Friday Photo #263 – April Is Still Winter

April Is Winter - Friday Photo #263

Photo: April is still winter here – deep snow and strong winds high up on Mengelsdalstind, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. April 13, 2017. 12:52

I have been receiving a lot of emails lately about ‘spring’ hiking on Lofoten. And by spring, most people are using continental weather as their reference, meaning April and May. Though the nights are no longer fully dark, April is still full winter here in the north. And while the coasts begin to thaw in May, it is still ski season in the higher mountains.

Even in June, snow will still be a dominant factor most years in many of the inland mountain areas – and especially in east Lofoten.

If you are thinking of hiking the mountains here anytime before mid June, then I suggest reading my Winter Hiking article first.

Mengelsdalstind wasn’t the objective of this trip. But first we had to cross the summit of this 826 meter peak, then descend the back side to reach our target peak in an isolated and obscure part of Moskenesøy. After a mostly calm night camped on a narrow snow ledge at Ågskaret, the wind had really picked up this morning as we ascended the narrow ridge through often deep snow. With my backpack 27kg backpack full of climbing gear and 5 days worth of food, it was exhausting work.

Camera Info:
Nikon D800
Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8
15mm
ISO 100
f 9
1/800 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #262 – First Sun

First Sun - Friday Photo #262

Photo: First sun of the new year, Offersøykammen, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. January 10, 2018. 11:16

Though the polar night technically finished around January 5/6, weather kept the sun hidden for a few days longer. But finally on Wednesday, with a clear weather forecast, the sun returned to the north!

Still low on the horizon, I was careful to choose a mountain in which I knew it would be visible. Offersøykammen was one of the safer choices, with enough composition options. Unfortunately though, heavy rain on Monday and Tuesday melted away much of the snow which has been covering the islands since Christmas.

Having spent much of November trapped by rockslides at home, It had actually been nearly 2 months since I last saw the sun. It might sound strange, but it was a welcomed sight to see my shadow for the first time since I can remember! I kind of never noticed it missing, but was I was standing on the summit and the first light hit me, I finally remembered.

The wind was blowing cold across the summit. Even so, I just sat there for almost two hours until my toes began to get slightly numb and the sun disappeared behind Skottind.

Thursday provided an even more colorful sunrise, unfortunately I was busy with other things and couldn’t get out. But there are many months of winter left, and plenty more opportunities for cold days in the mountains of Lofoten.

Camera Info:
Nikon D800
Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8
15mm
ISO 160
f 11
1/50 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #261 – New Year

New Year - Friday Photo #261

Photo: Descending towards Vindstad, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. April 9, 2017

Welcome to 2018! Well, the first post of the year at least. I probably should have come up with something bigger and more important to say this week, as last week’s post (#260) was the completion of 5 years of these Friday Photos. Not too bad if I can pat myself on the back.

It has been quite a journey since then, and if you asked me back then if I thought I would be living in my own house, in one of my favorite places on Lofoten. I would have told you you were crazy! But here I am, listening to the wind and snow shake my house on this dark Friday afternoon – Though I did manage to get my 2nd ski tour of the year in today, so off to a good start!

So hopefully the rest of 2018 continues at this pace. But in the darkness of the last months, and with the avalanche issues and road closures, photography has taken a bit of a 2nd seat to just keeping moving and living a more ‘normal life.’ Though with a busy tour season coming up over the next months, I’ll be out for plenty of sunrises, sunsets, and northern lights. And not to jinx myself, but this winter is already off to a much better start than last year’s. Lets hope it continues.

After a weekend in the hidden valley, and with a storm quickly approaching it was time to return to Vindstad and catch the ferry back to civilization. What had been deep snow on out ascent, had turned to a wind blown and icy hard snow on the steepest, upper section of the pass. This is why I always carry crampons in winter, even if the slope might otherwise not be overly steep and can be easily ascended/descended under regular conditions. Luckily for my knees, the hard stuff didn’t last too long, then it was time to sit down and slide on my ass the rest of the 400 meters to the sea. I should have brought skis, it would have been a good run!

Camera Info:
Nikon D800
Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8
19mm
ISO 160
f 8
1/400 seconds
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #260 – Myrland Winter

Myrland Winter - Friday Photo #260

Photo: Myrland in white, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. December 23, 2017. 13:15

Lofoten was fortunate to have a wonderful white Christmas with northern lights dancing in the sky overhead this year. In the days prior to Christmas, winter storms out of the north were still sweeping over the islands.

I’ve been a bit lazy with hiking this month, as I’ve mostly been focused on other projects, and in truth, I’m not such a fan of the polar night, so my motivation has been quite low. But on this particular day, as the passing snow flurries seemed to separate themselves enough were I felt the effort was worth it, I headed up my local little hill, Hornet.

