Michael Cartwright Photography

Arctic Trip Info

Posted on 27th February, 2019


JANUARY 26th – 30th 202


I am absolutely thrilled that you will be joining me in the Arctic next January and I really can’t wait to explore this wonderful area with our cameras. This is my second trip out to Karesuando and it promises to be a magical experience. I’m sure that over the course of our trip we will create a whole range of creative images and have lots of fun in between shoots.  

If you haven’t been on one of my trips before, I can assure you of a relaxed pace with plenty of time to enjoy the area as you wish. 

For those of you who are wanting to maximise the photographic opportunities, I’ll be up before dawn each morning for a planned sunrise session and will of course be shooting twilight hours and evening shots, hoping to catch those elusive Northern Lights! 

There is so much to consider when shooting in extreme cold temperatures, hopefully this info pack will help with your planning. If you are concerned about the level of physical exertion, please be assured that you are in safe hands. The reason we travel to this specific location is that everything is on hand to ensure your comfort and safety. It is very difficult walking through heavy snow, particularly dressed in snow suits carrying camera kit! We’ll be keeping the walking  and time exposed to the elements at a minimum. The shots that we have planned are close to the lodge accommodation. 

The lodges are comfortable and very warm! You’ll be able to wander around in shorts and t-shirt indoors. Accommodation is fairly basic (as you would expect this far North) but is more than adequate for our comfort and enjoyment. There are no star rating systems in the Arctic but we consider the lodges as a good quality 3 star. 

This info pack will give you details on flights, travel arrangements, accommodation, recommended kit, payment schedule and contact details. If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact me.

As we move closer to Winter 2020, I’ll look at setting up a meet and greet between us all. I’ll send out info in the Autumn of 2019.   


Once again, thank you for booking your place on this workshop, I’m hugely looking forward to a wonderful time in the Arctic! 


Getting to the airport – Airport travel is not included, however in previous years we have ordered minibuses and arranged car sharing. This can be finalised closer to the date.

Departure date Sunday 26th January 2020

Our departure airport is NEWCASTLE 

Flight time is approx 3 hours


Departure Flight Time – 10.30am

Arrives – Enontekio (Finland) – 5pm local time

Transfer to lodge (approx 45 mins via coach) is included. 

Return date Thursday 30th January 2020

Our departure airport is ENONTEKIO 

Departure Flight Time – 5pm

Arrives – Newcastle – 6.30pm UK time

Great flight times I’m sure you will agree! 


You have an allowance of 5kg hand luggage and 18kg hold luggage

I recommend carrying your camera body and lenses in your hand luggage if possible. If you need to pack lenses or body into the case, ensure they are well protected. If you are taking a laptop or tablet device these should be in your hand luggage too. 5kg is not a huge amount buy should be sufficient for your electronic devices. 

Tripods and filters can be packed into your case. Make sure you have a charged battery at the airport. It is unlikely, but the staff at the check in could ask you to switch your camera on to check it. If the camera can not be switched on there is the possibility that they will not let it onto the plane. (Please don’t worry, this is highly unlikely but better safe than sorry)!

Your batteries (and spares) should be carried in your hand luggage. If possible, pack them in their own wrapping or the boxes that they came in. 


It is your responsibility to provide adequate insurance cover for this trip. This should cover equipment damage. You should also check that your insurance covers the activities, particularly snowmobiles. We can accept no responsibility for your personal insurance. 


We will be staying at the Davvi Arctic Lodge which is situated on the Finnish side of the Sweden/Finland border. The accommodation is warm and comfortable and will provide the basic necessities that we require. Full board food is provided by the lodge. Drinks from the bar are not included. 

What they say….

“The Davvi Arctic Lodge is a charming, simple hotel set on a quiet, secluded hillside in the border-village of Karesuando. The beautiful restaurant, its circular design inspired by the shape of a Sami reindeer corral, is the hotel’s centrepiece and from here you can enjoy panoramic views over the snow-covered hillside to Swedish Lapland located just across the border.

Deep in the heart of True Lapland, and located on the official Northern Lights route, Karesuando offers once-in-life-time Arctic experiences without the crowds.”


The Finnish and Swedish parts of Karesuando are divided by the River Muonio. During January, the River will be frozen solid and we can explore this area for photographs. It takes around 20 minutes to cross over the bridge into Sweden from our accommodation so this will give you the opportunity to visit two countries. The village itself is in Sweden and the Davvi Arctic Lodge is on the Finnish side. There is a beautiful wooden church (famously used in a Coca Cola Christmas advert) on the Swedish side and a handful of shops and amenities.

Karesuando is set amongst miles of arctic wilderness where reindeer roam freely through arctic tundra, frozen lakes, rivers and forests. It is the heartland of the Saami people. Many of our walks and trips will begin  at the lodge and will entail us wandering through the village, river, lake or forest looking for images. 


Non photographic activities such as husky rides are provided by the team in the Arctic. We will be given a full programme of activities upon arrival. Photography sessions will be planned to coincide with the activities.     

