Friday Photo #402 – Purple Heather

Photo: Late summer heather bloom, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. August 25, 2020. 21:01

The purple heather flowers of late August are a sign that summer is soon over. Even the bright fireweed will mostly have faded and soon it will be autumn’s yellows and reds that fill the landscape. While 2020 seems to have sent the world into chaos – and a disaster for me as well with 90% of my income revolving around tourism – we at least had the best summer here on Lofoten since I moved here in the early winter of 2016. So it is ok for it now to be over, I’m content and looking forward to what the autumn will bring.

I mentioned a couple weeks ago that I’m kinda working on a special ebook project. Not a Seasons on Lofoten – Autumn/Spring, which I’ll probably finally get around to over the winter. But something new and more ambitious.

The weather wasn’t the best this day, so I waited until early evening to finally head out – though there was little chance for a sunset in the heavily clouded sky. There are a few places on Lofoten that I kinda keep as a backup for when I’m both lazy and the conditions aren’t ideal. I shot in this area a lot in the spring during the snowmelt when the rivers were flowing. And now in the last days of summer, I was back again, looking for some composition which might work.

Despite the recent rain, the rivers and lakes weren’t particularly interesting. What caught my eye more was the blooming heather covering the landscape.

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8
38mm
ISO 400
f 5.6
1/30 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #400 – Autumn Leaves

Photo: Autumn leaves below Stjerntind, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. August 25, 2020. 20:52

The golden colors of autumn are beginning to take hold in Lofoten’s landscape. Even last week while wandering around near the famous road to Nusfjord the first small changes in the birch leaves were already visible on some trees. And a week later, with a golden sunlight shining across the land, it seems the green of summer will soon be gone. Hiking up on Reinebringen on September 1st, the change in color was even more apparent looking down over the landscape.

The weather was mostly stormy on the day of this photo – like it has been for almost two weeks now since the middle of August. I’m attempting to work on a new ebook – my most ambitious yet. It might actually be impossible, and won’t be finished for at least a year at the earliest, if not two or three.

The result of attempting this project was I needed to go out and shoot this day. It is something difficult, to force yourself to take an image on a certain day with whatever conditions might be present. It’s not normally the way I work, and it will probably present quite some challenges going forward. But at least it will be an exercise is creativity.

This image actually won’t make the cut, I took a better photo a few minutes later. But It was the first autumn leaves I photographed this year. So here it is…

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8
62mm
ISO 100
f 4.5
1/25 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #399 – Aurora Season

Photo: First sighting of aurora borealis – northern lights in the sky over Lofoten of the 2020/2021 aurora season, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. August 23, 2020. 00:50

Anytime after around August 20th the wait for the first aurora of the season begins. The weather has generally been cloudy for the last week and so even with the forecast of a possible incoming solar storm, I didn’t put much effort into looking – as I generally just saw clouds in the night sky.

And so Saturday night I was on my way to bed a bit after midnight and took one last look at the sky while brushing my teeth. Hmm, that could be aurora! I thought as I saw a light streak high overhead in the now somewhat clear sky – though the clouds were quickly incoming from behind the mountains. I ran and grabbed my camera to take a test shot. Green! Yep, northern lights!

Like a rehearsed fireman off to a fire, I was out the door and heading down to my local beach, anxiously watching the sky overhead. The aurora was still there. The clouds were moving in quickly so I didn’t have too much time to think or look for the best foreground composition. I just wanted to get something at all. Luckily the aurora increased for a couple minutes once I began shooting – even forming into this green heart in the sky.

Even at nearly 01:00, the darkest time of the night, you can see the horizon was still glowing bright. I actually think the surrounding clouds in this image help make it better by darkening what might have been an otherwise overly bright horizon.

I saw a dancing corona directly overhead the following night as well, but the hole in the clouds was too small for me to make the effort to go out. But the season has begun! And hopefully it turns out a little better than last year.

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Sigma 14mm f/1.8
14mm
ISO 1250
f 2
2.5 seconds
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #397 – The Sunsets Continue

Photo: The sunsets continue, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. August 11, 2020. 22:23

The nights are getting darker, but the fantastic sunsets continue. This has been the most colorful summer that I can remember in recent years. Usually 2-3 sunsets like this would be good. But they have been continuing for weeks this year. Luckily I can just wander down to my neighbourhood beach when I’m lazy, so at least I have some photos of what occurred this year, otherwise I might not believe it myself!

But now, midway into August, I can feel the usual shift in the weather. It is nothing specific, more a sense that the sun is lower in the sky and summer will soon be replaced by autumn. Although the typical August weather here on Lofoten might already be considered autumn weather for countries further south. In today’s image you can see the moody sky which was overhead – luckily the northern horizon remained clear though!

