Friday Photo #361 – Unstad Winter

Photo: Unstad beach covered in a dusting of light snow, Unstad, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. February 10, 2019. 08:52

Unstad in white. It was a strange snow on this morning, falling almost like ash and just dusting the landscape. The light was flat and almost contrast-less, but that fit the mood of the scene and turned the landscape almost colorless. If I did any black and white photography, this would have been a perfect morning for it.

I shot elsewhere on the beach first, going for a cleaner images of just snow, sand, sea, and sky. But further down the beach was this pile of seaweed washed ashore by one of the numerous winter storms of 2019.

If there had been less snow I would not have taken the image, nor if there had been more snow. But somehow, with this sugar coating of white on the beach and seaweed, it seemed interesting. A pile of seaweed should be boring and ugly. But on this day, in this light, it worked I think.

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24mm f/3.5 tilt-shift
24mm
ISO 100
f 9.5
30 seconds
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #360 – Winter Parking

Photo: Be careful where you try to turn around or park – it is not flat! Olenilsøy, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. March 6, 2019. 07:25

The winter tourism season is just around the corner here on Lofoten so this week is a public service announcement to watch where you attempt to turn around or park. What looks like a flat area on the side of the road most likely is a ditch, even if there is a parking area on the other side, such as this photo outside the fish factory at Olenisøy – near the Instagram popular ‘Sakrisøy cabin’ view point.

If you’ve driven on Lofoten in summer, then you’d see that nearly all sections of road have a 1 meter or so deep ditch just outside the roadway. This is to keep things from flooding most of the year. However in winter, this often becomes filled with snow and gives the illusion that is flat and safe to drive across. It is not!

As a general rule, you should never drive outside the border of the snow poles unless you are 100% sure what lies beneath. Even parking areas or driveways will often have just a small entrance, with ditches on either side.

And as you can see in this photo, there is nearly no contrast in the flat grey light. If not for the snow poles, it would be impossible to even see where the road was. Difficult driving conditions for sure, which require extra caution.

Luckily these girls, to quote, ‘We’re from Canada and should have known better!’ Didn’t have to wait too long before a tractor from a nearby factory drove by and could pull them out. But there aren’t many tow trucks on Lofoten, and some days become compete chaos on the roads, so it can be a long wait at times. I always carry a tow strap in my van and usually pull out 6-7 people each winter myself. And I usually get stuck at least once as well, usually from trying to get though too deep of a snowbank on my way home – good my neighbor has a tractor!

For a more detailed article about winter on the roads in Lofoten, see: WINTER DRIVING

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24-70 f/2.8
42mm
ISO 250
f 5.6
1/100 seconds
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #359 – November Reflection

Photo: Mountain reflections in partially frozen lake, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. November 21, 2019. 13:23

The cold snowy weather and early winter that Lofoten experienced at the beginning of November has shifter to warmer, wet and stormy weather over the last week. What had once been a fully snow covered landscape – enough for my first ski trip of the year – has mostly melted away in the November rain, and once frozen lakes have thawed in the mild weather.

But this is normal. The cold, white November was actually the slightly unusual weather. I was hoping we would head into full winter, but the islands are once again in waiting mode until the next snow arrives.

One thing is for sure though, the quickly disappearing sun. With barely 4 hours of daylight at the moment, the Polar Night is just around the corner. With the snow of early November, I kinda didn’t notice the darkness. But in these grey, cloudy days of the last week, I really began to notice it. Even at noon, it has felt depressingly dark already! And with each passing day it only gets worse. I don’t like November.

Living on the north side I don’t get any light anymore. I thought there might be a little break in the clouds on the souther horizon, so I went and took a drive Thursday for today’s post, to see if I could find any light. There was a bit, but nothing too special and so somehow I ended up on the road to Nusfjord.

After all the rain, the mountains are filled with waterfalls. A distant once, with a flowing river, caught my eye, and so I hiked across the thoroughly boggy land to get a little closer. Turns out the view from the road was better than near the base of the waterfall, so it wasn’t to photogenic. But this small lake I passed on the way looked much nicer with a near perfect reflection.

I initially wanted a tighter composition, but I could never get the mountains in balance. So I went wide, which seemed to work out nice enough. Though I never really like the November brown, I might have to keep this in might for September, with golden trees filling the foreground.

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 14-24 f/2.8
14mm
ISO 100
f 8
1/13 seconds
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #358 – November Light

Photo: The distant summit of Olstind illuminated in November’s afternoon light, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. November 14, 2019. 13:47

After the early start to winter of the last week – I even managed to get in my first ski tour or the season on Vestvågøy – The rain has returned since the middle of the week. Much of Lofoten is now covered in a sheet of wet ice thanks to the melting snow – and many of the side roads are quite scary to drive at the moment. So I’m using a bit of a head cold as an excuse to stay home – busy working on ebook updates anyhow.

