Friday Photo #353 – Autumn Snow

Photo: Autumn snow over mountains of Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. October 4, 2019. 17:43

Winter is coming. Well, kinda… Lofoten had already received its first autumn snow while I was over hiking in Sweden in mid September – more on that later, but if you follow me on Instagram, then you know what I’ve been up to this summer and autumn. But as is usual with most years, waves of warm and cold cycle across the islands as autumn passes into early winter – until one day I’ll wake up and the outside world is white.

Last Friday I went for an evening hike. I was actually supposed to have hiked the mountain in the left of this image, Blåtind. But as I arrived at the parking area in Slydalen, I was in a complete white out of heavy snow. I knew it would eventually pass, but as it was a north wind, I figured it might get caught on the mountains for a while. So I decided to head to the other side of Vestvågøy to where the weather seemed a bit clearer and take an easy hike to Eltofttuva instead.

The mountains to the south remained mostly under the clouds during my ascent, but eventually the clouds cleared, leaving a nice dusting of white down to around 300m – The lowest I’ve seen the snow so far this season. Eventually the sun even emerged on the mountains for a little while before the next wave of snow arrived and I descended from Eltofttuva in snow and then rain.

By the next day the snow was gone. And a few days ago I was on the summit of Blåtind in the cold autumn sun. No remaining snow, unfortunately.

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24-70 f/2.8
55mm
ISO 125
f 10
1/10 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #352 – Olstind Rainbow

Autumn rainbow fills sky over Reine and surrounding mountains, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Rainbow over Olstind mountain peak, Sakrisøy, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. October 10, 2018. 08:45

With rain comes rainbows. And there was plenty of both last October – during one of the wettest autumns Lofoten has experienced for a while. But who wants to photograph boring blue skies anyhow? A little October rain is generally good for photography up here – Just as long as it’s not the flat grey, can’t see any mountains kind – which is more common in summer anyhow…

I could see the waves of rain flowing out of the back of the fjord with the sun at our backs – perfect rainbow weather. So I took my tour group up the small hill overlooking Sakrisøy, which is a nice place for sunrise anyhow, rainbows or not.

Luckily, we didn’t have to wait long before the first hints of color appeared, before forming into a 180˚ rainbow that seemed so close that one could almost touch it – I still haven’t found my pot of cold yet though.

With the rain blowing directly into us, it was a bit of effort to keep lenses dry, having to take a few quick shots, turn around to dry off, then repeat again. But the effort was well worth it. And the rainbows were just getting started on this day…

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 14-24 f/2.8
14mm
ISO 100
f 10
1/50 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #351 – Autumn Sea

Photo: Waves crash against the coast at Nesland, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. October 9, 2018. 10:41

With the first storms of autumn sweeping across Lofoten, this is when the season for seascape photography begins on the islands. For the most part, the summer ocean is calm and mild, and even days for surfing are few and far between most of the time. But as the weather begins to ship and the storms become larger and more frequent, large swells crash along the coastline once again.

On this particular day, a large swell in the Vestfjord was crashing along the southern coast of Lofoten – not to mention the strong wind which was blowing! Nesland is always a nice place for such situations, especially if Solbjørntind is visible in the background (only partially in this image).

Sometimes it can be hard to judge the scale of the waves, so luckily one of my tour participants had gone out wandering along the rocks. I thought this looked pretty nice, so I asked her to wait for a minute so I could get a photo. I slowed the shutter speed down a little to get a nice flow out of the crashing waves. The result turned out pretty good I think. I only wish she had had a brighter jacket on to stand out a little better from the dark rocks.

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

Friday Photo #350 – Lofoten Masters

Photo: Surfer at Lofoten Masters surf competition, Unstad, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. September 27, 2018. 15:13

This year will be the 12th edition of the Lofoten Masters surfing completion which takes place at Unstad beach from September 25-29.

Even if you are not a surfer, it is a cool even to watch, and last year I took one of my photo groups to watch some of the action with some of Norway’s best surfers in the water.

If you are not on Lofoten, it can be watched via live stream from the Lofoten Masters Website.

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 70-200 f/4
185mm
ISO 400
f 5
1/2000 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #349 – October Snow

Photo: October snow flurries over Kirkefjord from Reinebringen, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. October 7, 2018. 10:41

Passing mid September the aurora season is well underway and any last trace of summer has faded away. But not all autumns are equal. While some years September has a higher average temperature than June, in others we get an early hint of winter.

2018 was a cold and wet autumn and during my workshop season I didn’t wear full rain gear on only 2 days out of 25 or so. The 2017 autumn had more days of sunny weather then the entirety of that summer – and night after night of dancing auroras. What will come in 2019 we will only find out as it arrives. But so far what had been a relatively dry summer has turned wet, making up for lost time perhaps.

And while snow can fall anytime from mid September or so, it is not that common anymore. So last year’s relatively early snowfall arriving while the land was still full of color was a nice treat. On this day in early October, I headed up Reinebringen on a blustery and cold day. What had been rain at sea level turned to snow by the summit as it swept across the landscape.

