Friday Photo #332 – Syttende Mai

Syttende Mai - Friday Photo #332

Photo: 17th of May parade through Ramberg, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. May 17, 2019. 11:30

Syttende mai – 17th of May is Norway’s constitution day, when in 1814 Norway declared its independence from Denmark.

All over Norway flags will be flying and music playing today. The biggest celebration will be in Oslo of course. But even here on Lofoten, even many of the smaller villages across the islands will have their own parades and celebrations. I headed to Ramberg, the capital of Flakstadøy where several hundred people were gathered.

Down south they have temps over 20 degrees and sunshine, summer. Here 17th of May usually has a bit trickier weather, and while it was forecast to be sunny, a low heavy cloud hangs over Lofoten. Though at least its not snowing or hailing like in previous years!

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 70-200mm f/4
200mm
ISO 320
f 5.6
1/500 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #331 – Spring Flowers

Photo: Early wildflowers and a dusting of May snow, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. May 4, 2019. 21:02

After the unusual warm at the end of April, the weather corrected itself back to normal patterns and once again snow was falling in the first days of may. The warmth though already sent the spring ‘greening’ of Lofoten into motion much earlier that normal. So even in the first days of May the fields had already begun to turn green and fill with flowers in some areas.

So when the fresh snow fell, I though it would be an interesting juxtaposition that we don’t often see here – snow and flowers. Usually it’s plenty of one or the other, on their own.

And while working on the update to the Seasons on Lofoten: Summer ebook, I was also planning on what I need for a possible Spring/Autumn edition – Though I’m still not wholly convinced there is enough demand for one. Even though website traffic here is so high these days I had to move servers and hosting the other week, ebook sales have been going down over the last year – I guess more access to free information that ever, even here, and more competition as well. But I am still out shooting when possible, trying to answer the question visually: what is spring on Lofoten?

I think I could have executed this image slightly better. While I wanted to isolate the flowers against the mountain, I think the mountain is perhaps a bit too abstract. I should have stopped down a little perhaps. On the bright side, the flowers and mountain are only a stone’s throw from my front door, so new attempts will be easy. Though I’m not sure if we’ll get much more snow this year – it already almost feels like summer here again…

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 70-200mm f/4
70mm
ISO 160
f 5.6
1/160 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #330 – Saharan Sunset

Photo: Spring Saharan sunset over Myrland beach, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. April 27, 2019. 21:21

When I wrote it last weeks Friday Photo (#329) that it had been warm for several days, it turned into a weekend of t-shirt weather, not a cloud to be seen and barely a hint of wind. The weather was actually too good for photography!

However, it as not just the normal hazy blue sky that sometimes occurs in summer, instead it was caused by sand from the Sahara desert drifting over Lofoten. And so over several nights, despite the cloudless sky, we were given orage and red skies, something that I’m more used to at home in California.

In the sun and warmth I could see the fields outside my house growing greener by the day, at the trees in my yard have already begun to bud. A few weeks earlier than normal this year.

But Lofoten being Lofoten, the summer days are over and a cold north wind with passing snow flurries has been sweeping over the islands over the last days. Summer has been put on pause for the time being. But actually, this is the more normal weather for this time of year and snow is a fairly regular occurrence until the end of the month. So it will be a little while longer before I can put the jackets away…

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24mm f/3.5 tilt-shift
24mm
ISO 31
f 13
6 seconds
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #329 – Spring Nights

Photo: Lenticular cloud over Himmeltindan at twilight, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. April 20, 2019. 22:50

Spring has arrived in the last week here on Lofoten – even up to 15˚ C in the last few days! That might not sound like much to anyone down south, but for me, it’s the warmest temperature I’ve had since September! I can even go on my evening jogs in shorts and a t-shirt at the moment. How long it will last, nobody knows. But at least it is a taste of summer for us! And a nice July day might not be much warmer than 15˚ C here anyhow.

Spring is a tricky time of year here on Lofoten. The light of summer but often the cold of winter. Though in sun and warmth and sun of the last week I can see the fields outside my house growing greener by the day. Which is quite a difference to last year when there was much more snow, especially on the mountains. It will probably snow again, perhaps several times, but at least the thermometer seems to be moving north.

Usually spring is a slightly unproductive photographic time for me. As I don’t really like the brown landscapes all that much. But this year, I will probably make much more effort to go out and photograph and to illustrate what spring is, as hopefully later in the year I’ll produce the final missing sections of my ’Seasons on Lofoten’ ebook guides – spring and autumn. Which I will likely combine together into one guide, as they are otherwise relatively short periods on their own. First though, I’m putting in long hours for the long overdue 2nd edition of Seasons on Lofoten – Summer, which should be out next week hopefully!

I was hoping to be lazy on this rainy evening. The sunset was interesting, but not enough to get me out of the house. Finally though, a little while later all the low clouds passed and I was this glowing lenticular cloud floating over Himmeltindan. It is not often we get lenticular clouds here, so I quickly grabbed my camera and rain out into the bog of my neighbors field. It was windy – the whole reason the cloud was there – but warm. So between gusts, I managed a few images in the quickly fading twilight.

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8
38mm
ISO 100
f 7.1
5 seconds
WB Daylight

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
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