The Stockholm Archipelago is the garden of Stockholm. Driving east from the capital of Sweden, you can either use a ferry to reach these large densely populated islands, or take a boat to approach the scarcely inhabited small skerries. Beyond these populated areas, the outer archipelago is a pure wilderness.
The Stockholm Archipelago is a tourist destination and a well-known area of recreation. A place of joy, for everyone. There are as many as 30.000 islands, many of them have regular boat traffic. In the summer, the calm sea is ideal for kayakking and canoeing, and warm enough for bathing. Therefore, on sunny days, the archipelago is teeming with life – Stockholmers and foreigners, kayak-lovers and sailing-fans, all attracted to this easily accessible paradise.
I was both happy and scared when I was commissioned to capture images of landscapes in the archipelago. While it is an amazing place to visit, it is rather difficult to photograph. Why is this? Being an the overall amazing phenomen of the archipelago, it does not have any characteristic landmarks. The highest point of the outer skerries is 15m on the Långviksskär archipelago, which has some kind of view over a few islands around, but is not high enough to stand out over the flat landscape. Therefore I arrived to this wonderful place with mixed feelings.
On my arrival in Stockholm, I had to use the first day to get some maps and information about the area, and collect free tickets for regular boats in the archipelago, supported by Visit Skärgården (www.visitskargarden.se).
Then the weather forecast for the following week was not good. The prediction was cold and rainy weather, which turned out to be even worse then expected. They said that Stockholm had not had such cold and rainy weather in June for 50 years! It was not the best start for the requested midnight sun photography…
After the first rainy days the forecast improved and I hurried to organise a visit to a group of islands in the outer skerries. I selected Långviksskär, which consists of 300 islands in close proximity to each other, making it an ideal place to cover by canoe. No regular boat goes to these islands, but Skärgårdsstiftelsen (www.skargardsstiftelsen.se) decided to support my mission and one of the rangers of the archipelago, Gunnar Hjertstrand, was kind enough to give me a lift to my destination. I was also given free use of a cabin owned by this company, for which I am really grateful for, and hereby I would like to thank them for their help.
Långviksskär is a beautiful place and I was really happy that I had brought a canoe with me. I was looking for inspiration (especially foregrounds for landscapes) during the day, and went back to the selected spots in good light. People were sleeping on the main island when I was paddling in the sea at 3 o’clock in the morning - I only saw flying flocks of velvet scooter, groups of goosander, and a fox barking dreadfully in the silent night. And thanks to a wonderful sunrise, my mission was “saved”.
When I was writing the first part of this blog, it was raining again (in fact they were hailstones and it set off the alarms of some cars in the parking lot…), and I was preparing for a 5-days canoe expedition on the Kallskär islands. No people live on this archipelago, and no fresh water can be found there, so I had to pack carefully. To be precise, we had to pack carefully, as my husband, Erlend had joined me on this mission. He gave me great support, and I must say that it was much more fun to be together in this outdoor paradise.
Finally some stable, pleasant weather set in. The outer islands of the Kallskär archipelago looked just wonderful: barren islands built of light rocks were scattered over the sea, which I found really graphic even in the sharp evening lights.
A few minutes after we arrived, thick clouds of sea fog were rolling in from the south, which didn’t make me very happy at first but after a canoe-trip in the white smoke I found that it enhances the graphic quality of the landscape better than anything else. I had a whole day to take full advantage of these special weather conditions, which were followed by warm, sunny days. One evening I even experienced the dead calm sea, when the water surface around the archipelago was acting like a huge, perfect mirror of the sky. This is how I remember the Stockholm archipelago, which was a unique and unforgettable experience.
Orsolya Haarberg / Wild Wonders of Europe
Please note that blogs reflect our photographers' opinions and not necessarily those of the directors of Wild Wonders of Europe.