Friday Photo #411 – First Beach Snow

Photo: First beach snow of 2020/2021 winter at Haukland beach, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. November 19, 2020. 11:54

After some unusually mild November temperatures over the last weeks – and no shortage of rain! – the winds finally shifted to the north and brought a cold blast of winter snow across Lofoten. Although this looks to be fairly short lived for snow, as the winds will shift to the south again by Saturday, bringing more mild temperates and rain.

I had been at Haukland beach just a few days ago, working on one of my ongoing projects. Yet with Thursdays snow, and basically full blizzard conditions much of the day, I headed back to the area again, as it would at least offer me a fairly large choice of subjects depending on what the weather decided to do at any given moment. Though I could see on the weather radar that I would have a small 20-30 mininute gap between the super heavy stuff, I figured the beach would likely be possible.

Luckily I was also the first one of the day, having the fresh dusting of snow for myself, so I headed towards the river for the classic shot towards Veggen. The river and beach were nice and clean today – there had been quite some seaweed a few days prior – all blown away overnight I imagine. I Initially shot a few images at the river, but I’ve gotten better conditions before with pretty similar lighting and mood.

I liked the subtle cure and tone of this layer of sand on the right side of the image, created by the higher water flow overnight before the temperatures dropped. I couldn’t quite get the angle I wanted, otherwise Mannen, the mountain leading up to the right becomes too overpowering in the composition. But I still like the overall feel here – and finally some snow!

You can also see how dark it is getting on Lofoten now. Taken basically at noon, there is not much light on cloudy days like this. One month to the winter solstice and the beginning longer days again!

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24mm f/3.5 tilt-shift
24mm
ISO 100
f 11
13 seconds
WB Daylight
2 images – top, bottom
Breakthrough Photography 6 stop ND filter

Friday Photo #410 – Friday Sun

Photo: Friday Sun low in the sky over Rorbu cabins, Nusfjord, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Island, Norway. November 13, 2020. 11:01

After a rainy, grey, and windy start to November the sun finally reappeared today! Even better the temperature was also quite mild for this time of year, reaching over 9˚C in Leknes – Normally a clear day such as this would be cold and chilly. A photo project I’m working on with a friend took me to Nusfjord, on the south side of Lofoten in search of today’s light.

Even with a fully clear sky, the sun is only around for a few hours now that it is mid November and the Polar night is a little over 3 weeks away. You can see in this photo, taken at 11:00, that the sun is low on the southern horizon. So at this time of year, even with the sun shining as brightly as it can, much of Lofoten remains in the shadow of mountains. For sun over the next weeks, you have to travel to the southern side of the islands, or up a mountain…

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Sigma 14mm f/1.8
14mm
ISO 100
f 11
1/80 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #409 – November Storms

Photo: Storm wave crashes over rocks (and me) at Storsandnes beach, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. November 5, 2020. 14:17

I walked returned to my house with completely wet shoes today. Not from the normal hiking through bog or photographing down on the beach. Today the ocean came to me, fairly high up on the rocks. This was after I’d already been completely blasted with sea spray at another location a little earlier – after which when I bumped into a friend in the supermarket, they commented that I was dripping water.

November has been off to a mild but soggy start. But last night the first big winds arrived or a series of storms which will pass over the next few days. My weather station recorded over 33 m/s wind gusts this morning, and at times, if I closed my eyes, I could have imagined I was back home in a California earthquake, my house was shaking so much.

It was tough conditions to shoot today for sure. And it wasn’t just the sea spray to content with, but frequently passing hail and heavy downpours. I really should have gone out in full waterproof gear, but the mild temperatures lulled me into a state of complacency. But more that myself, the main struggle was often keeping the camera lens clear, as every crashing wave send up clouds of mist which blew across any downwind objects – me.

With all the chaos, I still managed several decent images. This one here isn’t what I would consider the best, but it the beginning of the last wave to hit, and completely soak me (if you follow me on Instagram: @distant.north, I posted the full time lapse sequence from the location yesterday). Luckily I saw it coming and made sure to shelter my camera as best as possible. After that I was done, my feet slopping away in my soggy shoes as I walked back to my van, assisted by the wind blowing me forward…

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24-70 f/2.8
24mm
ISO 200
f 8
1/20 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #408 – Haugheia Tree

Photo: Changing perspective – Late autumn tree, Haugheia, Lofoten Islands, Norway. October 24, 2020. 16:06

I had been waiting for the right light to head back to Haugheia to spend a little more time in the small grove of trees I posted about a few weeks ago – Friday Photo #405. Though by now it was no longer the warm days we had in early October the the whole 2 kilometer walk was along ice covered trails, making it a little slower going to ensure I stayed on my feet!

But while the air was cold, the light was nice and warm, with the sun low on the horizon. I spent a little time in the other grove of trees, but the sun wasn’t in the right location for them and they weren’t as interesting as I remembered. This lone tree caught my attention more, and so I spent a little time with it.

