Friday Photo #328 – April Twilight

Photo: April twilight just before midnight, Myrland, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. April 17, 2019. 23:55

With a perfectly clear sky on Wednesday I wandered down to the beach just before midnight to see if I might get lucky with one last aurora. Last year, April 13th was my last one, this year, it will be the image from last week’s post (Friday Photo #327) on April 10th. Now it’s a 4 months wait until late august when I’ll look to the night sky again. Until then, we have the season of light!

Already in mid April, the sun is only 12˚ degrees below the horizon at its lowest point. For comparison, in Berlin at midsummer, 2 months away still, the sun is at 14˚ below the horizon. It is a quick change up here from the season of darkness to the season of light.

With each passing night, the sunsets and sunrises with move further and further north and the horizon glows brighter and brighter until one night in late May, the sun no longer sets – and the season of the midnight sun is here – though due to Summer Time it’s really the 01:00 sun when it reaches its lowest point in the sky.

The snow has been melting quickly this last week and today it is even 10˚C outside, though with a misty rain. Yesterday I even saw the first dandelion flowers down at the beach, so it feels like spring is off to an early start – but that still doesn’t mean that the winds can’t shift and winter will make a return.

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8
18mm
ISO 200
f 5
15 seconds
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #327 – Aurora Camping

Photo: Camping on the summit of Veggen under April northern lights, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. April 11, 2019. 00:04

With the 2018/2019 coming to a close in the next days, the sky has been putting on a pretty good show over the past week. Last Friday I camped out at Kvalvika and had the whole beach for myself as the sky exploded with color, and the cool rocket launch from Andøya, which was a bit eerie to see at first!. And a few other nice nights during the week until I was free from class again and could camp Wednesday night – with a forecast for clear sky.

I initially thought about going up Reinebringen, but having been sent a photo of the route by a friend, it looked a bit too avalachy and dangerous just for some photos. So I headed up Veggen instead – and while the route itself was safe, I only brought micro spikes instead of proper crampons, which wasn’t the best choice for the hard, icy snow. Making the descent a little scarier than I would have liked!

Darkness comes late at this time of year, but there is still enough of it for the aurora to dance overhead. However, the time from sunset until ‘night,’ if we can call it that, can be a little bit of a wait – especially while camping in the cold! So it’s always a choice of how warm and cozy do you let yourself get in the sleeping bag, which then makes you a little lazy and hesitant to get out once you see a bit of green appear in the sky.

This night, I was a little lazy. I missed an early outburst that only lasted a couple minutes – I was watching the web cams from inside my sleeping bag – that is pretty lazy! But eventually I emerged into the cold and there was still some aurora to be seen. However, a wave of clouds was slowly moving in as well, so after an hour or so when the aurora peaked again, it was sufficiently cloudy to block the show. And thus around 01:00 I went back to the tent.

So defiantly not the best image ever, but perhaps my last of this season. And now, 4 months of (hopefully) sun in the north. After last year, we deserve a good summer this year!

Friday Photo #326 – Aurora Season Ending

Photo: April aurora and glowing horizon, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. April 2, 2018. 22:16

April brings the transition between night and day to Lofoten. As the month begins, the sky is still dark enough for aurora to dance across the sky, but as the weeks pass we finally tip the balance and the night is gone.

This past season has been good and bad. There have been some absolutely fantastic shows of northern lights, perhaps some of the best I have ever seen. Yet at other times, particularly during the autumn and into early January, the weather was not very cooperative, and there could be a week or more between aurora displays. At least for all of my week long photo workshops of the season, every tour got at least one nigh of aurora, with a few trips getting much more, despite the best efforts of the weather.

For myself, I never managed any mountain trips during the autumn. And with the nights quickly shortening, I might not have much time for any winter camping shots either. But I will do my best.

And as much as I’d like the aurora to continue, I’m already thinking about the season of light that is quickly approaching. It seems only a few weeks ago that after-work outdoor activities were impossible, as the darkness arrived all too early. Monday, I was able to go to Norwegian class in the morning, head home for lunch, go for a quick ski tour, meet my friends in a cafe, and then head of for an early evening surf session. And I was still home before sunset! So wonderful! And hopefully the landscape keeps its winter look, though its been a bit on the rainy side, unfortunately. But I look forward to being in the mountains as much as possible these next weeks!

I’ll see the aurora again in August – probably from over in Greenland.

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Sigma 14mm f/1.8
14mm
ISO 2500
f 25 seconds
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #293 – August Twilight

August Twilight - Friday Photo #293

Photo: Full moon and August twilight over field of geitrams – fireweed, Gimsøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. August 9, 2017. 23:51

The nights are growing noticeable darker these days and with the often heavy clouds and rain of the last weeks, I’m having to turn on the lights in my house at night once again. That might sound like a strange concept to anyone from further south, but really, for the whole summer, I don’t need to use any lighting at home. But those days are now over. And with the first ‘autumn’ storm having passed over Lofoten last weekend, it is beginning to feel like summer is also over; and me complaining about it being too hot for a couple weeks in July just a distant memory. This week I even saw the first stars that I’ve seen in many months!

