Friday Photo #361 – Unstad Winter

Photo: Unstad beach covered in a dusting of light snow, Unstad, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. February 10, 2019. 08:52

Unstad in white. It was a strange snow on this morning, falling almost like ash and just dusting the landscape. The light was flat and almost contrast-less, but that fit the mood of the scene and turned the landscape almost colorless. If I did any black and white photography, this would have been a perfect morning for it.

I shot elsewhere on the beach first, going for a cleaner images of just snow, sand, sea, and sky. But further down the beach was this pile of seaweed washed ashore by one of the numerous winter storms of 2019.

If there had been less snow I would not have taken the image, nor if there had been more snow. But somehow, with this sugar coating of white on the beach and seaweed, it seemed interesting. A pile of seaweed should be boring and ugly. But on this day, in this light, it worked I think.

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24mm f/3.5 tilt-shift
24mm
ISO 100
f 9.5
30 seconds
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #360 – Winter Parking

Photo: Be careful where you try to turn around or park – it is not flat! Olenilsøy, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. March 6, 2019. 07:25

The winter tourism season is just around the corner here on Lofoten so this week is a public service announcement to watch where you attempt to turn around or park. What looks like a flat area on the side of the road most likely is a ditch, even if there is a parking area on the other side, such as this photo outside the fish factory at Olenisøy – near the Instagram popular ‘Sakrisøy cabin’ view point.

If you’ve driven on Lofoten in summer, then you’d see that nearly all sections of road have a 1 meter or so deep ditch just outside the roadway. This is to keep things from flooding most of the year. However in winter, this often becomes filled with snow and gives the illusion that is flat and safe to drive across. It is not!

As a general rule, you should never drive outside the border of the snow poles unless you are 100% sure what lies beneath. Even parking areas or driveways will often have just a small entrance, with ditches on either side.

And as you can see in this photo, there is nearly no contrast in the flat grey light. If not for the snow poles, it would be impossible to even see where the road was. Difficult driving conditions for sure, which require extra caution.

Luckily these girls, to quote, ‘We’re from Canada and should have known better!’ Didn’t have to wait too long before a tractor from a nearby factory drove by and could pull them out. But there aren’t many tow trucks on Lofoten, and some days become compete chaos on the roads, so it can be a long wait at times. I always carry a tow strap in my van and usually pull out 6-7 people each winter myself. And I usually get stuck at least once as well, usually from trying to get though too deep of a snowbank on my way home – good my neighbor has a tractor!

For a more detailed article about winter on the roads in Lofoten, see: WINTER DRIVING

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24-70 f/2.8
42mm
ISO 250
f 5.6
1/100 seconds
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #359 – November Reflection

Photo: Mountain reflections in partially frozen lake, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. November 21, 2019. 13:23

The cold snowy weather and early winter that Lofoten experienced at the beginning of November has shifter to warmer, wet and stormy weather over the last week. What had once been a fully snow covered landscape – enough for my first ski trip of the year – has mostly melted away in the November rain, and once frozen lakes have thawed in the mild weather.

But this is normal. The cold, white November was actually the slightly unusual weather. I was hoping we would head into full winter, but the islands are once again in waiting mode until the next snow arrives.

One thing is for sure though, the quickly disappearing sun. With barely 4 hours of daylight at the moment, the Polar Night is just around the corner. With the snow of early November, I kinda didn’t notice the darkness. But in these grey, cloudy days of the last week, I really began to notice it. Even at noon, it has felt depressingly dark already! And with each passing day it only gets worse. I don’t like November.

Living on the north side I don’t get any light anymore. I thought there might be a little break in the clouds on the souther horizon, so I went and took a drive Thursday for today’s post, to see if I could find any light. There was a bit, but nothing too special and so somehow I ended up on the road to Nusfjord.

After all the rain, the mountains are filled with waterfalls. A distant once, with a flowing river, caught my eye, and so I hiked across the thoroughly boggy land to get a little closer. Turns out the view from the road was better than near the base of the waterfall, so it wasn’t to photogenic. But this small lake I passed on the way looked much nicer with a near perfect reflection.

I initially wanted a tighter composition, but I could never get the mountains in balance. So I went wide, which seemed to work out nice enough. Though I never really like the November brown, I might have to keep this in might for September, with golden trees filling the foreground.

