Friday Photo #266 – Reine

Reine Winter - Friday Photo #266

Photo: Olstind rises above the frozen shoreline, Reine, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. January 22, 2018. 09:50

It is not often that I take photos in Reine anymore. But occasionally, and usually when I’m guiding a workshop, I’ll come across some nice conditions in which it’s worth pulling out the camera. After several days in the area this january with an annoying south wind keeping the bay reflection-less, conditions finally calmed.

After some decent snow, and then rain which washed much of it away, it was almost completely dry during the 2nd half of January this year. But the dry conditions also brought a freezing cold to Lofoten, and so even without snow, we had ice.

As the tide receded, the frozen sections of the shoreline waters were left to fall and break across the rocks. Without this element as a foreground, I probably wouldn’t have shot this scene – even though the twilight was nice enough itself! But the this layer of ice helps hide what would be, for me, the overly messy rocks and seaweed. I also shot another composition with just Olstind’s reflection in the water, but I like this version better, as it gives a better sense of place to the image.

Camera Info:
Nikon D810
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8
ISO 100
f 10
.5 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #245- Midnight Glow

Midnight Glow - Friday Photo #245

Photo: Midnight sun shines between mountain peaks, Helvetestind, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. June 14, 2017. 00:17

On my second trip to Helvetestind in two weeks, Conditions were totally different on this night. A heavy fog was blowing in from the north. Bunes beach has been completely concealed and was invisible from above.

As we descended at midnight, I could see this glow of light shining between Mereflesstind and Kråkhammartind over Kirkefjord. I light layer of fog was blowing in, glowing in the low light of the midnight sun.

I found a place along the ridge that I though gave a nice separation to the layers of mountains ahead of me. Rather than shooting wide, I switched to my 70-200 so I could focus just on the light coming from behind the mountains.

Camera Info:
Nikon D800
Nikon 70-200mm f/4
ISO 200
f 9
1/400 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #244 – Olstind Twilight

Olstind - Friday Photo #244

Photo: Olstind mountain peak reflects in fjord, Sakrisøy, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. June 14, 2017. 02:11

My fried Olaf dropped my tour group off at Sakrisøy after a midnight trip up Helvetestind – my second time to the summit in two weeks.

A sea fog had been covering all the land to the north but back on the south side, the world was calm. Tired after a long day, we decided one more shot was needed.

I’ve photographed Olstind hundreds of times by now for almost every possible angle. But it is still a peak which I never grow tired of. And so I pulled out my camera and tripod for yet another photo of this iconic mountain.

I like the softness of the light here. It was ‘sunrise’ but it doesn’t really appear so. If the fjord was not perfectly calm, perhaps I wouldn’t have taken the image. But it was so quiet out, just us standing at the edge of the sea – and a few birds making some noise in the distance.

Camera Info:
Nikon D800
Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8
ISO 200
f 10
1/80 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #243 – Bunes View

Bunes Beach - Friday Photo #243

Photo: View over Bunes beach, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. July 21, 2017. 22:08

Another weekend in the west. The original plan had been a somewhat ambitious climb above Vindstad. But as we made the first moves up the route, it was evident that it was more than we bargained for on this day – something to come back to in early winter when the grass is frozen and we can use ice tools.

Not wanting to head back to camp totally defeated, we headed towards some unknown peak on the opposite side of the ridge. And what a view it turned out to be! I had never even heard the name of this mountain before, nor even given the slightest thought to hiking it, it is not the easiest place to reach though. But wow.

A golden eagle flew from the summit as I made the final approach up the rocky steps.

Heading down, we decided to stay on the ridge. Where this view is from. Always looking forward to the future, I spotted a few places where a tent might be possible. This view with northern lights above!

Camera Info:
Nikon D800
Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8
ISO 125
f 10
1/40 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #242 – Kirkefjord

Kirkefjord - Friday Photo #242

Photo: Kirkefjord clouds, Rostad, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. July 16, 2017. 19:39

The rain was pounding my windshield as I headed west towards Reine. We had made plans to borrow a friend’s boat and to do a bit of exploring in the fjord, but I wasn’t very optimistic.

The rain was still falling as I pulled the boat to shore and figured out how to work everything. Good I brought my rain clothes! From Reine we headed towards Rostad, a small village on the east side of the fjord. Despite all my time on Lofoten, I had never been there before.

We moored the boat at the only empty spot on a small pier. But as we walked towards the village, we met someone on the balcony of a house who informed us that we shouldn’t park there, as another boat was coming. Luckily, our fiend in Reine had told us to say hello to a friend in Rostad, the man we were speaking to. Suddenly it became okay for us to leave the boat, and he could move it if necessary. Good to know the right people!

There are several mountains out of Rostad that have been on my ‘to do’ list for some time. However, as waves of rain still passed us, we decided just for a bit of easy exploring.

Eventually we made out way up to the lake below Segltind, seeing if there might be a possible route of from this side. The hours grow long and it was time to return to Reine. Back in Rostad, The clouds were blowing over the peaks above Kirkefjord. I walked out on some rocks and took a final image for the day.

