Friday Photo #362 – Polar Night

Photo: No neutral density filters needed – Mørketiden – the polar night over December’s winter landscape, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. December 11, 2019. 14:15

The polar night has reached Lofoten – The sun will not shine on the islands again until the first weeks of January once it rises above the southern horizon again. December is the dark time of year here in the north. We live are lives in brief moments of twilight before the night covers the land again.

For those living on the southern side of the islands, noon can mean a horizon full of color in a continuous sunrise/sunset. For those of us on the north however, we live in perpetual twilight and darkness. A world of soft pastel pinks on a good day and blues and greys on the rest. The Christmas lights decorating my neighbors’ houses are the only colors I see in my valley now.

Lofoten has been getting hit with some heavy weather lately. It seems as soon as one storm ends, the wind switched directions and arrives from the other side. Luckily I decided to take a southern holiday this year at the end of November, and missed the worst of things. But this wind has been blowing strong since my return, and there is no doubt more to come during the next months – It is more common than I fall asleep to the sounds of my house shaking in the wind than not.

I photographed this from my hallway window. I had been down at the beach earlier in the day and would have likely posted one of those photos today. But once I was home, the light of my neighbour’s house caught my eye in the afternoon darkness – during a brief pause in the day’s snow and rain. While the beach photos were nice, they were just kinda normal winter photos. This, to me, was a better illustration of the polar night and the land I’ll live in until the sun returns.

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8
32mm
ISO 31
f 14
76 seconds
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #359 – November Reflection

Photo: Mountain reflections in partially frozen lake, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. November 21, 2019. 13:23

The cold snowy weather and early winter that Lofoten experienced at the beginning of November has shifter to warmer, wet and stormy weather over the last week. What had once been a fully snow covered landscape – enough for my first ski trip of the year – has mostly melted away in the November rain, and once frozen lakes have thawed in the mild weather.

But this is normal. The cold, white November was actually the slightly unusual weather. I was hoping we would head into full winter, but the islands are once again in waiting mode until the next snow arrives.

One thing is for sure though, the quickly disappearing sun. With barely 4 hours of daylight at the moment, the Polar Night is just around the corner. With the snow of early November, I kinda didn’t notice the darkness. But in these grey, cloudy days of the last week, I really began to notice it. Even at noon, it has felt depressingly dark already! And with each passing day it only gets worse. I don’t like November.

Living on the north side I don’t get any light anymore. I thought there might be a little break in the clouds on the souther horizon, so I went and took a drive Thursday for today’s post, to see if I could find any light. There was a bit, but nothing too special and so somehow I ended up on the road to Nusfjord.

After all the rain, the mountains are filled with waterfalls. A distant once, with a flowing river, caught my eye, and so I hiked across the thoroughly boggy land to get a little closer. Turns out the view from the road was better than near the base of the waterfall, so it wasn’t to photogenic. But this small lake I passed on the way looked much nicer with a near perfect reflection.

I initially wanted a tighter composition, but I could never get the mountains in balance. So I went wide, which seemed to work out nice enough. Though I never really like the November brown, I might have to keep this in might for September, with golden trees filling the foreground.

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 14-24 f/2.8
14mm
ISO 100
f 8
1/13 seconds
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #358 – November Light

Photo: The distant summit of Olstind illuminated in November’s afternoon light, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. November 14, 2019. 13:47

After the early start to winter of the last week – I even managed to get in my first ski tour or the season on Vestvågøy – The rain has returned since the middle of the week. Much of Lofoten is now covered in a sheet of wet ice thanks to the melting snow – and many of the side roads are quite scary to drive at the moment. So I’m using a bit of a head cold as an excuse to stay home – busy working on ebook updates anyhow.

The sun never gets very high in the sky anymore. It left my village some weeks ago and will leave the rest of Lofoten in a few more weeks. Those living on the southern side of Lofoten now get to experience the full days of sunrise-to-sunset light. For us living on the northern side, we re lucky enough to be able to see some light off in the distance, our only reminder that the sun is still here as the mountains cast their long shadows over my village.

