Friday Photo #309 – Last Sun

Last Sun of 2018 - Friday Photo #309

Photo: My final view of the sun before the beginning of the polar night – mørketid, Napp, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. December 2, 2018. 11:46

I spent Saturday traveling back from Oslo looking on somewhat jealously while my Instagram feed was filled with fantastic light from Lofoten. I didn’t step foot back in Leknes until the last fading hours of twilight. With the final sunset of the year less than a week away and a pretty grim weather forecast, I thought I had missed my last view of the sun for the year.

Before even heading home I went to Reine and then Å to run in the Anette Møller Løpet (almost) 10k charity run from Å to Reine. 57:00 minutes for me, not to bad for only 4 hours of sleep, almost no food, and most of the day in airports. Afterwards I was tired, so insead of going out for the party afterwards, I went home as was in bed by 21:20 – what a way to spend a Saturday night!

As morning came – I kinda slept in a bit, But as I got up I could see light shining on the mountains across on Vestvågøy. Hmmm, the southern horizon must be clear. So I headed down the road to see the light.

As I got to Napp, the sky was filled with light. I parked and headed up a little hill overlooking Nappstraumen. Soon, the sun peaked out around the corner of Skottind, barely rising above the sea on the southern horizon – sunrise at noon…

I should also mention that it was windy like hell, with a near gale force wind blowing across my face. I would have liked to shoot something more creative, but it was hard enough work just to keep my tripod from blowing over! So a ‘snapshot’ was the best I could hope to do under the circumstances.

And so eventually the sun left again. The rest of the week has been filled with clouds and the polar night begins tomorrow (Saturday). So while I might still have some chances for some nice color in the sky over the next weeks, I won’t see the sun again for the next month – until sometime in early January, weather cooperating. Polar night number three for me, here in the north.

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8
34mm
ISO 100
f 11
1/25second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #308 – First Sun

First Sun - Friday Photo #308

Photo: First sun of 2018 over Lofoten from Offersøykammen, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. January 10, 2018. 11:39

With the last sunset of the year only a week away and a pretty crappy weather forecast until then, it is likely that Lofoten has seen it’s last sunlight for the year. Luckily I’m down in Oslo this week, and will have a bit of light hopefully. Otherwise, I can’t remember when I saw the sun last anymore, but it has been some weeks already.

So now I look forward to the return of the sun here in the north. Technically it should be January 5-6, depending on where on Lofoten you are. But as with our descent into the polar night, the weather also plays an important factor. So it can take another week or so before I might see the sun floating low over the southern sky.

This year, 2018, January 10th was the return of the sun to Lofoten. Some low hazy clouds had been forecast, so I knew I needed to head up a mountain for my best chance at a bit of light. I’ve already written about this day before (Friday Photo #262), so I wont go into much detail. But the countdown now begins. When will the 2019 sun return?…

Camera Info:
Nikon D800
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8
62mm
ISO 100
f 11
1/125second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #306 – November

November - Friday Photo #306

Photo: Soft afternoon twilight over distant mountains of Moskenesøy from Møntind, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. November 10, 2016. 14:04

November is a strange month here in the north. Some years, there can be some nice days, while others, like this year, it is seemingly non-stop rain and darkness. Even though the polar night is still a few weeks away, many parts of Lofoten have already entered into perpetual twilight in the shadow of mountains. And with the sun only rising 3˚ above the horizon at the moment, even on the southern side of the islands, any low layer of cloud will hide the sun. While there is still chance to see the sun again before the final sunset of the year, that day might already have passed if the current weather remains. Last year I did not see the sun for over 2 months.

And so, we kind of just wait. Wait for the cold and winter to arrive because at least with snow, they land is much brighter, even in the mountain shadows of the yttersia. This year will be my 3rd polar night here in the north. Though it is not off the table for me to head south for a bit over the holidays, to get a little vitamin D in my system.

When going out hiking in the morning these days I have almost the same feeling as when heading out in the evenings during summer. You can feel the sky is dark and the sun is low. Only in summer it will soon get light again. In November, it means you only have a few hours before the headlamp needs to come out of the backpack. Otherwise, most of our lives take place in darkness for the the next 2.5 months. A strange thought as I’m live stream the big wave surf comp from Nazare, Portugal as I’m watching this; bright blue sky overhead.