As part of our planned activities, we will have an opportunity to ride on snowmobiles. Please note, a driving licence is essential. If you plan to drive a snow mobile please ensure you have your driving licence with you. Non drivers can ride as passengers. A driving licence is not required for the huskys! 

There will be plenty of time to practice photography techniques during the daylight hours and on an evening. Myself, Scott Bonner and Joe Fletcher will all be on hand to assist with your photography. We will spend time shooting landscape scenes, particularly for sunrise and sunset. Shooting the Northern Lights successfully will require a high ISO, relatively fast shutter speeds and wide apertures. Please see our kit recommendations below


We HIGHLY recommend the following kit to assist you with creating your images. 

POLARISING FILTER – This will greatly assist in reducing reflections and enhancing colours.  

ND GRADS – Neutral Density Graduated filters will allow for a greater dynamic range to be captured in camera, particularly at sunrise and sunset.  We recommend a set of hard and soft grads if possible. 

ND FILTERS – LONG EXPOSURE (10 STOP, 6 STOP) – During the daylight hours, long exposure filters will allow us to achieve creative effects. We suggest at least one Long Exposure filter for this trip. If it’s a choice between 10 stop and 6 stop, go for the 10 stop. If you have both filters, they will both be useful. 

Filters will not be required to shoot the Northern Lights. You will only need filters during the daylight hours. 

TRIPOD – A sturdy tripod is an absolute must for this trip. We recommend a good quality tripod that is strong enough to support your DSLR and lens. Look for reputable companies such as Manfrotto. 

CAMERA BAG – We will be exploring the local area on foot. It’s a good idea to find a comfortable bag for your equipment plus anything else that you wish to carry around with you. It really depends on the kit that you will be bringing as to which bag to go for. Tight fitting backpacks may not be the best option as you will be wearing a fairly bulky snowsuit. An over the shoulder bag may be a better option. Ultimately it’s up to you, just remember that you will be wearing a snow suit while outdoors. Look for reputable industry experts such as Lowepro for the best quality. 


LENSES – This all comes down to personal preference and to how much you are willing to carry. I will be covering a range from 16mm through to 200mm with a selection of 5 lenses. These are likely to be 16-35mm, 24mm F1.4 prime, 35mm f1.4 prime, 50mm f1.4 prime, 70-200mm. 

I will be using the wide aperture lenses to shoot the Northern Lights. 

A fast aperture lens is preferable to shoot the Northern Lights. Wide aperture lenses allow for more detail to be collected on the camera sensor without the need for slow shutter speeds. A slow shutter speed would mean that the Northern Lights would record as movement in your images (similar to moving clouds or water). By opening up the aperture and increasing the ISO, you will be able to achieve faster shutter speeds, thus recording less movement in the lights. 

Fast lenses are expensive. You do not need to go out and buy a specialist lens. The kit you have will be adequate to shoot the lights, however if you are looking for the best possible results a fast prime lens will give you more options. 

The trade off with prime lenses is the inability to zoom (which is why I will be taking all three of my primes to the Arctic). It is impossible to tell where (or, indeed, if) the lights will make an appearance. My recommendation would be to look for a wide angle prime lens, something like a 24mm. This would give you big sky views, and you can always crop into your images if required. 

A good budget option would be the Samyang range of manual focus lenses. These lenses receive good reviews from astrophotographers. There is no autofocus on these lenses, however you will likely need to manually focus when shooting the Northern Lights in any case. 



Here is a list of possible candidates for your lens bag! 

Please remember that third party manufacturers (sigma, tamron, samyang etc) create lenses for different camera brands. If you purchase one of these lenses, please ensure that it is suitable for your brand of camera body. 

Sigma Art 24mm F1.4

Sigma Art 14mm F1.4

Sigma Art 35mm F1.4

Canon 16-35 F2.8L

Samyang 14mm F2.8

Samyang 24mm F1.4

Nikon 14-24mm F2.8

Canon 24mm f2.8

Nikon 20mm f1.8

Tokina 11-20 mm f2.8

Of course, there are many many options on the market and this is by no means an exhaustive list. It is offered to give you a few ideas, so that you have an indication of focal length and aperture that you should be looking for. The best thing to do is find a lens within budget, that fits your specific camera body, and research before you buy! I am very happy to speak to you individually for lens recommendations. 

The most important thing is that the lens covers the angle of view that will allow you to capture a wide scene and that it has a fast aperture, enabling you to record more light in dark conditions. The rest is a matter of budget. As a general rule, the higher the price, the better the overall image quality and third party lenses are generally cheaper than their original manufacturer counterparts. I personally use the Sigma Art range as they offer wonderful build quality, exceptional image quality and at around 1/2 the price of the Canon equivalents. 

I have a Nikon 35mm F1.8 lens that I can bring along for Nikon users to utilise. My Sigma Art lenses will also be available to use (these are specific to Canon bodies). 


It is preferable to shoot with a full frame camera if possible. This is because the larger sensor size will give better results when shooting at high ISOs in the dark. Full frame mirrorless cameras are also great, the only downside with smaller mirrorless cameras is that it can be tricky to adjust settings with the smaller buttons, particularly at -20 degrees, in the dark, wearing gloves!

