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 #401 – Kirkefjord Rain

Photo: Merraflestind rising into the rain over Kirkefjord, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. August 28, 2020. 14:34

The weather forecast was more promising than reality. What showed mostly sun and some clouds turned into mostly clouds and rain. Such is the weather on Lofoten. Even so, I found myself on the ferry from Reine on a Friday afternoon heading out to one of the beaches for the weekend – the ferry has now switched to the winter schedule now, so there are no Saturday departures.

As the boat approached Kirkefjord the next wave of rain arrived. Off to the right was a nice rainbow, but not it any photographic position. More interesting to me was the layer of sunlight shining across the shoreline village with the mountains rising into the dark rainy sky. As the ferry got closer, Merraflestind seemed to rise over the village like some ancient castle. I’ve been here dozens of times over the years, but never quite seen the scene like this before. Worth a quick snapshot from the front of the boat before an afternoon hiking in the rain!

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8
38mm
ISO 200
f 8
1/400 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #400 – Autumn Leaves

Photo: Autumn leaves below Stjerntind, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. August 25, 2020. 20:52

The golden colors of autumn are beginning to take hold in Lofoten’s landscape. Even last week while wandering around near the famous road to Nusfjord the first small changes in the birch leaves were already visible on some trees. And a week later, with a golden sunlight shining across the land, it seems the green of summer will soon be gone. Hiking up on Reinebringen on September 1st, the change in color was even more apparent looking down over the landscape.

The weather was mostly stormy on the day of this photo – like it has been for almost two weeks now since the middle of August. I’m attempting to work on a new ebook – my most ambitious yet. It might actually be impossible, and won’t be finished for at least a year at the earliest, if not two or three.

The result of attempting this project was I needed to go out and shoot this day. It is something difficult, to force yourself to take an image on a certain day with whatever conditions might be present. It’s not normally the way I work, and it will probably present quite some challenges going forward. But at least it will be an exercise is creativity.

This image actually won’t make the cut, I took a better photo a few minutes later. But It was the first autumn leaves I photographed this year. So here it is…

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8
62mm
ISO 100
f 4.5
1/25 second
WB Daylight

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