Kullens Fyr: A trip to the magical scenery around the lighthouse

Kullens Fyr is one of the places I have visited most on my last two trips to Sweden. The other one would be Traneröds Mosse, which has a special place in my heart. (If you want to know why, you will need to watch this video or read this article about my chronic pain struggles).

This post is a mix of photography inspiration, LUT / color-grading advice for open-source users (all is done in GIMP) and my personal journey, sharing a bunch of emotions about Sweden, Germany and so on…

Tips for hiking around Kullens Fyr

There are actually many trails around Kullens Fyr. I could not walk them all, because it’s simply not possible with a tired kid, but you can. There is much to see around the peninsula, and the perspective on the ocean, the ever-changing light, the fast moving clouds are truly magical.

Even though this place is kind of crowded and you will see many tourists and hobby photographers popping huge tele lenses, you can enjoy this place. I would recommend to check the most frequented hours before you go. In the off-season though (> September) it can be really calm, especially in the morning. And if you are lucky, you can catch some fog on camera.

Cave: There’s not always coffee…

We went around noon, because we are the sleeping-in kind. It was a bit of a bummer that in October the café was completeley closed, even though around noon, for at least two hours there were around 20 people there at all times. I really think that Kullens Fyr could benefit from longer opening hours. And so would many places in Sweden that are oriented towards tourists. Yes, most tourists visit in summer, but it’s not like nobody is there in autumn. The only time this place is probably completely deserted is in winter, I guess. (I mean, it is so famous, it is even included as a POI in my car GPS.)

Note: I can’t include al the nice places and trails, because some of the footage is on my hard drive from last year. I think I brought my DSLR up there even. So maybe I will do an update on this post when I’m back in Germany. This time I was really focusing more on the video, because I wanted to show you around the scenery in one of my vlogs. So check out my YouTube channel, if you like atmospheric vlogs and voiceovers (that’s kind of my thing at the moment, at least I’m trying to make it my thing…).

Visit (or stay in) Mölle on the way to Kullens Fyr and discover the coast line

I would also recommend that you stay in Mölle or at least visit it. Is has Côte d’Azur flair and that’s rare in Sweden. White houses, beautiful old buildings, very chic. If you go on a Sunday, go to a loppis (flea-market) and buy something old. Otherwise, check out one of the many krokmakerier (artisanal pottery stores) in the area. They are really worth a visit.

Sadly, in Sweden pottery events are rare. In Germany, it is actually very common to have pottery markets, especially in autumn, in almost every bigger city. And also on Christmas markets of course. But this is not a thing in Sweden, I have been told (and I haven’t seen any, not in-season and also not off-season).

Mölle also has a beautiful coastal area and the more you come back to the mainland, you can find less rocky beaches everywhere along the road. So use that coast road and not the highway and just discover places. You can drive off to the beaches nearly on every village sign, so just try it or use your GPS. The recommendations in there (I have used TOMTOM and Nüvi in the past) are usually very good.

My photo editing tips for creating a moody, flat color profile

Kullens Fyr lighthose in front of the cloudy October sky.

This is such a simple yet beautiful edit. I reduced the yellows/greens and brought out the red tones in the bricks. The blue tones are also desaturated. Only the cyan I wanted to bring out, so that the beautiful glass lens in the lighthouse would pop, in comparison to a rather dull sky and dark building structure. See below for the curves I used. And I didn’t do a white balance on this at all (it was automatic and I found it quite okay). I also didn’t shoot this in raw, mainly because I have no energy for editing the huge number of photos I take in raw. It’s additional work and not worth it to me. As you can see, dynamic range isn’t everything. It looks good anyway, and I don’t even want to see the details in the bricks, do you?

Color grading and hue-balancing

Editing the value curve: To make the image look more flat, lift the histogram in the shadows and flatten it in the highlights.
A simple and beautiful hue edit for an image with a flattened histogram.

This is such a good example of how sometimes a picture needs to look worse before it looks better. Starting from the original picture, I brought out the sky by lowering the lower half of the highlights, and I also flattened the dark tones as usual. I just don’t like an image containing zero-pixels. When I see some real black rgb(0,0,0) or real white rgb(255,255,255) in a photo, it just makes me cringe. I prefer this mellow and moody look in my pictures. It’s my way of saying: I’m tired, but this planet is beautiful. This is also my reminder to you that every photo needs editing, because it can always be better. And also that you don’t need all the details to have a beautiful photo.

Just look at the wall below the cupola. It would not add anything to the emotion, the mood of the picture to see the details in the bricks there. The focus of this picture is in the windows for me, and in the beautiful turquoise lens. So it automatically made sense to me to bring out these teal tones. And no, no oranges. I find orange/teal kind of unnatural to be honest. I think it only works well for skin tones. But other than that: Try red instead. Because it actually is more d’accord with the complementary color of teal, which is magenta. I might also add that I corrected the perspective of this shot, because I hate it when architecture looks askew. You might think differently, but if you have taken photos for long enough (or for corporate), trust me, you will change your mind entirely and you’ll just think that “fleeing” buildings look amateur and ugly ;-D

The one-millionst picture of the Kullens Fyr and how to make it a little better (maybe)

This is my contribution to something that does not need more contributions. But I have been here and I want to keep it for memory. Is this the most dramatic picture with the most beautiful sky? No. Is it a picture that I will like to look at and remember a beautiful place? Yes.

I am not taking pictures for this blog. I am taking pictures for myself. And I am creating the stories I want to memorize around them. The story of this place is sad. i was up there, I did not have the time to take the pictures I wanted to take. My husband and kid were with me, she was tired and he was cold.

I was in a rush to both take pictures without German tourists in it and shoot a few sequences for my Sweden vlog series. And I was unhappy because it was the last week there. The last week before life would wade in and make it all normal again. Normal being just another synonym for stressed, tired and living in Munich.

A break from life in Germany

This stay was a break from that and there is no point in running. It sounds a bit dramatic, I know. But maybe I haven’t made it clear enough that I am very unhappy in Germany, and in Bavaria in particular… The state of Bavaria is one of the most conservative places you can be in Germany, and the fact that Munich is a bigger city will never make up for that atmosphere. Wherever I go, I feel restricted, in 2020/21 more than ever. And just leaving my apartment everyday feels like walking into a salon for the sole purpose of getting my wings cut. I don’t want to be there anymore, but there is not a better place yet.

So these pictures also give me a bit of hope. Because, even though I can not just move there, I know that there are beautiful places to collect the energy I need to stand straight until I find my final home. I know that there are places I can just drive to. This is a two-day-drive. But it is just that. There is not an ocean between me and this place (okay, there is the Baltic Sea, but come on, there’s a bridge over it, so it doesn’t really count).

I try to take this memory as a reminder of the small distance that lies between me and these places. As a motivation to go to more beautiful places in the future. Although it is sad for me to leave, that is simply the best I can make out of it. Because until I get dementia, nobody can take these memories away.

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