Friday Photo #301 – Reinebringen Update

Reinebringen - Friday Photo #301

Photo: Autumn snow flurries pass over Reinefjord from Reinebringen, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. October 7, 2018. 14:17

Last Sunday I took a stroll up Reinebringen to checkout the progress on the Sherpa trail. After 3 years of work, there are now 870 (I think) stone steps built up the steep hillside to Lofoten’s most popular view. Even on this stormy October day, I passed more people than I would have in July only a few years ago. It goes to show the power and influence of social media on the outdoors. Reinebringen has stood as a destination for many years, yet it is only now that a stone stairway has been required. How many other places in the world are experiencing the same change?

During the construction work on the trail this year from mid August to the end of September, I saw many of the Instagram hubs, with 100’s thousands or more followers continuing to post photos from Reinebringen, while the trail was actually closed and guards had to be posted to keep people out of the work zone. Despite this though, people went around the barriers, and one group actually required helicopter rescue a few weeks back after getting injured…

But now, there are 870 steps up the mountain. The last 150 vertical meters still have no steps, and are as dangerous as before – not because you will slip and fall, but due to the loose rocks. And indeed, on my trip up the mountain, a group descending above me sent several rocks flying my way. And of course, they weren’t experience in mountain travel, so didn’t even know to shout ‘Rock!’ or ’Stein!’ as they came tumbling towards me and my friend.

And don’t let the steps lead you into a false sense of security. The new steps have been build much to the left of the original trail and are now below a steep section of rock slabs for part of the route. When I made a winter trip of the route in January 2017, I noticed the steps had been completely covered in Avalanche debris. And this was during a period of relatively low snow. Just because the mountain will soon be an easy walk, doesn’t mean you can ignore conditions on the route. But I’m afraid this will be ignored by tourists lured into a false sense of security from the steps…

These days I often feel like I’m a lone voice shouting into the wind. I don’t have much influence compared to the onslaught of social media promotion of Lofoten – mostly by people that have barely spent any time here, if at all. But the reality of Lofoten should be stated, and the risk should be known…

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8
20mm
ISO 200100
f 8
1/400 second
WB Daylight
9 Image pano

Reinebringen - Friday Photo #301

Photo: Descending the 870 steps which now wind their way up Reinebringen, Reine, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. October 7, 2018

Friday Photo #300 – Rainbow Season

Reine Rainbow - Friday Photo #300

Photo: Autumn rainbow over Olstind, Reine, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. September 30, 2018 13:27

The winds and storms of last week have calmed somewhat, but the rain has remained. I just looked at the statistics for September, 247.9 mm of rain fell in Leknes, which means probably even more in Reine and the west. To make a dramatic comparison and show just how unpredictable the weather on Lofoten can be, in September 2017, only 11.3 mm of rain was recorded. That is quite a difference! What will next year bring? Nobody knows…

However, while it might not be idea camping and outdoor weather this autumn, the light has been amazing! I have just finished my second workshop (of 4 this autumn), and each day brought something new and exciting, and completely different than the previous week, where wind was a major element. This past week the weather slowed, the showers lasted longer and the rain fell heavier. But this also allowed more predictability in what might happen with the light. The next part was just to get to the right place and hope that the elements aligned.

This time of year Reine enters into the shadow of Reinebringen during the early afternoon. With a nice reflection of Olstind in the harbor on this day, I thought it might be worth waiting a bit to see if we could get some nice light. As the next wave of showers approached the sun emerged from the clouds behind us. Soon a rainbow formed low on the left and then grew into the sky. Going higher, higher, higher… But before we got a complete arch, the sun faded away again. A nice image, but it could be better! I generally don’t spend too much time at the tourist viewpoints on my own these days, but with two more workshops in the area in the next weeks, I might get another chance at something…

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8
28mm
ISO 100
f 11
1/40 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #299 – First Snow