Camera Info:
Nikon D800
Nikon 24-70mm f/4
ISO 50
f 16
30 seconds
WB Daylight
10 stop B+W ND filter

Friday Photo #241 – Summer Flowers

Summer Flowers - Friday Photo #241

Photo: Field of summer flowers, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. July 6, 2017. 14:37

From mid June until early July the fields of Lofoten are filled with endless color of an infinite amount of flowers. Even the farm fields, such as this, can provide endless photo opportunities. But one has be be quick.

Farming on Lofoten is mostly simple: Let your field grow, cut it, let it grow again, cut it again. For the first growth, beginning in late May, the fields explode with color. But as the flowers peak, soon the farmers will bright out the mowers and cut everything to the ground to store for the winter.

I had driven past this field two days prior, and all was fine. Driving past on this day, in early July, the farmer had already partially cut the field. Knowing the opportunity would probably not survive the following day, I stopped for a quick photo. Maybe not the best light, but this is what Lofoten looks like at its peak: fields of gold.

Camera Info:
Nikon D800
Nikon 70-200mm f/4
ISO 100
f 5.6
1/500 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #240 – Storskiva Camping

Storskiva - Friday Photo #240

Photo: Camping on the summit of Storskiva, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. July 22, 2017. 23:57

After 239 previous Friday photo posts, I can’t always remember what I have written previously, so perhaps this might be a bit of a repetition, or maybe something new.

I like to camp on the summit of mountains because I know that I’m a bit lazy. When I tell this to others, they say sleeping on mountains is more work than just hiking. But to me, its not.

I want to get the best light when on my mountain trips. But I also like my sleep. So when camping on summits, while maybe a bit more work to get there, once at the top, life just becomes a waiting game. I can sit around, drink a bit of whisky, eat a good meal. And then, if the light comes, I’m already there! None of this hiking down in the dark crap, or getting up 5 hours before sunrise.

I can sit around and be lazy, then shoot sunset. Wake up, roll out of the tent, and shoot sunrise. Simple! To me, it makes perfect sense. Two photo possibilities for the effort of one.

Camera Info:
Nikon D800
Nikon 70-200mm f/4
ISO 100
f 8
1/8 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #239 – Bunes Beach

Bunes beach - Friday Photo #239

Photo: Summer light over Bunes beach from Storskiva, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. July 22, 2017. 22:40

In October last year I made my first attempt to camp on the summit of Storskiva. It didn’t go so well and high winds forced me down from the summit. But I do not give up so easily. And even with dozens of other mountains to hike on Lofoten, a night on Storskiva remained a priority coming into summer 2017.

In late July, a good weekend forecast (for my friends to come along) finally led to the the realisation of a night on the summit.

The original plan had been to go up on Friday night, but a delayed ferry to Vindstad due to the summer crowds, and some other planning issues meant we saved the mountain for Saturday. The forecast wasn’t as reliable, but as things turned out, it was near perfect – for camping that is, the light itself might have been a bit on the boring side.

With no trees or shade in sight, I was cooking under the near 20˚ temperatures and powerful sun. Only carrying 2.5 liters of water, I was on the low side for the temperatures. And I had to setup my tent to have a bit of shade to hide behind throughout the afternoon, which I mostly lazed about and took a bit of a nap.

Finally, in the late evening the sun was approaching the horizon to the north. The light was a bit on the hazy side, but there was a warm glow across the granite peaks of west Lofoten, fading endlessly into the distance.

Bunes itself was quite crowded down below, but up here, there was only 3 of us, with the entire mountain for ourselves. Finally, a bit after midnight and after plenty of wine and whisky, it was time for bed. Maybe in previous years I would have stayed up through the night shooting. But I think I have become a bit spoiled, or perhaps just lazy. I enjoy the moments I have, and when it has been enough, I am content.

Camera Info:
Nikon D800
Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8
ISO 100
f 10
1/20 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #238 – Storskiva Sunset

Storskiva Sunset - Friday Photo #238

Photo: Watching the sun sink into the sea from the summit of Storskiva, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. July 22, 2017. 23:06

In October last year I made an attempt to camp on the summit of Storskiva. The weather decided otherwise and so it just ended up a day hike. So with a good forecast for this past weekend after some days of cold weather, I set my sights on the summit once again.

Vinstad is a crowded place in summer, and the Friday afternoon boat required two departures, us unfortunately missing the scheduled 15:00 trip and not leaving till closer to 16:30. This put us in Vinstad later than planned. Still time enough to get to Storskiva for sunset, but with some added complications to meet a friend arriving later, so we headed to our other planned objective for the weekend.

The sun was shining bright on my tent Saturday morning, well, closer to midday as we had been up until after 03:00 Friday night, when I finally stirred from sleep. More so from being too hot, than actually wanting to get up. From our first camp, we took a lazy pace towards Storskiva.