Leaving the house with clear were, I could see the next storefront approaching. About half way up the hill, as the winds were beginning to increase, I pulled out the camera for this quick photo. Within minutes I was in a complete white-out while being blasted by stinging icy snow. Knowing the route, I continued to the top, waiting just below on the sheltered side of the ridge for snow to pass. And soon enough the clouds cleared and the world went quiet again in the fading afternoon twilight.

Camera Info:
Nikon D800
Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8
21mm
ISO 200
f 8
.3 seconds
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #259 – Polar Night

Polar Night - Firday Photo #259

Photo: Polar night, Skjelford, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. Dec 11, 2016. 14:33

The winter solstice passed yesterday. That means the darkest days are behind us here in the north. Though it will still be some weeks until we finally see the sun again. But it brings hope, that it will be back again. Bad luck this year has meant that I haven’t actually seen any direct sunlight since early November. So those first rays of light next year will be most welcomed!

Entering my second full winter here on Lofoten, there is definitely a difference between visiting here for some days and living here full time. The polar night is a novelty. Something to experience once in life. But living it day to day, it takes its toll. I sleep a lot. I loose track of the days – especially when my road has been blocked by rockfall for weeks at a time. My world for the lasts months has existed in darkness. It is hard too keep track of the days, they just run together in some quiet silence. I guess it is the price we must pay for the joys of the midnight sun. Life must be in balance.

And though even if the sun doesn’t rise above the horizon, if the weather is clear, there is still some light. This photo is from last year, just out my old front door in Skjelfjord. Where we would get the light from the southern sun. One of the rare calm December days that year, the north was calm in the gentle glow of the mørketid.

Camera Info:
Nikon D800
Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8
19mm
ISO 100
f 11
6 seconds
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #258 – Breakwater

Myrland Breakwater - Friday Photo #258

Photo: The old breakwater at Myrland, Flakdstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. November 26, 2017. 12:10

During the 2nd rockslide incident in November, which left us cutoff for 12 days, I decided to take a walk down to our old breakwater here in Myrland. Destroyed by a storm during the mid ’90’s (if memory serves me correct), it has remained a pile of fallen stones ever since.

With the latest rockfall, there has been some renewed talk to rebuild it. As in its current condition, it’s impossible to get a boat here. And if we are cutoff from land as well, then that doesn’t leave us in a very good position should any sort of emergency arrive.

However, I have also heard that there was some funding received to rebuild it some years ago, which never took place. And if there’s one thing that I’ve learned about living in Norway: There is a lot of talk about doing something, but little actual action resulting from all the talking. I have taken up a sort of, ‘I’ll believe it when I see it’ attitude to things around here. But I guess that is one of the costs for living at the end of the world.

About the photo itself. two images, vertical shift, with my beloved 24mm tilt-shift lens on a rainy November afternoon. Actually, after 8 years of hard use and abuse, and mostly due to a bad fall in October, I’ll be retiring this lens soon. I have ordered a new one, as it is one of my favorite lenses for coastal landscapes here on Lofoten. Though it was a bit of a tough decision, as it is quite an expensive lens, and I’m not entirely sure how much longer I’ll keep shooting with Nikons – as more or less all my other lenses/bodies are broken or falling apart and will need replacing soon. Which means it might be time for a switch to mirrorless, instead of buying the same gear over again. I also used a 6 stop ND filter – I’ve recently switched from using B+W to Breakthrough Photography, which I’m quite happy with so far.

Camera Info:
Nikon D800
Nikon 24mm f/3.5
24mm
ISO 100
f 11
30 seconds
WB Daylight
6 stop ND filter
Two images – top, bottom

Friday Photo #257 – Night Hikes

Winter Moonlight - Friday Photo #257

Photo: Winter moonlight on Mannen, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. November 30, 2017. 20:32

The polar night has arrived on Lofoten, and with it means that most of our lives take place in darkness these days. And so when the weather is calm, somewhat rare in the last weeks, and the moon is bright overhead, why not go hiking? And with the fortune of having a fresh layer of snow, headlamps were hardly needed either.

There were some small aurora this evening, but not enough for me to spend much time shooting them. I found this composition to be much nicer, opposed to looking north over Uttakleiv – where the northern lights were. The moon almost makes it look like daylight though we were still a few days before the full moon. But with a clear sky and fresh snow, it is actually much brighter than one might think.

Camera Info:
Nikon D800
Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8
14mm
ISO 100
f 4
60 seconds
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #256 – Polar Night

Polar Night - Friday Photo #256

Photo: Twilight glow of winter’s polar night, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. December 11, 2016. 10:49

As December arrives the Lofoten is soon about to enter the mørketid, otherwise known as the polar night – the time in which the sun does not rise above the horizon here in the north.