The sun never gets very high in the sky anymore. It left my village some weeks ago and will leave the rest of Lofoten in a few more weeks. Those living on the southern side of Lofoten now get to experience the full days of sunrise-to-sunset light. For us living on the northern side, we re lucky enough to be able to see some light off in the distance, our only reminder that the sun is still here as the mountains cast their long shadows over my village.

I should have driven down to Storsandnes beach, but the thought of the road wasn’t very tempting. So instead I made the short walk down to my beach – which was already scary enough! The beach has been covered in seaweed recently from one of the last storms and the waves weren’t crashing over the rocks that I would have liked. So I ended up taking a somewhat more abstract approach. Though I still think this is nothing too special either. I should have gone to Storsandnes…

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24-70 f/2.8
24mm
ISO 100
f 9
2.5 seconds
WB Daylight
6 stop ND filter

Friday Photo #357 – November Winter

Photo: It’s beginning to look a lot like winter – the classic Olstind view over Reine, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. November 8, 2019. 13:09

Is this November or February? In near complete opposite of last November’s non-stop rain, this year we are rewarded with a cold and calm November – so far! Usually I consider November to pretty much be the worst month of the year here, but this year we’ve been given an early start to winter.

I had meant to go hiking, but in the short days I was too late to leave the house and make the hour + drive. After heading a little bit into the mountains I figured I wouldn’t get to any summits before the sun was gone. So I returned to my van and just made a couple quick stops at the normal tourist view points.

I’ll be standing here and looking at this view a lot in the next coming months once my photo tour season begins in mid January. But I kinda think this might be the winter’s best version of this view – or at least it will take something quite special to improve on it I think.

Now I just need to set my alarm a little earlier so I can get up a mountain tomorrow!

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24-70 f/2.8
44mm
ISO 31
f 14
8 seconds
WB Daylight
6 stop ND filter

Friday Photo #356 – Cormorant Rock

Photo: Cormorant rock, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. November 1, 2019. 13:15

A cold wind has been blowing for the last days and the snow line has been dancing up and down the mountains. On Tuesday we actually had our first ‘sea to summit’ snow of the season here in west Lofoten with a nice dusting on the beaches. Though as is normal this time of year it didn’t last long and was melted away in the next days rain. But over, the weather people say that Norway has had a slightly colder than average October this year, 2.0 degrees below average for Leknes.

Skarvstein – or cormorant rock as I like to call it, is one of the sights along my drive to town. The birds are nearly always there, just sitting. Occasionally the local sea eagle will hang out there as well.

I wasn’t actually sure what to post today as the week has been completely occupied by the update of my Kungsleden South ebook. But passing the rock today on the way back from the supermarket, it looked to be a fitting representation for the last week’s weather. While October can be a month of transition as autumn passes, November feels like we’re just waiting for the darkness of the polar night to arrive. On these heavy, overcast days it is just gloomy and dreary – the sun now too low in the sky to even shine though any breaks in the clouds here on the northern side of the islands – those on the south have a bit more luck with the light.

The sea was a little rough today, so I put on a 6 stop ND filter to go down to a 25 second exposure. Luckily the birds mostly sit still. I would have maybe gone for a longer exposure, would have looked nice for the clouds, but I was too lazy to stand around holding my cable release.

I cropped to 4:5 because there’s an annoying large rock just out of frame to the left which makes the composition feel unbalanced, so I didn’t want it in the shot – though ideally I would have liked to have shot the scene a little wider were it not there.

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24-70 f/2.8
52mm
ISO 31
f 1413
25 seconds
WB Daylight
6 stop ND filter

Friday Photo #355 – October Snow

Photo: Snow dusted autumn mountains over Skjelfjord, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. October 20, 2019. 16:01

The snow comes and the snow goes. It’s the last Friday in October and that time of year on Lofoten where we begin the long, slow wait for winter. I think it’s safe to say that autumn is gone by now, along with the leaves from nearly all the trees. The first ‘autumn storm’ swept over the coast of northern Norway earlier in the week – though pretty late in the year for the first proper storm – and the snow seems to creep a little lower down the mountains more regularly.

In just over 6 weeks the polar night will begin and our days here at the moment are already shorter than most people in Europe experience even at mid winter. And with a loss of nearly 1 hour of daylight per week, we need to head out hiking a little earlier each day, not to get caught out in too much darkness.

But of course, the weather here is as unpredictable as always. And while the temperature is generally on a downhill trend, it tends to fluctuate in cycles, so we never know when we’ll get the first day of summit to sea snow turning the islands white. At this time of year though, I generally prefer a bit of snow to be falling while I’m in the mountains than a cold 2-3˚C rain. That is miserable!

