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

Friday Photo #351 – Autumn Sea

Photo: Waves crash against the coast at Nesland, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. October 9, 2018. 10:41

With the first storms of autumn sweeping across Lofoten, this is when the season for seascape photography begins on the islands. For the most part, the summer ocean is calm and mild, and even days for surfing are few and far between most of the time. But as the weather begins to ship and the storms become larger and more frequent, large swells crash along the coastline once again.

On this particular day, a large swell in the Vestfjord was crashing along the southern coast of Lofoten – not to mention the strong wind which was blowing! Nesland is always a nice place for such situations, especially if Solbjørntind is visible in the background (only partially in this image).

Sometimes it can be hard to judge the scale of the waves, so luckily one of my tour participants had gone out wandering along the rocks. I thought this looked pretty nice, so I asked her to wait for a minute so I could get a photo. I slowed the shutter speed down a little to get a nice flow out of the crashing waves. The result turned out pretty good I think. I only wish she had had a brighter jacket on to stand out a little better from the dark rocks.

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24-70 f/2.8
24mm
ISO 100
f 11
1.3 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #350 – Lofoten Masters

Photo: Surfer at Lofoten Masters surf competition, Unstad, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. September 27, 2018. 15:13

This year will be the 12th edition of the Lofoten Masters surfing completion which takes place at Unstad beach from September 25-29.

Even if you are not a surfer, it is a cool even to watch, and last year I took one of my photo groups to watch some of the action with some of Norway’s best surfers in the water.

If you are not on Lofoten, it can be watched via live stream from the Lofoten Masters Website.

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 70-200 f/4
185mm
ISO 400
f 5
1/2000 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #349 – October Snow

Photo: October snow flurries over Kirkefjord from Reinebringen, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. October 7, 2018. 10:41

Passing mid September the aurora season is well underway and any last trace of summer has faded away. But not all autumns are equal. While some years September has a higher average temperature than June, in others we get an early hint of winter.

2018 was a cold and wet autumn and during my workshop season I didn’t wear full rain gear on only 2 days out of 25 or so. The 2017 autumn had more days of sunny weather then the entirety of that summer – and night after night of dancing auroras. What will come in 2019 we will only find out as it arrives. But so far what had been a relatively dry summer has turned wet, making up for lost time perhaps.

And while snow can fall anytime from mid September or so, it is not that common anymore. So last year’s relatively early snowfall arriving while the land was still full of color was a nice treat. On this day in early October, I headed up Reinebringen on a blustery and cold day. What had been rain at sea level turned to snow by the summit as it swept across the landscape.

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24-70 f/2.8
58mm
ISO 100
f 10
1/50 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #348 – Autumn Light

Autumn sunset over village of Flakstad, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Light and shadows dance over Flakstad in a passing autumn rain, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. September 27, 2018. 18:04

Autumn is the season of light on Lofoten. Where the rain and sun dance with each other and brief moments of magic occur. I always look forward to the autumn. The year’s shortest season here in the north, but the most colourful and brilliant.

This was a brief moment on one of last year’s workshops. Driving west for sunset, I came around the corner and the light was casting down on the village of Flakstad. I would have rather had a natural scene with no houses or power lines, but I can’t be too picky in such conditions. I hopped out of the van, changed lenses and quickly began to shoot, not even worrying about a tripod. And within moments, the light was gone.

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 170-200 f/4
200mm
ISO 100
f 8
1/320 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #347 – Reinebringen Rescue

Photo: Sea King rescue helicopter pickup up injured hiker from summit of Reinebringen, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. August 21, 2019. 18:29

I was sitting in my cabin at Sakrisøy when I heard the sounds of the helicopter, not something too common on Lofoten. Hmm, hope it’s not the Sea King – it was. As I looked outside, I could see the helicopter hovering over the ridge of Reinebringen in the grey misty sky. It had been a day of heavy rain and not really a day for hiking – especially on Reinebringen. And so a hiker had to be rescued after breaking a foot. I imagine the over eroded ridge had turned into quite a slippery mess of mud after all the rain. A slip could have been easy.

The Sherpa steps on Reinebringen, built to improve the safety of the previously heavily eroded trail due to overuse, have actually had the opposite effect, and turned Reinebringen into a place of regular helicopter rescues – 3 in August 2019 alone, and 4 since work was completed in mid July.

Part of this is just a numbers game, with 700-800 hiking the mountain each day. And part is probably because the steps give an illusion of safety, and so people who would not normally find themselves in mountains now suddenly are. This creates dangerous situations.