I should have driven down to Storsandnes beach, but the thought of the road wasn’t very tempting. So instead I made the short walk down to my beach – which was already scary enough! The beach has been covered in seaweed recently from one of the last storms and the waves weren’t crashing over the rocks that I would have liked. So I ended up taking a somewhat more abstract approach. Though I still think this is nothing too special either. I should have gone to Storsandnes…

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24-70 f/2.8
24mm
ISO 100
f 9
2.5 seconds
WB Daylight
6 stop ND filter

Friday Photo #356 – Cormorant Rock

Photo: Cormorant rock, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. November 1, 2019. 13:15

A cold wind has been blowing for the last days and the snow line has been dancing up and down the mountains. On Tuesday we actually had our first ‘sea to summit’ snow of the season here in west Lofoten with a nice dusting on the beaches. Though as is normal this time of year it didn’t last long and was melted away in the next days rain. But over, the weather people say that Norway has had a slightly colder than average October this year, 2.0 degrees below average for Leknes.

Skarvstein – or cormorant rock as I like to call it, is one of the sights along my drive to town. The birds are nearly always there, just sitting. Occasionally the local sea eagle will hang out there as well.

I wasn’t actually sure what to post today as the week has been completely occupied by the update of my Kungsleden South ebook. But passing the rock today on the way back from the supermarket, it looked to be a fitting representation for the last week’s weather. While October can be a month of transition as autumn passes, November feels like we’re just waiting for the darkness of the polar night to arrive. On these heavy, overcast days it is just gloomy and dreary – the sun now too low in the sky to even shine though any breaks in the clouds here on the northern side of the islands – those on the south have a bit more luck with the light.

The sea was a little rough today, so I put on a 6 stop ND filter to go down to a 25 second exposure. Luckily the birds mostly sit still. I would have maybe gone for a longer exposure, would have looked nice for the clouds, but I was too lazy to stand around holding my cable release.

I cropped to 4:5 because there’s an annoying large rock just out of frame to the left which makes the composition feel unbalanced, so I didn’t want it in the shot – though ideally I would have liked to have shot the scene a little wider were it not there.

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24-70 f/2.8
52mm
ISO 31
f 1413
25 seconds
WB Daylight
6 stop ND filter

Friday Photo #355 – October Snow

Photo: Snow dusted autumn mountains over Skjelfjord, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. October 20, 2019. 16:01

The snow comes and the snow goes. It’s the last Friday in October and that time of year on Lofoten where we begin the long, slow wait for winter. I think it’s safe to say that autumn is gone by now, along with the leaves from nearly all the trees. The first ‘autumn storm’ swept over the coast of northern Norway earlier in the week – though pretty late in the year for the first proper storm – and the snow seems to creep a little lower down the mountains more regularly.

In just over 6 weeks the polar night will begin and our days here at the moment are already shorter than most people in Europe experience even at mid winter. And with a loss of nearly 1 hour of daylight per week, we need to head out hiking a little earlier each day, not to get caught out in too much darkness.

But of course, the weather here is as unpredictable as always. And while the temperature is generally on a downhill trend, it tends to fluctuate in cycles, so we never know when we’ll get the first day of summit to sea snow turning the islands white. At this time of year though, I generally prefer a bit of snow to be falling while I’m in the mountains than a cold 2-3˚C rain. That is miserable!

Hopefully there is still a bit more time in the hiking season – I don’t like to push things too far into snowy hikes/photos for the guides. I’m still mostly focusing on west Lofoten and before next year’s hiking season I’ll have a good sized update for the West Lofoten Hikes Ebook. But those of you who follow me on Instagram know that I’ve also spent a lot of time over in Sweden this summer and autumn. The results of one of those trips is getting the final edits and should be out next week. The other project I’ll announce a bit later, as I’m also planning a long overdue Seasons on Lofoten: Spring and Autumn guide for Lofoten, so not sure which one will get priority – and I doubt I can finish both before my winter guiding season begins. Either way, I’ll be spending a lot of time at the keyboard over the next months!

