The lightness of night in Helsinki

Short days and darkness force photographers to see things in a new light. See what we mean in this slideshow.

For photographers, handling short days and darkness is a question of attitude. We look at the Helsinki night in a new light.

Waiting for the light to fade is part of the package for photographers in summer, when the enemy is the harsh, unsubtle glare of the midday summer sun. Autumn brings new challenges.

Handling the short days and abundance of darkness that accompany autumn and early winter in Finland is a question of attitude. If you’re prepared to keep your eyes open, city lights reflected in the rain, glistening autumn leaves and shadows on the sides of buildings have their own attraction.

Being a photographer is an advantage at this time of the year: It forces you to see things in a different light. Hopefully these shots will help those of you who put your cameras away for the winter to see Helsinki’s long nights in a new light.

Shadow presence: A man stands outside the metal-clad Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, next to the shadow cast by the statue of national hero C.G. Mannerheim on his horse. Photo: Tim Bird

The tiny bar at the top of the Torni Hotel’s tower forms one of the best places to survey the city. Photo: Tim Bird

Rooftops and towers: Old Church and the surrounding park are visible in the centre, Johannes Church in the background at left and the needle-topped tower of Agricola Church barely discernable further right. Photo: Tim Bird

A phantom cyclist starts downhill on the path beside Töölö Bay. Photo: Tim Bird

Many Finns have a tradition of placing candles at the graves of their loved ones on All Saints’ Day in late autumn and at Christmastime. Photo: Tim Bird

Wheels turn at Linnanmäki amusement park, which holds a special one-week autumn event long after its regular season is over. Photo: Tim Bird

The pillars of Parliament are illuminated across the street from the Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art. Photo: Tim Bird

At the top of the Parliament building’s stairs, the National Museum is visible across a row of pillars. Photo: Tim Bird

Lights go on at the Central Railway Station as dusk descends. Photo: Tim Bird

Harbouring illusions: Boats pass, leaving a trail of illumination. Photo: Tim Bird

Café tables are stacked upside down under autumn foliage, to wait for the next warm weather. Photo: Tim Bird

These villas on the east side of Töölö Bay date to the late 1800s. Photo: Tim Bird

Streams of light flow past the Alexander Theatre. Photo: Tim Bird

Headlights, traffic lights, streetlights and a sculpture frame a conversation at the west end of Bulevardi. Photo: Tim Bird

Tapaninvainio Bridge spans mist and light over the Vantaa River outside Helsinki. Photo: Tim Bird

Photos and text by Tim Bird
Captions by Peter Marten