Local Photo Pros Tell: Rovaniemi’s Epic Landscape Photo Spots
“Santavaara hill is one of my favourite photographic locations in Rovaniemi. While relatively easy to reach, it takes you away from the busy city life into the spirit of wilderness. Santavaara is most famous for its view over Ounasjoki river that has become one of the iconic images of Rovaniemi. The hill’s souther side presents a panoramic view over the city and Ounasvaara hill. In winter, the easiest way to reach Santavaara is to take a snowmobile safari with one of the local tourist companies. Or, you can hike there following the snowmobile tracks from the route 934 as I often do.
In December and January, Santavaara offers some of the rare opportunities to enjoy sunlight in the middle of winter darkness. Frozen trees on top of the hill create a real sense fairytale. The hill’s Northern side features two lean-to’s where you can make fire and have a picnic. In Summer, the area is a great place for a hiking, mountain biking, and berry-picking. In core June and July, admire the midnight sun, and in August, see the iconic sunset over the Ounasjoki river!”
Alexander Kuznetzov, photographer
“I didn’t have to think twice, when I was asked to name my favourite place for taking landscape photos in my home town. One place in Rovaniemi is just more than the others; that is The Hill of the Midnight Sun that rises nearby the city: Ounasvaara. For many years Ounasvaara has been like a second home to me. It has opened floodgates to experiences that only a few can ever have or that are even hard to believe to be true.
I have followed how the mist covers the valleys, I’ve stargazed and I’ve admired the northern lights, and more: I’ve seen Capercaillie displays and listened Eurasian eagle-owl hooting. I’ve taken naps with moose and fed hungry birds with my hands. So do enjoy the beautiful nature of Ounasvaara as long as you can: There’s so much more than just a ski resort in there. It’s a paradise in the middle of a city, and I think it should get national park’s title”
Antti Keränen, photographer, Rovaniemi
”The picture is taken in Vikaköngäs, 25 km’s north from Rovaniemi. Vikaköngäs is an amazing place for landscape photography because of its versatile nature. You can find river landscape and wilderness and forest areas, that start all from the same place right after crossing the bridge. With long exposure time, you can beautifully catch the shades of rapidly running river water. Personally, my favourite time of going there is autumn when the colours of foliage have painted the place. Then the surrounding nature is full-blown with the colours and you can take interesting and vivid pictures with all these shades of foliage.
Because of the parking lot nearby, Vikaköngäs is easily accessible. Located close to E4 road you barely have to walk to get there in any time of year. To add more, the place is suitable also for night photography. The light nearby the bridge, that spotlights the river landscape, is on until 9.30 pm.”
Juho Uutela, entrepreneur of Beyond Arctic & photography enthusiastic
“The picture is taken in Louevaara, 25 km’s southwest from Rovaniemi. Louevaara is a remote, lonely and tranquil place that has plenty of fascinating things to shoot. The voyage itself is exciting, as you must first find the right forest road’s starting point. After that, the trip continues by feet. Along the trip, you can wonder and smell the ancient spruce copses around and walk on duckboards over shingle beaches (Pirunpelto, translates to Devil’s Field from Finnish).
At the destination, you’ll find old fire tower and a wilderness cabin. Louevaara is suitable for example to landscape photography both on the ground and above it. I mean, suitable for the latter if you climb to the tower. I was there last time last autumn as I think that’s the time of a year when the place is at its best. Old spruce forest, mist and the first snow create mystic feeling.”
Anssi Jokiranta, photographer, Lapin Kansa newspaper
”I’ve taken this photo in Vaattunkiköngäs, twentysomething km’s north from Rovaniemi city. It’s a hiking area and river Raudanjoki with its multiple rapids run through it. The picture is taken from a bridge that crosses Vaatunkiköngäs. At the moment the shores had started to freeze and water’s steam had started to frost the trees beautifully. However, the place is extremely versatile shooting location any time of year. Along the long hiking trail there’s lots of great spots, no matter if it’s summer or winter.
In summer, take a close-up of some of the plants, and in winter, if you’re lucky, you might see an otter! Snowy trees and the shapes of ice are an endless source for a photographer. In winter, you can shoot ice and snow formations, big masses of ice on the shores and running river. In summer, I like to shoot the forcefully running river water and the colorful swamp that’s found after one km’s walk on the hiking trail. Early mornings are the best times there, as the white morning mist wraps the place in magical feeling.
I’ve been taking photos around Vaattunkiköngäs 15 years now. Often on my days off during the snowless time, I make walking trips there. Sometimes I leave my camera home and just wonder the nature with my eyes and soul. I’ve used the location many times when working, too. I’ve shot fashion and portraits there. One of my professional dreams is to have a fashion shoot in the swampy forest right at the beginning of the hiking trail.”
Kaisa Sirén, photographer, Rovaniemi
6. Arktikum Park
“The landmark of Arktikum’s area is a glass tunnel, but there are also wide green areas, beds of flowers, stones, a winding path that goes through the area, photogenic stone bridge to start with. Add the changing seasons, the northern lights, midnight sun and the animal life, and you’ll have a place to shoot around a year.
In summer, the gardeners take care of the park and it’s a pleasure to shoot in such a well-kept place. The blooming flowers and the butterflies allure to put out a macro objective. Close-ups give a whole another world to a photographers. Personally I like to shoot butterflies that fly from a colourful flower to another. During the midnight sun I took my landscape lens, climb to the highest point of the park and direct my lens towards the river Ounasjoki and shoot the deltas that the sun has coloured orange. The park gives also great places to shoot portraits and I often bring my customers there, as in this quite small area there are many nice spots.
In autumn, many animals start to wander: the birds go south, and swans are found from the deltas. Observe them from a hillside and catch a covey of swans flying over – they’re not very high yet at that point. In addition, there are many little birds – My personal favourites are a bluethroat and redbreast. Autumn is a colourful season and morning mist creates a dream-like feeling. Memory card is full fast.
The first days of winter bring the frost and ice. The lucky ones will catch a weasel or an ermine. The arriving tourists and the flights bringing them fly above the park, which makes the location good for shooting planes. I dress warmly for those nights, I took my tripod and put on a wide lens as the park is also great for shooting the northern lights nearby the city.
When spring comes, the ice on river Ounasjoki force in the shore. The biggest pieces of ice have fine details and there’s a lot to be shoot for bot a macro lens and a wide one. Later in summer, you can spot a musquash in the passage.”
Marko Junttila, photographer, Rovaniemi
7. Ounasvaara Ski Resort
“The Ounasvaara ski resort is located right next to the city center of Rovaniemi on the north side of Ounasvaara. On the area there is a lot of trails that are well suited for mountain biking and even for trail running. You can actually find the best downhill mountain biking of Rovaniemi from the area.
Because the ski resort is located on the northern slopes of Ounasvaara the trails there baths on the light of midnight sun through the night. If I’m doing photography there I usually try to time it to the night time so I can get the most out of that beautiful light that the midnight sun provides.
Of course one doesn’t need to be photographing just action on the area. I’m sure that the surroundings, the trails and the ever changing light conditions will inspire all types of photographers.”
Jaakko Posti, photographer, Rovaniemi