Friday Photo #322 – Southern Storms

Photo: Waves crash over shoreline of Hamnøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. February 26, 2019. 17:48

Only a month after January’s snowmegeddon buried Lofoten under 1+ meters of snow in a single day, a week of rain in the end of February has more of less washed it all away. Winter is a narrow balance here on Lofoten, and a change in wind can be the difference between nice skiing or muddy hikes during the winter months. And while all the snow of January was impressive, it was a bit optimistic to think that it would remain the whole winter. So here in west Lofoten, we’re waiting for the next big snowfall before we can put on the skis again!

Sometimes I find it frustrating, that winter is not always white and cold here. But that is the price we pay on Lofoten to have such mild weather for our northern latitude; the islands warmed by the gulf stream. But still, the locals like to talk about the old days, when the islands were buried in snow. January was perhaps my first experience of this, but it didn’t last.

So late February’s rain melted away January’s snow. A normal cycle here these days: cold, warm, cold, warm. A gentle balance. And yet, it is unfortunately impossible to predict what will come from year to year. What will next year bring? Nobody knows…

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8
17mm
ISO 320
f 4.5
1.3 seconds
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #320 – Photo Season

Photo: February dawn over Reine from Olenilsøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. February 20, 2019. 08:11

Photo: A small selection of the 30 or so tripods waiting for dawn on Olenilsøy Wednesday morning, Lofoten Islands, Norway. February 20, 2049. 07:54

It is the photography high season here on Lofoten and I must say that I’m both sad and disappointed in what I have seen occurring here over the last weeks. The sheer amount of disrespect, arrogance, and poor behaviour from the visiting photography community is staggering! – both from organised photo tours and small friend groups. People standing in the middle of roads – or worse yet, letting their small children play around unsupervised while heavy trucks full of fish attempt to drive by, parking in marked passing places on single lane roads, parking on the E10 near blind hills or turns, groups of cars parking on, and blocking, private driveways for the closest access to a photo location, and generally high amounts of trespassing on private property- mostly due to some popular Instagram photos. It is out of control in west Lofoten, and it is only a matter of time before a reaction to such behaviour occurs, which will affect all of us who wish to continue to photograph these beautiful islands.

Lofoten is not a photographers playground. And just because you’ve spent a lot of money on camera gear doesn’t mean you can act like an ass! People live here, work here, drive their kids to school, and generally try to go about their daily lives. Years ago, when there were a few photographers visiting in the winter, perhaps it was ok to make a quick stop along the side of the road for a photo or two. But now that there are Hundreds or thousands of photographers here on any given day, we must all be aware of the impact we are making. What once was possible no longer is, unfortunately. That is the problem with too many people, anywhere in the world. Lofoten is being photographed to death. And I don’t want to see that happen to the place I have decided to call home!

But unfortunately I think the concept of ‘respect’ is a losing battle. 99% of people here will just go home after they’ve taken their photos and probably never return, without a care of what impact has been made. I can barely count the number of times in the last weeks I’ve told people not to park in the middle of the road, only to receive the response of, ‘yes, ok, thanks…’ as the person walks away from their car parked in the middle of the road to go take their photos. I’m half tempted to quit photography and start a towing company – I would make a far better living these days…

So I ask, those of you who might read these words. Please be respectful of these islands and the people who live here. The land here is beautiful, yes, but it is a small community on the edge of the world. We are trying to cope with the new visitors, but things take time.

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8
62mm
ISO 100
f 10
1/13 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #318 – Reine Dawn

Photo: Winter dawn over Olstinden, Reine, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. January 21, 2019. 11:34

I’m now underway with my second photo workshop (of 6) for the winter season. In my personal photography I’ve almost completely giving up on shooting the popular viewpoints, but while guiding I can spend a lot of time in the old familiar views. And sometimes after all these hours and years of being there I still get lucky with some nice light!

This was from the second morning of the last workshop. We had already been out for a while and the light had been amazing the whole morning. So it was just about time to head to my favourite cafe in Reine, Bringen Kaffebar, and have my daily cappuccino and cake when the light began shift a little and the sun rounded the mountains.

