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

Friday Photo #250 – Aurora Campfire

Campfire and Northern Lights - Friday Photo #250

Photo: Campfire below northern lights, Storsandnes, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. September 28, 2017. 22:33

Sometimes life is best enjoyed simply by being there. The final evening of my 2017 Exploring Autumn photo tour, this was the 4th night (of 6) where we had northern lights in the sky overhead.

We had already spent sunset this evening in the mountains above Unstad, returning to my van by headlamp. And already on the way down, the aurora had begun dancing in the fading twilight. A quick stop for pizza in Leknes, we hurried to another beach, eating on the way.

Normally, this night alone would have been good and everyone would have been shooting as much as possible. But they had been slightly spoiled by the previous night, which was one of the best aurora shows that I have ever seen!

And so I did what I might do had I been on my own or with a few friends – build a campfire! From time to time, when the lights got strong, we would go wander off and take some photos, only quickly to return to the warmth of the fire. As the hours passed, the photography time lessened and the fire time grew. Until finally we decided to call it a night.

Camera Info:
Nikon D800
Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8
14mm
ISO 2000
f 2.8
5 seconds
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #249 – Veggen Coffee

Veggen Coffee - Friday Photo #249

Photo: Dinner and a coffee on the summit of Veggen, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. September 4, 2017. 20:16

Despite the mild, and almost hot, weather this September, as each day passes, the sun sinks a bit lower in the sky. As much as I love autumn, and am looking forward to ski on my feet again in winter; it is hard to say goodbye to summer. But there is no sense in resisting – all one can do is take as much advantage of the sun as possible. And for my friends that have normal working hours, this means the evenings.

One of the best things about Lofoten is that the mountains are so accessible. An hour or less of hiking is all that is needed to find yourself surrounded by vertical peaks rising from the sea. And so I’ve started to change my flow of life a bit. Why should I always cook dinner at home? Why not throw some food and cooking gear into your backpack and eat dinner at 500 meters while watching the sun fall into the sea. It seems like a completely obvious thing to do – and I’m sure many people do it. But I was either focused on photography and hiking, or photography and camping. It is only somewhat recently that relaxation has begun to play a bigger role in my mountain summits.

And so September saw me on several of these ‘enjoy the sun and relax’ hikes. How long can it continue before the days are too short or the weather too cold? I don’t know. Maybe a few more weeks. Soon there will only be enough light for small little hills. But as long as the sun is shining and the wind is calm, hopefully I’ll be out there somewhere…

Camera Info:
Nikon D800
Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8
24mm
ISO 200
f 3.5
1/60 seconds
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #248 – Haukland Beach Aurora

Haukland Aurora - Friday Photo #248

Photo: Haukland aurora, Haukland beach, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. September 27, 2017. 22:04

Had my tour finished before this night, I already would have been content that my clients had already gotten some decent aurora photos. On this evening, they got the show of a lifetime. Perhaps one of the best nights I have seen in all my time here in the north.

With the mild September weather this year, we decided to have an evening bbq and campfire at Uttakleiv while waiting for darkness. Something a bit special, and what I would do if I was on my own. Uttakleiv is generally a good spot to wait for Aurora. And on most other years, we would likely have had the place to ourselves for the evening. But even with October just around the corner, the islands remain busy this year, and the constant buzzing of drones in the sky has been almost ever-present at every beach and even half the mountains – there were 2 drones flying on Ryten a couple nights previous!

So as night arrived, so did car after car of people. And then, the first aurora appeared in the sky over Himmeltind. Not a good direction for Uttakleiv. I knew the aurora eventually move to a more compositionally pleasing location, but as an increasing amount of headlights began to fill the beach, I made the decision to get out of there and try somewhere else.

that somewhere else is just a couple minutes away. Haukland beach. And though the main parking lot seemed full, it was mostly just campers, many of whom seemed to be sleeping already. Luckily, there was no one at my intended destination on the left side of the beach, where the river had formed a perfect reflection pool.

Shortly after we arrived, the real show began. For some moments, the entire sky was seemingly full of aurora. I often didn’t know which way to look. But I was waiting for the lights to come into the sky over the beach, giving me a reflection I wanted. Eventually they did.

Car after car drove by, continuing to Uttakleiv. While here it was just the five of us, standing in the darkness and occasionally shouting towards the sky. What a night to be in the north!

Camera Info:
Nikon D800
14mm
ISO 2000
f 3.2
5 seconds
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #247 – Aurora Over Horseid

Horseid Aurora - Friday Photo #247

Photo: Northern lights over Horseid beach, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. September 8, 2017. 22:38

Clear sky, full moon, mild temperatures and solar storm. The aurora season this year was off to a good start! But with seemly perfect conditions for something good, I found myself stuck with option paralysis.

I knew I should go west, but where? Someplace safe and easy, where I knew I had a good shot at a decent image. Or should I gamble a bit more, go someplace new, and hope for the best. Walking up the to window to buy my ferry ticket, I said Kirkefjord. One choice less now.

With two nights of good conditions forecast, I chose first to head up a mountain above Horseid, with hopes of photographing the aurora above the beach. Unfortunately, as night arrived, so did clouds. I managed some images of mild aurora over the beach, but by the time things really got going after 01:00, that part of the sky was almost completely cloudy.

As morning arrived, I thought about staying up the mountain for another night. But my empty water bottles and strengthening wind forced me down. And so I headed down to Horseid beach for another night, and another attempt.

