Flight delayed? Photo opportunities near Ivalo airport

On 12 January 2016, I was scheduled to take the 10:45 am Norwegian Airlines flight DY5633 from Ivalo (Lapland) back to Helsinki after spending two weeks up there in the north. The flight was delayed for a very long time, giving me some really nice photo opportunities near the Ivalo airport!

More than 2 hours of delay

I arrived at the Ivalo airport around 10 am for my check in. You may think that this is very late for a flight only 45 minutes later, but things are different up there. It’s not only that I did not want to leave, but there at the small airport of Ivalo, waiting lines are non-existing and you do not have to arrive at the airport two hours in advance! I checked in my bag, and while handing me my boarding pass, the desk clerk apologised for the large delay of the flight, which I had not seen on the monitors (I did not even look).

What to do near Ivalo airport?

I realised that I miraculously still had the key of my rental car! Usually I give it back to Hertz before checking in, but for some reason this time I kept it. I still had my camera bag with me (this one will never, ever be checked in!). The weather was extremely cold and clear. So far north, for several weeks the sun never rises above the horizon. This is called the polar night. This was one of the last days of polar night around Ivalo, before the sun would rise again. There was an intense blue, purple, orange and pink light glowing all over the sky and the snowy landscapes.

Candle pine trees in gorgeous polar night light just outside of Ivalo airport
Blue, purple, orange and pink all in the same photo
Snow covered pines just near Ivalo airport in gorgeous light
More pine trees

I jumped in the car and drove around to take photos. With more than 2 hours of delay, there was plenty of time to scout several different locations. After finding the small pine trees of the photo above just around the corner from the Ivalo airport, I went further on the road. This is when I drove on a small bridge that passed over this almost frozen river. The light there was superb, but still quite dark and I really regretted not having my tripod! Moreover, it was nearly -25°C (-13°F) so quite hard to stand very still. I cranked up the ISO setting of my camera to take the shots and get them sharp, after all, it’s better than not having any photo at all!

Frozen river in smooth pink light
Frozen river in smooth pink light

Then I turned around to the other side of the bridge.

beautiful Lapland photos
Frozen river near Ivalo

What to do next?

After I took all these pictures, I saw on the Flightradar24 app on my phone that the plane that was coming from Helsinki to pick us up was delayed even further. I still had plenty of time but did not want to venture too far from the airport. So I called my friend Reijo who owns the cabin where I was staying. He lives 5 minutes away from the airport, and just got a new husky puppy at home. So I went there for my 6th coffee of the morning, and of course to take photos of the ultimate cuteness that a husky puppy can be!

Beautiful Lapland photos
Rölli the malamute puppy

Time to go…

I looked at the time again, and it was really time to go. But of course I had no regrets, this long delay of my flight allowed me to take all these beautiful photos just around Ivalo airport!

There are plenty more winter photos of Lapland in my gallery, all available for licensing. And if you want to experience this first hand with me, take a look at my upcoming workshops!

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