Camera Info:
Nikon D800
Sigma 70-200 f/4
200mm
ISO 100
f 7.1
1/125 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #305 – November Aurora

November Aurora - Friday Photo #305

Photo: Aurora filling the sky over Nappstraumen, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. November 7, 2018. 21:48

In what has been a reliability disappointing start to the aurora season on Lofoten this year – mostly due to near constant bad weather – the sky finally exploded last night in probably the best aurora I’ve seen in the 2018/2019 northern lights season. And more importantly, it wasn’t even forecast to happen – it was only that the sky was clear – the only forecast which actually matters for northern lights!

A solar storm had arrived a few days previously, with other areas enjoying some nice aurora, while it remained cloudy here on Lofoten, and thus, nothing. And a solar storm is supposed to arrive in another day or two, in which it will probably be cloudy again. But Wednesday night, the sky was clear, so I kept watch out my office window.

An aurora arch eventually formed low on the northern horizon around 20:30 so so. Remaining faint for a while, I didn’t wander down to the beach until a little after 21:00. The aurora slowly picked up in intensity over the next 30 minutes or so until 21:45 when the sky absolutely exploded with dancing aurora everywhere! Even with this exposure of 1.3 seconds, pretty fast by northern lights standards, you can the aurora is quite blurred, that is how fast it was moving!

This lasted around 10 minutes before eventually fading away again. I was smart enough to put my rain boots on, but I ended up with waves crashing over my knees on several occasions, so got completely soaked! But luckily it was a relatively mild night for November. I waited around until about 23:00 or so, but never so the intensity of before. And so I eventually walked back home…

Camera Info:
Nikon D885
Sigma 14mm f/1.8
14mm
ISO 2500
f 1.8
1.3 seconds
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #304 – Winter Driving

Winter Driving - Friday Photo #304

Photo: Driving into January snowstorm in winter darkness, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. January 6, 2018. 15:23

It is getting to be that time of year again where the temperatures are falling below freezing more frequently and sun is too low in the sky to reach many parts of Lofoten, meaning the landscape is beginning to ice over for the winter. And for the next months most activity on the islands takes place in twilight and darkness. This includes the driving.

Last winter, the islands experienced unprecedented chaos from unprepared drivers and the local newspapers had near daily about crashes, with even local politicians wondering if there should be some sort of extra testing for drivers inexperienced with winter conditions. This year will no doubt be the same.

So I’ve written a bit of an article about a few things to be prepared for when driving here during winter: WINTER DRIVING.

Camera Info:
Nikon D800
Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8
17mm
ISO 1600
f 3.2
1/20 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #278 – Life in Norway Podcast

Life In Norway Podcast - Friday Photo #278

Photo: Interview on Life in Norway Podcast.

Today is something a bit different. Instead of reading some words here, you can hear some.

A while back, November 2017, actually, I recored and interview with David from the Life in Norway website. We had first met at TBEX in Stockholm in 2016, where it was nice to have someone else from Norway talking about how cheap everything was, while everyone else was saying Sweden was so expensive! Only for a Norwegian is Sweden cheap, ha!

Anyhow, a while later he started up a podcast series, mostly interview other people like myself who have moved to Norway and how we find life here. So, go give it a listen HERE!

April Storms – Friday Photo #277

April Storms - Friday Photo #277

Photo: Mountains of Vestvågøy disappear into storm clouds across Nappstraumen. Maryland, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. April 7, 2018. 14:23

While the south of Norway, and the rest of Europe, is beginning to transition into Spring, April on Lofoten is still mostly a month of winter. And while the sun is now high in the sky and the final days of the aurora season are approaching, large winter storms still pass over the islands and paint the mountains white with snow.

I went as far as my backyard to get this image. Not because I was lazy, well a bit maybe, but because my road was closed by avalanche, again. I had actually be locked out on the far side the previous day as the road closed while I was in Leknes. So I had to part at Storsandnes beach and walk home.

But even the storms are not enough to resist the warm April sun, and snow that would have stuck around in February begins to melt away quicker from ridges and steep cliffs. So one has to act quick to capture the fresh snow before it becomes faded and the brown grasses are exposed.

