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…

Friday Photo #343 – Bunes Sunset

Summer fog conceals Bunes beach at sunset, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Sunset over Bunes beach, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. July 26, 2018. 22:49

The weather had mostly been clear and somewhat boring up until this point. I wasn’t expecting much of a sunset, but suddenly I found clouds swirling around me. Somehow I picked the only mountain to be in clouds in all of west Lofoten on this evening.

And so while I was expecting some nice evening light to shine over the 600m face of Helvetestind, I found myself struggling to have any view at all. At times the clouds became so thick that I couldn’t even see my tent anymore, just 20 meters away. But from time to time the clouds would thin for just a brief moment, providing a glimpse of the landscape beyond.

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8
70mm
ISO 100
f 10
1/80 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #342 – Tourist Overload

Photo: No camping or camping? Skagsanden beach, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. July 16, 2019. 00:58

It is July in year XXXX and once again the newspapers of Lofoten and Norway are filled with stories of the tourism overload which occurs each summer as the motorhome armies of the continent head north to fill every single parking space available for the whole of the summer. Somehow they seem shocked each year, but it is nothing new. Though with each year the numbers grow, and yet little is done on the Norwegian side.

And so each summer, there comes a point of frustration among the locals. This year they have added a few new ‘no camping’ signs to some of the popular parking areas and supposedly the parking lot which turns into a de-facto campground in Å will have an 18 hour parking limit (in the fjord region down south they are now limiting the parking to 2 hours in some popular destinations). But as you can see in this photo taken at 01:00, where there were around two dozen motorhomes/campers in the parking lot, just 200 meters from an official (paid) campground, little seems to be done to enforce the few rules. And so the locals continue to grow frustrated.

But such is the cycle of life here in the North, the free playground for Europe. Nothing will change soon, only more restrictions mostly affecting us that live here, not the occasional visitor for a few days each summer. And next July I’ll be writing another similar post…

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 70-200 f/4
110mm
ISO 800
f 5
1/100 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #341 – Reinebringen Open

Photo: Midnight sun over Kirkefjord from Reinebringen, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. July 15, 2019. 23:43

Monday evening, with the sun finally out after a week of grey sky I headed up Reinebringen to checkout the progress on the new stairway which had recently opened over the weekend. After 4 years of work and 7 million Norwgegian Kroner (700.000 euro) later, 1560 steps have been completed on the mountain. All but the final 50 meters to the summit. The mountain has been tamed, and is now accessible to all.

A friend sent me photos of the overflowing parking areas Monday afternoon, and I must admit, I was a bit scared to go. But I wanted to go to Reinebringen just to checkout the progress of the work. I think in total I passed 60-70 people on the mountain, with maybe 25-30 on the summit ridge at any one point – and this was all from 22:00 – 24:30.

So the main challenge of Reinebringen these days won’t be the hiking, but finding a parking place – which may actually be further away from the trailhead than the length of the trail itself. I guess something like this was inevitable. But it’s a long way from my first experience of Lofoten back in 2001, as a backpacker without a guidebook – much less Instagram, YouTube, hiking apps, etc. I kinda feel sorry for people who only experience today’s Lofoten. Although I will say there are still many, trail-less hidden peaks to discover if one wants.

And so Reinebringen has now been reduced to a 35 minute up, 20 minute down staircase. Progress for the world I guess. But a loss for my memories of the old days here…

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 70-200mm f/4
92mm
ISO 100
f 6.3
1/60 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #340 – Midnight Flowers

Photo: Midnight buttercups and Olstind, Toppøy, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. June 23, 2019. 00:33

I’ve found myself photographing flowers a little more than usual this summer. While it has been a better summer than last year by far, there’s still been many grey, cold and misty days and nights – where the mountains aren’t really looking their best. So I’ve been looking for small scenes.

This small patch of buttercup flowers – smørblomst in Norwegian – had caught my eye earlier in the day during a quick stop. But the lighting wasn’t right for the scene, so I kept it in mind for a possibility of something later maybe. Returning back to Reine a little after midnight, the scene was much moodier and the lighting more even.

As it was a little windy, I first experimented with long exposures and the flowers blowing in the wind. But I wasn’t quite happy with the results. Getting closer, I found this little cluster that almost mirrored the shape of Olstind, the mountain in the background. So I thought a more subtle picture of the mountain might work. It’s not going to win any awards, but I kinda like the result…

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8
42mm
ISO 400
f 3.5
1/250 seconds
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #339 – Olstind Midnight Reflection

Photo: Osltind sunset two minutes til midnight, Reine, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, norway. June 19, 2019. 23:58

It’s always nice to start a photo workshop with some fantastic light, so I was lucky on my June photo tour this year. The weather forecast was actually not looking too good, and it was raining when I took an evening nap before heading out for the night again at 22:00. But as we left the rorbu on Sakrisøy, I can already see we would be in for something nice.