First Autumn Snow Over Reine - Friday Photo #299

Photo: Dusting of autumn snow in mountains over Reine, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. September 24, 2018. 12:47

First snow of the year! To say the last week has had stormy and dramatic weather would be an understatement! The Lofoten autumn seems to be making up for lost time last year and is throwing all it can at us this year with multiple days of gale force winds, stinging hail and the autumns first dusting of snow on the mountains. This image is from Monday and by now on Friday morning the snow line had sunk to around 350 meters, with everything above nice and white, while everything below is fantastic yellows, golds, reds, and oranges of autumn. It has been some years, if memory serves me correct, since we’ve had such an early snow fall here – well, mostly hail and graupel, really – but it’s still white!

The past week I’ve been out guiding my first workshop of the season, a private tour with four brave ladies from Hong Kong. Had I been alone, I would have sat at home and watched Nextfix most days. But the weather provided some fantastic light and wild seas. I think I’ve already managed at least 5-6 images that will go into this years autumn gallery here. The only major thing lacking was northern lights, with only one small night of somewhat clear skies in-between passing hail storms. Quite a change from last September, where the aurora seemed to dance almost every night! But that is how things go here in the north, a good year often followed by a bad one – all things must come to a balance.

I have one night at home tonight before my next group arrives tomorrow. While the forecast is looking a bit grim the first days, the week is looking better and hopefully we’ll get up into the mountains for some nice light – and no doubt get completely soaked in the process! But no one comes to Lofoten for blue skies and sunshine, right?…

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8
70mm
ISO 160
f 10
1/200 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #298 – Gimsøy Sky

Gimsøy Storm - Friday Photo #298

Photo: Dark autumn sky over Gimsøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. September 17, 2016. 17:50

The last days have seen the fury of the first autumn storm over Lofoten. Wind, rain, clouds, and more wind. The Gimsøy bridge has been closed for some periods on Thursday and several ferries were canceled. Luckily, autumn seems late to arrive this year, and not too many leaves have blown off the trees as far as I could see. In other years, the autumn color could have ended today. Which is why autumn is always a bit of a risk here, as one never knows what will happen.

This is a 6 image pano from an approaching weather front while on Gimsøy. Autumn often brings a dramatic change from the weather of summer. Autumn is the season of rainbows, and the season of dark skies – often on the border of being able to shoot and having to run back to shelter from the sideways rain. But bad weather makes good photos. And so that is why autumn on Lofoten is one of my favourite seasons to photograph.

Today starts my first photo workshop of the season. For the next month I’ll be out with groups trying to show the best of Lofoten. At the moment, the weather forecast is looking a bit grim. But on Lofoten, that means opportunity for something special – as long as one is willing to get a bit wet…

Camera Info:
Nikon D800
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8
24mm
ISO 200
f 10
1/30 second
WB Daylight
6 image panoramic

Friday Photo #297- Summer Sunset

Mountain Sunset - Friday Photo #297

Photo: Summer sunset over the mountains of Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. July 31, 2018. 23:11

I am somewhat unsure of what to write about this week. I have spent the previous week down south in Germany – while Lofoten enjoyed nearly every night of northern lights in my absents. For my return journey home, I ran into the frustration of the winter schedule of public transport here, and thought I might write about that – when the ferry to Moskenes arrives 3 hours after the last bus leaves, etc…

And yet on Tuesday morning as I awoke at 06:00 to catch the S-Bahn to Schönefeld airport in Berlin, I took a quick look at Lofotposten. Where I saw there had been a helicopter rescue on Reinebringen – A group of people had crossed the barriers Monday evening, in their selfish pursuit of Lofoten’s most photographed mountain view. Well, one of them got hurt, and had to be rescued by helicopter… Reinebringen, the most desired of Lofoten’s mountains on social media. A mountain that has been loved to death and which is now closed, so a new trail can be built for the next summer of uninspired masses wishing to hike the same mountain as 10,000’s of others. Although I’m beginning to believe this is a good thing, that everyone goes to the same place, so then I can have the rest of Lofoten, and even better views than Reinebringen, mostly to myself even in the height of summer.

