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 #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 #319 – Avalanche

Photo: Small avalanche over Myrlandsveien causing road to be closed, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. February 12, 2019. 11:36

This weeks post is not a pretty photo but a safety warning. This winter Lofoten is receiving the highest snowfall in decades and as a result many areas are at extreme risk of avalanches. During the initial storm, parts of Skjelfjord and Ballstad were under mandatory evacuation while the E10 was completely closed off on Flakstadøy – isolating west Lofoten for 4 days.

In the weeks since the big snows arrived, the usual series of winter storms are causing more chaos than usual, with many roads across lofoten closing again from avalanches or as a safety measure, in addition to busses being canceled as well. I myself have been either locked out or locked in my village multiple times in the last weeks, so in the few days I actually have off between guiding, I´ve only been able to stay at home a couple nights.

Tonight and all day Saturday the next storm will be sweeping across Lofoten. With wind casts up to 40 m/s, more or less all transport on Lofoten will be shutdown, and the Gimsøy bridge will likely be closed for extended periods of time. So if you need to get somewhere, do it today or you will likely have to wait until Sunday.

If you are visiting Lofoten this winter, it is extra important that you keep an eye on the weather forecasts, any road closures, and be aware that you might need to change your plans at the last minute.

Unfortunately for the amount of tourism Lofoten receives in winter these days, there is yet to be any efficient way for tourists to receive information or warnings in advance. You best option is to keep an eye on Lofotposten (www.lofotposten.no) and keep an eye on any articles that look like a warning.

For road closures, Statens Vegvesen has an updated map of all roads in Norway: www.vegvesen.no/trafikkbeta

For weather, keep an eye on: www.yr.no

For avalanche warnings: www.varsom.no/snoskredvarsling

It is also important to remember that for as scenic and popular of a tourist destination that Lofoten is, you are really visiting a quite rural part of an already low population country. Lofoten is about 24,000 people spread over 150km. The population of west Lofoten – Flakstadøy and Moskenesøy is only about 2,500 people. So as well as they are prepared for the normal bad weather, when something big comes, there simply isn’t the infrastructure to keep up. If you see a warning to stay at home, it´s wise for you to do the same and not end up in a dangerous situation with a potentially long wait until rescue.

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8
28mm
ISO 320
f 6.3
1/320 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #317 – Snowmegeddon

Photo: Myrlandsveien shortly after opening Wednesday evening after closure from heavy snowfall, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. January 30, 2019. 18:00

On Sunday, while I was enjoying perfect winter weather on Senja on the last day of my first photo workshop of the season, Lofoten was getting blasted by a winter storm. The radar was just a cloud of heaving snow flowing directly into Lofoten. And so while I was photographing a fantastic northern lights that evening, Lofoten was in full shutdown and emergency mode: flights canceled, roads closed, and people evacuated from avalanche zones.

Returning Monday evening I saw the chaos that had hit. Even with a full day to dig things out, the islands were just beginning to recover. My road was closed due to avalanches, so instead of going home, tired after 10 days on the road, I had to stay with friends for several nights. I was a bit stressed, as I had to go to the police in Svolvær on Thursday to drop off the paperwork for my visa renewal.

Tuesday arrived and more people were evacuated and more roads were closed – west Lofoten still remaining cut off. Finally on Wednesday, so roads were beginning to be cleared and open up again, including my road. I had somewhat optimistically thought that if the road remained closed, I could perhaps just walk home and grab the paperwork I needed, then head out again. But as I drove out to my small village late in the afternoon, I was completely shocked by my sight.

Never before have I seen this much snow on Lofoten, much less falling in one day! I passed 3-4 meter high snow drifts, and it almost seemed like I was driving through a tunnel at times! I didn’t trust the road, so I just got what I needed and returned to my friends’ place for another night to be safe for heading to Svolvær the following morning.

I’m not sure how long this snow will remain. But it is simply incredible! Though with the height of the photo tour season just around the corner, there are going to be some difficulties, as parking is extremely limited at the moment since most pullouts have not been cleared. Even on my ski trip to Ryten today, I had to park down to road at the Kvalvika parking, which only had room for maybe 4-5 cars. So anyone coming in the next weeks is going to need to be a bit patient and understanding of the current situation.

Camera Info:
Iphone

Friday Photo #316 – January Twilight

Photo: Winter twilight at Storsandnes beach, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. January 13, 2019. 14:19

Driving home on Sunday afternoon the other week after a night of storms – the world was now quiet. Clouds on the southern horizon still kept me from seeing the sun, but the rest of Lofoten was glowing in the soft pink and blue pastel colors of winter. With fresh snow on all the mountains, they can sometimes feel like they are glowing from within, they are so bright and white.