10 minutes earlier the whole face of Olstind had been illuminated and I was just taking some normal shot. Then I decided to throw on a Neutral Density filter and go for a couple long exposures before packing things in and hiking up the hill. This was one of those ‘just one more shot…’ moments. But I don’t even thing I realised how cool the lighting was until I got home and saw it on the computer.

I think this could perhaps be a new favourite Olstind shot of mine…

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8
35mm
ISO 31
f 13
112 seconds
WB Daylight
10 stop ND filter

Friday Photo #314 – Winter Storm

Photo: Storm waves wash over Myrland beach, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. January 11, 2019. 13:52

I was hoping to post a photo of my first sighting of the sun today, but I have not seen it yet, even a week now after the end of the polar night. On Wednesday I went for a hike up Offersøykammen as it was the only slightly decent weather forecast for some time, but the clouds remained too thick.

For the last two days Lofoten has been getting blasted by a proper winter storm. More of less everything on Lofoten is shut down today. All ferries are canceled, flights are canceled, busses are canceled, vehicles have been blown off the road, power is out in some locations, and some buildings are having to roofs blown off. This is serious weather, not outside weather. And not a day to go touring around if you are unfamiliar with the conditions. Don’t put yourself or others at risk

The Gimsøy bridge recorded wind speeds over 50 m/s – That is 180 kph! More than a hurricane! The Swedes and the Germans have given the storm a name, Jan and Donald, respectively. Apparently its not big enough for the Norwegians to name. Is that a polite way to call our Swedish neighbours wusses?

I only managed to walk down to my local beach between rain showers. Even at low tide, the waves were crashing almost to the back of the beach. I ended up quite deep in the sea at one point before I found a large enough rock to stand on. So while the photo might just look like a somewhat average day here on Lofoten, it really was crazy!

Most of the rocks in the image are normally completely covered in sand and not visible. So it looks like a meter or more of sand has been washed away from the beach. It will be a completely different place the next time I shoot it. Luckily the sand will eventually return, but it might take some time.

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8
14mm
ISO 160
f 10
.8 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #307 – Horseid Summer

Horseid Beach Summer - Friday Photo #307

Photo: Summer evening over Horseid beach, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. July 17, 2018. 22:55

I don’t like November. The only redemption to this month is northern lights, but so far we’ve just had near constant cloudy skies – even while the forecast says it should be sunny! And today my house is once again shaking in the wind from another storm while icy snow sings a chorus on my windows. The days are now short and the sun is perilously low on the southern horizon. Have I already seen my last sunlight of the year without even know it?

I’m generally trying to keep these Friday photo posts as current as possible with recent conditions or events on the islands. But other than 3 nights of northern lights, I haven’t taken a single photo for a month. Though much of the blame for that is me starting to surf again – so rather than go out and hike in crappy grey weather, I might as well be in the water catching some waves. I did just order myself a GoPro, so perhaps some water photos will start showing up here soon.

So, with nothing immediately relevant to post this week (nor the following weeks either), I thought a nice memory from summer would work. I think I’ve already written (I forget when) that this was a relatively boring summer in terms of light. June mostly sucked and rained, July got hot and hazy for 3 weeks, then it began to rain again in August, and more or less hasn’t stopped since then.

This day was one of the hotter days of summer and we sweated our way up the trail-less peak under a scorching sun. Normally I try and avoid the hot days for summit camping as I have to carry too much water – and it’s not like there’s much shade to be found either!

Eventually as the sun sank low on the horizon a bit of nice warm light fell over the landscape, but still a cloudless sky.

It seemed like too much effort to set up a tent, and it would have been way too hot inside anyhow! So I opted just to bivy outside – finding a rock to at least shade my face. But it was so hot that I couldn’t really be inside my sleeping bag! Soon however, a strong wind began to blow across the summit, so it wasn’t nice to be outside the sleeping bag either! I had originally planned for a second night down on the beach, but when thinking of sitting in the sun for the next 36 or so hours, I decided against it. So after a sleepless night I headed down to catch the 07:00 ferry. A good decision, as that afternoon it hit 29.9˚C on Lofoten – way too hot!

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8
14mm
ISO 100
f 8
1/60 second
WB Daylight

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