September is the time of autumn colours and an increase in cub sightings. In September bears arrive to the hide area earlier than in summer because competition for food is greater. When bears eat for winter they eat more at once, thus staying for longer times in the area.
Due to increased visit duration in autumn there is a higher chance to see several bears at the same time. Because of eating so much before hibernation, the bears’ appearance is roundish and their fur is in good condition in the autumn.
Because the bears usually arrive earlier in the autumn, the day timetable in September is set one hour earlier. This allows photographers to better utilise the daylight hours. Autumn offers different light and colour and thus new opportunities for different photographic results. After sunset and before sunrise there are a couple of hours of twilight for photography. On cloudy days photographic time from the hides in the forest is short at about 1-3 hours. Autumn evenings are twilit and nights are dark, increasing the chances to photograph the Northern Lights and the full moon.
The terrain and air is usually humid and the environment is peacefully quiet. The birds of summer can no longer be heard, but owls can be heard on autumn nights. In quiet evenings and nights, the howling of wolves can be heard when they communicate with each other. The howling can sometimes be heard in the hides, where sometimes the autumn visits of wolves have also been photographed.
In the end of September there can be sub-zero nights resulting in the surrounding trees, grass and other vegetation to be covered with frost. Along with the sub-zero temperatures, snowfalls are also possible.
Timetable and Weather
4.00 pm Info, after that a short walk to the hides (500-900 meters). At the end of September the departure time to the hides can be made earlier according to movement of bears.
8.00 am Return from the hides.
In the beginning of September temperatures at night are between 0 and +5 and by day between +5 and +15 degrees.
In the end of September temperatures at night are between -5 and +5 and by day between +5 and +10 degrees.
In mid-September the sun sets in the evening about 7.30 and rises about 6.20 am.
Clothing and equipment
There are sleeping bags in the hides. It is advisable to put the sleeping bag on the chair and sit inside the sleeping bag with socks, this way you will stay warm and you will be able to photograph at the same time. Because the temperature is cooler it is good to bring warm clothing, warm hat, warm gloves, woolen socks and moisture-resistant footwear.
Tips for photographing in autumn
- When the air is humid and cold your breath may fog up the camera viewfinder. Try to breathe away from the camera, or use other means to prevent misting of the lens such as placing a scarf in front of your mouth.
- In rain a cover can be used for the lens and camera to prevent equipment getting wet.
- It is better not to take the lens inside for no reason, as humidity may effect the lens, condensing on the glass surface.
- It is important to have spare batteries with you as the cold weather will drain batteries faster than usual. In the hide batteries should be kept warm.
-If using a large aperture lens (f/2.8), it is possible to photograph later in the evening and earlier in the morning.
The period from the end of August to the end of September is the time for autumn colours. The best autumn colours usually occur during a two week period in mid-September. Finnish autumn is a blaze of colours with tints of yellow, red, orange, brown and green in the trees and on the ground vegetation.
Usually the first yellow leaves in birches can be seen by mid-August, autumn slowly progresses and in the beginning of September the actual autumn colours begin.
The dark September nights make leaves change their colours and cold weather maintains the beautiful autumnal tones. Autumn colours appear annually, however each year is different in regards to the abundance and length.
The autumn colours vividness and intensity depends on the autumn weather. The best autumn colours appear when night time temperatures are slightly below zero and days are clear and dry. If September doesn’t have any strong winds, the deciduous trees develop full yellow colour before the leaves start to fall. After mid-September the autumn colours present on the ground start to become increasingly vibrant.
Bears are active throughout September and many bears arrive in the area earlier in the evening than in summertime. They may arrive early in the afternoon and there may be many bears to photograph at the same time.
In the autumn the weather may be humid and misty, and the mist may form earlier in the evening than in summertime. Autumn gives good possibilities to photograph mist and silhouetted photos of bears. The dark and silent nights of autumn are ideal to record the sounds of the bears.
The leaves may remain on the trees until the beginning of October. The light and colours in autumn are wonderful. The autumn sun shines low, and in the evening it creates long shadows over the landscape.
Photography in the autumn is possible with all kinds of focal lengths, from wide angle to 600 mm, however it is recommendable to use large aperture lenses. It is important to note that photographing with overly large focal lengths reduces the presence of autumn colours visible in the frame, especially when cropped.
If you wish to include rich autumn colours in photos, it is important to consider the lens choice. Photographing from hides 1-6, good choices are focal lengths from wide angle to 400 mm. From hides 8-10 it is recommended to photograph using up to 400 mm. Hides 12, 13 and A are suitable for focal lengths from wide angle to 300 mm. From hides 17-25 it is possible to photograph bears in front of the pond, then focal lengths may be from wide angle to 300 mm. In contrast, these hides can also be used to photograph bears behind the pond when focal lengths of up to 400 mm can be used.
Photos with autumn colours can be photographed from every hide depending on what type of autumn colours you prefer. In the different surroundings, autumn colours appear in various ways.
From hides 1-6 you can photograph the autumn coloured swamp behind the pond and to the rock where birches grow among the small pines. Also from hides 12, 13 and A you can photograph towards the rocks.
In front of hides 8-11 and 13 the landscape is a browny reddish grassy swamp with a background of larch forest which turns yellow at the end of September. From hides 11 and 13 you may have backlit possibilities facing the evening sun.
From hides 12, 13 and A you can photograph against autumn coloured young mixed forest. In the hide area, there are also willow-herb bushes producing blazing shades of red.
Behind the pond in front of hides 17-20 is a birch forest and on the left side of the pond behind the swamp is a larch forest.
From hides 21-25 it is possible to photograph an autumn coloured swamp. In the background there is a mixed forest with yellow coloured birch leaves.
Autumn Colours on Ground
The first autumn colours on the ground appear in the beginning of September and autumn colours increase throughout the month. The best time to photograph during the finest autumn colours on the ground is in late September. The autumn colours on the ground remain until the first snow. The most colourful flora of autumn on the ground are from the dwarf birch and blueberry bushes, grasses also turn yellow or red.
In autumn there are good conditions for calm weather to photograph reflection photos of bears. In the autumn the higher vegetation on the ground such as grasses, droop. Photos can have greater variation in colours compared with summertime. In September there are possibilities to photograph several bears at the same time. At a given time there may be several bears in the hide area looking for food and the competition for food is greater. If a full moon occurs at the end of September in clear weather, it is possible to photograph a bear and the full moon in the same image, or a bear in the light of the full moon.
When selecting lenses you should consider how much landscape you want to show in the images. Recommended focal lengths range from wide angle to 300-400 mm, but it is also possible to photograph with 600 mm focal length. At the time of autumn colours on the ground, the same focal length recommendations as are recommended for Autumn Colours. Because the duration of daylight may be less and light is lost earlier in the evening it is recommended to use large aperture lenses.
Some years, towards the end of September, the weather may be so cold that the first snow falls. But most commonly the first snow falls in October or at the latest in November. Sometimes photographers are lucky to have a chance to photograph bears in the first snow.
At the end of September, and at the time of the first snow, all hides in open locations are equally good. Photographing in the forest is not recommendable at this time of year because of the low light levels available. Photographing is possible with focal lengths from wide angle to 600 mm, more often it is better to photograph with 400 mm at most.
Ideally the lenses used need to have large apertures at the end of September and especially when it is snowing as thick clouds prevent sun shining onto the ground. If snow has already fallen onto the ground it will reflect more light for photography.
Bears are active until the beginning of October. Once their appetite disappears they start going to their winter hibernation locations.
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