It has already been dark for a while, and so the sun a little above, or a little below the horizon doesn’t make too much of a difference to the day during the last weeks. But as the sun finally drops into the sea, even that weak bit of direct light will be missed as we enter a month of twilight and darkness.

Last year, living in Skjelfjord, I think I noticed the change to the mørketid much more as the sun was visible over the southern horizon until it finally vanished into the sea. Where I live now, with mountains closing in my valley to the south, the sun hasn’t been visible from my house since mid October. And so if I don’t leave home, as when I was stuck for 5 days due to a rockslide, I can only see the sun shining on the distant mountains.

I took this image on my way home from Leknes one morning. After what had seemed like endless weeks of storms and wind, the Islands suddenly fell silent. With an hour to go till noon, the day would become a bit brighter, but not much.

For the time being, I still enjoy the experience of the darkness. But next year I’ll probably find myself in Spain or Portugal for a week or two to refill on the vitamin D!

Camera Info:
Nikon D800
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8
32mm
ISO 100
f 10
1/4 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #255 – Winter Hiking

winter hiking - Friday Photo #255

Photo: Winter on Volandstind, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. January 13, 2017. 12:19

It is getting to be that time of year in which I’m receiving an increased amount of emails asking if it’s possible to hike such and such mountain on so and so day, what the weather will be, and what gear is needed.

I don’t know.

I will reiterate some things here, but if you are thinking about coming here in winter for some hiking, then you should first read my article:

Winter Hiking on Lofoten

When I get an email about hiking some mountain – and unfortunately, Reinebringein is the most commonly referenced one – I always struggle with what to reply. Should I be blunt, and simply say it’s impossible? Should I give some advice about gear? But if you don’t know what gear to use, then you probably don’t have the proper experience for hiking here in winter. Do I remind people that there is little to no daylight in January? Or do I just say: Sure, everything is possible. Which it is – given the correct experience.

From an email, I don’t know anything about you. Have you hiked before? Have you seen snow before? Do you know how to judge avalanche risk? Can you navigate in a whiteout? Are you going to go hiking in a full storm because you only have 2 days on Lofoten and need that photo for Instagram? And a million other things…

So it is more or less an impossible question to answer: If _you_ can hike something.

There are some relatively easy mountains during winter on Lofoten. The locals are out all year round and the same with myself. However, as a whole, Lofoten in winter is not for the inexperienced and the mountains here need to be respected.

Camera Info:
Nikon D800
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8
27mm
ISO 400
f 10
1/50 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #254 – Isolated

landslide - Friday Photo #254

Photo: Large rock-slide blocks the road to Myrland, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. November 17, 2017. 12:14

Thursday evening sometime between 20:00 and 22:00 nature send a reminder of who is in charge. A friend and come over for a short visit to checkup on a project we are working on, leaving after a couple hours. But soon I heard a knock on my door and she had come back, saying there were some rocks in the road. There had been a large rock in the road earlier in the day, but it had been cleared, so maybe she though it was just the darkness that made it look like more. So we hopped in my van to check things out.

Approaching the scene in the darkness, my headlamps lit up the first initially small boulders – which hadn’t been there when I passed by in the late afternoon, before illuminating large blocks in the distance, completely covering the road. Hmm, no one is getting by that this night…

In the morning I returned to checkout the scene again. It was indeed the largest rockslide I’ve seen since moving here. As information spread, I was interviewed by the news agency NRK, and we began to find out that my little village, of merely a dozen residents, would be cut off for a while – The original estimate of a Saturday opening being extended to Monday.

And so I sit at home, with unexpected guests and glad I generally keep enough food on the shelves for just this type of situation. Saturday I will miss an event I was hoping to attend, but that is life up here…

As a bit of a side note. Despite the fact that there are clearly posted ‘no stopping’ (not just the ‘no parking’) and rockfall signs for this section of the road, many people car/van/motorhome camp along there all summer long. If it is not too late in the evening and I see people out and about, I will often stop and give them a bit of a warning that they might not be in the best place. On any given night it is not likely that something will happen, and it makes me feel like an asshole, possibly interrupting some romantic moment or ruining their perfect camping spot with the midnight sun shining in the north. But I drive this road on an almost daily basis and see what falls from above. It would be nice if people listened the signs, but they don’t. So I’ll probably have to be an asshole next summer as well, telling people that they should move along…

And in fact, along with some friends, I remember telling a van to move which was parked in this exact spot of the avalanche sometime in July. The amount of fresh small rockfall and debris present there should have already indicated that it was a poor camping location. Had they been there this Thursday evening, they would now be buried under tons of rubble.

Camera Info:
Nikon D800
Nikon 70-200mm f/4
200mm
ISO 320
f 5
1/125 second
WB Daylight