Almost completely opposite to the previous night, the aurora started bright and early! Once I saw the first signs of light, I quickly dressed and ran down to the beach as the sky erupted overhead. I barely had time to level my camera and focus, much less worry about keeping my feet dry as I hurried to the shore line.

The aurora danced in every direction, but I was interest in once place in particular: The view back over the pass to Kirkefjord. Almost perfectly symmetrical, it is a favorite composition of mine. Aurora overhead would make it even better.

I shot at the beach for some time, but soon, almost like a switch being turned off, the sky grew quiet. I went to another location – the place I should have actually gone to first, but it was more difficult to find in the dark – and waited. But the sky remained silent. After a while, the cold wind suggested I head back to my tent.

I lay awake for several more hours, staring at the sky. Faint aurora danced around from time to time, but nothing strong enough to lure me from the warmth of my sleeping bag.

Camera Info:
Nikon D800
Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8
21mm
ISO 1600
f 3.5
4 seconds
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #246 – Tønsåsheia Camp

Tønsåsheia camp - Friday Photo #246

Photo: Autumn camping on the summit of Tønsåsheia, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. September 22, 2016. 18:40

The forecast had been better than reality – A common occurrence on Lofoten. What I thought would be fairly clear skies was filled with a layer of high cloud. I was a bit disappointed upon reaching the summit of Tønsåsheia and finding a place to setup the tent for the night. But as normal on Lofoten, the light changed…

As evening arrived, a soft twilight light fell over the Islands. There is always something special about standing on the edge of Lofoten, with the view across endless mountain peaks fading into the distance. The mountains here might not be that high, but they are as visually stunning as anywhere else in the world. A perfect combination of sea and summit.

I still maintained hopes for northern lights on this night, but alas, the clouds came in too thick. And so it was a night of sleep for me. Maybe next time.

Camera Info:
Nikon D800
Nikon 70-200mm f/4
116mm
ISO 200
f 7.1
1/40 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #204 – Reine Sunrise

Friday Photo #204 - Reine Sunrise

Photo: Autumn sunrise over Reine, near Vindstad, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. October 23, 2016. 08:51

The original plan for the previous night had been to camp on the summit of Storskiva. But it was far too windy to stay up high on the mountain, so we descended the peak and found a more sheltered location above Bunes beach, with nice views towards Reine as well. The nights come early in late October, and after a long, cold hike, I was soon fast asleep.

I didn’t know what sunrise would bring, but I wasn’t optimistic, and my tent was still shaking strongly in the cold wind as I stirred myself from sleep and took a look outside. Not much. But I go up anyhow and went to join my friend who was already up, taking a bit of shelter behind some rocks.

Soon enough however, a faint pink began to shine on the clouds and I could see the first rays of light hitting the peaks rising above us. The light slowly crept down the mountains until it was upon us. I knew it was time to move!

I quickly grabbed my gear and hopped to the far side of the rocks, looking directly into the autumn sun rising over Reine, on the far side of the fjord in the distance. It was windy like mad facing in this direction, and I wasn’t entirely sure that my light mountain tripod would get me any still shots, but I did my best to wait for brief pauses in the gusts, where things were a bit calmer for a brief second or two.

Composition wise, I don’t think this is the strongest image. But I can feel the warmth of the sun after a cold night, and that is what draws me into it.

Camera Info:
Nikon D800
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8
24mm
ISO 200
f 14
1/10 seconds
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #202 – Skagsanden Aurora

Friday Photo #202 - Skagsanden Aurora

Photo: Northern lights over Skagsanden beach, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. October 16, 2016. 20:33

With a full moon rising into the October night, the clear evening sky erupted into a brilliant aurora. I had just finished dinner and looked out the window; seeing a hit of green in the sky, I knew it was time to go!

By the time I arrived at Skagsanden beach, only a five minute drive from my house, the aurora was beginning to pickup. A few minutes later, they sky exploded with color.

The combination of full moon and bright aurora meant I could keep a relatively fast shutter speed and low ISO, yet still maintain enough detail in both the sky and foreground.

In the coming winter months, this will be one of the most photographed beaches for northern lights, with lines of tripods setup across the beach. So it is a bit peaceful to have the place to myself during the late days of autumn, when the islands are still and quiet.

Camera Info:
Nikon D800
Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8
24mm
ISO 1600
f 3.2
3 seconds
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #201 – November Aurora

Friday Photo #201 - Ballstad Northern Lights

Photo: Northern lights over cod racks, Ballstad, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. November 10, 2016. 16:52

I was on my way to Ballstad in the late afternoon yesterday to drop off a friend after some hiking and a bit of shopping in Leknes. The sun is setting early these days, but the sky was still relatively bright; additionally with the full moon only a few days away. Casually looking out my window at the countryside, I noticed a streak of green in the sky, it was barely past 16:30. So early!

Luckily, since I had been hiking earlier, I happened to have my camera with me, the previous day I missed a fantastic sunset while heading to the climbing gym without my camera. Though I’m unfamiliar with Ballstad, and would have preferred to be at a beach or mountain location, I knew the nearby cod racks could make a decent foreground element and more importantly, help hide some of the surrounding city lights.

I photographed a few different compositions that I liked, and several featuring the moon. Yet, pure luck let the aurora to almost perfectly align with the cod racks for a few moments for an image that looks like I put more more effort into than I actually did. After a few minutes the clouds rolled in and the show was mostly over.

Camera Info:
Nikon D800
Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8
14mm
ISO 2000
f 3.5
5 seconds
WB Daylight