Interview with a Photographer Timo Oksanen | Aurora in Finland

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Meet Timo Oksanen, a Marketer, Video Creator and Photographer from Southern Finland who came up with the word Aurora Whisperer. Timo has been photographing and making videos for more than 15 years and his photos have always been loved on social media. Let’s find out what brought him into Northern Lights photography, what is Aurora Whisperer and what are his tips when it comes to photographing the aurora in Finland! 💚🇫🇮👇

Northern Lights shining over the frozen lake photo by Timo Oksanen

Q: Can you please introduce yourself? Where are you from and what brings you to become a photographer?

A: "I am Timo, a 46-year-old guy from a small town called Lieto in Southern Finland. I started shooting videos for fun already in the late ’80s and this interest in visual storytelling evolved into photography when I bought my first DSLR some 15 years ago. In my day job, I am a marketing manager, and shooting photos and videos is also a part of that."

Q: Can you tell us what Aurora Whisperer is?

A: "Well, that’s just a (bad?) joke which I wrote into my profile many years ago and haven’t taken it away! At that time there were a lot of different “animals whisperers” posting animal portraits to Instagram, and as my passion was in Northern Lights I went with that. In practice it just requires a lot of effort and keeping an eye on the satellite data to be able to shoot auroras in Southern Finland or similar latitudes, any spells or whispers won’t work! :) "

Read more about how to read the aurora and satellite data.

Q: What brings you to become a Northern Lights lover?

A: "In March and October 2015 there were very strong solar storms which brought a full-sky of auroras to Southern Finland. After trying to shoot the aurora in March with the gear I had, the coming Autumn I wanted to upgrade my gear and try night photography more seriously. 

In autumn 2015 had indeed lots of auroras on many nights as we were still in the solar maximum and I was able to learn a lot about photographing auroras. 

After that, the hobby stuck with me and I became quite addicted to it."

Red aurora dancing over the Fjords, photo by @timoksanen

With my photos, I want to deliver the beauty and wonders of nature the way I see it.

Q: Has your lifestyle changed since you started to explore this natural phenomenon?

A: "It seems that at least my holiday destinations have changed. I used to travel to some exotic beaches somewhere very far away, but now I just drive up north to Lapland or Northern Norway. Also, my nights out don’t mean clubbing, but standing alone in the woods, staring at the northern sky…"

Q: Can you tell us about your photography style?

A: "With my photos, I want to deliver the beauty and wonders of nature the way I see it. I want to keep the colors natural, but I do realize that fast lenses and long exposures show a lot more detail of the night sky than the human eye can pick. I don’t see any problem with that and instead, I want to make the best out of it, showing details you could not otherwise see."

Q: Do you have a favourite Northern Lights picture?

A: "I have so many! One of my recent favourites is from last October when I finally was able to shoot auroras behind this tall mountain Otertinden in Northern Norway. It’s been on my bucket list for many years, and after finally being able to do it, the feeling was overwhelming happiness."

Timo's favourite Northern Lights photo at Otertinden, photo by @timoksanen

"I guess my all-time favorite is the shot from January 2016 when a wonderful pink swirl filled the sky on a moonlit and very cold night. It was -32C degrees near Ylläs, Finland."

Timo's all time favourite Northern lights at Ylläs, photo by @timoksanen

Q: What about your favourite aurora location?

A: "I love it up North, and there are many awesome places where I’ve been to in Finland and Lapland. And also a lot of places where I want to go to. In Finland, my favourites thus far are Ylläs, Kilpisjärvi, and Utsjoki. In Northern Norway, I’d really like to shoot auroras in Senja and Lofoten - both of which I’ve only visited during summer when we have the Midnight Sun instead of starry skies."

Q: What about your favorite aurora location?

A: "I love it up North, and there are many awesome places where I’ve been to in Finland and Lapland. And also a lot of places where I want to go to. In Finland, my favourites thus far are Ylläs, Kilpisjärvi, and Utsjoki. In Northern Norway, I’d really like to shoot auroras in Senja and Lofoten - both of which I’ve only visited during summer when we have the Midnight Sun instead of starry skies."

Q: Do you have any tips for aurora lovers who want to visit Finland for the first time?

A: "As strong auroras are very rare in Southern Finland, I recommend going above the Arctic Circle. The more up North you go, the stronger the auroras. Cloudy weather is usually the biggest challenge and for example, during this winter it has seemed that Utsjoki has had the most amount of clear skies.

It’s a good thing to note, that usually the strong aurora “shows” last for a very short while - sometimes only a couple of minutes. So if you just peek outside and see nothing, it doesn’t mean that there wouldn’t be great auroras coming up. So be prepared to wait outside for longer periods, and remember to dress warmly. And it always helps if you can get away from artificial lights and have a place where there's good open visibility towards the north. When solar activity is very high, the auroras can also be straight above your head or even in the south. But then they’re so bright that they’re impossible to miss!"

Q: Lastly, if you can choose to bring only three gears to your Northern Lights trip. What will they be? 

A: "Hmm well if we’re only talking about photography gear, the choice is very easy: Tripod, camera body, and a fast wide-angle lens!"

Northern Lights in Finland and milky way photo by @timoksanen

Timo has many more amazing videos and photos of the Northern Lights on his Instagram. We recommend checking it out, they are surely eyes soothing!

Do you have the Northern Lights story that you want to share with us? do not hesitate to send us your story at contact@hello-aurora.com. Make sure you download hello aurora, the Northern Lights app you need for your long chasing night!

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