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 #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 #291 – September Aurora

September Aurora - Friday Photo #291

Photo: Autumn northern lights fill the sky over the village of Å, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. September 14, 2017. 22:26

Sometimes I feel like August is a light switch here in the north. Suddenly the nights feel dark again, the roads seem to have emptied overnight, and the weather has that first autumn chill. And August means that the aurora season is only a few short weeks away.

I will miss the endless summer nights, and after the cold rainy weather of June this year, July turned out to be fantastic! One of my hottest summer’s here on Lofoten – often too hot for the mountains actually! But summer will be back next year. And before the winter snow arrives there are still plenty of nights to be had out in the mountains – not under the midnight sun, but under the dancing aurora.

Last year, September’s weather seemed to be better than the whole of summer. With many clear, calm nights. This also coincided with some strong solar storms – Any talk of the coming solar minimum stuff in BS as far as I’m concerned. So I was lucky with several nice nights looking for some interesting new compositions to shoot under the northern lights.

This is a tricky pursuit however, with a high miss rate, as, unlike a sunset or some clouds in the sky, you can never be certain where the aurora will appear. A few times though, I seemed to be in a decent location with the aurora working fairly well for me. Such as this shot here, where I was camped on the summit of Andstabben, with the village of Å below me. Normally I’m not a fan of distracting city lights in aurora images, but in the case, with the aurora almost perfectly aligned with the direction of the lights below, it works for me.

Who knows what this September will bring. Even if only half as good as last year, I will be happy. Though I will also be away traveling for the first part of the month, and busy with workshops during the 2nd half – still some places available on my Exploring Autumn workshop. So I’m not sure how many nights in the mountains I’ll get, and if my time off will align with good weather and northern lights. We will see…

Camera Info:
Nikon D800
Nikon 214-24mm f/2.8
14mm
ISO 1250
f 3.2
15 seconds
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #286 – Lofotodden Nasjonalpark

Lofotodden national park - Friday Photo #286

Photo: Twilight view over the wild north coast of Moskenesøy, soon to be part of Lofotodden Nasjonalpark, Lofoten Islands, Norway. September 7, 2017. 20:30

After a process of more than 10 years, and with a fair amount of local opposition on Lofoten, last week the Norwegian government announced the creation of Norway’s 40th national park – Lofotodden Nasjonalpark. (NRK article here). More or less covering the whole northern coast of Moskenesøy before wrapping around the western tip of Lofoten, the park will include many of Lofoten’s most wild and rugged mountains and valleys.

Some of the opposition comes from loss of usage rights among people who might have property within the new park boundaries. But there is also the fear that the national park will bring an unsustainable amount of visitors to Lofoten. This, I disagree with.

In my opinion, the current rate of visitors on Lofoten is already unsustainable with the current infrastructure. And popular areas which will now be within the new park, such as Kvalvika or Bunes beaches, have no facilities to manage the waste of the thousands of campers each summer season – that is a lot of shits being buried under rocks, at best, and otherwise often sat out in the open, dirty toilet paper blowing away in the wind.

Hopefully, if done right (which I’m not 100% confident of), the new national park can bring with it the funds to help build facilities needed for current and future use of this fragile arctic landscape. And beyond facilities, hopefully the authority of now being within a national park will also lead to better education of visitors and their increased respect for the land. This is just my hope though, what will actually happen will be seen in the years to come. And hopefully it doesn’t mean that I now need to pay to park when I visit my favorite mountains or beaches, with otherwise no further benefit.

Camera Info:
Nikon D800
Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8
14mm
ISO 100
f 10
.8 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #274 – Fuglhuken

Fuglhuken - Friday Photo #274

Photo: Wild camp on Fuglhuken in September’s morning light. Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. September 19, 2017. 06:41

In honor of yesterday’s release of the 2nd edition of my West Lofoten Hikes ebook, I thought I’d post a photo from one of the new hikes I added to the ebook: Fuglhuken – a 557 meter peak on the northeast corner of Moskenesøy.

