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Capturing Emotion — A Hobby Photographer’s Memoirs

Written by Linnea Melén Published on April 28, 2020 in People and Their Passions A hobby photographer with a love for nature.
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When I was 10 years old my interest for photography began. At that age I had no idea that I would be capturing Norwegian mountains, Icelandic waterfalls, the animals and nature of Bali, and much more.

My dad was always interested in photography, so maybe I inherited it from him — I don’t know. All I know is that I’ve loved it since I was a child and that dad always has been my greatest encourager. I’m certain that has made my interest stick and grow through the years.

Moving on from lending my mom’s camera, I got my first own on christmas when I was 11 years old. Two years later I inherited my dad’s old camera — my first SLR.

Dreaming of Iceland

When my SLR broke after several years, something happened that would expand my photography dreams far beyond just my local nature.

I bought a new camera second hand, and the owner had put a lot of extra equipment in the box. Among it, a few photography magazines. In one of these was an article about Mathias Klum, where they showed some of his pictures. One picture from Iceland in particular, got stuck in my mind.

I began researching Iceland more and more online — looking at photos and growing enamored. This started the dream of one day go there and photograph the beautiful county.

Capturing nature

My interest in photography grew through the years. I began editing my photos (maybe a bit too much at times), and began venturing more and more out into nature to take photos. It was always easy to find something beautiful to capture in the gorgeous wild.

From childhood I am used to being out in nature, but I hadn’t really ever counted it as an interest before I moved from Dalarna to Stockholm as a 19 year old.

That was the time when my interest for nature and wildlife really took on a life of its own. Today I appreciate the outdoors in a completely different way from when I was younger.

Dreams do come true

Christmas morning, when I was 22, I woke up not knowing that my dusty old dream was about to come true. That day I got a trip as a gift from my partner: “Iceland. February. Next year.

That was a trip I will never forget. We rode Icelandic horses and got frostbitten toes. More snow than you can imagine clogged the roads— so much that they, at one point, had to be closed and we had to spend the night in the car. We bathed in the hot springs and saw so much breathtaking nature that it made us dizzy.

Skogafoss, Iceland
Skógafoss, Iceland.

Iceland might be the most beautiful place I have ever been. It was there I realized I wanted to put more time and energy, not only on photography, but also on the nature experiences that the hobby brings.

Myvatn, Iceland.
Myvatn, Iceland.

Birthday in Bali

Even though it’s the moment, not the camera, that makes a great photo, I decided to upgrade my equipment last year. Just a week before we were going to Bali to celebrate my mom’s 50th birthday, I bought a new camera and lenses. It was a spontaneous purchase I do not regret.

When I received the camera I used every spare moment I had to get to know the new camera, so that I would be ready for whatever Bali threw at me. Which turned out to be a lot.

From the first night in Bali, nature and its rich wildlife revealed itself.

We were going down to the beach to watch the waves, when we stumbled upon a bat that lived outside the doors of our hotel room, and we watched her cradle her pup, with the eerie sound of geckos as a backdrop.

Already there, on that beach, we decided that we would wake up early every day, not to miss a single sunrise. And we followed through with it. Every day when the alarm sounded at 5:30, we went to the beach to watch the sunrise. Then we ate breakfast, and headed for some new destination.

There are a lot of beautiful locations in Bali — and I am not the only one to notice that. Therefore it can be hard to get a unique shot. Despite that, I am very happy about the results I brought home. Which, after all, is the most important part.

We visited a number of breathtakingly beautiful places. In the middle of the night we ascended the volcano Mount Batur, we snorkeled various places, watched dolphins, went rafting and visited rice fields and many waterfalls.

Monkey business

On my mom’s birthday we booked a hotel in Ubud and on the way there we stopped by the Sacred Monkey Temple Sanctuary. It is a place of beautiful nature and temples, but first and foremost, home to approximately 700 monkeys — long tailed macaques to be specific.

Monkey at Sacred Monkey Temple Sanctuary
A monkey having a snack at the Sacred Monkey Temple Sanctuary.

It was exciting to see how the monkeys live and interact with each other and with the human visitors to the Temple. Being in the midst of 700 monkeys, there was no shortage of great moments to photograph. The opposite was truer — I missed a lot of great opportunities, and this turned out to be the biggest challenge of this area.

There is always a challenge to every place. What counts is that you do the best with what you have.

Monkey drinking at Sacred Monkey Temple Sanctuary
A thirsty macaque.

My time in Bali passed fast, and I wish I had more. There was simply too much to experience. Still, I do feel satisfied. Nature was as beautiful as I expected, if not better, and the experiences are etched into my memory forever. Also, I learned a lot about my new camera, and my skills grew while traveling and capturing sights.

Chasing the perfect moment

I have learned a lot about photography the last two years.

It is no longer about capturing just anything — though I still do that at times — it is more about conveying the emotion of the place and moment.

That is a challenge. You can’t control how nature is going to act. The light has to be good. Not too clear sky, not too stormy, not too much moon, not too cloudy sky at night… The list goes on.

All I can do, is plan as best as I can.

Norsk natur
From a roadtrip to Norway, 2018.

Maybe I have to get up early to get to a place before the sun is too high. Maybe I have to stay up late when the starry sky is the most clear. But some times, still, I just stumble upon the perfect place and moment while on my way somewhere entirely else. Then I feel such a need to stop, and I heed it, making the journey way longer than planned.

Roadtrip in Norway, 2018.

So, it is not always so easy to get the perfect picture. It takes time and patience.

Gerianger, Norway
Geiranger in Norway.

I don’t know how many pictures I have that are completely useless, but among those, a few of my favorites are found. It is all a part of the journey and they all amount to a skill being developed and a passion growing. It also speaks of a moment in time where I experienced life and captured it.

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