The image below is the first composition that caught my eye, shooting wide at 14mm. But it also felt a little boring. The area is full of twisted old trees, so I wanted to incorporate some of those somehow. I tried putting something in the foreground, but never got anything I was content with as it then often became to busy of a scene – perhaps after the first snow I’ll go try again. Or maybe it was actually the sun itself which was distracting – maybe I also need to try on a completely overcast or foggy day.

In the above image, which I like more, maybe just because of the warmer tones, I switched to a 70-200 lens. My goal was still to isolate the tree but in a slightly more abstract way. I thought the framing of the branches in the foreground looked interesting enough and isn’t something I normally do.

I also eventually took a shot focused on the foreground tree branches with the background tree out of focus, but that didn’t look as interesting. And I should say that I actually don’t like photographing trees very much, so not sure why I’m actually going out hiking to find some. Perhaps it’s just trying to hold on to the last of autumn before the long winter sets in and most my images will be of snow. But one of these image will also likely be part of a long term project for a new eBook I’m working on, and I’m attempting to show more of Lofoten than just ‘pretty mountain views.’ It will be a struggle, especially in the coming two months, but hopefully it pushes me to something new, as I feel my photography have stagnated for a while now and I’m generally not impressed by anything I return home with.

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 70-200 f/4
120mm
ISO 100
f 6.3
1/250 second
WB Daylight

Camera Info
Nikon D850
Sigma 14mm f/1.8
14mm
ISO 100
f 14
1/60 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #407 – Ice Season

Photo: Frozen mountain pond, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. October 21, 2020. 17:16

The landscape has begun to settle into its winter freeze over the last week and many of the small mountain ponds are beginning to ice over. I went for a short hike on Wednesday up towards Solbjørnvatn, under the promise of a clear sky and good northern lights forecast – neither of which turned out to be true. Even the lower ground was mostly frozen and the hiking quite treacherous in places.

I had hiked higher into the mountains, where I was initially planning to wait for northern lights. But the route up over ice covered rock slabs required some tricky navigation, as I wasn’t entirely confident I could find my way down in the dark with the light of my headlamp, so I headed back to a lower spot just after sunset. By now the forecast showed a clear sky, while the scene before me was over ever thickening clouds in the fading light. My feet were wet from some of the bog which wasn’t yet frozen and a cold wind was blowing. It was barely 17:00.

So I took one last photo of this frozen pond, which I think ended up nicer than any of the sunset photos from earlier. I sat for a moment, glad to have my winter jacket on, as I took in the conditions. Should I stay and hope it clears? Or head down and try again another time. Had the evening been still, I probably would have cooked dinner and waited for a while. But as the conditions were, heading back to my van seemed like the better option. Which turned out to be the smarter choice in the end, as sky ended up fully cloudy and the aurora never arrived.

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24mm f/3.5 tilt-shift
24mm
ISO 100
f 9.5
1 second
WB Daylight
2 images – top, bottom

Friday Photo #406 – October Snow

Photo: October snow flurries over Moskenesøy and Sund, Nesland, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. October 13, 2020. 16:32

The brief Indian Summer which I wrote about last week now seems to have come to an end and the normal cool-ish weather of mid October has now arrived. While no snow has made it down to sea level year, Himmeltindan is showing a light coating of snow in what is otherwise a cold, misty rain down below. It has been cloudy for the last week, but I think finally the sun is below my mountains for the year, not to return again until late February next year.

The trees have more of less lost their leaves for the year, and most of the small plants seem to be quickly turning to winter brown as well. But there are still hopefully some days left in the hiking season for the year – and by hiking, I mean in normal conditions and not winter hikes. So far over the summer I was able to get 5 new routes hiked for the next update of ‘West Lofoten Hikes’ ebook. There’s still a couple more mountains on the list, so maybe I’ll manage a few more.

I was a little late to hike on this day, last Tuesday. I can feel the days getting shorter, but somehow I haven’t realised that sunset is now at 17:30 already! After a few days of wind, the weather was finally a little calmer as I headed up Neslandsheia, overlooking my old home in Skjelfjord. Misty clouds were floating around and what initially was a light rain as I began the steep hike up an old sheep trail turned into a blowing snow as I reached 400+ meters elevation. Initially the sun was shining bright over the sea, but upon returning to one of the view points on my way down, it had moved to behind the mountains as another wave of autumn snow floated by.

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8
58mm
ISO 100
f 11
1/40 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #405 – Indian Summer

Photo: October sun shines through a hazy blue sky over autumn birch trees, Haugheia, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. October 4, 2020. 14:34

After a wet and mostly wild weathered September (with a few windy days), October has brough Lofoten, and most of northern Norway an Indian summer. Since the beginning of the month the temperature has averaged over 12 degrees, about double what it should normally be, with a high temp of 16.2 degrees.

On Sunday afternoon I decided to join some friends for a casual walk up one of the local hill near Leknes – what we jokingly refer to as ‘granny hikes.’ With a hazy, cloudless bleu sky and a bit of wind, conditions were not anywhere ideal for landscape photography. But as is my usual habit, I almost always carry my camera with me anyhow, even if only for a bit of extra exercise.

