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With a Mountain Birch in Kilpisjärvi

After three days at the biological station in Kilpisjärvi, up in the high north, in the “thumb” of Finland, in a two-week Ars Bioarctica residency, I have already settled into a routine, visiting a mountain birch near the shore of Lake Kilpis below the small Wallgren house where I stay. I decided to make one visit mornings and evenings, to get the maximum shifts in light. I never seem to be out early or late enough, though, because the sun sets past midnight and rises before 2 am. The camera tripod is standing there all the time, in order to make it easier to keep the framing constant.

Finding the right mountain birch was not so easy, although it is hard to know what “right” means in this case. The birches form an almost uniform thicket along the shore of the lake and on the lower slopes of Saana fell. Many of them are bent in such manner that one can easily sit on them, although not all of them are strong enough for that. When making a time-lapse video the framing is important, because you cannot change it once you have started, and it is irritating to be forced to repeat the “wrong” image if it feels slightly off. So I tried to adjust the framing carefully by testing first:

testing
The final choice…

Leaving the camera tripod on site means, that I cannot use it for other images. At first I thought this one repeated image would be enough, perhaps augmented with a full day and night every hour or every second hour, as planned. But soon I realized I wanted to play around with my camera a little bit, so I thought of hanging the camera from a branch in case I want to enter the image myself. I experimented with placing the camera on a rock, and that is of course possible. Here are the first examples with the camera balancing on a rock:

Evening 3.6.2021
Morning 4.6.2021

The mountain birches are a special form of dawny birches (Betula pubescens ssp. czerepanovii), I learned immediately on arriving. They are now slowly awakening in the amazing heatwave, 20 degrees celsius, despite the cooling effect of the ice on the lake. I hope to witness the explosion of the leaves during these two weeks, although the birches near the shore might be the last to burst. Still-images of each session recorded on video are updated daily here

By Annette Arlander

2 replies on “With a Mountain Birch in Kilpisjärvi”

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