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 70-200mm f/4
75mm
ISO 200
f 8
1/500 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #276 – April Aurora

April Aurora - Friday Photo #276

Photo: April aurora over Myrland beach, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. April 13, 2018. 02:06

With bad weather on the way over the next days, the aurora season is finally over on Lofoten. And despite all the talk of the sun reaching a solar minimum, this has perhaps been the best aurora season I’ve ever experienced – Starting on September 1st, it has been 7 1/2 months of fantastic dancing skies on a weekly basis. Though this was also in part aided by the fantastic weather Lofoten has experienced this winter as well, with more clear nights than I can remember. Will things continue like this next year – Hopefully! But inreality, there is no way to know what the weather gods will bring to the north…

So this will probably be my last aurora image of the year – well, the image I posted last week (Friday Photo #275) was taken a bit after this – but the same night. I could see the aurora dancing over the next few nights, and Sunday´s show was pretty good too, but I had to be up early so didn’t get out.

One slight mistake I made this year was waiting to buy the Sigma 14mm f/1.8 lens. I should have picked it up in September (was it out yet?). It seemed something a bit specialized, and so I sat on the fence for a long while until I saw one of my fellow guides with one. And it might not seem like much, f/2.8 to f/1.8. But when shooting aurora, that 1 1/3 stops of light can make a real difference. Not all the time, such as this image, but when the aurora are dancing, the difference between going from say 8 seconds to 3 seconds is huge! Or alternatively, being able to lower the ISO a bit can help with image quality as well.

It is a heavy beast, so I doubt I´ll be carrying up too many mountains. But I have a feeling it will be on my camera many night in the next aurora season!

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Sigma 14mm f/1.8
14mm
ISO 1600
f 2
3 seconds
WB Daylight

 

Friday Photo #275 – Night Becomes Day

Twilight Aurora - Friday Photo #275

Photo: Night becomes day. Twilight northern lights over Myrland, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. April 13, 2018. 02:16

I originally had another photo from a few days ago to post today. But then this happened last night, err, early this morning. Depending on the weather, this might be my last aurora photo of the season.

April is a month of change on Lofoten. Though anything resembling ‘spring’ weather is still a long ways off – there is currently a meter+ of snow in parts of my yard – April is when one can feel the islands becoming light again, and that winter will soon be over.

The other night as clear skies arrived I wandered down to the beach at 01:00. Even though the sun is still below the horizon for 8+ hours, we have reached that time of year where the sky begins to glow in the north. Some northern lights were strong enough to show up as well, but they will soon be gone for the year as the northern horizon becomes light and lighter with each passing day.

And with the mountains still full of deep snow, it is a wonderful time of year for winter activities as I can almost, but not quite yet, begin to leave the headlamp at home and not have to worry about time constraints.

Spring as a season – fields turning green, birds singing, flowers blooming, passing storms, etc. – doesn’t really exist here on Lofoten. Winter still keeps a strong grip on the land well into May some years. But the arrival of the light is the special thing here. And also somewhat of an strange feeling, with your eyes telling you it should be summer as you’re putting on your down jacket. A feeling completely strange for someone who grew up in California. Which even now, the days here on Lofoten are longer than midsummer in California, yet the beaches here are covered in snow!

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Sigma 14mm f/1.8
14mm
ISO 2000
f 2
1.6 seconds
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #273- Ryten Ski

Friday Photo #273 - Ryten Topptur

Photo: Ski tour till Ryten with Kvalvika in the background, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. April 2, 2017. 10:27

Between Monday and Friday I made 4 ski tours to the summit of Ryten. The weather was and light pretty dramatic some of the days, not sunny like this photo from last year. I actually wish I had brought my camera, but me skiing and photographing is not a safe combination yet.

Overall though, compared to making a similar amount of trips last year, I’m amazed at the amount of people on the mountain, both skiers and hikers. On Wednesday alone, I probably passed over 40 people on the mountain, and that was just in a 2 hour round trip. Only 3-4 years ago, I don’t think many people visited this mountain in winter at all. So now even in winter, there are issues with parking! And Kvalvika has been even more busy by appearance.

If you are heading out to the mountains of lofoten right now, make sure you are prepared. The Islands have quite a high avalanche risk at the moment: you can check the forecast at www.varsom.no. And fresh snow is falling every day, so all footprints will be erased by morning. And still below the snow, remains a lot of ice.

Camera Info:
Nikon D800
Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8
16mm
ISO 160
f 9
1/500 second
WB Daylight