Soon though, my attention will shift from sunsets to auroras, which might become visible anytime within the next week. We are loosing 1 hour of daylight per week here on Lofoten, so the nights are steadily growing longer. On last weekends hiking trip was the first time I brought my headlamp again this season. Last years aurora season was pretty poor, mostly due to the near constant cloud cover. So far this summer, northern Norway has received the most hours of sunshine in the whole country. Will this continue over the next months, with endless clear night skies and dancing northern lights like in September 2017? Or will the clouds return again? No one knows. But with the world locking down again, it’s not like I’ll be going anywhere, so I guess I’ll eventually find out…

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Sigma 14mm f/1.8
14mm
ISO 31
f 11
1 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #394 – Flakstadtind

Photo: Golden summer light over Flakstadøy from Flakstadtind, Lofoten Islands, Norway. July 9, 2020. 22:34

It has been a good summer this year. Actually for photography it has almost been too good! After the long and almostly constantly cloudy winter it seems we have switched to the opposite and now have endless days of blue sky. It’s seems like more of less every photo I’ve taken since the start of the midnight sun season has just been of the sun low on the horizon in a perfectly clear blue sky. I’ve been slowly working away, photographing new mountains for future hiking guides. But I must say it’s all starting to look the same by now and its hard to maintain motivation to go hiking vs. sit in my yard and have a bbq.

While there have been some cool cloudy days, by the evenings when I typically go out, it seems to sky is always clear again. But the other week finally it seemed like there could be something interesting and so I headed up Flakstadtind, which I haven’t hiked in a couple years anyhow. Conditions were looking good as I neared the summer, planning to wait a few more hours and hopefully get lucky.

But then I got a phone call. Orcas were in the area and my friends were going out with their boat… (Friday Photo #392)

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24-70 f/2.8
28mm
ISO 100
f 10
1/80 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #393 – Summer Harvest

Photo: Norwegian marshmallows under the last of summer’s midnight sun, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. July 19, 2019. 01:03

Every year in mid July comes the crass cutting season. Having spent six weeks of so under the midnight sun, what appears like flower filled meadows are actually the winter feed for the local sheep and cows. In most places across Lofoten, anytime you see a field of grass, it is cultivated land that was turned that way from generations of farming and also likely some efforts at draining the land to keep it from becoming bog. Otherwise, most of the ‘wild’ land of Lofoten will be heath and heather moorlands, too boggy for much to grow.

This does mean that you only have a few weeks to photograph the flowery fields in some areas, especially on Gimsøy and around Flakstadøy. Otherwise, you might drive by one day and find its all gone as every farmer seems to be out with their tractor on the same day in mid July.

Like so much else of Lofoten, it is one of the signs of how quickly the seasons pass here. With the fields cut and the midnight sun ending, it is really only one month until the northern lights return to the late August sky.

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24-70 f/2.8
24mm
ISO 800
f 13
1/50 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #392 – Midnight Orca

Photo: Midnight orca in Vestfjord off the coast of Nesland, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. July 10, 2020. 00:20

Over the years I’ve noticed a pattern on Lofoten: Nothing happens, and then everything happens. It can be with events, where there’s nothing going on for weeks and weeks, then suddenly 3-4 things to choose from on a single weekend, before going back to weeks and weeks of nothing again. Last night as I was hiking the final few meters to the summit of Flakstadtind with nice golden light shining over the landscape my phone rang. A friend called to say the orcas had been spotted and they were going out with their boat. I wouldn’t be writing this if it was only the first time it has happened – I’ve missed some good orca sightings while up on a mountain somewhere.

This time though, I decided the orca were more important. And luckily, I was just down the road from where they were anyhow, off the coast of Nesland. So after a few photos of the nice light and clouds, I headed down the mountain as quickly and safely as possible – it’s steep and loose up there!

Getting back to my van I headed to the coast, where my friends were watching them from the boat. I shot from shore for a bit, they were almost just on the rocks, feeding on a large school of hearing. But once they headed out to sea a bit, I found an impromptu harbor and got on the boat. While I’ve see the orca multiple times on Lofoten, and photographed them from boats up on Vesterålen, I’ve never had the chance to be on a boat here in Lofoten.

When I left my house at 21:00, kinda bored and just going hiking because I had nothing better to do, I never thought I’d have nice mountain light and orca from the water on the same evening!

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 200-500 f/5.6
200mm
ISO 1600
f 5.6
1/1000 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #388 – Nesheia Desert

Photo: Desert-like mountain highlands over Nappstraumen, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. June 6, 2020. 23:55

Summer seems to have fully arrived here on Lofoten during the last week, and despite a couple cold misty days we’ve mostly experienced blue sky and endless sunlight. Tomorrow we might even hit 20˚c for the first time this year! I guess its time to work on my summer sunburn.

