New Mountain Hiking Route – Stornappstinden

Hiking Stornappstind, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Hiker on the summit of Stornappstinden (740 meters), Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

I have added a new hiking page for Stornappstind, a 740 meter high peak located above the village of Napp, on the eastern edge of Flakstadøy.

STORNAPPSTINDEN HIKING GUIDE

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I’m finally back from my autumn travels.  Next week I’ll probably post a brief summary of my trip, with more updates and hiking guides in the following weeks as I get images processed and words written.  Overall, I got up a few new peaks and had many nights filled with northern lights.  Not to mention the sailing trip.  Lots of stuff to come…  And only two months until I’m back on Lofoten in mid January to Guide a photo tour for Muench Workshops!

Friday Photo #90 – Myrland Beach Sunset

Scenic Myrland beach, Flakstadoy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Myrland beach sunset, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  Sept 1, 2013.  20:24

I’ve probably mentioned it before, but Myrland has become one of my favorite beaches in the last couple years.  Perhaps I’ve just become over saturated by the other beaches (as nice as they are) or perhaps I like it because it is still a relatively seldom visited places and I will likely find the sand free of footprints, even on a sunny evening.

Normally I would have tried to pick a more mountainous location for a sunset such as this, but a few days before, I had sprained my ankle while hiking down from Ryten at Kvalvika beach.  So I wasn’t exactly in any position to be hiking up mountains.  And it was trouble enough just getting down to the beach.  Not to mention that I like to stand a little too close to the water, which on this day, meant I had to painfully hobble out of the way of incoming waves at just the last minute.

Perhaps I would have been a little more tolerant of pain were I not planning to begin a hike into Sweden’s Sarek national park just 10 days after this photo, so my ankle needed all the rest it could get.  Though I ended up dropping my camera in a lake just one day into that hike, so my autumn didn’t exactly go according to plan.

Camera Info:
Nikon D800
Nikon 24mm f/3,5 tilt-shift
24mm
ISO 200
f 9.5
1.3 seconds
WB Daylight
2 images – top, bottom
B+W 6 stop neutral density filter

Friday Photo #74 – Myrland Beach

Waves wash over snow covered sand in winter at Myrland beach, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo:  Winter dawn at Myrland beach, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2, 2014.  09:14

I still hadn’t quite gotten my timings quite right, but I was expecting to see a glow beginning to appear on the horizon as I lifted my head from the sleeping bag.  Instead, my first morning on Lofoten arrived in the swirling darkness of snow.  Snow!  I knew the islands were having a lean year thus far, so it was an unexpected, and un-forcasted, surprise after arriving on the islands the previous afternoon.  I did not know it at the time, but in 6 weeks on Lofoten this year (2014), this would be one of the rare times I saw snow fall.

I left Utakleiv, where I had spent the night sleeping in my rental car and drove into the morning darkness.  I was not sure how big of a storm I was in, but by the direction of the wind, I figured Myrland or Storsandnes beaches would be the best locations to shoot away from the wind if the storm continued past sunrise.  Pulling up at Storsandnes I could see nothing but black beyond the glow of my headlights.  Time for breakfast I guess.

After an hour the snow began to lighten and I could begin to see something of a horizon, dark and grey, emerging from the distance.  I headed to Myrland and negotiated the icy trail down to the beach just as the last snowflakes were beginning to clear.

The beach was covered in a delicate layer of snow, barely cold enough to keep from melting.  An incoming tide of gentle waves was washing against the snow line as the world grew brighter while snow covered rocks formed white islands in the blue sea.

I feel there is alway a delicate balance for snow covered beaches:  you want an incoming tide at dawn after an overnight coating of snow.  If the tide had been high when the snow fell, then it leaves too much of a transition between the snow line and the water line.  This morning I was lucky, and found a near perfect balance of conditions.

Camera Info:
Nikon D800
Nikon 24mm f/3.5 tilt-shift
24mm
ISO 160
f 8
30 seconds
WB Daylight
2 images – top, bottom

Friday Photo #72 – Winter Mountain Light

Winter sunset illuminates snow covered mountain peaks, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo:  Winter sunset over mountains, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 9, 2014.  15:35

This week’s image is not something spectacular, but more to illustrate wonderful light that I was in the wrong place for.  Other than the light, the image is rather boring as I feel there is no focus or subject to the scene.  From the position I was at, and with quickly changing light, It was all I could do at the moment.

By late afternoon, it had become evident that there might be some nice light for sunset.  But how nice it became was truly unexpected by me, as it appeared there would be some clouds on the horizon, blocking out the final moments of light as is generally quite common on Lofoten.  But instead of fading, the light just kept growing and growing in intensity, lighting the cloudy sky in bright orange and pink while casting a brilliant light across the mountain peaks.

In mid to late winter, the sun sets over the ‘end’ of the islands in a southwestwardly direction.  This makes getting a direct view of the light with a scenic composition a sometimes challenging task.  It is already too west for anything around Reine, yet not high enough for any of the beaches on Vestvågøy.

