Imagine what it would be like for a few days to leave all the stress and all the noise behind you, breathing in the forest scent and meeting its four-legged or winged residents face to face and assuming the role of a real nature photographer.

The rain hit hard on the windowsill. Along the bumpy village street, small rainwater channels are formed here and there and effectively fill in the holes in the asphalt.

– I did not expect any rain today, I say, and look out the window.

– We are in no hurry, says Conny. He reaches for the coffee pot and offers me a fill-up.

Conny Lundström is a wildlife photographer. Stationed in Kalvträsk, with the golden eagle as his specialty. And I am meant to play nature photographer for one day in his company.

– But really, there is no such thing as bad weather, says Conny. Photography is all about making the most of your conditions. You know, the most spectacular images often come from what ordinary people consider to be really crappy weather.

No bad weather

Conny angles up his laptop and shows a portrait of a golden eagle with a frosted face.

– Such a picture can only be taken if it is -35 degrees.

– Minus 35, I say, and can not help but wonder if it’s not cold being a wildlife photography in winter.

Conny shakes his head. He says that he has a proper hide by the foot of the nature reserve at Vitbergen.

– Timbered, with a toilet and stove and seating for four photographers. So it never gets really cold.

Outside the rain continues to fall.

– We will give it another hour, says Conny and I nod.

Instead, we look at more of Conny’s images. He speaks with great feeling. I’m beginning to understand that there is a story behind each image that appears on the screen.

Magnificent views

The lake has an absolutely mirror finish. The rain has almost ceased. Silently the canoe glides out over the water.

– There, says Conny pointing towards a peak. There you have Vitbergen.

Vitbergen is a nature reserve. A 900-acre hilly and mountainous area with hints of old growth forest. A few years ago, I followed Conny up on Vitberget. We walked. And climbed. 17 meters up in the observation tower at the top. Then it was night, mid-summer and the views were breathtaking. I remember how the woodlands, veiled in fog, demanded their space. Completely unabashed. On the horizon rose blue mountains, and here and there sparkled the evening sun in the still mirror-like water.

A perfect backdrop for nature photography. Even I could get that.

– I have been running my own little project this summer, says Conny. I shoot sunrises from the tower.

I bring along a sleeping bag and spend the night up there.

For beaver it is ideal to have a low sun, which highlights its coat well. The animal then contrasts nicely against the dark water.
Black-throated divers in Sikån.
A lens with a focal length of 300mm is suitable when you're shooting from a canoe. If you lack equipment, you can hire it from Conny.
Hard to beat - you can see nature in a completely different way together with an award-winning wildlife photographer. And of course, that one also gets to bring home pictures, does not make things worse.

Details

The more time I spend with Conny, the more apparent it becomes that nature photography is all about the small margins and lots of details.

– You have to understand the interplay between nature and light, he says. For me to get exactly the sunrise I want, the fog must be just right, the light must fall in the right way and when everything is correct, I only have 15 minutes. Then the moment is lost.

– What is that, I wonder, nodding toward a headland in the lake.

– One of my mobile hides. I shoot osprey in July and August. Sikån also flows into here.

– Where you photographed the whooper swans, I ask and remember the image from the coffee break before.

He nods as he tells me to put away the paddle.

– Now it is your turn to be a photographer. He hands me the big DSLR camera.

All year round

When Conny is not shooting himself, he, through his company Wild Shots Sweden AB, takes people on straightforward and genuine nature experiences in the area around Kalvträsk. In autumn and winter, it is primarily golden eagles. However, ravens, red fox, goshawk, various woodpeckers and other birds also pass the hide.

– To say nothing of the northern lights, full moon and starry sky, he says.

– I imagine that it glistens like in fairy tales.

This spring, there is also a good chance for catching grouse and capercaillie mating rituals, combined with golden eagles. And in summer there is beaver, swan, loon, moose. Preferably from the canoe, of course.

Hard to direct

The photographers who visit Kalvträsk are driven amateur photographers and often knowledgeable enough, if not more knowledgeable than professional photographers.

– Semi-pro some might say, says Conny. They understand that there are no guarantees and know to appreciate the moments when everything falls into place.

– Experiences based on wildlife are of course hard to direct, I say.

We follow Svartån’s winding and meandering curves. Conny steering the canoe and I keeping an eye out, with the camera in a tight grip. Here and there we see beavers and just before we go around a tight bend Conny whispers:

– Beaver hut, and points with the paddle.

I raise the camera. Put my eye to the viewfinder, and do what a real nature photographer would have done – wait for the moment…

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