With such good weather, I actually haven’t been camping and have been saving most of my hiking for the evening hours. While the days are nice to be outside, a solid blue sky isn’t the most productive photographically, so it’s better I put my energy towards the most productive time of day, which is the night. And there’s not really any point in spending the night in 24 hour sunlight for a hike that is only 3-4 hours in length anyhow.

But with the full summer ahead, it is time to begin exploring some new mountains, and revisiting places I haven’t been to for some years. The main work for summer will be to cover Vestvågøy and Austvågøy in the east. But there’s still some new places in the west that I’ve never been to for whatever reason. This photo from Nesheia being one of them.

I’ve driven by and looked at the rocky mountain landscape hundreds if not thousands of times, but for sum reason until last weekend I never ventured up there. It is kind of a unique landscape which feels more like the deserts of California than anything found on Lofoten. I think this will be a cool place to visit again in autumn with a fresh dusting of light snow, so I’ll provably be back again before the year is over.

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24-70 f/2.8
27mm
ISO 100
f 13
1/15 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #387 – Rockfall

Photo: Rockfall over Myrlandsveien which hit mail man and closed road for 24 hours, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. June 3, 2020. 11:38

Summer seems to have arrived with June this year as the temperatures have warmed up over the last week to 15 degree and sunny t-shirt weather. May was much colder than average here and so the spring greening of the islands feels a couple weeks late this year. But as always with the melting of the snow comes rockfall.

All across Lofoten you can see dark brown streaks of rockfall across sections of remaining snow. And when out and about in mountain area photographing, even at midnight after the day has cooled, you can hear numerous rockslides and snow/ice avalanches falling from the peaks. I posted video of a bigger one on my instagram story the other day that lasted long enough for me to hear it, see where it was, pull my phone out of my pocket and start recording.

Yesterday, Thursday, a large rock/snow fall occurred on Reinebringen in the late afternoon, covering a section of the steps in a layer of debris. Numerous people have already been hiking the mountain in the nice weather of the last days, but luckily tourism is off to a slow start this year and no one was present when the rockfall occurred.

I myself had even been planning on hiking Reinebringen yesterday, and likely would have been in the area near the time when the rockfall occurred. Luckily as I was driving there in the early evening I could see the evening sun would go into a layer of clouds, so I decided to go elsewhere last night.

But that is two reminders in two days for me that this is always a dangerous time of year in the mountains of Lofoten – though that’s not saying you can just relax the rest of the year – but the melting of the mountains in spring and early summer is always a period of elevated rockfall.

So, when you’re planning your hikes in the next weeks, be sure to know what your route is like and try to avoid areas traveling below steep cliffs.

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24-70 f/2.8
44mm
ISO 200
f 9
1/500 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #386 – Spring Thaw

Photo: Stortind rising into the midnight sky above flowing waters of the spring snowmelt, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. May 25, 2020. 23:29

Finally, after a seemingly never ending winter the thermometer broke into double digits again last weekend and gave us the hottest day of the year so far – 16˚C! Well, I’m sure for most of you reading this, that doesn’t sound like much, but for us here on Lofoten, this was only the 2nd time above 10˚C this year, the previous time being on January 2nd during a strange warm period. Otherwise, we’d have to go back to late October to find 2 more days above 10˚C.

Though unfortunately this was just a quick teaser of what’s hopefully to come. As the rest of the week since Tuesday has fallen back to a pattern of heavy grey skies and cool rain. But At least we had a few days to sit outside while not in a down jacket and remember what the warmth of the sun felt like – I don’t think my arms have seen sunlight since September…

Thus far in May, most of the precipitation arrived as snow. And while it has mostly since melted away from the coastal areas, the inland mountains still have significant snow coverage, even here in west Lofoten. Last year I was already hiking up snow free trails on moderately hight peaks by now. I might have to wait a little longer this year.

The mountain snow combined with the sun and warm temperatures quickly set the spring thaw into motion. All over Lofoten the often quiet little streams were flowing high and fast. Driving by this location on my way to somewhere else I noticed the river flowing across a section of rocks that for whatever reason I’ve never photographed before – I usually only visit the lower waterfalls here.

I first made a stop in the late afternoon and hiked a little ways up the valley to where the river was flowing across the flat, slabby rocks. But the sun was in the wrong part of the sky, so after a little while exploring and observing the conditions, I made the plan to come back later in the evening.

As the hours passed the winds picked up into quite some gusts out on the exposed coastal areas. Luckily, this valley was mostly sheltered, though at times the wind gusted strong enough to blow water across my lens. The sky was nearly completely cloudy, yet luckily enough there was a hole somewhere in the northern sky to allow a ray of light to shine across the upper half of Stordind – without that, I don’t think the image would have worked as well.

Camera Info:
Nikon D885
Sigma 14mm f/1.8
14mm
ISO 31
f 16
1 second
WB Daylight