Ideally, I would have positioned myself on top of Ryten or perhaps Offersøykammen, but it would have been impossible to know this at the time.

Camera Info:
Nikon D800
Nikon 85mm f/2.8 tilt-shift
85mm
ISO 50
f 8
1/25 second
WB Daylight
3 images – left, centre, right

Friday Photo #69 – Winter Tree

Lone winter tree silhouetted against mountain sunset, near Fredvang, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Tree silhouette, near Fredvang, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 4, 2014.  14:27

For the month of May I be focusing on panoramic images for each week’s Friday Photo.  I don’t shoot as many panos as I used to, I tend to go square more often than not these days, but they still make up a sizeable portion of my work.

Heavy rain had soaked the islands during the previous 24 hours.  But as the storm cleared and morning passed into afternoon the islands grew still and quiet.  A light layer of cloud filled the sky, giving a warm glow to the low winter sun.  The mood felt almost tropical, as low, misty clouds hugged mountains and filled valleys.  The silhouettes of the distant mountains looked more like something out of China – the place where you see all those images of the cormorant fishermen guys.

The shoreline wasn’t as scenic as I was hoping, but the light was interesting enough that I thought it would be a waste not to take any photos.  While I would have preferred snow, I found the silhouette of this tree to be somewhat interesting to create an image that isn’t stereotypically ‘Lofoten’ looking.

Camera Info:
Nikon D800
Nikon 85mm f/2.8 tilt-shift
85mm
ISO 100
f 11
1/250 second
WB Daylight
3 images – left, centre, right

Friday Photo #49 – Northern Lights Over Himmeltindan

Northern Lights shine in sky over sea and mountains of Vestvagoy, from near Myrland, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Northern Lights over Himmeltindan from Myrland, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  24 September, 2013.  22:54

After waiting two weeks for a new Nikon D800 camera to arrive, having dropped dropped it in a lake in Sweden, I lucked out at had a good display of Northern Lights on my first night back in action.  There had been some good displays in the previous weeks, but this was the best thus far, and I would have probably been quite grumpy had my camera arrived the following morning.

The main element I find missing while shooting the Northern Lights in autumn is snow.  There is just something a little less magical, but perhaps that’s just me.  It can also be a bit of a struggle sometimes to get yourself away from any coastal lights, as pretty much the whole population of Lofoten is on the coast.  And then, with the unpredictability of where the Northern Lights will actually appear in the sky (if they do at all), you often have to take a gamble on a composition that may or may not come into form.

This shot was my backup location.  I had originally intended to shoot from the beach at Myrland, giving me a nice clean view across to Vestvågøy, but the lights where too high in the sky to include both beach and Auroras in the image.  So I quickly hopped back in the car  and headed back down the road a way to a location where I had a slightly better overall composition.

I still think the empty sea is a little on the boring side, but at least the Aurora seems to be emerging from the summit of Himmeltindan, the highest mountain on Vestvågøy, so that kind of makes the image work for me.

Another think of note.  This image is from a night with a nearly full moon.  I often see the (incorrect) opinion floating around the internet that you need a moonless sky to see the Northern Lights.  This is simply not true.  And if fact, I think having some moonlight, to help illuminate the foreground, especially with winter snow, actually makes for a better image.

Camera Info:
Nikon D800
Nikon 24mm f/3.5 tilt-shift
24mm
ISO 800
f 5.6
30 sec
WB Daylight
2 images – top, bottom

Friday Photo #48 – Myrland Beach

Scenic Myrland beach, Flakstadoy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Myrland beach, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  September 1, 2013.  20:55

Formerly, the beach at Myrland was a place I only visited on rare occasions.  But in the last year, perhaps because I have grown tired of some of the other beaches, I have often found myself walking on its sands.  Or perhaps it is a more fitting location for Spring and late Summer, with the location of the sun setting in the sea.  I don’t kno

Two days after my sprained ankle at Kvalvika beach, I was limited to where I could go.  The light was promising and the day had been a fine one.  I would have climbed a mountain where it possible, but I was still resorting to hobbling around and using one of my trekking poles as a makeshift crutch.

One of the reasons I like the beach at Myrland is that there are large, isolated boulders in the tide line.  This gives the beach a multitude of subjects to use for foreground elements in what would be an otherwise somewhat boring photo.  I think it is now my new favorite beach…

Camera Info:
Nikon D800
Nikon 24mm f/3.5 tilt-shift
24mm
ISO 50
f 13
1.6 sec
WB Daylight
2 images – top, bottom

Friday Photo #46 – Autumn Aurora

Northern Lights shine in sky over empty cod stockfish drying racks, near Storsandnes, Flakstadoy, Lofoten Islands, Norway
Photo: Aurora and empty stockfish drying racks, near Storsandnes, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  September 24, 2013.  23:36

As the aurora that had filled the sky 30 minutes before finally began to lose strength and fade, I took towards looking for a different type of composition.  I will say it bluntly: I prefer northern lights set against a snow covered landscape.  Something about the dry mountains is autumn don’t just feel right to me.  But none the less, such an opportunity is not to be wasted.

