Friday Photo #349 – October Snow

Photo: October snow flurries over Kirkefjord from Reinebringen, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. October 7, 2018. 10:41

Passing mid September the aurora season is well underway and any last trace of summer has faded away. But not all autumns are equal. While some years September has a higher average temperature than June, in others we get an early hint of winter.

2018 was a cold and wet autumn and during my workshop season I didn’t wear full rain gear on only 2 days out of 25 or so. The 2017 autumn had more days of sunny weather then the entirety of that summer – and night after night of dancing auroras. What will come in 2019 we will only find out as it arrives. But so far what had been a relatively dry summer has turned wet, making up for lost time perhaps.

And while snow can fall anytime from mid September or so, it is not that common anymore. So last year’s relatively early snowfall arriving while the land was still full of color was a nice treat. On this day in early October, I headed up Reinebringen on a blustery and cold day. What had been rain at sea level turned to snow by the summit as it swept across the landscape.

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24-70 f/2.8
58mm
ISO 100
f 10
1/50 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #347 – Reinebringen Rescue

Photo: Sea King rescue helicopter pickup up injured hiker from summit of Reinebringen, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. August 21, 2019. 18:29

I was sitting in my cabin at Sakrisøy when I heard the sounds of the helicopter, not something too common on Lofoten. Hmm, hope it’s not the Sea King – it was. As I looked outside, I could see the helicopter hovering over the ridge of Reinebringen in the grey misty sky. It had been a day of heavy rain and not really a day for hiking – especially on Reinebringen. And so a hiker had to be rescued after breaking a foot. I imagine the over eroded ridge had turned into quite a slippery mess of mud after all the rain. A slip could have been easy.

The Sherpa steps on Reinebringen, built to improve the safety of the previously heavily eroded trail due to overuse, have actually had the opposite effect, and turned Reinebringen into a place of regular helicopter rescues – 3 in August 2019 alone, and 4 since work was completed in mid July.

Part of this is just a numbers game, with 700-800 hiking the mountain each day. And part is probably because the steps give an illusion of safety, and so people who would not normally find themselves in mountains now suddenly are. This creates dangerous situations.

On August 23rd, two days after this photo, another rescue took place on Reinebringen. This time is was due to rockfall hitting a woman in the head – the 2nd incidence of this in August – and the reason why Reinebringen is now more dangerous than ever – too many people are on the mountain. More people = more falling rocks…

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 70-200 f/4
200mm
ISO 200
f 5
1/160 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #346 – Aurora Season

Northern Lights – Aurora Borealis fill sky over yellow tent, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Camping below autumn northern lights on the summit of Andstabben, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. September, 14, 2017. 22:11

With the growing nights of late August we can now begin the wait for the first northern lights appear in the sky over Lofoten. I often write that the autumn is a quite overlooked time of year for northern lights watching – many people having the false assumption that it is only a winter activity. But for camping below a sky of dancing green, September and October are the best months in my opinion with mostly mild temperatures and the mountains usually free of snow. Kinda the best of both worlds between summer and winter.

But like waiting for the return of the sun in January, you never quite know when that first faint bit of green will appear above the glowing horizon during the white night period of late summer – early autumn. But after around the 20th of August, if the sky is clear, it’s worth going out. These nights are wonderfully atmospheric anyhow, so even with no aurora, they are the best for camping – just dark long enough to make it worth carrying the tent all the way up the mountain.

So hopefully we have a good season this year. Last year was a little on the rainy side, but so far this summer has been good this year, so lets hope it continues. And as I’m guiding my last tour of the summer right now and had to write these words last weekend – Summer Twilight – I may have already seen the first aurora. Fingers crossed!

Camera Info:
Nikon D800
Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8
14mm
ISO 1000
f 3.2
6 seconds
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #345 – Mountains Of The West

Setting summer sun behind the rugged mountain peaks of Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Summer sunset over the mountains of the west from Lilandstind, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. July 31, 2018. 22:10

Just a mountain sunset. The summer of 2018 was pretty bad photographically for me. It was either grey and rain, or clear, cloudless blue sky. Almost nothing in between – that came later in the autumn which, though wet, was one of the most colorful in recent memory.