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24-70 f/2.8
58mm
ISO 100
f 10
1/50 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #348 – Autumn Light

Autumn sunset over village of Flakstad, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Light and shadows dance over Flakstad in a passing autumn rain, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. September 27, 2018. 18:04

Autumn is the season of light on Lofoten. Where the rain and sun dance with each other and brief moments of magic occur. I always look forward to the autumn. The year’s shortest season here in the north, but the most colourful and brilliant.

This was a brief moment on one of last year’s workshops. Driving west for sunset, I came around the corner and the light was casting down on the village of Flakstad. I would have rather had a natural scene with no houses or power lines, but I can’t be too picky in such conditions. I hopped out of the van, changed lenses and quickly began to shoot, not even worrying about a tripod. And within moments, the light was gone.

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 170-200 f/4
200mm
ISO 100
f 8
1/320 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #346 – Aurora Season

Northern Lights – Aurora Borealis fill sky over yellow tent, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Camping below autumn northern lights on the summit of Andstabben, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. September, 14, 2017. 22:11

With the growing nights of late August we can now begin the wait for the first northern lights appear in the sky over Lofoten. I often write that the autumn is a quite overlooked time of year for northern lights watching – many people having the false assumption that it is only a winter activity. But for camping below a sky of dancing green, September and October are the best months in my opinion with mostly mild temperatures and the mountains usually free of snow. Kinda the best of both worlds between summer and winter.

But like waiting for the return of the sun in January, you never quite know when that first faint bit of green will appear above the glowing horizon during the white night period of late summer – early autumn. But after around the 20th of August, if the sky is clear, it’s worth going out. These nights are wonderfully atmospheric anyhow, so even with no aurora, they are the best for camping – just dark long enough to make it worth carrying the tent all the way up the mountain.

So hopefully we have a good season this year. Last year was a little on the rainy side, but so far this summer has been good this year, so lets hope it continues. And as I’m guiding my last tour of the summer right now and had to write these words last weekend – Summer Twilight – I may have already seen the first aurora. Fingers crossed!

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

Friday Photo #303 – Autumn Snow

Autumn Snow - Friday Photo #303

Photo: Snow covered peaks of Stjerntind rise in the distance over a small farm, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. October 4, 2018.

After nearly 6 weeks of seemingly non-stop rain, snow, and storms, the weather has finally calmed to a windless blue sky over the last days. Not that I want the bad weather back, but I dare say it’s almost a bit boring. And with my final photography tour of the year having finished over the past weekend, I can finally head back out to the mountains, which are now covered in a nice coating of white. It almost feels like winter is here, but not yet, we still have to get through November, my least favourite month of the year here on Lofoten.

Lofoten was lucky this year, that amongst all the rain, the islands also received an early snowfall – I already posted about the first snow on Friday Photo #299. From my memory, I think 2009 was the last time I experienced this amount of snow already during late September and many of the last years have had quite mild autumns actually. But this year, the cold came early to the mountains, though luckily, the streets remained mostly ok here in west Lofoten until this past Monday, when the first major snowfall came – and I finally had to change to my winter tires, which will now stay on for the next 7 months – a slightly depressing thought for someone from California!

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 70-200mm f/4
200mm
ISO 125
f 8
1/200 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #302 – Autumn Storms

Autumn Storms - Friday Photo #302

Photo: Autumn of storms – wave at Uttakleiv beach, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. September 25, 2018. 14:29

To say this autumn has been stormy on Lofoten would be an understatement! For over a month now, there has hardly been a day without rain, and gale force winds seem to be sweeping across the islands on a weekly basis. I’ve been guiding workshops almost non-stop for the last 4 weeks, and there has only been 1 day where I wasn’t wearing rain pants – something I generally don’t like to wear!

But this bad weather has meant that the islands have been anything but boring! Last year, the weather was a bit too good, which is nice for camping, and northern lights, but otherwise, blue sky is not too interesting for photography. This year, the autumn storms have brought endless drama to the islands: Waves are crashing, the sky is filled with rainbows, early snow on the peaks (mostly gone now since it became a bit warmer), and an endless variety of light. At times it has been almost impossible to stand, and keeping the lens free from rain and sea spray is a constant fight.

This image is from a stormy day at Uttakleiv on my first workshop in mid September. Usually I hate this rock, as I often find it distracting compositionally to many scenes here, as it always seems to end up somewhere in the frame or in front of the mountains. On this day, however, I’m glad the rock was there! I had been shooting some other stuff with my group, but I was struggling to convey just how stormy it was with what I was shooting. But seeing a constant flow of waves crashing over the rock, I decided that might be the image I was looking for.

Of course, as soon as you change lenses and set everything up, the huge waves that were crashing just a few minutes ago seem to die out. So I spent a bit of time waiting for the right wave to arrive, then quickly fire off a series of images, hoping to capture a nice moment. There is almost no predicting the sea, so it is shoot, shoot, shoot, then delete, delete, delete once you’re home and looking at all the rejects and. But hopefully, out of the 50-100… images, there is something nice. This wasn’t the biggest wave of the day, but I like the shape and form of the splash and think it shows what the day was like out there.

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 70-200mm f/4
70mm
ISO 31
f 14
1/15 second
WB Daylight

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