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 14-24 f/2.8
14mm
ISO 100
f 8
1/13 seconds
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #358 – November Light

Photo: The distant summit of Olstind illuminated in November’s afternoon light, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. November 14, 2019. 13:47

After the early start to winter of the last week – I even managed to get in my first ski tour or the season on Vestvågøy – The rain has returned since the middle of the week. Much of Lofoten is now covered in a sheet of wet ice thanks to the melting snow – and many of the side roads are quite scary to drive at the moment. So I’m using a bit of a head cold as an excuse to stay home – busy working on ebook updates anyhow.

The sun never gets very high in the sky anymore. It left my village some weeks ago and will leave the rest of Lofoten in a few more weeks. Those living on the southern side of Lofoten now get to experience the full days of sunrise-to-sunset light. For us living on the northern side, we re lucky enough to be able to see some light off in the distance, our only reminder that the sun is still here as the mountains cast their long shadows over my village.

I should have driven down to Storsandnes beach, but the thought of the road wasn’t very tempting. So instead I made the short walk down to my beach – which was already scary enough! The beach has been covered in seaweed recently from one of the last storms and the waves weren’t crashing over the rocks that I would have liked. So I ended up taking a somewhat more abstract approach. Though I still think this is nothing too special either. I should have gone to Storsandnes…

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24-70 f/2.8
24mm
ISO 100
f 9
2.5 seconds
WB Daylight
6 stop ND filter

Friday Photo #357 – November Winter

Photo: It’s beginning to look a lot like winter – the classic Olstind view over Reine, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. November 8, 2019. 13:09

Is this November or February? In near complete opposite of last November’s non-stop rain, this year we are rewarded with a cold and calm November – so far! Usually I consider November to pretty much be the worst month of the year here, but this year we’ve been given an early start to winter.

I had meant to go hiking, but in the short days I was too late to leave the house and make the hour + drive. After heading a little bit into the mountains I figured I wouldn’t get to any summits before the sun was gone. So I returned to my van and just made a couple quick stops at the normal tourist view points.

I’ll be standing here and looking at this view a lot in the next coming months once my photo tour season begins in mid January. But I kinda think this might be the winter’s best version of this view – or at least it will take something quite special to improve on it I think.

Now I just need to set my alarm a little earlier so I can get up a mountain tomorrow!

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24-70 f/2.8
44mm
ISO 31
f 14
8 seconds
WB Daylight
6 stop ND filter

Friday Photo #356 – Cormorant Rock

Photo: Cormorant rock, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. November 1, 2019. 13:15

A cold wind has been blowing for the last days and the snow line has been dancing up and down the mountains. On Tuesday we actually had our first ‘sea to summit’ snow of the season here in west Lofoten with a nice dusting on the beaches. Though as is normal this time of year it didn’t last long and was melted away in the next days rain. But over, the weather people say that Norway has had a slightly colder than average October this year, 2.0 degrees below average for Leknes.

Skarvstein – or cormorant rock as I like to call it, is one of the sights along my drive to town. The birds are nearly always there, just sitting. Occasionally the local sea eagle will hang out there as well.

I wasn’t actually sure what to post today as the week has been completely occupied by the update of my Kungsleden South ebook. But passing the rock today on the way back from the supermarket, it looked to be a fitting representation for the last week’s weather. While October can be a month of transition as autumn passes, November feels like we’re just waiting for the darkness of the polar night to arrive. On these heavy, overcast days it is just gloomy and dreary – the sun now too low in the sky to even shine though any breaks in the clouds here on the northern side of the islands – those on the south have a bit more luck with the light.

The sea was a little rough today, so I put on a 6 stop ND filter to go down to a 25 second exposure. Luckily the birds mostly sit still. I would have maybe gone for a longer exposure, would have looked nice for the clouds, but I was too lazy to stand around holding my cable release.

I cropped to 4:5 because there’s an annoying large rock just out of frame to the left which makes the composition feel unbalanced, so I didn’t want it in the shot – though ideally I would have liked to have shot the scene a little wider were it not there.

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24-70 f/2.8
52mm
ISO 31
f 1413
25 seconds
WB Daylight
6 stop ND filter

Friday Photo #325 – Unstad Waves

Photo: High tide and big waves washing away sand at Unstad beach, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. March 24, 2019. 15:48

The past weekend’s storms brought some big seas to Lofoten. I headed to Unstad beach a couple times for some wave watching. Impressive indeed, and unfortunately, it’s quite hard to take a photo which shows the proper scale – and it was probably a little rough for any surfers to be out!