And so the last day in July, on a wind still and hot day I found myself sweating my way up Lilandstind with some friends. As the sun sank lower in the sky, it eventually hid itself behind the steep summit of Klokktind before slowly emerging again. While originally shooting a little wider, I liked the appearance of the depth of the mountain ridges fading into the distance in various layers of light. Moskenesøy is Lofoten at its best and so even with relatively boring light, there is almost always something to be found.

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8
42mm
ISO 250
f 14
1/60second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #344 – Lost Control

Photo: Out of control parking in west Lofoten, Moskenesøy and Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.

The new stairs on Reinebringen have become more popular than expected since opening again in mid July and have been causing quite a bit of traffic chaos in the Reine area. A few days after I went up on the evening of July 15th, passing around 60-70 people in total, it was reported that nearly 1000 people ascended the mountain on a single day, and has likely continued at a similar pace in the weeks since.

This led to parking chaos with cars parked all along the road next to what had become an unofficial parking area on the west side of the tunnel. In response, Statens Vegvesen closed off this parking area. But instead of fixing the situation, it has now led to people parking along the road on the Reine side of the tunnel, as all the other parking areas quickly overflow – and people are unwilling to use the paid parking at the outer harbor in Reine. I went yesterday to check things out and there were about 20 cars parked along the road, though I had heard there was 40 the previous day.

So of course, new sings will now have to be paid for and installed by the already severely indebted Moskenes Kommune to keep people from parking in places they already should not be parking at – as has already had to be done at the Kvalvika beach parking area, and Haukland beach, and other places that have lost control of tourism.

And I can sense the frustration amongst my friends living in the area. It seems that a large enough portion of tourists these days are acting in quite a selfish and reckless manner, only taking from Lofoten for themselves and leaving a negative experience of their actions.

And for me, it is almost becoming a full time job to keep up with the changes. And so I ask: If you would not park in such a way at home, don’t do so as a tourist on Lofoten. You are overwhelming the 1,100 residents of Moskenesøy. So please behave as friendly guests, not an invading barbarian horde pillaging the islands for your entertainment.

And despite the nearly completed stairway the daytime crowds on Reinebringen have already showed their danger this week. On Tuesday afternoon a man was severely injured and had to be rescued by helicopter and flown first to Bodø and then Tromsø after being struck in the head by a loose rock, most likely dislodged by a hiker above.

With such crowds on the mountain, many of which are likely inexperienced hikers, I will not go there during the daytime. It is far too dangerous to be 50-100 meters directly below people descending the loose rocks of the unfinished upper trail. If you must hike Reinebringen, then I suggest at least to go during the evening, when there is less traffic. And after the extended dry period that Lofoten has had these past weeks, when the next rains come, the rocks will be flying down the mountain…

Friday Photo #343 – Bunes Sunset

Summer fog conceals Bunes beach at sunset, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Sunset over Bunes beach, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. July 26, 2018. 22:49

The weather had mostly been clear and somewhat boring up until this point. I wasn’t expecting much of a sunset, but suddenly I found clouds swirling around me. Somehow I picked the only mountain to be in clouds in all of west Lofoten on this evening.

And so while I was expecting some nice evening light to shine over the 600m face of Helvetestind, I found myself struggling to have any view at all. At times the clouds became so thick that I couldn’t even see my tent anymore, just 20 meters away. But from time to time the clouds would thin for just a brief moment, providing a glimpse of the landscape beyond.

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

Friday Photo #341 – Reinebringen Open

Photo: Midnight sun over Kirkefjord from Reinebringen, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. July 15, 2019. 23:43

Monday evening, with the sun finally out after a week of grey sky I headed up Reinebringen to checkout the progress on the new stairway which had recently opened over the weekend. After 4 years of work and 7 million Norwgegian Kroner (700.000 euro) later, 1560 steps have been completed on the mountain. All but the final 50 meters to the summit. The mountain has been tamed, and is now accessible to all.

