Photographing landscapes on Gotland
In early June 2018 I visited Gotland for 4 days for the first time. It was not a dedicated photo trip but we went there to relax, eat good food and see the amazing scenery. Of course, I could not help taking the camera with me and take some photogs. This was however a great scouting trip.
Gotland is Sweden's largest island and is located in the Baltic Sea to the south of Stockholm. Among the region of Gotland belongs the smaller islands of Fårö, Karlsöarna, Gotska sandön and Östergarnsholm but we only visited Fårö this time. It is easy to get around the island by car so we took the ferry from the mainland and booked a hotel nearby Visby. Visby is Gotland's largest city and from there you can easily explore the whole island.
The nature of Gotland differs significantly from the rest of Sweden, which depends on its location and how agriculture and forestry have rationalized the country. The rocky surface is mainly limestone and the beaches consist of poppy fields, beach valleys and limestone rock formations. This fact makes Gotland an unforgettable place for landscape photography. On this particular trip we visited Fårö in the north, Ljugarn and Lärbo in the east, Visby in the west and Hoburg in the south.
Visby, the capitol of Gotland
Visby is Gotland's largest city and is well worth a visit. In Visby you will find the old ring wall that protected the city during the Middle Ages against intruders. Visby is one of the best preserved medieval cities in Scandinavia and has since 1995 been on UNESCO's World Heritage List. The environment is fantastic and photographic so you can find many interesting sceneries to photograph. There are a lot of old church ruins, interesting alleys as well as well-preserved buildings in the area.
By the coast near Visby there are also beautiful views that can be enjoyed in connection with a sunset or sunrise. Just south of Visby you will find Visborgsslätt where you can get a great view of the sea as well as an overview of the area Högklint further south. You can get that magical sunset on an infinite sea from here. So spend a few days in the area exploring.
If you decide on staying at Visby you can easily access the nature reserves by car. From Visby it takes about 2 hours by car to reach Digerhuvud nature reserve on Fårö. Just make sure to look up the ferry times. You can also reach Folhammar Nature Reserve in the east in less than 1 hour and Holmhällar Raukfällt in the south east in less than 2 hours.
Fårö, the northern tip of Gotland
Fårö is a small island northeast of Gotland. The island consists of barren hills, sparsely pine forests with many marshes and swamps. On the coasts you will find areas with limestone and sea stacks “Raukar”. A few of these areas are, Gamle Hamn, Digerhuvud and Langhammar where the latter two are freed areas. During our trip, we visited these three areas. At "Gamle Hamn" there are ancient relics of a church. However, there is no majestic ancient landmark suitable for photography.
In the area, however, there is a relatively famous and photographed Rauk that from a specific angle resembles a standing dog. The area is relatively large and there are in addition to the obvious picture of “the dog" other possible compositions. However, some work is required for the photographer to find the perfect scene and composition, but believe me, it is there. If you visit the area between June and September, I would say that you have the greatest chance in a sunset photo. However, if you are looking for pictures where the sun rises behind you then it is suitable for sunrise photography. Either way encourage you to go there and try it out. Depending on what angle you want to shoot it can differ what type of lightning conditions you would prefer.
If you follow the northwestern coast of Fårö you will eventually reach the nature reserve Digerhuvud. Here, there are lots of photo opportunities along the entire coast and it's your imagination that sets the limit in how many compositions you will find. The area offers a bright climate with small weatherly pines and loads of limestone rock formations. The rocks located on the shoreline have been eroded for centuries with the help of water and wind. It has shaped them into interesting shapes at different heights that allow you to take interesting photos from different angles and also heights. There are some obvious compositions but it is also some less obvious compositions to be had there if you work the ground. The area can feel a bit chaotic so some job is required to find the portfolio grade picture you want. This is probably also a sunset place but will also be good when the weather is moody, little cloudy and with fog.
In the northern part of the Digerhuvud nature reserve you will find Helgumannens fishing camp. The fishing camp was used during the 19th century and the early part of the 20th century by farmers who, during the fishing seasons, gathered the fish they needed for the year during a few weeks of fishing in spring and autumn. The location consists of about 15 small cabins tightly placed, and they are still well preserved. Some boats and other equipment are also visible at the site.
Furillen the old factory
Furillen is an interesting area to visit. The old limestone industry's premises are now used as hotels, and it is possible to book rooms there if desired. The Furillen island (500 hectares) is owned by a photographer named Johan Hellström and the area is often used in different photo orientated situations.
If you like old buildings and industrialization, then this is a great place for you to explore and photograph. The area can also offer more photography along its inner nature and shore lines. Unfortunately, our time spent there was too short so I have not been able to explore the area that much. But I had a good feeling for the area and will definitely go back there next time I visit Gotland.
Folhammar and Holmhällars Rauk field
Folhammar is a nature reserve founded in 1974 and is located on the eastern side of Gotland. The nature reserve consists of an approximately 500 meter rauk scattered area where some of the sea stacks are 6 meters high. The rauk field is surrounded by pebbly beaches and the rauks are rich in fossils.
In this area I found a particular rauk that resembles two sea lions that embrace each other. I visited the area twice in order to photograph it. The first time the water level was too low, which meant that the composition did not work. The second time I visited the area in the early morning sunrise and the water was so this time enough high so that I could take the photo. However, the water receded very quickly, so if you plan on going there to photograph the scene try found out when the water are at its peak height.
Holmhällar is a nature reserve in the south eastern part of Gotland and consists of a sandy hills landscape on a semi-circular peninsula. The area seems very promising but our time in the area was very short so I did not fully explore it. But I can definitely recommend a visit as it looked very promising from what I saw during my short time there and could definitely be interesting for compositions both at sunrise and sunset.