Friday Photo #289- Summer Sunset

Summer Sunset - Friday Photo #289

Photo: A sun that now sets, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. July 20, 2018. 00:27

After almost two months circling the sky over Lofoten, the sun is beginning it’s slow journey towards the south. Over the next months, the nights on Lofoten will grow longer by around one hour per week, until the sun sets for the last time in early December and the polar night arrives in the north.

Partially because I was traveling until mid June and also because of so much bad weather, it feels too early for the sun to be leaving! A few more weeks would be nice. But now, for me as a photographer, the wonderful twilight nights begin, during which there is wonderful light to be found! And my headlamp can still stay in the closet for a little while longer.

One of the things that keeps lofoten interesting for me is the constant change. As soon as I’m getting used to a season, it’s gone. To be replaced by something new. And now it is only a short countdown until the aurora season begins! Another type of light in the night!

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 70-200mm f/4
200mm
ISO 320
f 5.0
1/400 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #279 – May Evening Light

May Light - Friday Photo #279

Photo: Evening light over Storsandnes beach from summit of Slettind. Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. May 13, 2017. 22:18

May is the month were the snow melts, the midnight sun arrives, the trees turn green, and the islands prepare for summer. It is also a month, like November, that I mostly stay out of the mountains and seek out other activities. I find it a weird transition, no longer winter while not quite summer. And to tell the truth, I don’t really find the brown grass, tired looking and matted from snow, to be all that scenic, especially in the higher mountains.

So I take May as a bit of a rest month, so rest the legs and save them for summer´s green mountains and fields of flowers. Alternately, it is also a good month to travel and leave Lofoten. And so while I wrote these words back in April, I’m currently sitting somewhere in Scotland – or better yet, heading out into the mountains somewhere.

In 2017 I didn’t leave Norway (unless Svalbard technically counts) and was only off Lofoten for a few weeks total. I just kinda got stuck, which isn’t bad. But for someone who traveled more or less non-stop for 10 years, it is an abrupt change. And while I love Lofoten and am nowhere close to getting bored yet, I’m actually afraid if I leave that I´ll miss something really cool that happens, I can recognize that I need to get away a bit, sometimes. And so why not Scotland, one of the only places with possibly worse weather than here!

But Lofoten can be a bit isolating as well; not much happens here. So beyond the mountains, I have to go elsewhere for more cultural type entertainment, which I finally realized over the winter that I’ve been missing a bit. Be it music in some pub on a rainy night, Glühwein at a German Christmas market, or a weekend at a music festival. I know I need to do a bit more this year, and so I will…

Camera Info:
Nikon D800
Nikon 24-70mm f/1.8
38mm
ISO 100
f 11
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 #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 #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