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24-70 f/2.8
24mm
ISO 250
f 13
1/20 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #351 – Autumn Sea

Photo: Waves crash against the coast at Nesland, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. October 9, 2018. 10:41

With the first storms of autumn sweeping across Lofoten, this is when the season for seascape photography begins on the islands. For the most part, the summer ocean is calm and mild, and even days for surfing are few and far between most of the time. But as the weather begins to ship and the storms become larger and more frequent, large swells crash along the coastline once again.

On this particular day, a large swell in the Vestfjord was crashing along the southern coast of Lofoten – not to mention the strong wind which was blowing! Nesland is always a nice place for such situations, especially if Solbjørntind is visible in the background (only partially in this image).

Sometimes it can be hard to judge the scale of the waves, so luckily one of my tour participants had gone out wandering along the rocks. I thought this looked pretty nice, so I asked her to wait for a minute so I could get a photo. I slowed the shutter speed down a little to get a nice flow out of the crashing waves. The result turned out pretty good I think. I only wish she had had a brighter jacket on to stand out a little better from the dark rocks.

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24-70 f/2.8
24mm
ISO 100
f 11
1.3 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #348 – Autumn Light

Autumn sunset over village of Flakstad, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Light and shadows dance over Flakstad in a passing autumn rain, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. September 27, 2018. 18:04

Autumn is the season of light on Lofoten. Where the rain and sun dance with each other and brief moments of magic occur. I always look forward to the autumn. The year’s shortest season here in the north, but the most colourful and brilliant.

This was a brief moment on one of last year’s workshops. Driving west for sunset, I came around the corner and the light was casting down on the village of Flakstad. I would have rather had a natural scene with no houses or power lines, but I can’t be too picky in such conditions. I hopped out of the van, changed lenses and quickly began to shoot, not even worrying about a tripod. And within moments, the light was gone.

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 170-200 f/4
200mm
ISO 100
f 8
1/320 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #342 – Tourist Overload

Photo: No camping or camping? Skagsanden beach, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. July 16, 2019. 00:58

It is July in year XXXX and once again the newspapers of Lofoten and Norway are filled with stories of the tourism overload which occurs each summer as the motorhome armies of the continent head north to fill every single parking space available for the whole of the summer. Somehow they seem shocked each year, but it is nothing new. Though with each year the numbers grow, and yet little is done on the Norwegian side.

And so each summer, there comes a point of frustration among the locals. This year they have added a few new ‘no camping’ signs to some of the popular parking areas and supposedly the parking lot which turns into a de-facto campground in Å will have an 18 hour parking limit (in the fjord region down south they are now limiting the parking to 2 hours in some popular destinations). But as you can see in this photo taken at 01:00, where there were around two dozen motorhomes/campers in the parking lot, just 200 meters from an official (paid) campground, little seems to be done to enforce the few rules. And so the locals continue to grow frustrated.

But such is the cycle of life here in the North, the free playground for Europe. Nothing will change soon, only more restrictions mostly affecting us that live here, not the occasional visitor for a few days each summer. And next July I’ll be writing another similar post…

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 70-200 f/4
110mm
ISO 800
f 5
1/100 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #338 – Blue Water

Photo: The colorful azure water of Flakstadpollen, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. June 3, 2019. 13:30

In my last couple posts I’ve written about mostly becoming nocturnal – midnight sun time – during the summer, as that is when I typically like to be out in the mountains to photograph. However, there are some exceptions, such as today’s image.

The colorful water of Flakstadpollen is always a scenic sight on a sunny summer day with it’s near immediate transition from azure to deep blue. I knew to capture this the best, I’d want to be there on a clear day with the sun relatively high in the sky – typically not ideal light for landscape photography. Furthermore, with the image looking west, I knew it would also need to be a mid morning to early afternoon shot, as any later and the sun would begin to creep around into the background of the image – something I wanted to avoid.

While the forecast was good, a light layer of high clouds eventually grew over Lofoten. So I’ll likely try for a better version of this image sometime before the end of summer – though maybe an autumn version could also work. But ideally, a nice sunny day maybe with some puffy white clouds in the sky, should have me running back up the mountain.

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8
17mm
ISO 125
f 7.1
1/640 second
WB Daylight

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