Luckily I was smart enough to pack my camera with me, knowing there might be some good conditions this day. And usually I don’t stop at Storsandnes too much anymore, only 2 km from my house, it is kinda a familiar sight by now. But the light was too amazing, so I had to. And somehow, even at 14:00 on a Sunday afternoon, no one had walked on the beach yet, so the snow was footprint free!

I think I had already missed the best of the light by the time I arrived, but it was still good enough. There is something so magical about these soft winter colors. And it looks much better in real life, as it’s slightly hard to translate to a photo before it begins to look fake and over saturated.

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8
38mm
ISO 80
f 10
30 seconds
WB Daylight
6 stop ND filter
2 images – top, bottom

Friday Photo #315 – Winter Snow

Photo: Snowmegeddon arrives to Lofoten, View over Nappstraumen, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. January 18, 2019. 12:16

After last weeks relatively warm storm stripped most of west Lofoten of it’s snow, the past week has been making up for lost time! After several days of heavy snowfall now and high winds, it is snow chaos on much of Lofoten. I even had trouble getting home last night and had to leave my van stuck in a snow drift until my neighbour could clear the road and pull me out with his tractor this morning.

In conditions like the last days, it is best to avoid driving, especially at night, if you are unfamiliar with the roads. The roads are slippery, narrow, and snow drifts can for unexpectedly and quickly in places. Wait till the storm clears, much nicer looking anyhow. You won’t have much to photograph if your car is stuck in a ditch off the side of the road.

The weather forecasting has also been quite unreliable in this last week, due to the constantly changing conditions. Best accuracy is to look at the actual radar image. Yesterday was supposed to have been somewhat sunny actually, according to the forecast on Wednesday. But it turned into a full winter storm, blasting straight down over Vestvågøy the entire day.

Tuesday and Wednesday were also my first to days on skis this season. It’s still quite dark here and I’m in Norwegian class until 12:30 or so during the week, so only had time to go up a small hill near leknes. But it’s nice to have the legs moving again! Yesterdays trip was canceled due to the weather, and the same for today – though it has actually cleared a little, and i might have been able to make it.

I can feel the days are getting lighter, but I’ve only just caught a quick glimpse of the sun while driving to Leknes on Wednesday. So I’m still waiting for my first opportunity to photograph it again! With my first photo tour of the winter season beginning tomorrow, I should have plenty of opportunities – weather cooperating!

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8
58mm
ISO 400
f 7.1
1/125 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #313 – Waiting For The Sun

Waiting For The Sun - Friday Photo #313

Photo: Waiting for the sun to return, Nappstraumen, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. January 4, 2019. 14:47

Today is 33 days since I saw the sun for the last time – (Friday Photo 309). It was a windy day and I was at this exact same spot, watching the sun hover just over the horizon next to Skottind. And it will likely be this spot that I will see the sun again for the first time this year – though hopefully while on my way to a mountain.

Just like we don’t know we’ve seen the sun for the last time until it eventually doesn’t rise again – we never know when the sun will return. Tomorrow the sun crosses the horizon (depending where on Lofoten you are), after that it is simply a waiting game for the southern horizon to be clear enough – which is not looking too good for the next few days at least. Last year January 10th was my sun-return-day, the previous year, January 12. But the exact day doesn’t matter too much, simply knowing the sun will soon be back is enough to lift one’s spirits.

This was now my 3rd polar night living alone on Lofoten. And in all honesty, the novelty of the experience has long since faded. I dread November and what I know is coming – especially this past year when it has rained almost non-stop since August. I can feel my mind grow heavy and I just want to sleep. And working from home, I can begin to feel a bit stuck – last year I actually was! Maybe I only leave for an hour or two at the gym or climbing wall most days. Or even just a coffee in my favorite cafe to have some lights other than my own and hear the voices of people. Next year I’m going to Spain and learning how to paraglide – Or maybe Patagonia for a long walk. Where doesn’t quite matter, but I will do my best to leave.

This is also the first post of year 7 for these Friday Photo blogs. I never imagined it would continue for so long and I now often find myself struggling what to write – after 312 posts about Lofoten, is there much more that needs to be said? I don’t know, but I will continue on…

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8
62mm
ISO 50
f 10
30 seconds
WB Daylight
6 stop ND filter
2 images – top, bottom

Friday Photo #312 – December Grey

December Grey - Friday Photo #312

Photo: Slettind rises over the old Moloen at Myrland, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. December 28, 2018. 13:56

With 2019 coming to a close in a few days the mostly mild winter continues. Compared to last year at this time (Friday Photo 260) when Lofoten was cloaked in white of a deep freeze, it’s mostly just been grey, wet days here in the west. But that is how it goes some years.