The day was hot! I only had 2.5 litres of water with me, while usually fine, was a bit on the low side for the sweltering sun. Not that I’m complaining about it being good weather! We arrived at the summit in mid afternoon and I immediately set up my tent to have some shade to hide in – I could feel my redness already forming.

Next began a lazy afternoon as I waited for the light to grow softer. Finally, as the sun neared the horizon, we left camp and headed out to where the summit overlooks Bunes beach. I could tell it was crowded down there, with a couple dozen tents pitched across the grassy dunes, but up on Storskiva, there was only 3 of us.

The 24 hours of the sun above the horizon had left Lofoten a few days previously. And every night it sinks into the sea just a little bit earlier. I feel like I just got used to the rhythms of late nights and now they will soon be over. But with dark skies, comes a new type of magic to the north, which I’m eagerly looking forward to!

Camera Info:
Nikon D800
Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8
ISO 200
f 5.6
1/200 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #237 – Ryten Poop

Mountain pollution - Friday photo #237

Photo: Pile of human faces and toilet paper under a rock on the summit of Ryten, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. July 5, 2017. 22:44

This weeks photo is literally shit, in more ways than one. First, it is a photo from my phone, so apologies for the quality. Second, it is a pile of poop and toilet paper, left in the open save for a small stone placed on top. How nice!

This was a few meters from the summit of Ryten, where I was with a client a couple weeks back. I was looking for a nice steady rock to put my tripod on and then I came across this lovely sight. There were also other areas as well, unfortunately.

This is completely unacceptable mountain behaviour and is not something that should be seen on Lofoten!

I guess this has to be another one of my annual ‘tourists behaving badly’ articles. Unfortunately this year seems even worse than the last.

I am bringing attention to this this week, as in the last days there has been a series of articles about poor behavior from tourists in the local news. See:
NRK article 1
NRK article 2
NRK article 3
NRK article 4


With the final one titled: We must turn our marketing away from Lofoten. This is coming from one of Norway’s biggest tourism agencies. A sad state of affairs. But now that the people are here, something needs to be done.

As I now hike the mountains here on a weekly basis, I can see the damage being done. For some trails that I might not have visited for a while, I am shocked at the amount of new erosion and spreading of what might have been a single trail into multiple ways, all attempting to avoid the erosion of the last path. And I myself, and this website, are also part of the problem.

The chief example of this on Lofoten is Reinebringen. The trail has now officially been closed by Moskenes Kommune. But the wording of the signs are unclear, and without proper direction; making it seem more like a suggestion that they hope you listen to. And so hundreds of people still hike this dangerous route daily; just this week there is an article that 7000 people have gone up the supposedly closed mountain in the last month alone. The highest amount of traffic ever.

A friend of mine recently contacted the mayor of Moskenes, suggesting stronger wording might be needed, she was told that the sign was good enough. Well, obviously not!

More funding has been raised to continue work on the trail, but realistically, I would be surprised so see if finished by summer 2020.

Which leads me to the typical situation on Lofoten: There are complaints about too many tourists and not enough facilities, but it always seems up to someone else to find a solution. This is due to a myriad of reasons from funding (the Norwegian government wont allow implementation of any sort of ‘tourist tax’), to who actually has the authority/responsibility to do something.

From the outside world, Lofoten is one place. Lofoten. For Lofoten however, there is Moskenes, Flakstad, Vestvågøy, Austvågøy, Leknes and Svolvær, Statens Vegvessen and private land owners, plus numerous organizations. Often, it seems they try and shift the responsibility of providing any necessary infrastructure onto someone/something else. And so nothing will be done this year, next year, or the decade to come. The nature will be polluted further, tourists will be blamed, and next summer the same articles will appear in the local newspapers and I will type another one of these articles, reminding you to behave properly.

There was supposed to have been an expansion of the parking area at Kvalvika made after lasts years chaos. It wasn’t. They are now attempting to direct visitors the parking area at the school in Fredvang, which is good! However, this is 3.5km down the road from the traditional parking area at Torsfjord, more than doubling the distance of the hike. And so what happens? People still illegally park along the road, same as last summer where I wrote about it in Friday Photo #187.

I saw a comment on Facebook today that someone counted over 60 tents at Kvalvika one night this week. 60 tents is probably around 100 people, just on a single night. All without a toilet! And that is not even counting all the day hikers. No wonder there are piles of shit to be found next to almost every rock and tree. How long can this rate of usage continue on before Kvalvika, and many other locations, become toxic dumps of faces and toilet paper?

I have been attempting to talk with some people and bring a bit of my perspective as an American, and what we have done to help protect some of our more fragile mountain areas. But I am also aware that I’m an outsider in an old and well established community, and my input, though possibly useful, might not always be welcome. However, I chose to make these Islands my home because I love them more than any place else in the world. And their future is also mine now. So I hope things can be improved for the benefit of all.

Nature is fragile here in the north. And so it is up to all of us to help keep in clean and minimize our impact.

For more information about how to behave in the outdoors on Lofoten: Download the Lofoten Code of Conduct

For a list of local toilets and waste disposal locations, see: Clean Up Lofoten Map

Camera Info: