirror, reflecting the light of the sky and mirroring the island.

Niilesjärvi-Autumn 2008-3Niilesjärvi-Autumn 2008-3

In the mist above the lake a dead tree coming out of surrounding forest gives another welcome subject. I have tried to photograph this tree again on many occasions afterwards, but so far not yet captured a definite composition on it. Though another image taken in on foggy morning proved shows some potential.

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The sun is now slightly above the tree line and I change my location to the one small lake, just between the two larger ones. The mist and the reflecting clouds provide some interesting conditions, which I unfortunately not entirely well manage to photograph. I should have used a longer lens in this case. One is always wiser afterwards. I have waited for similar conditions ever since, and the waiting still continues. Another argument for getting right the first time.

Niilesjärvi-Autumn 2008-5Niilesjärvi-Autumn 2008-5

During the following winter I haven’t been visiting this place, even though I have had an idea for an image of the island similar to the autumn version, but in heavy snowfall. Somehow though the conditions never worked out so far.

Almost a year will pass by until I re-discover” this location when my photography awakes from its winter hibernation and I start off the season with a fresh explore of this area.


The lakes still turned out be slightly covered with a thin layer of ice and I experimented a bit with the panning technique to make the most of the situation.

Occasionally these lakes turn out to be a little tricky to photograph since the conditions usually most to my liking when I have nice reflections in the water. Windless days are a rarity though and more often than not I returned empty-handed.

For this season I also planned a panoramic image, which until now, not yet entirely worked out. Once the light and the reflections are working out usually clouds are amiss. Still waiting though.


During the autumn time I found one morning promising looking foggy conditions and I decided to give it a try. As mentioned earlier, it turned out to be a tremendously foggy morning in which I was able to photography a few very interesting images. I just wished there wasn’t so much grass in the lake and my foreground would have been a little clearer.

But again, I was able to take very different images of this location.


My plan of taking an image of the island in heavy snowfall is still in the back of my head, but also during this last winter I still wasn’t able to record this moment.

I was though happy to capture a fresh take of this island from a totally different angle. In summer it is not possible to take an image from these spots, unless one has a boat of course. With the lake now frozen over this is of course a lot easier (a quick write-up on these you can find here).

The waiting for the yet to be recorded conditions still continues. Since the place is close it’s only a matter of time until I will finally be able to get the image I’m waiting for, or some totally different ones.

And the exploration still continues. Somehow it has become a tradition of mine, to kick off the photographic season in this location. This year though, I took a totally different approach and focused more on the smaller landscape and details, something that I’m usually not so comfortable with.

For the complete series and to view the images in a slightly larger format please visit my galleries.

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