The landscape though, still filled with purple geitrams – fireweed, still holds onto summer as best it can. Even the weather might still give us another week or two of some warm temperatures if we are lucky. Otherwise, the thermometer seems to creep a little lower each week and it wont be too long until I pass by the first golden yellow birch leaf while wandering my way through the mountains – the sign that autumn has finally arrived.

This photo is from last year’s twilight of summer photo workshop. We had been out on Gimsøy for the evening, slowly beginning the journey back to stamsund in the fading light when I noticed a bit of fog beginning to appear across the landscape. With the mostly full moon in the background, I liked the soft look of the landscape. Luckily the night and flowers were nearly perfectly still for a 3 second exposure due to the low light. After a little while longer the fog grew thicker and engulfed the landscape.

Camera Info:
Nikon D800
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8
27mm
ISO 200
f 10
3 seconds
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #281 – Ryten Hiking

Ryten Hiking - Friday Photo #281

Photo: Evening hike up Ryten with view over Kvalvika, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. May 19, 2016. 20:14

It´s almost June! And with that it means the ferries from Bodø are filed with motor homes from the continent and the summer high season is about to begin. And for the mountains of Lofoten, this means this will be filled with hikers and campers. If the trends over the previous years are anything to go by, then Lofoten´s peaks will have more people on them this summer than ever before.

Lofoten is special, and that is probably why you are reading these words and planning a trip. But Lofoten is also fragile. And in reality, the mountains can’t cope with their current rate of usage. The new Sherpa trail on Reinebrigen will still be under construction this summer, and the kommunne asks that people avoid the mountain. But no one really cares, and I’m sure new visitor records will be set this year on Lofoten´s most coveted mountain view.

Ryten and the view over Kvalvika beach has probably now become Lofoten’s next most popular view. Only back in 2012 on a wonderful August evening, I remember it was only me and a young German who were both camping at Kvalvika and also on the summit. These days I would estimate that there are 40-50 people camping at Kvalvika on the average summer night. And with no toilet facilities, that is a lot of…

Please ask yourself, as your standing in a parking lot on a rainy July afternoon with near zero visibility: Does the mountain need your additional wear and erosion, which won’t even result in much, if any view? I’m not saying don’t go anywhere at all. Just to be aware of conditions, and that your actions – and those of the 1000´s of other people, do have consequences and cause damage to this fragile landscape. This will be something Lofoten will have to discuss and find a solution to in the not to distant future.

Before heading into the wilds of Lofoten download a copy of: LOFOTEN CODE OF CONDUCT. Be a good visitor to this place and try to avoid unnecessary impact on the environment so that those in the future can enjoy what you do today.

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8
34mm
ISO 320
f 6.3
1/400 second
WB Daylight

Lofoten Code Of Conduct

Friday Photo #280 – Spring Snow Storms

Spring Snow Storms - Friday Photo #280

Photo: Spring snow flurries from summit of Ryten, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. May 19, 2016. 22:13

With the snow line rising higher and higher up the mountains each day under the nearly 24 hours of daylight in late May, passing snow storms are still a common occurrence, even more so in the mountains. So don’t leave the down jacket at home yet! Actually, even in the height of summer, it´s a good idea to always carry an insulation later when out in the mountains, more so if you are unfamiliar with Lofoten´s weather patterns.

And while I generally find May a slightly boring month on Lofoten, these late season snow storms do provide the potential for some dramatic light, especially if they are in the late evening.

This particular evening on Ryten actually started out quite calm and peaceful – one of the lakes was even still enough for some nice reflections while on the way up. As is Normal for Lofoten, things quickly changed and soon there was sideways blowing snow shortly after reaching the top. Soon the clouds pass and the summit is clear again, with the next waves of snow glowing in the evening light as they approach from the distance.

Camera Info:
Nikon D800
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8
58mm
ISO 160
f 10
1/100 second
WB Daylight
2 images: top, bottom

Friday Photo #279 – May Evening Light

May Light - Friday Photo #279

Photo: Evening light over Storsandnes beach from summit of Slettind. Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. May 13, 2017. 22:18

May is the month were the snow melts, the midnight sun arrives, the trees turn green, and the islands prepare for summer. It is also a month, like November, that I mostly stay out of the mountains and seek out other activities. I find it a weird transition, no longer winter while not quite summer. And to tell the truth, I don’t really find the brown grass, tired looking and matted from snow, to be all that scenic, especially in the higher mountains.

So I take May as a bit of a rest month, so rest the legs and save them for summer´s green mountains and fields of flowers. Alternately, it is also a good month to travel and leave Lofoten. And so while I wrote these words back in April, I’m currently sitting somewhere in Scotland – or better yet, heading out into the mountains somewhere.