Hopefully there is still a bit more time in the hiking season – I don’t like to push things too far into snowy hikes/photos for the guides. I’m still mostly focusing on west Lofoten and before next year’s hiking season I’ll have a good sized update for the West Lofoten Hikes Ebook. But those of you who follow me on Instagram know that I’ve also spent a lot of time over in Sweden this summer and autumn. The results of one of those trips is getting the final edits and should be out next week. The other project I’ll announce a bit later, as I’m also planning a long overdue Seasons on Lofoten: Spring and Autumn guide for Lofoten, so not sure which one will get priority – and I doubt I can finish both before my winter guiding season begins. Either way, I’ll be spending a lot of time at the keyboard over the next months!

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24-70 f/2.8
24mm
ISO 250
f 13
1/20 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #354 – Autumn tones

Photo: Autumn colors over Djurpfjord from the summit of Merraflestind, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. October 3, 2019. 16:16

Even though September is my favorite month for hiking on Lofoten, I have been a bit lazy this year. Actually, I only shot photos 2 days in September this year: once at the Lofoten Masters in Unstad, and one night of northern lights. A bit of a waste I guess. But this year I actually had slightly bigger plans.

After my summer twilight tour in late August, I had a couple nights at home before flying to Greenland for a workshop there (2020 dates to be announced soon), after which I was home for 1 night before driving to Sweden for 190km on the Kungsleden trail. When I finally got home in late September, I was exhausted. I know I missed some nice conditions this year, but that is ok. I have more years in the future, there is no rush.

Once home, I was mainly stuck behind the computer, save for a few days surfing, to put all my hiking into words. But finally after too many days of idleness, I needed to move the legs again. As usual, I headed west. I’m planning a fairly big update to my West Lofoten Hikes ebook, and while I was fairly productive in the summer, there are still a few peaks on the list which I hope to check off before winter sets in. Merraflestind was one of them.

And so I departed Flakstadøy under a nice October sun only to arrive on Moskenesøy under a layer of clouds – despite the forecast for sun! Oh well. It’s a short hike and I was there. So I headed up the mountain in the late afternoon and found myself alone on the summit for a few hours. I could tell sunset wasn’t going to do much, so headed down while there was still some light.

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 14-24 f/2.8
19mm
ISO 100
f 4.5
1/5200 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #353 – Autumn Snow

Photo: Autumn snow over mountains of Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. October 4, 2019. 17:43

Winter is coming. Well, kinda… Lofoten had already received its first autumn snow while I was over hiking in Sweden in mid September – more on that later, but if you follow me on Instagram, then you know what I’ve been up to this summer and autumn. But as is usual with most years, waves of warm and cold cycle across the islands as autumn passes into early winter – until one day I’ll wake up and the outside world is white.

Last Friday I went for an evening hike. I was actually supposed to have hiked the mountain in the left of this image, Blåtind. But as I arrived at the parking area in Slydalen, I was in a complete white out of heavy snow. I knew it would eventually pass, but as it was a north wind, I figured it might get caught on the mountains for a while. So I decided to head to the other side of Vestvågøy to where the weather seemed a bit clearer and take an easy hike to Eltofttuva instead.

The mountains to the south remained mostly under the clouds during my ascent, but eventually the clouds cleared, leaving a nice dusting of white down to around 300m – The lowest I’ve seen the snow so far this season. Eventually the sun even emerged on the mountains for a little while before the next wave of snow arrived and I descended from Eltofttuva in snow and then rain.

By the next day the snow was gone. And a few days ago I was on the summit of Blåtind in the cold autumn sun. No remaining snow, unfortunately.

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24-70 f/2.8
55mm
ISO 125
f 10
1/10 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #352 – Olstind Rainbow

Autumn rainbow fills sky over Reine and surrounding mountains, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Rainbow over Olstind mountain peak, Sakrisøy, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. October 10, 2018. 08:45

With rain comes rainbows. And there was plenty of both last October – during one of the wettest autumns Lofoten has experienced for a while. But who wants to photograph boring blue skies anyhow? A little October rain is generally good for photography up here – Just as long as it’s not the flat grey, can’t see any mountains kind – which is more common in summer anyhow…

I could see the waves of rain flowing out of the back of the fjord with the sun at our backs – perfect rainbow weather. So I took my tour group up the small hill overlooking Sakrisøy, which is a nice place for sunrise anyhow, rainbows or not.

Luckily, we didn’t have to wait long before the first hints of color appeared, before forming into a 180˚ rainbow that seemed so close that one could almost touch it – I still haven’t found my pot of cold yet though.

With the rain blowing directly into us, it was a bit of effort to keep lenses dry, having to take a few quick shots, turn around to dry off, then repeat again. But the effort was well worth it. And the rainbows were just getting started on this day…

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 14-24 f/2.8
14mm
ISO 100
f 10
1/50 second
WB Daylight