As September of 2017 had such fantastic weather, I would often head out for just an evening in the mountains. On this particular trip, the forecast called for clear skies by early afternoon, but as I was heading up the trail, heavy clouds were still hanging over the yttersia of Moskenesøy. Eventually in the evening, the sky finally cleared and I had a pretty good show of northern lights to watch.

Dawn arrived clear and cold, with the first signs of that autumn crispness in the air. In my haste the previous day, I had forgotten my thermal long underwear, and as I was still desperately holding on to the last days with my summer sleeping bag, it was a chilly night! The warmth of that morning sunlight was quite welcomed.

Soon however, the light lost it’s warmth and became somewhat dull and flat. So I packed up camp and headed down the mountain, getting back home for breakfast.

Camera Info:
Nikon D800
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8
48mm
ISO 160
f 10
1/10 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #252 – Aurora Camping

Aurora Camping - Friday Photo #252

Photo: September northern lights camping under full moon, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. September 8, 2017. 01:25

…Continuing on from last weeks Friday Photo #251. This is now a bit later in the evening. I had begun to crawl back into my tent when the aurora began to fade. Luckily I wasn’t in a hurry, because that was the moment the lights really began to get active.

Unfortunately though, clouds had also come to take over a large part of the sky, inhibiting many of my potential compositions. Needing something in the foreground, my tent was the only real thing I had available. Though it was also on this night I realised I should bring 2 headlamps – 1 for the tent, and 1 for me so I don’t walk off a cliff in the dark!

I shot numerous different compositions, however, I think I like this one, with the bright moon, the best.

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

Friday Photo #251 – Horseid Aurora

Horseid Aurora - Friday Photo #251

Photo: Northern Lights over Horseid beach, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. September 8, 2017. 00:27

I already posted a photo from this trip last month for Friday Photo #247, the night after this while down on the beach itself. The first night I headed up high, in hopes over Aurora over Horseid from above. I was somewhat successful.

In my mind I have a continually growing list of images that I would like to take. Normally it’s when I’m standing on some mountain and think to myself, ‘wouldn’t it be cool to be here if such and such happened.’ Some of these ideas I’ve had in my head for years, just waiting for the right opportunity and conditions. And only since moving here full time have I been able to dedicated a little more time to these ideas, as they take much more time and luck that I could commit to on a 2-3 week trip where I would need to focus on more productive endeavours. Northern Lights over Horseid beach has been one of these images.

Good weather forecast, (almost) full moon, and a solar storm were the conditions that drove me up here. But even as I boarded the ferry from Reine, I wasn’t quite sure where I would go: should I play it safe, and go somewhere where I had a higher chance of a good image, and still something quite unique for Lofoten. Or should I take a bigger gamble, where I could perhaps completely miss things all together. I chose to gamble.

The aurora started early, even before the sky was dark. But they were mostly faint. And in what had been forecasted clear skies, a layer of clouds was approaching. Shit! The moon soon rose and illuminated the beach far below me, adding much needed contrast to the otherwise dark scene. The aurora came and went in waves, but nothing too brilliant.

Content I had something decent, at least for a first attempt at this image, I returned to my tent. Clouds now began to fill more and more of the sky. As I was walking in circles while brushing my teeth, the aurora erupted overhead. I quickly went back to shooting, but I could already see that the sky above the beach was mostly filled with clouds, blocking the aurora there. So I made the best of the conditions and started shooting my tent instead (perhaps I’ll post that image soon).

If I had a time machine, I would stayed on the beach the first night, and camped up here the 2nd. But even so, it was a productive two nights, both of which created some unique images! And, even better, I have plenty of time to go back and try again – maybe even for a winter version…

Camera Info:
Nikon D800
Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8
14mm
ISO 1250
f 3.2
8 second
WB Daylight
2 images – top, bottom