Low clouds from the rain evaporation were drifting across the fjord and hiding the mountain peaks before thinning out again. I took some normal exposure first, but I knew a long exposure would take a nice scene and turn it to something almost dream like. For a while I had some difficulty with exposure, do to a clear section of sky on the left which kept over exposing. But eventually the area filled in with clouds just enough.

Its also amazing the contrast of this location between summer and winter. On some winter mornings the photographers can be lined up tripod to tripod, with barely a gap in-between – as this is one of Lofoten’s iconic sunrise locations. Yet at midnight in summer, when the light is just as good as in winter, it’s nearly empty of tripods and maybe just a few people walking around. And even with the parking lot almost completely full of continental motorhomes, they are all sleeping for some strange reason. Isn’t the midnight sun one of the reasons to come here during summer?!

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8
32mm
ISO 100
f 11
117 seconds
WB Daylight
10 Stop B+W ND filter

Friday Photo #338 – Blue Water

Photo: The colorful azure water of Flakstadpollen, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. June 3, 2019. 13:30

In my last couple posts I’ve written about mostly becoming nocturnal – midnight sun time – during the summer, as that is when I typically like to be out in the mountains to photograph. However, there are some exceptions, such as today’s image.

The colorful water of Flakstadpollen is always a scenic sight on a sunny summer day with it’s near immediate transition from azure to deep blue. I knew to capture this the best, I’d want to be there on a clear day with the sun relatively high in the sky – typically not ideal light for landscape photography. Furthermore, with the image looking west, I knew it would also need to be a mid morning to early afternoon shot, as any later and the sun would begin to creep around into the background of the image – something I wanted to avoid.

While the forecast was good, a light layer of high clouds eventually grew over Lofoten. So I’ll likely try for a better version of this image sometime before the end of summer – though maybe an autumn version could also work. But ideally, a nice sunny day maybe with some puffy white clouds in the sky, should have me running back up the mountain.

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8
17mm
ISO 125
f 7.1
1/640 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #337 – Midsummer

Photo: Midnight sun shining over Kvalvika beach, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. June 14, 2019. 00:33

Today is the summer solstice – where the sun reaches its highest position in the sky. Tomorrow, the nights begin to grow longer again – or for Lofoten, the sun will slowly sink towards the horizon over the next weeks until in mid July it finally begins to fall below the waves.

For as long as the winters here feel, summer seems to be over in the blink of an eye. So we have to do our best to take advantage of these short months of summer and light – and hopefully this year the weather cooperates better than last year – I’d say we’ve been off to a pretty good start so far.

And so, I try to keep my nocturnal schedule – midnight sun time – as I like to call it. I haven’t decided if I stay the whole summer on Lofoten or head north or east to work on some long overdue hiking projects. Maybe I just let the weather decide…

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8
38mm
ISO 100
f 14
1/100 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #336 – Midnight Sun

Photo: Summer night under the midnight sun over Vestvika beach, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. June 14, 2019. 01:39

I’m a little late with today’s post mostly because I’ve finally made my switch over to ‘midnight sun’ time – otherwise know as stay up all night and sleep until sometime in the afternoon. But in the early days of this, I still feel like I’ve been at some Berlin disco all night, and a little rough the following day. But unless I specifically want the sun in the southern part of the sky for whatever reason – such as my hike on Blekktind last week – the nights are now my time to be out for the next month.

I’ve also been fairly productive over the last weeks in getting up a few new mountains for the next update of West Lofoten Hikes ebook – so far with 4 new routes, and maybe 1-2 more before I begin my first photo workshop of the summer season next week. Though I’m unsure when I’ll be able to get the writing parts finished, the weather is too good to spend much time inside, other than for recovery of sore legs.

Last night I spent another evening sitting on a mountain, with a nice overview of Vestvika – Kvalvika beach. I went up a bit early, unsure how the route would be, which was much easier than I was expecting. Sometime after 01:00 this morning I began my descent. I was happy to head straight down, however somewhere near the halfway point, I was at a position with the sun disappearing behind the mountain, so I stopped for one last photo, which I think I like more than anything I took from the summit – it was a cloudless day, so while nice, not super interesting just having the sun in an empty sky. I got back to my van a little after 02:00 and headed home…

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8
32mm
ISO 100
f 514
1/30 second
WB Daylight