Friday Photo #301 – Reinebringen Update

Reinebringen - Friday Photo #301

Photo: Autumn snow flurries pass over Reinefjord from Reinebringen, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. October 7, 2018. 14:17

Last Sunday I took a stroll up Reinebringen to checkout the progress on the Sherpa trail. After 3 years of work, there are now 870 (I think) stone steps built up the steep hillside to Lofoten’s most popular view. Even on this stormy October day, I passed more people than I would have in July only a few years ago. It goes to show the power and influence of social media on the outdoors. Reinebringen has stood as a destination for many years, yet it is only now that a stone stairway has been required. How many other places in the world are experiencing the same change?

During the construction work on the trail this year from mid August to the end of September, I saw many of the Instagram hubs, with 100’s thousands or more followers continuing to post photos from Reinebringen, while the trail was actually closed and guards had to be posted to keep people out of the work zone. Despite this though, people went around the barriers, and one group actually required helicopter rescue a few weeks back after getting injured…

But now, there are 870 steps up the mountain. The last 150 vertical meters still have no steps, and are as dangerous as before – not because you will slip and fall, but due to the loose rocks. And indeed, on my trip up the mountain, a group descending above me sent several rocks flying my way. And of course, they weren’t experience in mountain travel, so didn’t even know to shout ‘Rock!’ or ’Stein!’ as they came tumbling towards me and my friend.

And don’t let the steps lead you into a false sense of security. The new steps have been build much to the left of the original trail and are now below a steep section of rock slabs for part of the route. When I made a winter trip of the route in January 2017, I noticed the steps had been completely covered in Avalanche debris. And this was during a period of relatively low snow. Just because the mountain will soon be an easy walk, doesn’t mean you can ignore conditions on the route. But I’m afraid this will be ignored by tourists lured into a false sense of security from the steps…

These days I often feel like I’m a lone voice shouting into the wind. I don’t have much influence compared to the onslaught of social media promotion of Lofoten – mostly by people that have barely spent any time here, if at all. But the reality of Lofoten should be stated, and the risk should be known…

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8
20mm
ISO 200100
f 8
1/400 second
WB Daylight
9 Image pano

Reinebringen - Friday Photo #301

Photo: Descending the 870 steps which now wind their way up Reinebringen, Reine, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. October 7, 2018

Friday Photo #300 – Rainbow Season

Reine Rainbow - Friday Photo #300

Photo: Autumn rainbow over Olstind, Reine, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. September 30, 2018 13:27

The winds and storms of last week have calmed somewhat, but the rain has remained. I just looked at the statistics for September, 247.9 mm of rain fell in Leknes, which means probably even more in Reine and the west. To make a dramatic comparison and show just how unpredictable the weather on Lofoten can be, in September 2017, only 11.3 mm of rain was recorded. That is quite a difference! What will next year bring? Nobody knows…

However, while it might not be idea camping and outdoor weather this autumn, the light has been amazing! I have just finished my second workshop (of 4 this autumn), and each day brought something new and exciting, and completely different than the previous week, where wind was a major element. This past week the weather slowed, the showers lasted longer and the rain fell heavier. But this also allowed more predictability in what might happen with the light. The next part was just to get to the right place and hope that the elements aligned.

This time of year Reine enters into the shadow of Reinebringen during the early afternoon. With a nice reflection of Olstind in the harbor on this day, I thought it might be worth waiting a bit to see if we could get some nice light. As the next wave of showers approached the sun emerged from the clouds behind us. Soon a rainbow formed low on the left and then grew into the sky. Going higher, higher, higher… But before we got a complete arch, the sun faded away again. A nice image, but it could be better! I generally don’t spend too much time at the tourist viewpoints on my own these days, but with two more workshops in the area in the next weeks, I might get another chance at something…

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8
28mm
ISO 100
f 11
1/40 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #299 – First Snow

First Autumn Snow Over Reine - Friday Photo #299

Photo: Dusting of autumn snow in mountains over Reine, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. September 24, 2018. 12:47

First snow of the year! To say the last week has had stormy and dramatic weather would be an understatement! The Lofoten autumn seems to be making up for lost time last year and is throwing all it can at us this year with multiple days of gale force winds, stinging hail and the autumns first dusting of snow on the mountains. This image is from Monday and by now on Friday morning the snow line had sunk to around 350 meters, with everything above nice and white, while everything below is fantastic yellows, golds, reds, and oranges of autumn. It has been some years, if memory serves me correct, since we’ve had such an early snow fall here – well, mostly hail and graupel, really – but it’s still white!

The past week I’ve been out guiding my first workshop of the season, a private tour with four brave ladies from Hong Kong. Had I been alone, I would have sat at home and watched Nextfix most days. But the weather provided some fantastic light and wild seas. I think I’ve already managed at least 5-6 images that will go into this years autumn gallery here. The only major thing lacking was northern lights, with only one small night of somewhat clear skies in-between passing hail storms. Quite a change from last September, where the aurora seemed to dance almost every night! But that is how things go here in the north, a good year often followed by a bad one – all things must come to a balance.