Initially, a few lone trees against the layered mountain background caught my eye, thinking of some sort of abstract-ish shot at 200mm or such. But I couldn’t find a tree which lined up with the background mountains to my satisfaction. But as I was trying to find a good angle, for one of the trees in the background of this image, the shadows of these twisted branches caught my eye.

I was in a bit of a hurry, with my friends waiting. So I didn’t have too much time to work on the composition – the think the lower left branch is too close to the bottom of the frame, so I should have moved back slightly. But otherwise, I think the empty hazy sky is what allowed this image to work somewhat. Anything else in the sky my have been distracting and taken away from the twisted shapes of the trees. But as it’s only a short walk, maybe I’ll return again for a different version, though I imagine all the leaves are probably gone by now.

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Sigma 14mm f/1.8
14mm
ISO 100
f 14
1/100 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #404 – Rainbow Season

Photo: September rainbow over Olstind, Reine, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. September 15, 2020. 12:33

One benefit of all the rain this autumn is rainbows! In general, autumn on Lofoten is what I like to call ‘rainbow season.’ Even though rain can be just as common in summer, the autumn weather patterns seem to produce rainbows on a more regular basis.

With a bit of understanding of the weather and where rainbows occur – opposite the sun, it is actually somewhat possible to predict where a rainbow might occur and use it to your advantage. Or, at least showing up at the right time of day, you can maybe get a rainbow over a mountain like Olstind here in Reine. A couple hours earlier or later and the rainbow would not have been in the same location.

Unfortunately, the bay had been completely still with a nice reflection when I first arrived, but with the rain came the wind, blowing away the calm waters. Still, one of my better attempts at a rainbow over Olstind. With all my autumn tours canceled this year thanks to Covid-19, at least I can try and capture some better versions of this scene – or maybe up from Reinebringen as well. If one thing is certain, there will be plenty more rain in the next weeks…

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8
26mm
ISO 100
f 10
1/125 second1
WB Daylight
Polarizer filter

Friday Photo #403 – Between Storms

Photo: Between Storms – Rays of light shine over Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. September 22, 2020. 14:49

Lofoten received its first proper autumn storms this week with two back to back storm systems sweeping across the islands on Monday and Wednesday – the highest wind gust I measured from my house on Monday was 35 m/s, just a little over hurricane force which begins at 32.6 m/s. Skrova measured 38 m/s during Wednesday’s storm.

Monday’s storm was the remaining winds from the previous tropical storm Sally and while longer lasting, seemed to be slightly milder than Wednesdays storm – which canceled all the ferries, closed most of the bridges, dislodged boats, sent motorhomes and hot tubs flying off the road, and did some structural damage in some locations. Driving by this morning, I noticed the old torsk drying racks down the road from me are now mostly collapsed – and will probably be completely destroyed by the end of winter.

But while Lofoten was suddenly windy, the islands have been soaked in near daily rain for the last month or so – with seldom moments of clear sky and poor aurora watching. I was even up north on a road trip to the Lyngen Alps and Senja, but decided to cut the trip a week short because I was tired of sitting around in the rain – and there was nothing better to look forward to in the weather forecasts at the time.

Though now it seems we might have a slight break from the wet weather during the next week. Lets hope so! I still need to attempt one final lawn mowing before the winter sets in, but my yard is currently too soggy to do so…

I took this photo on Tuesday afternoon, on a relatively calm day between the two passing storms. The weather had cooled significantly from Monday’s warm southwest wind, and showers of hail were sweeping across the islands – and the first mountain snows of the year were visible on the higher peaks. I did not desaturate this image, but the scene almost appears black and white.

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 70-200 f/4
72mm
ISO 100
f 6.3
1/800 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #402 – Purple Heather

Photo: Late summer heather bloom, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. August 25, 2020. 21:01

The purple heather flowers of late August are a sign that summer is soon over. Even the bright fireweed will mostly have faded and soon it will be autumn’s yellows and reds that fill the landscape. While 2020 seems to have sent the world into chaos – and a disaster for me as well with 90% of my income revolving around tourism – we at least had the best summer here on Lofoten since I moved here in the early winter of 2016. So it is ok for it now to be over, I’m content and looking forward to what the autumn will bring.

I mentioned a couple weeks ago that I’m kinda working on a special ebook project. Not a Seasons on Lofoten – Autumn/Spring, which I’ll probably finally get around to over the winter. But something new and more ambitious.

The weather wasn’t the best this day, so I waited until early evening to finally head out – though there was little chance for a sunset in the heavily clouded sky. There are a few places on Lofoten that I kinda keep as a backup for when I’m both lazy and the conditions aren’t ideal. I shot in this area a lot in the spring during the snowmelt when the rivers were flowing. And now in the last days of summer, I was back again, looking for some composition which might work.

Despite the recent rain, the rivers and lakes weren’t particularly interesting. What caught my eye more was the blooming heather covering the landscape.

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8
38mm
ISO 400
f 5.6
1/30 second
WB Daylight