On August 23rd, two days after this photo, another rescue took place on Reinebringen. This time is was due to rockfall hitting a woman in the head – the 2nd incidence of this in August – and the reason why Reinebringen is now more dangerous than ever – too many people are on the mountain. More people = more falling rocks…

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 70-200 f/4
200mm
ISO 200
f 5
1/160 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #346 – Aurora Season

Northern Lights – Aurora Borealis fill sky over yellow tent, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Camping below autumn northern lights on the summit of Andstabben, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. September, 14, 2017. 22:11

With the growing nights of late August we can now begin the wait for the first northern lights appear in the sky over Lofoten. I often write that the autumn is a quite overlooked time of year for northern lights watching – many people having the false assumption that it is only a winter activity. But for camping below a sky of dancing green, September and October are the best months in my opinion with mostly mild temperatures and the mountains usually free of snow. Kinda the best of both worlds between summer and winter.

But like waiting for the return of the sun in January, you never quite know when that first faint bit of green will appear above the glowing horizon during the white night period of late summer – early autumn. But after around the 20th of August, if the sky is clear, it’s worth going out. These nights are wonderfully atmospheric anyhow, so even with no aurora, they are the best for camping – just dark long enough to make it worth carrying the tent all the way up the mountain.

So hopefully we have a good season this year. Last year was a little on the rainy side, but so far this summer has been good this year, so lets hope it continues. And as I’m guiding my last tour of the summer right now and had to write these words last weekend – Summer Twilight – I may have already seen the first aurora. Fingers crossed!

Camera Info:
Nikon D800
Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8
14mm
ISO 1000
f 3.2
6 seconds
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #345 – Mountains Of The West

Setting summer sun behind the rugged mountain peaks of Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Summer sunset over the mountains of the west from Lilandstind, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. July 31, 2018. 22:10

Just a mountain sunset. The summer of 2018 was pretty bad photographically for me. It was either grey and rain, or clear, cloudless blue sky. Almost nothing in between – that came later in the autumn which, though wet, was one of the most colorful in recent memory.

And so the last day in July, on a wind still and hot day I found myself sweating my way up Lilandstind with some friends. As the sun sank lower in the sky, it eventually hid itself behind the steep summit of Klokktind before slowly emerging again. While originally shooting a little wider, I liked the appearance of the depth of the mountain ridges fading into the distance in various layers of light. Moskenesøy is Lofoten at its best and so even with relatively boring light, there is almost always something to be found.

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8
42mm
ISO 250
f 14
1/60second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #344 – Lost Control

Photo: Out of control parking in west Lofoten, Moskenesøy and Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.

The new stairs on Reinebringen have become more popular than expected since opening again in mid July and have been causing quite a bit of traffic chaos in the Reine area. A few days after I went up on the evening of July 15th, passing around 60-70 people in total, it was reported that nearly 1000 people ascended the mountain on a single day, and has likely continued at a similar pace in the weeks since.

This led to parking chaos with cars parked all along the road next to what had become an unofficial parking area on the west side of the tunnel. In response, Statens Vegvesen closed off this parking area. But instead of fixing the situation, it has now led to people parking along the road on the Reine side of the tunnel, as all the other parking areas quickly overflow – and people are unwilling to use the paid parking at the outer harbor in Reine. I went yesterday to check things out and there were about 20 cars parked along the road, though I had heard there was 40 the previous day.

So of course, new sings will now have to be paid for and installed by the already severely indebted Moskenes Kommune to keep people from parking in places they already should not be parking at – as has already had to be done at the Kvalvika beach parking area, and Haukland beach, and other places that have lost control of tourism.

And I can sense the frustration amongst my friends living in the area. It seems that a large enough portion of tourists these days are acting in quite a selfish and reckless manner, only taking from Lofoten for themselves and leaving a negative experience of their actions.

And for me, it is almost becoming a full time job to keep up with the changes. And so I ask: If you would not park in such a way at home, don’t do so as a tourist on Lofoten. You are overwhelming the 1,100 residents of Moskenesøy. So please behave as friendly guests, not an invading barbarian horde pillaging the islands for your entertainment.

And despite the nearly completed stairway the daytime crowds on Reinebringen have already showed their danger this week. On Tuesday afternoon a man was severely injured and had to be rescued by helicopter and flown first to Bodø and then Tromsø after being struck in the head by a loose rock, most likely dislodged by a hiker above.

With such crowds on the mountain, many of which are likely inexperienced hikers, I will not go there during the daytime. It is far too dangerous to be 50-100 meters directly below people descending the loose rocks of the unfinished upper trail. If you must hike Reinebringen, then I suggest at least to go during the evening, when there is less traffic. And after the extended dry period that Lofoten has had these past weeks, when the next rains come, the rocks will be flying down the mountain…