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

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 #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 #296 – Autumn Aurora

Autumn Aurora - Friday Photo #296

Photo: Northern lights and twilight glow of late August, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. August 31, 2018. 23:40

The final night of August brought the third aurora of the 2018/2019 season. Not a bad way to say goodbye to summer and hello to autumn – I had already seen the first yellow leaves, so I think it’s safe to say that autumn had started…

One of the things I like about the start/end of the aurora season is the twilight glow which remains on the horizon throughout the night. Beyond the fact that it keeps the overall scene brighter and adds light to the landscape, I find it nice to have a separation on the horizon, with the sky fading to a deep blue the higher it gets.

And even though the sun is spotless at the moment and the KP index was only a 1 or so at the time, never rely on this too much. I see so much talk online about KP this or that, but the reality is, it doesn’t matter all that much. And just like the weather forecast up here, the aurora forecast is mostly a suggestion of what will likely happen, but there is still a fair amount of unknown. So tip of the day: If the sky is clear – go out!

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Sigma 14mm f/1.8
14mm
ISO 800
f 2
3 seconds
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #295 – Aurora Season Begins

August Aurora - Friday Photo #295

Photo: Return of the northern lights season, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. August 27, 2018. 23:49

The northern lights are back over Lofoten! This image is actually from my second sighting, but conditions were a bit better this night. The previous night they were visible as well, but the sky was fairly cloudy and the aurora weren’t in the most photogenic location from the beach.

The sky is still not fully dark, but a solar storm brought high aurora activity over the north. Luckily, this coincided with a rare clear night in the last month, so more or less perfect timing for the first couple nights of aurora for the 2018/2019 aurora season. With the sky still relatively light, the aurora was faint, but still visible to the eye and still moving quite a bit. Had this show occurred only a few weeks later, then it would have been a fantastic night! But there are still 7 months ahead of northern lights here in the north, so I’m sure I’ll grow spoiled by April. For now though, It’s nice to see a return of the green dancing sky in this transition between summer and autumn.

I often get questions and sometimes read the false statement that northern lights are only a winter phenomenon. They are not! In reality, the aurora occur all year long. But during summer, it’s just not dark enough to see them. Only during these last days of August does the sky finally grow dark enough for the northern lights to overpower the summer twilight. But for the next weeks still, only strong aurora will be visible, as the northern horizon still glows throughout the night. Soon though, the night will be dark, and all aurora will be visible.

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Sigma 14mm f/1.8
14mm
ISO 400
f 2
2.5 seconds
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #294 – August Rainbow

August Rainbow - Friday Photo #294

Photo: Rainbow over Nappstraumen, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. August 20, 2018. 18:34

Usually I think of autumn as the season of rainbows here on Lofoten, with the turbulent weather and sun, rain, sun, rain, sun, type weather passing over the islands. But this year, summer seems to have ended with a nice sunset on the last day of July and immediately after, autumn began! To say that August has been rainy and windy would be an understatement.

I’ve barely gone to the mountains much lately, preferring to take up my old childhood activity of surfing in this wet and unpredictable weather. After more than 10 years away from surfing, I’m thoroughly hooked again. To the point that I’m looking at water housings for my camera. But I think they are beyond my budget for some years to come, unfortunately. Really not sure how people afford all this stuff. Perhaps I just need more followers on Instagram like all the cool people who take the same pictures from the same locations? Anyone got a yellow jacket, one of those woven blankets, and a drone I can borrow? Adventure and exploring…

So without bringing the camera out with me much lately, the only photos I seem to take are from by bathroom or office windows. Luckily, the views seem to be better than average lately, so I have a good excuse to be lazy!

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8
55mm
ISO 100
f 10
1/200 second
WB Daylight