I have one night at home tonight before my next group arrives tomorrow. While the forecast is looking a bit grim the first days, the week is looking better and hopefully we’ll get up into the mountains for some nice light – and no doubt get completely soaked in the process! But no one comes to Lofoten for blue skies and sunshine, right?…

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8
70mm
ISO 160
f 10
1/200 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #297- Summer Sunset

Mountain Sunset - Friday Photo #297

Photo: Summer sunset over the mountains of Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. July 31, 2018. 23:11

I am somewhat unsure of what to write about this week. I have spent the previous week down south in Germany – while Lofoten enjoyed nearly every night of northern lights in my absents. For my return journey home, I ran into the frustration of the winter schedule of public transport here, and thought I might write about that – when the ferry to Moskenes arrives 3 hours after the last bus leaves, etc…

And yet on Tuesday morning as I awoke at 06:00 to catch the S-Bahn to Schönefeld airport in Berlin, I took a quick look at Lofotposten. Where I saw there had been a helicopter rescue on Reinebringen – A group of people had crossed the barriers Monday evening, in their selfish pursuit of Lofoten’s most photographed mountain view. Well, one of them got hurt, and had to be rescued by helicopter… Reinebringen, the most desired of Lofoten’s mountains on social media. A mountain that has been loved to death and which is now closed, so a new trail can be built for the next summer of uninspired masses wishing to hike the same mountain as 10,000’s of others. Although I’m beginning to believe this is a good thing, that everyone goes to the same place, so then I can have the rest of Lofoten, and even better views than Reinebringen, mostly to myself even in the height of summer.

And so I though about writing a long rant about the changing nature of tourism, and the influence of social media sending people to check of their bucket list items, without giving a shit for their impact on the local environment, much less the people who will have to come rescue them when they do something stupid like getting injured on a closed hiking trail. I try to remain an optimist in life, but some people truly make it difficult!

But instead, here is a pretty sunset photo from a nice summer evening in late July. This was something of a bipolar summer this year: Either cold, grey and raining, or hot and cloudless. Colorful sunsets seemed to be few and far between. Either a grey ending to the day or bland sunset into a hazy blue sky.

This night was one of the few exceptions. With a group of friends, we sweated our way up to Lilandstind on Moskenesøy. The weather didn’t look too promising actually, and I thought we’d just have another hazy evening. But as the sun neared the horizon, the sky lit on fire! There were many better peaks to be at during this night, but it was still nothing to complain about. Finally a nice sunset! And then the rains of August began…

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8
14mm
ISO 80
f 10
1/15 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #292 – Kvalvika Whale

Kvalvika Whale - Friday Photo #292

Photo: Decaying whale on the shore at Kvalvika beach, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. August, 4, 2018. 20:18

With a somewhat poor weather forecast yet still looking for a night outside on a misty Saturday night, we made the journey to Kvalvika beach. These days, with the parking lot overflowing and cars parked all along the road – even on a rainy Saturday – Kvalvika is a place I rarely visit in summer anymore. For the time being however, the west side of the beach still can be relatively quite, and there was only one other tent on this night.

Looking for a place to pitch my tent, I noticed the rocks looked a bit strange. Hmm, no, not rocks. A Whale! It looks like it’s been there a while by the decay. The cool air kept the smell to a minimum, but occasional the breeze blew onshore and, well…

The clouds were nice and moody, with occasional spells of rain passing now and again. I wish the whale was separated a bit more from the rocks – other angles worked better for the whale itself, but not the background. I wanted Ryten and Fuglhuken hidden in my shot, with the summits barely emerging from the clouds. So I had to settle with this angle, which makes it a little hard to tell what is going on, unfortunately. I also took some images of just the sea and the mountains, which are stronger compositions overall, but it is not that common that I sea whales washed ashore here, so this was still worth a shot.

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24mm f/3.5 tilt-shift
24mm
ISO 31
f 8
13 seconds
WB Daylight
6 Stop ND filter

Friday Photo #291 – September Aurora

September Aurora - Friday Photo #291

Photo: Autumn northern lights fill the sky over the village of Å, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. September 14, 2017. 22:26

Sometimes I feel like August is a light switch here in the north. Suddenly the nights feel dark again, the roads seem to have emptied overnight, and the weather has that first autumn chill. And August means that the aurora season is only a few short weeks away.

I will miss the endless summer nights, and after the cold rainy weather of June this year, July turned out to be fantastic! One of my hottest summer’s here on Lofoten – often too hot for the mountains actually! But summer will be back next year. And before the winter snow arrives there are still plenty of nights to be had out in the mountains – not under the midnight sun, but under the dancing aurora.

Last year, September’s weather seemed to be better than the whole of summer. With many clear, calm nights. This also coincided with some strong solar storms – Any talk of the coming solar minimum stuff in BS as far as I’m concerned. So I was lucky with several nice nights looking for some interesting new compositions to shoot under the northern lights.

This is a tricky pursuit however, with a high miss rate, as, unlike a sunset or some clouds in the sky, you can never be certain where the aurora will appear. A few times though, I seemed to be in a decent location with the aurora working fairly well for me. Such as this shot here, where I was camped on the summit of Andstabben, with the village of Å below me. Normally I’m not a fan of distracting city lights in aurora images, but in the case, with the aurora almost perfectly aligned with the direction of the lights below, it works for me.