And so I though about writing a long rant about the changing nature of tourism, and the influence of social media sending people to check of their bucket list items, without giving a shit for their impact on the local environment, much less the people who will have to come rescue them when they do something stupid like getting injured on a closed hiking trail. I try to remain an optimist in life, but some people truly make it difficult!

But instead, here is a pretty sunset photo from a nice summer evening in late July. This was something of a bipolar summer this year: Either cold, grey and raining, or hot and cloudless. Colorful sunsets seemed to be few and far between. Either a grey ending to the day or bland sunset into a hazy blue sky.

This night was one of the few exceptions. With a group of friends, we sweated our way up to Lilandstind on Moskenesøy. The weather didn’t look too promising actually, and I thought we’d just have another hazy evening. But as the sun neared the horizon, the sky lit on fire! There were many better peaks to be at during this night, but it was still nothing to complain about. Finally a nice sunset! And then the rains of August began…

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8
14mm
ISO 80
f 10
1/15 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #296 – Autumn Aurora

Autumn Aurora - Friday Photo #296

Photo: Northern lights and twilight glow of late August, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. August 31, 2018. 23:40

The final night of August brought the third aurora of the 2018/2019 season. Not a bad way to say goodbye to summer and hello to autumn – I had already seen the first yellow leaves, so I think it’s safe to say that autumn had started…

One of the things I like about the start/end of the aurora season is the twilight glow which remains on the horizon throughout the night. Beyond the fact that it keeps the overall scene brighter and adds light to the landscape, I find it nice to have a separation on the horizon, with the sky fading to a deep blue the higher it gets.

And even though the sun is spotless at the moment and the KP index was only a 1 or so at the time, never rely on this too much. I see so much talk online about KP this or that, but the reality is, it doesn’t matter all that much. And just like the weather forecast up here, the aurora forecast is mostly a suggestion of what will likely happen, but there is still a fair amount of unknown. So tip of the day: If the sky is clear – go out!

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Sigma 14mm f/1.8
14mm
ISO 800
f 2
3 seconds
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #295 – Aurora Season Begins

August Aurora - Friday Photo #295

Photo: Return of the northern lights season, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. August 27, 2018. 23:49

The northern lights are back over Lofoten! This image is actually from my second sighting, but conditions were a bit better this night. The previous night they were visible as well, but the sky was fairly cloudy and the aurora weren’t in the most photogenic location from the beach.

The sky is still not fully dark, but a solar storm brought high aurora activity over the north. Luckily, this coincided with a rare clear night in the last month, so more or less perfect timing for the first couple nights of aurora for the 2018/2019 aurora season. With the sky still relatively light, the aurora was faint, but still visible to the eye and still moving quite a bit. Had this show occurred only a few weeks later, then it would have been a fantastic night! But there are still 7 months ahead of northern lights here in the north, so I’m sure I’ll grow spoiled by April. For now though, It’s nice to see a return of the green dancing sky in this transition between summer and autumn.

I often get questions and sometimes read the false statement that northern lights are only a winter phenomenon. They are not! In reality, the aurora occur all year long. But during summer, it’s just not dark enough to see them. Only during these last days of August does the sky finally grow dark enough for the northern lights to overpower the summer twilight. But for the next weeks still, only strong aurora will be visible, as the northern horizon still glows throughout the night. Soon though, the night will be dark, and all aurora will be visible.

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Sigma 14mm f/1.8
14mm
ISO 400
f 2
2.5 seconds
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #294 – August Rainbow

August Rainbow - Friday Photo #294

Photo: Rainbow over Nappstraumen, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. August 20, 2018. 18:34

Usually I think of autumn as the season of rainbows here on Lofoten, with the turbulent weather and sun, rain, sun, rain, sun, type weather passing over the islands. But this year, summer seems to have ended with a nice sunset on the last day of July and immediately after, autumn began! To say that August has been rainy and windy would be an understatement.

