October 13th 2023
This week I went on my third research retreat with friends at the University of Turku. Making nice photographs can often be a difficult task requiring 100% effort. You often have to force a pleasant composure that balances foreground and background in a long process of trial-and-error, and more often than not, undertake heavy post-production to fix with the light and pull out the real tones that you saw with your eyes but the camera missed. Then there are places like the Tvärminne Zoological Research Station, whose light and textures were simply born different, and whose photos you barely have to edit at all.
Apparently, Tvärminne has been operating as a research station for coastal ecology for 120 years, and sits on a splintered island at the beginning of the Gulf of Finland in the Baltic Sea. It is wet and green and angry, warm and mossy and wild.
Here I also went on my first guided 'forest bathing' session with the team. And, it is exactly what you think it sounds like. Mindfulness and connection and a soviet bunker and sleeping.
The southwest corner where Tvärminne lies is one of the most Swedish speaking areas of the country, hence its name actually comes from Swedish. Swedish is a co-official national language in Finland, as the Kingdom of Sweden ruled over Finland for ~600 years and had a lasting influence over the coastline. About ~300,000 people have Swedish as their first language here, but funnily enough, despite there being ~500,000 people in Sweden able to speak Finnish, Sweden does not offer it a similar status.
The station itself is much busier than I had anticipated, feeling like a proper living and working scientific outpost, instead of the kind of deadend, remote arctic stations where only an unlucky few remain posted all year round.
As well as catching up with everyone since the last time I was there 1.5 years ago, I also got to hear about their new research and meet the new team members (you can see some of what they're up to here and here). I also talked a little about my research in Australia, which was nice to do after having kept it to myself for so long. Speaking of, if you want to see my photos from this Australian fieldtrip, you can click the links below to see my work from there: blog 1, blog 2, blog 3, blog 4, blog 5, firehawks video, relaxing nature video (fair enough there is a lot of links, but blog 4 and the relaxing video are my favourites).