I attempt to keep these Friday photo posts as relevant as possible to current conditions these days. But realistically, I’ve barely hiked much since October and hardly photographed anything but a handful of northern lights since then as well – and those have been somewhat few and far between. The darkness and grey just leaves me a bit unmotivated.

But today, I at least managed to wander down to the beach for a fresh image. Mostly to show that there’s not much snow currently here in west Lofoten – There is more as you go further east. The mountain in this image, Stettind is over 500 meters high, so you can see that there’s not much snow yet. When it will come, nobody knows. Last year I had my first ski days a bit after the new year. That probably won’t happen this year.

On the bright side, just over a week until the sun returns – weather permitting of course!

Happy new year everyone, wherever you are! See you on the other side…

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8
14mm
ISO 31
f 10
5 seconds
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #311 – December Aurora

December Aurora - Friday Photo #311

Photo: Northern lights reflect on Storsandnes beach, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. December 7, 2018. 20:15

Today is the winter solstice, the longest night of the year for us in the north – from now on we can begin to look forward to the return of the sun to Lofoten! Just a few weeks to go now…

It also means the the aurora season is half way over – with around 3 1/2 months left of northern lights dancing across the night sky of Lofoten. My first sighting of the aurora this season was August 26, yes, it starts that early, while my last sighting from the past season was April 13. So on either side of the season, the first/last aurora are visible on Lofoten about a 3-4 weeks before/after the autumnal and vernal equinoxes. It is quite a long season actually. Really the longest that any weather or seasonally related phenomenon occurs on Lofoten – encompassing the end of summer, autumn, winter, and perhaps the early days of spring, though I think April still counts as winter here other than the daylight hours.

While we’ve had some big aurora nights this year, including this photo, which at its peak that night, was filling the southern sky – perhaps the biggest aurora of the season so far this year. The cloudy and stormy weather has meant the northern lights have been a somewhat rare gift. Even with forecasts calling for clear skies we’ve ended up with clouds. And on some of the rare clear nights, the sky has remained quiet – at least by my, admittedly slightly spoiled, standards.

But when the aurora has arrived, it has often been good! This night, Friday 2 weeks ago, I took over 600 images, which is quite a lot for me. And every time the sky would seem to die out and i’d put my lens cap on and walk away, it would soon erupt again! A fantastic show for well over an hour!

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Sigma 14mm f/1.8
14mm
ISO 1600
f 1.8
4 seconds
WB Daylight
2 images – top, bottom

Friday Photo #310 – Polar Night

Polar Night - Friday Photo #310

Photo: December’s afternoon twilight during the polar night – Mørketid over Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. December 11, 2018. 12:54

The sun has finally set on Lofoten for the year. A though it remains below the southern horizon at noon, on clear days – kinda rare this year – we still have some magical light before the darkness returns by early afternoon. At time it can feel as if the whole world is glowing in a pastel twilight. While other days the clouds and rain only bring deep shades of dark blue and grey, they sky mirroring the sea, and only allowing us a short glimpse of the word beyond the streetlights.

November is already a dark and often stormy month here in the north. So the beginning of the Mørketid isn’t sudden. It is just a slow fading of the light until one day you look at the calendar and realize you’re not going to see the sun again for a while. And so it is, the Mørketid – the dark time here in the arctic.

But Lofoten really only experiences a light version of the Polar night, nothing like the 2 months of darkness the people up in Finnmark experience. It is strange to think – as far north as Lofoten is, there is a whole lot further north to go in Norway!

Nothing technical about this image. I was passing the beach on my way home from Norwegian class – luckily we got out a bit early this day – and saw the world was glowing. So I quickly went home to grab my camera and then headed back. There had been some glow on the distant Himmeltind when I initially passed, but I unfortunately missed that.

I knew I wanted to capture a little water blur so I put the ISO down to 31 on my D850 – one of the best thing about the recent Nikon’s – super low ISO. While the race these days is high ISO performance, I almost want the opposite. I want ISO 10, or 5! Other than northern lights, I don’t often need high ISO. I’m much more likely to shoot longer exposures, and so it’s nice not always having to pull out filters. Perhaps I’m just lazy…

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24mm f/3.5 tilt-shift
24mm
ISO 31
f 13
1.6 seconds
WB Daylight
2 images – top, bottom