I’ve barely gone to the mountains much lately, preferring to take up my old childhood activity of surfing in this wet and unpredictable weather. After more than 10 years away from surfing, I’m thoroughly hooked again. To the point that I’m looking at water housings for my camera. But I think they are beyond my budget for some years to come, unfortunately. Really not sure how people afford all this stuff. Perhaps I just need more followers on Instagram like all the cool people who take the same pictures from the same locations? Anyone got a yellow jacket, one of those woven blankets, and a drone I can borrow? Adventure and exploring…

So without bringing the camera out with me much lately, the only photos I seem to take are from by bathroom or office windows. Luckily, the views seem to be better than average lately, so I have a good excuse to be lazy!

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8
55mm
ISO 100
f 10
1/200 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #293 – August Twilight

August Twilight - Friday Photo #293

Photo: Full moon and August twilight over field of geitrams – fireweed, Gimsøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. August 9, 2017. 23:51

The nights are growing noticeable darker these days and with the often heavy clouds and rain of the last weeks, I’m having to turn on the lights in my house at night once again. That might sound like a strange concept to anyone from further south, but really, for the whole summer, I don’t need to use any lighting at home. But those days are now over. And with the first ‘autumn’ storm having passed over Lofoten last weekend, it is beginning to feel like summer is also over; and me complaining about it being too hot for a couple weeks in July just a distant memory. This week I even saw the first stars that I’ve seen in many months!

The landscape though, still filled with purple geitrams – fireweed, still holds onto summer as best it can. Even the weather might still give us another week or two of some warm temperatures if we are lucky. Otherwise, the thermometer seems to creep a little lower each week and it wont be too long until I pass by the first golden yellow birch leaf while wandering my way through the mountains – the sign that autumn has finally arrived.

This photo is from last year’s twilight of summer photo workshop. We had been out on Gimsøy for the evening, slowly beginning the journey back to stamsund in the fading light when I noticed a bit of fog beginning to appear across the landscape. With the mostly full moon in the background, I liked the soft look of the landscape. Luckily the night and flowers were nearly perfectly still for a 3 second exposure due to the low light. After a little while longer the fog grew thicker and engulfed the landscape.

Camera Info:
Nikon D800
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8
27mm
ISO 200
f 10
3 seconds
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #292 – Kvalvika Whale

Kvalvika Whale - Friday Photo #292

Photo: Decaying whale on the shore at Kvalvika beach, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. August, 4, 2018. 20:18

With a somewhat poor weather forecast yet still looking for a night outside on a misty Saturday night, we made the journey to Kvalvika beach. These days, with the parking lot overflowing and cars parked all along the road – even on a rainy Saturday – Kvalvika is a place I rarely visit in summer anymore. For the time being however, the west side of the beach still can be relatively quite, and there was only one other tent on this night.

Looking for a place to pitch my tent, I noticed the rocks looked a bit strange. Hmm, no, not rocks. A Whale! It looks like it’s been there a while by the decay. The cool air kept the smell to a minimum, but occasional the breeze blew onshore and, well…

The clouds were nice and moody, with occasional spells of rain passing now and again. I wish the whale was separated a bit more from the rocks – other angles worked better for the whale itself, but not the background. I wanted Ryten and Fuglhuken hidden in my shot, with the summits barely emerging from the clouds. So I had to settle with this angle, which makes it a little hard to tell what is going on, unfortunately. I also took some images of just the sea and the mountains, which are stronger compositions overall, but it is not that common that I sea whales washed ashore here, so this was still worth a shot.

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24mm f/3.5 tilt-shift
24mm
ISO 31
f 8
13 seconds
WB Daylight
6 Stop ND filter