At high tide, the waves were especially impressive, washing well up the normally flat sandy beach. If you have never seen or been to Unstad before, then this photo might not show too much. But in fact, this small cliff doesn’t normally exist. Around a meter or so of sand has been washed off the beach during the storms. Quite a lot!

The sand will return eventually and the beach will be back to normal. But for now, it will have a different look, with rocks where there normally aren’t any, as they are typically covered in sand. It is always impressive to see the raw power of the ocean.

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8
24mm
ISO 64
f 11
.5 second
WB Daylight
6 stop ND filter

Friday Photo #324 – Horseid Beach Winter

Photo: Winter view over Horseid beach, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. March 16, 2019. 16:14

Though Wednesday was the first official day of spring, Lofoten is still a long way from thawing out – or I should say, any more so that the normal winter temperature swings which can bring rain anytime. And with my winter photo season pretty much over for the season I can begin to focus on some winter mountain adventures over the next weeks.

The first trip from last weekend was a long coveted winter view over Horseid beach. I joined some friends from Lofoten Fjellsport group for a ski trip up to Branntuva. I was a bit worried the snow would be too thin, but it turned out to be some of the best snow I’ve ever skied on Lofoten, especially the descent from Fageråskaret pass. Such nice turns! Though unfortunately, the length of the trip and an unfortunately late start meant that this was mostly done by headlamp.

This would have been a good night to camp and the sky filled with northern lights later in the evening. But being avalanche terrain, it would not have been safe for me to return alone.

It turned out to be a long day, around 9.5 hours and 13km round trip. I’m not quite back in mountain shape yet after 2 months of photo guiding, so I was a bit wrecked to Sunday to enjoy the fantastic weather, a coffee and cinnamon bun was all I had the energy for. This weekend a series of storms are sweeping across the islands, so it will be indoor weather.

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8
20mm
ISO 100
f 6.3
1/320 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #323 – Sakrisøy Winter

Photo: Winter blue hour overlooking Sakrisøy, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. February 2, 2019

Sometimes there is nothing nicer the fresh snow on a cold winter morning. I don’t know how many times I’ve stood on this hill over the years, but a lot, and still, on mornings like this it’s worthing setting up the tripod for a few photos. In the early blue hour, sometimes it looks as if the mountains are glowing from within.

I actually found myself shooting quite a lot this winter workshop season. Perhaps it was because Lofoten had so much snow for a while, something which has largely been missing in recent years, or perhaps because there was also some quite interesting light and weather in familiar places that I’ve almost grown bored of seeing. Either way, I’ll have a lot of photos to edit during the next months.

For now thought, my photo tour season is over for this winter – though lofoten is still quite busy, there’s even a group walking around outside my house as I type. So my focus will mostly turn to the mountains for the next month until winter finally begins to thaw itself out in the short nights of April. And only 1 more month for aurora’s, so still need to keep an eye on the night sky, though I must say, I’ve been a bit spoiled this season, so it needs to be something big to draw me out of the house…

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8
21mm
ISO 100
f 8
6 seconds
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #322 – Southern Storms

Photo: Waves crash over shoreline of Hamnøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. February 26, 2019. 17:48

Only a month after January’s snowmegeddon buried Lofoten under 1+ meters of snow in a single day, a week of rain in the end of February has more of less washed it all away. Winter is a narrow balance here on Lofoten, and a change in wind can be the difference between nice skiing or muddy hikes during the winter months. And while all the snow of January was impressive, it was a bit optimistic to think that it would remain the whole winter. So here in west Lofoten, we’re waiting for the next big snowfall before we can put on the skis again!

Sometimes I find it frustrating, that winter is not always white and cold here. But that is the price we pay on Lofoten to have such mild weather for our northern latitude; the islands warmed by the gulf stream. But still, the locals like to talk about the old days, when the islands were buried in snow. January was perhaps my first experience of this, but it didn’t last.

So late February’s rain melted away January’s snow. A normal cycle here these days: cold, warm, cold, warm. A gentle balance. And yet, it is unfortunately impossible to predict what will come from year to year. What will next year bring? Nobody knows…

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8
17mm
ISO 320
f 4.5
1.3 seconds
WB Daylight