With that said, great results can be achieved with APS-C sensor cameras and the right lens. I’m simply giving you the best possible set up options. If you are in the market for a camera body, look for something that will give great results at high ISOs, again, plenty of research is key here. Just know that full frame cameras will give the best results….but they come at a premium. 


In the extreme cold, your camera batteries will deplete much faster. It is best practice to bring at least one spare battery and to keep them charged when not out shooting. Keeping batteries in a warm pocket close to your body will help to prolong their lifespan. 

Condensation on your lens, viewfinder and camera mirror can be an issue when moving your camera between warm and cold environments. To combat this I recommend bringing an airtight plastic bag. Simply place your camera inside the plastic bag when returning to the lodge to minimise condensation. This helps your camera to acclimatise to the conditions. 

Adjusting settings can be problematic when working in the cold temperatures. Please remember that frost bite is a potential issue if you remove your gloves for long periods. I recommend using a thin pair of decent quality gloves that you can wear underneath your snow gloves. This will offer protection and flexibility to operate your camera. When not shooting, and in-between shots, please wear your thick gloves! 

Please be vigilant and respect the Arctic weather. The temperatures don’t seem as cold as they actually are. I realise that as photographers, we have a wanderlust and are always looking for an alternative angle to create a shot that is different to everyone else. However, wandering off into the cold on your own is not a good idea. Please always stay with at least one other person and have your mobile phone handy (they do work out there). 


Temperatures can reach as low as -40˚C in the Arctic. On our last trip, we noted a temperature of -28 during the day. You will be given a thermal snowsuit and boots upon arrival. The largest suit size is a 48” chest or approx. size 20 women. The smallest suit size is 34” in height. The largest boot size is 12 (UK). The smallest shoe size is 8 (UK child). Should you be outside the range of this sizing, you will need to supply your own winter gear for use in the Arctic. Thermal suits and boots should be worn at all times when outdoors. Should you wish to bring your own thermal suits and boots, the responsibility lies with you to ensure they are suitable for Arctic conditions.

Aside from the thermal suit and boots, we recommend a layering system comprising of thermal underwear, winter trousers, base layer and a fleece. Merino wool is a great choice for your thermals. A balaclava, gloves and warm wollen hat will also be useful. For using your camera, good quality thin gloves can be worn under your snow gloves, giving you flexibility to adjust settings while keeping your hands protected.  Don’t forget to bring thick, outdoor socks too! 


As we are situated on a border there can be confusion when it comes to currency. Finland uses Euro while Sweden uses Krona. Both currencies are widely accepted in the immediate area, our recommendation is to use Euro. Debit and Credit cards are also widely accepted. If you want to be on the safe side, bring a combination of Euro and Krona. 


Full board food is provided. The food is hearty and plentiful. Due to the remote location, fresh fruit and vegetables are not as readily available as they are at home. If you have any specific dietary requirements please let me know well in advance of departure. My top tip is to arrive early at serving times for the best of the food! From our experience last time, we were more than happy with the food. As long as you don’t expect haute cuisine I’m sure there will be plenty on the menu to keep you satisfied. 

There is a bar on site and a local shop within walking distance where you can buy food and drinks for your room if required. Alcoholic drinks are not included. 


The extreme temperatures may have an adverse effect on existing and underlying medical conditions. It is your responsibility to check any potential issues with your G.P before departure. 


A further payment of £300 is due on 31/05/2019. A reminder and payment transfer details will be sent out at the beginning of May 2019. 

A final balance payment of £699 is due on 31/10/2019. A reminder and full payment details will be sent out at the beginning of October 2019. 


You may cancel your travel arrangements at any time. Since we incur costs in cancelling your travel arrangements, you will have to pay cancellation charges as follows:

Cancelling before May 31st 2019 - Deposit Only

Cancelling between June 1st 2019 and October 31st 2019 - Deposit plus £300 (Total £500)

Cancelling between October 31st 2019 and departure date - £1199

If the reason for your cancellation is covered under the terms of your insurance policy, you may be able to reclaim these charges.


This trip has been provided in association with Travel Counsellors Limited and is ATOL protected. 

Our travel agent, Lorraine Rennison, is vastly experienced and is excellent. I have used her services for many of my photographic trips. She has years worth of experience and deals with trips of this nature on a regular basis. Rest assured that our booking is in safe and capable hands. 

For full terms and conditions visit https://www.travelcounsellors.co.uk/gb/leisure/terms-and-conditions/

Your hotel, transfer and flight tickets will be held by me until we meet at the airport. You simply need to bring your passport, driving licence, insurance documents and luggage. I will contact you at a later date for up to date passport numbers so that I can check in before departure. Please don’t send passport details yet, I will contact the group later this year. 



Driving Licence (If wanting to drive a snowmobile)


Wide aperture lens


Memory cards - Bring plenty! 

Spare batteries (hand luggage)


Airtight, sealable bag for camera condensation

Microfibre lens cloth

Thermals (bottom and top)

Base layer


Outdoor trousers

Good quality thick socks

Wollen hat 



Insurance Documents

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