Who knows what this September will bring. Even if only half as good as last year, I will be happy. Though I will also be away traveling for the first part of the month, and busy with workshops during the 2nd half – still some places available on my Exploring Autumn workshop. So I’m not sure how many nights in the mountains I’ll get, and if my time off will align with good weather and northern lights. We will see…

Camera Info:
Nikon D800
Nikon 214-24mm f/2.8
14mm
ISO 1250
f 3.2
15 seconds
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #286 – Lofotodden Nasjonalpark

Lofotodden national park - Friday Photo #286

Photo: Twilight view over the wild north coast of Moskenesøy, soon to be part of Lofotodden Nasjonalpark, Lofoten Islands, Norway. September 7, 2017. 20:30

After a process of more than 10 years, and with a fair amount of local opposition on Lofoten, last week the Norwegian government announced the creation of Norway’s 40th national park – Lofotodden Nasjonalpark. (NRK article here). More or less covering the whole northern coast of Moskenesøy before wrapping around the western tip of Lofoten, the park will include many of Lofoten’s most wild and rugged mountains and valleys.

Some of the opposition comes from loss of usage rights among people who might have property within the new park boundaries. But there is also the fear that the national park will bring an unsustainable amount of visitors to Lofoten. This, I disagree with.

In my opinion, the current rate of visitors on Lofoten is already unsustainable with the current infrastructure. And popular areas which will now be within the new park, such as Kvalvika or Bunes beaches, have no facilities to manage the waste of the thousands of campers each summer season – that is a lot of shits being buried under rocks, at best, and otherwise often sat out in the open, dirty toilet paper blowing away in the wind.

Hopefully, if done right (which I’m not 100% confident of), the new national park can bring with it the funds to help build facilities needed for current and future use of this fragile arctic landscape. And beyond facilities, hopefully the authority of now being within a national park will also lead to better education of visitors and their increased respect for the land. This is just my hope though, what will actually happen will be seen in the years to come. And hopefully it doesn’t mean that I now need to pay to park when I visit my favorite mountains or beaches, with otherwise no further benefit.

Camera Info:
Nikon D800
Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8
14mm
ISO 100
f 10
.8 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #285 – Summer Gloom

Kvalvika Beach - Friday Photo #285

Photo: Misty clouds conceal the summit of Ryten from Kvalvika beach, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. July 9, 2016. 18:53

Summer 2018 seems to be on hold for the moment. After a dry and cold winter, it now seems we have arrived at a wet and cold summer, with the thermostat struggling to reach even 10˚C most days in June so far and heavy grey clouds hanging over the mountains. Quite a contrast to June last year, which had weeks of warm sunny weather. But that is the nature of the weather up hear – no predictability at all. Some summers are good, others are bad.

Even in bad weather however, there can be a quite beauty to the landscape here. And if you, and your camera, can handle a bit of rain – though I must admit I try and avoid rain as much as possible, I’m Californian after all… – there is still plenty out there to see and experience. And while I would prefer perfect sunny and warm summers, you need to bad days to make the good ones stand out even more.

So if you’re heading up here soon, don’t forget your jacket!

Camera Info:
Nikon D800
Nikon 24mm f/3.5 tilt-shift
24mm
ISO 50
f 16
6 seconds
WB Daylight
6 stop ND filter
2 images – top, bottom

Friday Photo #283 – Summer Mood

Cotton Grass - Friday Photo #283

Photo: Cottongrass and evening light, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. June 12, 2017. 22:58

Cottongrass is a familiar plant in the summer mountains of Lofoten. It´s also a good marker of where not to put a tent!

Wandering around in the hilly landscape of Yttersandheia one June evening, the backlit ´cotton´ with the low evening sun caught my eye. The sky was a bit boring anyhow, and I was having trouble finding a nice composition. So I just decided to lay on the ground and look for something abstract.

Nothing special here, just a nice summer mood…

Camera Info:
Nikon D800
Nikon 70-200mm f/4
200mm
ISO 125
f 5.6
1/500 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #282 – June Mountain Snow

June Mountain Snow - Friday Photo #282

Photo: June mountain snow on Munken, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. June 10, 2016. 21:51

It´s June and the trails of Lofoten will soon be filling up with hikers. And while the coast of Lofoten is green and beginning to fill with flowers, winter is still holding on in the higher mountains of Lofoten, especially in the more inland area. So while many trails will begin to be snow free, particularly anything that follows a ridge or is in close proximity of the sea, snow may still stop access, especially without proper equipment, on some mountains.

Here, looking towards Munken, which rises to nearly 800 meters, there is still significant snow coverage across much of the route. Will this stop you from getting to the top? Possibly. And better to be safe if unsure.

And beyond snow potentially blocking a route, June is an elevated period for rockfall as the mountains begin to thaw and fall apart. It is generally best to avoid any trails which travel under exposed cliffs.

Camera Info:
Nikon D800
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8
38mm
ISO 100
f 11
1/80 seconds
WB Daylight