Friday Photo #334 – Summer Wildflowers

Photo: The beginnings of summer’s fields of wildflowers, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. May 26, 2019

The warmth of mid May this year gave the landscape of lofoten a head start for summer. Already many of the fields are quite filled with flowers, and all the trees are green.

Though for the past week we have also had a typical return back to some wintry weather. Last Saturday an a midnight hike I sat in to the summit in freezing temperatures and passing snowstorms – no sun to be found, despite the more optimistic weather forecast.

Sunday remained could as well, with more snow falling, even at sea level, such as the background mountains of this image from Sunday evening. An evening where I should have been in the mountains, but Norwegian language tests on Monday and Tuesday mornings meant I couldn’t be up all night as I would like. Class is soon over though, and I can return to my normal night schedule soon, hopefully!

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 70-200mm f/4
70mm
ISO 125
f 4.5
1/640 second
WB Daylight
2 images – foreground, background for 4:5 crop

Friday Photo #332 – Syttende Mai

Syttende Mai - Friday Photo #332

Photo: 17th of May parade through Ramberg, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. May 17, 2019. 11:30

Syttende mai – 17th of May is Norway’s constitution day, when in 1814 Norway declared its independence from Denmark.

All over Norway flags will be flying and music playing today. The biggest celebration will be in Oslo of course. But even here on Lofoten, even many of the smaller villages across the islands will have their own parades and celebrations. I headed to Ramberg, the capital of Flakstadøy where several hundred people were gathered.

Down south they have temps over 20 degrees and sunshine, summer. Here 17th of May usually has a bit trickier weather, and while it was forecast to be sunny, a low heavy cloud hangs over Lofoten. Though at least its not snowing or hailing like in previous years!

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 70-200mm f/4
200mm
ISO 320
f 5.6
1/500 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #331 – Spring Flowers

Photo: Early wildflowers and a dusting of May snow, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. May 4, 2019. 21:02

After the unusual warm at the end of April, the weather corrected itself back to normal patterns and once again snow was falling in the first days of may. The warmth though already sent the spring ‘greening’ of Lofoten into motion much earlier that normal. So even in the first days of May the fields had already begun to turn green and fill with flowers in some areas.

So when the fresh snow fell, I though it would be an interesting juxtaposition that we don’t often see here – snow and flowers. Usually it’s plenty of one or the other, on their own.

And while working on the update to the Seasons on Lofoten: Summer ebook, I was also planning on what I need for a possible Spring/Autumn edition – Though I’m still not wholly convinced there is enough demand for one. Even though website traffic here is so high these days I had to move servers and hosting the other week, ebook sales have been going down over the last year – I guess more access to free information that ever, even here, and more competition as well. But I am still out shooting when possible, trying to answer the question visually: what is spring on Lofoten?

I think I could have executed this image slightly better. While I wanted to isolate the flowers against the mountain, I think the mountain is perhaps a bit too abstract. I should have stopped down a little perhaps. On the bright side, the flowers and mountain are only a stone’s throw from my front door, so new attempts will be easy. Though I’m not sure if we’ll get much more snow this year – it already almost feels like summer here again…

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 70-200mm f/4
70mm
ISO 160
f 5.6
1/160 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #330 – Saharan Sunset

Photo: Spring Saharan sunset over Myrland beach, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. April 27, 2019. 21:21

When I wrote it last weeks Friday Photo (#329) that it had been warm for several days, it turned into a weekend of t-shirt weather, not a cloud to be seen and barely a hint of wind. The weather was actually too good for photography!

However, it as not just the normal hazy blue sky that sometimes occurs in summer, instead it was caused by sand from the Sahara desert drifting over Lofoten. And so over several nights, despite the cloudless sky, we were given orage and red skies, something that I’m more used to at home in California.

In the sun and warmth I could see the fields outside my house growing greener by the day, at the trees in my yard have already begun to bud. A few weeks earlier than normal this year.

But Lofoten being Lofoten, the summer days are over and a cold north wind with passing snow flurries has been sweeping over the islands over the last days. Summer has been put on pause for the time being. But actually, this is the more normal weather for this time of year and snow is a fairly regular occurrence until the end of the month. So it will be a little while longer before I can put the jackets away…

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24mm f/3.5 tilt-shift
24mm
ISO 31
f 13
6 seconds
WB Daylight

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