Looking at photographer Mikko Lagerstedt”s photos of the vast night sky is an at once exhilarating and relaxing experience. The sky opens up with millions of stars, while on earth, the land and its features take on a serene, ancient quality not usually seen during daylight hours. The vastness of their scope makes us feel tiny and alone, but also makes us aware of our very real place in and connection with the universe, no matter how small and temporary that might be.
The self-taught photographer shoots most of his subjects in his native Finland, and uses both film and digital formats. We recently got in contact with him and had the pleasure of learning more about his craft and inspirations.
ViralNova: How did you get your start in photography?
Mikko Lagerstedt: My first inspiration to photography came to me while driving on a summer”s evening to a relative”s cabin. After a rainy day, the sun started shining, and the fog rose in the fields. I just had to stop and watch this beautiful moment. Then I realized [I could] start capturing these kinds of unique moments. I bought my first camera before traveling to Thailand in December 2008. The trip was very educational. I wanted to capture those beautiful landscapes and learn as much as I could about the technical aspects of photography.
The massive amounts of stars, color variations, and, motion like the shooting star seen here, are achieved by Lagerstedt”s use of long-exposure photography.
VN: What inspires you? I notice your work falls into different series. Can you talk about the inspirations behind some of them?
ML: Mostly, I get inspired by nature, movies, art, and music. I usually just go out and photograph each week for a couple of months…then look back and see if there is a pattern or similarities and create a series out of those photographs. So I don”t usually plan ahead to create a series of photographs.
VN: What”s your process like? Do you plan shoots beforehand or do you just happen upon them?
ML: Mostly, I don”t plan too much ahead; I just have a place in my mind I want to visit and [then] travel there. If I see something interesting on my way, I try to stop and take pictures as much as possible. I guess it”s more about the journey than the final destination. Most of the places I have stumbled upon, but occasionally I search with Google Maps for interesting places.
VN: Do you use any manipulations or effects in your photos, or are they shot as is?
ML: It depends on the images. Mostly, I only use software called Lightroom to edit the basic settings, such as contrast, color temperature, and sharpening. Occasionally, I blend multiple exposures together to create the final picture.
The Whole Universe Surrenders
VN: What”s something you”ve always wanted to photograph? What would be your dream photo shoot?
ML: I would love to photograph a night in South America or Australia. But one of the places I would love to photograph is Norway. The ideal photo shoot would be a clear night sky full of stars and Northern Lights dancing in the landscape of Norway.
You can see more of Lagerstedt”s incredible night scenes on his website, including prints available for purchase. You can also keep up with his latest work on Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, and Instagram.