I headed out to the coast near Myrland, on the east side of Flakstadøy so as to have as unobstructed view as possible across the sea (Nappstraumen) towards the northeast, where the aurora was the strongest on this particular night.  But after sometime shooting, I wasn’t totally happy with the night.  As I began the journey back to Stamsund, I passed by these stockfish drying racks, sitting empty in the autumn.

The moon was bright and the aurora losing strength so I was somewhat limited in what angles I could shoot.  I tried to find some interesting angles and something to help give a sense of ‘place’ to the image.  I’m not sure how well it works, but at least it is something slightly different.  Had there been a full covering on snow, and no lights in the background, I would probably be quite happy.  Maybe I’ll try and repeat the image in February.

Camera Info:
Nikon D800
Nikon 24mm f/3.5 tilt-shift
24mm
ISO 2000
f 4.8
30 sec
WB Daylight
3 images – top, middle, bottom

Friday Photo #30 Flakstadpollen in Winter

Snow covers sea ice in inner Flakstadpollen, Kilan, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Frozen Sea ice in Inner Flakstadpollen, Flakstadøya, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  Feb 14, 2013.  09:01

As the second half of February arrived this year, the previous weeks of cold, but clear and calm weather came to an abrupt end.  Heavy clouds rolled across the islands and the beautiful light of the low winter sun was taken over by a flat, dull gray.  At least there was still a decent coat of snow that had yet to be too covered in footprints.

I often arrive to the islands in less than ideal conditions, often missing some brilliant light by a day or two.  But I always feel a need to get those first few photos.  I have been to the islands enough now to know that I need to be patient, but as days 1, 2, 3 pass by and I’ve hardly touched my camera, I sense a growing frustration within myself to get out and shoot something.  Oftentimes this can be a fruitless quest, but every once in a while, something interesting will appear despite all efforts of the light working against me.

This image only existed for a few day.  Thanks to a fresh coating of snow that had fallen overnight, ‘cleaning’ up the sea ice, which by itself, was not especially photogenic.  Luckily, despite the crowd of photographers on the islands this February, I was the first to come across this scene, finding it still untouched; though most groups only hang around Reine anyways, going for the ‘hero’ shots made popular by several photographers better known than myself.  But that is good, as I often find that I have the rest of the islands to myself.  Free of footprints in the snow, and to wander as I please.   Perhaps I shouldn’t give away too many secrets though…

Without the crack in the ice, this scene would not have worked at all as it would have been too flat and boring.  And I think in situations like this, one needs to resist the urge to punch up the contrast to some hyper-realism that didn’t exist.  The light was shit, as it often is on Lofoten in winter.  But using shape and form, there is still the possibility to find something interesting.

This is a scene where the 24mm tilt-shift lens is really is a valuable lens for Lofoten, often due the the sheer vertical relief of 800-1000m mountains rising directly from the sea.  Much winder than 24mm, and there are distracting elements on the edges of the frame.  But with a normal 2/3 crop, the tops of the mountains would be lost, unless getting low enough to the snow where the crack would then lose separation and definition.  I guess one could always crop from a wider lens, but I don’t really like to do that.

Camera Info:
Nikon D800
Nikon 24mm f/3.5 tilt-shift
24mm
ISO 100
f 13
1/30 sec
WB Daylight
2 Images – Top/Bottom

Friday Photo #23 – Storsandnes Beach Sunset

Colorful sunset from Storsandnes Beach, Flakstadoy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Storsandnes beach sunset.  May 8, 2013.  22:39

After nearly two weeks of spring on Lofoten, including some days of fine and settled weather, this was the first night in which any color arrived.  But unfortunately for me, this was also my last night on the islands for this trip.

Overall, the spring had been on the cold side, but there was a good amount of days with fairly settled weather. Unfortunately though, there seemed to be a perpetual bank of cloud that hung on the northwest horizon, so no matter how much potential for nice light the evening might give, the color would eventually fade away into some dull blueish gray tones as the sun neared the horizon.  Frustrating to say the least.

But finally on my last night on the islands, conditions aligned themselves for a bit of color.  Now I’m not really a ‘sunset’ shooter, that is to say I prefer other, more subtle lighting conditions (usually something dramatic and stormy), but I do appreciate a bit of colour and and then.  And so what seems to be something of a common occurrence for me on Lofoten, the last day always offers me something special.  Perhaps so I leave the islands on a high point and with an eagerness to return; which of course I will, no doubt…

Camera Info:
Nikon D800
Nikon 24mm f/3.5 tilt-shift
24mm
ISO 50
f 11
20 sec
WB Daylight
2 images – top/bottom