In 2017 I didn’t leave Norway (unless Svalbard technically counts) and was only off Lofoten for a few weeks total. I just kinda got stuck, which isn’t bad. But for someone who traveled more or less non-stop for 10 years, it is an abrupt change. And while I love Lofoten and am nowhere close to getting bored yet, I’m actually afraid if I leave that I´ll miss something really cool that happens, I can recognize that I need to get away a bit, sometimes. And so why not Scotland, one of the only places with possibly worse weather than here!

But Lofoten can be a bit isolating as well; not much happens here. So beyond the mountains, I have to go elsewhere for more cultural type entertainment, which I finally realized over the winter that I’ve been missing a bit. Be it music in some pub on a rainy night, Glühwein at a German Christmas market, or a weekend at a music festival. I know I need to do a bit more this year, and so I will…

Camera Info:
Nikon D800
Nikon 24-70mm f/1.8
38mm
ISO 100
f 11
1/20 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #230 – Myrland Spring

Myrland Spring - Friday Photo #230

Photo: Spring snow over Myrland, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. May 30, 2017. 23:34

A cold north wind has been blowing across Lofoten during the last week. And while the summer sun has arrived on the islands, summer temperatures seem far away! Fresh snow has fallen across the mountains on several days, and while somewhat normal, it has been a colder than average May here in the north. And I just read that some areas of 3x the amount of snow than normal right now. Perhaps I should pull out the skis and head back to the mountains!

Often I watch the nice light and dramatic clouds outside my window during the evening, thinking to myself that I should head out to the mountains, until I remember the work I still need to do, and continue typing away on the computer. But the other day, I finally succumbed to the temptation and went for a quick sprint up Hornet.

Unfortunately, I waited a little too long, and a lay of clouds ate the sun before I reached the summit. I did manage a coupe images of the soft light shining over the valley, but nothing much compared to what I would have seen if I left an hour earlier. But with this my new backyard, I think I will have plenty of chances for something special in the next years.

Camera Info:
Nikon D800
Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8
14mm
ISO 100
f 9
1/15 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #229 – Ytresand Midnight Sun

Ytresand Midnight - Friday Photo #229

Photo: Moltind and Stortind reflect on Ytresand beach under the spring midnight sun, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. May 29, 2016. 23:48

In a few more days the midnight sun will arrive on Lofoten. And by midnight sun, I mean that the sun will not sink below the horizon. Which isn’t really at midnight either, but closer to 01:00, due to daylight savings time. But I guess midnight sun sounds more romantic than one-o’clock-in-the-morning-sun.

I always find spring to be a bit of a strange time of year for the senses. Or more specifically, the days and light are what I associate with summer, but the temperatures, especially this May on Lofoten, are closer to what I think of as winter. So I just need to make sure to brink my big jacket if I plan on sitting around the mountains all night long.

This evening had a layer of light clouds over the northern sky. Something that I normally hate during the day, as it causes a flat, boring light. But with the sun low on the horizon, it was just strong enough to for some nice, warm light to shine across the mountains.

At low tide, Ytresand beach has the potential for some nice reflections, and being just down the road from my house in Skjelfjord at the time, it was an easy location to get to for a quick photo or two. The mountains of Stortind (right) and Moltind (center-ish) form the dramatic ridgeline on central Flakstadøy.

Camera Info:
Nikon D800
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8
50mm
ISO 100
f 11
1/15 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #228 – Stornappstind Sunset

Stornappstind Sunset - Friday Photo #228

Photo: Last light over Stornappstind from Slettind, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. May 13, 2017. 22:24

The midnight sun is little more than a week away now, but I have already begun the transition to ‘night’ hiking. Though on off days, it feels a bit weird to stay up until 03:00 and wake up just before noon or so. Makes me feel like I’ve been out partying all night and then am waisting half the day, but I think I’m adjusting better than last year.

Slettind is now one of my ‘backyard’ mountains. Though there is no trail, a relatively easy grassy slope leads you up to the ridge at around 480 meters. Then some sheep trails and a few rock steps continue the way up to the 569 meter high summit. I have a feeling this will be a place I visit quite frequently, as the views are incredible.

Under the long hours of sunlight the snow is quickly melting out and the islands are beginning to turn green, though this year seems a bit on the late side, as temperatures have remained on the cooler side for much of May. However, in the mountains, it can still be full winter, and if you are planning on hiking anything inland or at elevation during the next few weeks, then you need to be prepared for winter hiking, not casual trail walking.

You can see the coastal side of Stornappstind is mostly melted out, while the high valley on the right side is still carrying a lot of snow. And the remaining snow is likely deeper area, while the shallow stuff covering rocks will be what has melted out first.

And another warning about rockfall. This is a dangerous time of year on Lofoten. Each time I drive the road to Leknes, there are new stones, and some of them quite large, which have fallen from the mountains above.

Camera Info:
Nikon D800
Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8
15mm
ISO 100
f 10
1/15 second
WB Daylight