A friend sent me photos of the overflowing parking areas Monday afternoon, and I must admit, I was a bit scared to go. But I wanted to go to Reinebringen just to checkout the progress of the work. I think in total I passed 60-70 people on the mountain, with maybe 25-30 on the summit ridge at any one point – and this was all from 22:00 – 24:30.

So the main challenge of Reinebringen these days won’t be the hiking, but finding a parking place – which may actually be further away from the trailhead than the length of the trail itself. I guess something like this was inevitable. But it’s a long way from my first experience of Lofoten back in 2001, as a backpacker without a guidebook – much less Instagram, YouTube, hiking apps, etc. I kinda feel sorry for people who only experience today’s Lofoten. Although I will say there are still many, trail-less hidden peaks to discover if one wants.

And so Reinebringen has now been reduced to a 35 minute up, 20 minute down staircase. Progress for the world I guess. But a loss for my memories of the old days here…

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 70-200mm f/4
92mm
ISO 100
f 6.3
1/60 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #340 – Midnight Flowers

Photo: Midnight buttercups and Olstind, Toppøy, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. June 23, 2019. 00:33

I’ve found myself photographing flowers a little more than usual this summer. While it has been a better summer than last year by far, there’s still been many grey, cold and misty days and nights – where the mountains aren’t really looking their best. So I’ve been looking for small scenes.

This small patch of buttercup flowers – smørblomst in Norwegian – had caught my eye earlier in the day during a quick stop. But the lighting wasn’t right for the scene, so I kept it in mind for a possibility of something later maybe. Returning back to Reine a little after midnight, the scene was much moodier and the lighting more even.

As it was a little windy, I first experimented with long exposures and the flowers blowing in the wind. But I wasn’t quite happy with the results. Getting closer, I found this little cluster that almost mirrored the shape of Olstind, the mountain in the background. So I thought a more subtle picture of the mountain might work. It’s not going to win any awards, but I kinda like the result…

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8
42mm
ISO 400
f 3.5
1/250 seconds
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #339 – Olstind Midnight Reflection

Photo: Osltind sunset two minutes til midnight, Reine, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, norway. June 19, 2019. 23:58

It’s always nice to start a photo workshop with some fantastic light, so I was lucky on my June photo tour this year. The weather forecast was actually not looking too good, and it was raining when I took an evening nap before heading out for the night again at 22:00. But as we left the rorbu on Sakrisøy, I can already see we would be in for something nice.

Low clouds from the rain evaporation were drifting across the fjord and hiding the mountain peaks before thinning out again. I took some normal exposure first, but I knew a long exposure would take a nice scene and turn it to something almost dream like. For a while I had some difficulty with exposure, do to a clear section of sky on the left which kept over exposing. But eventually the area filled in with clouds just enough.

Its also amazing the contrast of this location between summer and winter. On some winter mornings the photographers can be lined up tripod to tripod, with barely a gap in-between – as this is one of Lofoten’s iconic sunrise locations. Yet at midnight in summer, when the light is just as good as in winter, it’s nearly empty of tripods and maybe just a few people walking around. And even with the parking lot almost completely full of continental motorhomes, they are all sleeping for some strange reason. Isn’t the midnight sun one of the reasons to come here during summer?!

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8
32mm
ISO 100
f 11
117 seconds
WB Daylight
10 Stop B+W ND filter

Friday Photo #337 – Midsummer

Photo: Midnight sun shining over Kvalvika beach, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. June 14, 2019. 00:33

Today is the summer solstice – where the sun reaches its highest position in the sky. Tomorrow, the nights begin to grow longer again – or for Lofoten, the sun will slowly sink towards the horizon over the next weeks until in mid July it finally begins to fall below the waves.

For as long as the winters here feel, summer seems to be over in the blink of an eye. So we have to do our best to take advantage of these short months of summer and light – and hopefully this year the weather cooperates better than last year – I’d say we’ve been off to a pretty good start so far.

And so, I try to keep my nocturnal schedule – midnight sun time – as I like to call it. I haven’t decided if I stay the whole summer on Lofoten or head north or east to work on some long overdue hiking projects. Maybe I just let the weather decide…

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8
38mm
ISO 100
f 14
1/100 second
WB Daylight