Friday Photo #303 – Autumn Snow

Autumn Snow - Friday Photo #303

Photo: Snow covered peaks of Stjerntind rise in the distance over a small farm, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. October 4, 2018.

After nearly 6 weeks of seemingly non-stop rain, snow, and storms, the weather has finally calmed to a windless blue sky over the last days. Not that I want the bad weather back, but I dare say it’s almost a bit boring. And with my final photography tour of the year having finished over the past weekend, I can finally head back out to the mountains, which are now covered in a nice coating of white. It almost feels like winter is here, but not yet, we still have to get through November, my least favourite month of the year here on Lofoten.

Lofoten was lucky this year, that amongst all the rain, the islands also received an early snowfall – I already posted about the first snow on Friday Photo #299. From my memory, I think 2009 was the last time I experienced this amount of snow already during late September and many of the last years have had quite mild autumns actually. But this year, the cold came early to the mountains, though luckily, the streets remained mostly ok here in west Lofoten until this past Monday, when the first major snowfall came – and I finally had to change to my winter tires, which will now stay on for the next 7 months – a slightly depressing thought for someone from California!

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 70-200mm f/4
200mm
ISO 125
f 8
1/200 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #302 – Autumn Storms

Autumn Storms - Friday Photo #302

Photo: Autumn of storms – wave at Uttakleiv beach, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. September 25, 2018. 14:29

To say this autumn has been stormy on Lofoten would be an understatement! For over a month now, there has hardly been a day without rain, and gale force winds seem to be sweeping across the islands on a weekly basis. I’ve been guiding workshops almost non-stop for the last 4 weeks, and there has only been 1 day where I wasn’t wearing rain pants – something I generally don’t like to wear!

But this bad weather has meant that the islands have been anything but boring! Last year, the weather was a bit too good, which is nice for camping, and northern lights, but otherwise, blue sky is not too interesting for photography. This year, the autumn storms have brought endless drama to the islands: Waves are crashing, the sky is filled with rainbows, early snow on the peaks (mostly gone now since it became a bit warmer), and an endless variety of light. At times it has been almost impossible to stand, and keeping the lens free from rain and sea spray is a constant fight.

This image is from a stormy day at Uttakleiv on my first workshop in mid September. Usually I hate this rock, as I often find it distracting compositionally to many scenes here, as it always seems to end up somewhere in the frame or in front of the mountains. On this day, however, I’m glad the rock was there! I had been shooting some other stuff with my group, but I was struggling to convey just how stormy it was with what I was shooting. But seeing a constant flow of waves crashing over the rock, I decided that might be the image I was looking for.

Of course, as soon as you change lenses and set everything up, the huge waves that were crashing just a few minutes ago seem to die out. So I spent a bit of time waiting for the right wave to arrive, then quickly fire off a series of images, hoping to capture a nice moment. There is almost no predicting the sea, so it is shoot, shoot, shoot, then delete, delete, delete once you’re home and looking at all the rejects and. But hopefully, out of the 50-100… images, there is something nice. This wasn’t the biggest wave of the day, but I like the shape and form of the splash and think it shows what the day was like out there.

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 70-200mm f/4
70mm
ISO 31
f 14
1/15 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #288 – Summer Nights

Summer Nights - Friday Photo #288

Photo: Rays of light over Skolmen, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. June 28, 2018. 03:49

With July almost halfway over the midnight sun will soon be disappearing from Lofoten. And while the Islands lose light by about 1 hour per week until the sun sets for the last time of the year in early December, there is still another month of so before I’ll need to pull out my headlamp. Or, usually it is during a night out in mid August that I notice it’s a bit dark, and then it takes another trip or two before I actually remember to pack a light.

But for the time being, I stay up late and wake up late. The beauty of summer here at the moment is the late nights. And even if I’m lazy, or stuck in front of the computer until the early hours of the morning, I always take a look out the window and see what the light is up to.

This evening had actually been somewhat grey and flat. But as I took a look outside while brushing my teeth, I had to stop and go grab my camera. A couple quick shots out the bathroom window, and then I was off the bed…

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 70-20mm f/4
200mm
ISO 100
f 9
1/1600 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #287 – Himmeltind Midnight

Himmeltind Midnight - Friday Photo #287

Photo: Midnight sun shines over Uttakleiv beach from summit of Himmeltind, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. July 3, 2018. 01:12

I’m just back in the door from my first photo tour of the summer where we hiked 5 mountains over 6 days, with one day spent down low due to weather. I must say this was quite lucky, with the summer Lofoten has been having so far this year, as I somehow managed to time the tour with the only week of good weather!

And on this day especially, it was t-shirts and sweat in the evening sun as we made our way up the 931 meters to Himmeltind, the highest mountain on Vestvågøy. Once at the top, the time for waiting began, taking photos every now and again, until the sun was low on the horizon – or, as low as it gets at this time of year.

Eventually a layer of clouds began to fill what had been a nearly cloudless blue sky. And and soon some distant waves of rain began to appear on the horizon. The previous night, a cool sea fog and mountain clouds had arrived over Lofoten after around 02:00. So we stayed up, in hopes of this. But the fog seemed to be approaching at a glacial pace. So once the clocks hit 02:30, we decided to head down. Shortly after a gentle rain began, which turned into a heavy downpour just minutes before reaching my van. Good timing I guess!

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8
35mm
ISO 100
f 11
1/13 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #272- Unstad Aurora

Unstad Aurora - Friday Photo #272

Photo: Northern lights over Unstad beach, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. March 14, 2018. 22:44

My final photo workshop of the winter season ended early Monday morning, it what was probably the worst weather of the entire winter thus far. Compared to last year, 2018 was a dream season – though a little more snow would have been nice. But weather wise, there were no ‘indoor weather’ days until this past weekend.

And good weather on Lofoten means lots of green at night. Every trip managed at least 2 nights of decent northern lights, while a couple tours got lucky with some solar storms – such as this photo from last week.

We started the night at Storsandnes, but as soon as I saw what the lights were doing, I made a quick decision to head over towards Vik beach, where we remained for some time until the sky grew quiet. Next was a quick stop at Uttakleiv, but the entire beach was fully of blinking camera, so we headed for a slightly long drive to Unstad – where we had the beach to ourself somehow.

Even as we were arriving, the aurora had picked up again. And as we made our way down to the the beach, the entire sky began to fill with light. Another one of those nights where you don’t know which direction to look.

Just before the last tour I had finally made some much needed equipment upgrades as well: Nikon D850 + Sigma 14mm f/1.8 lens. I should have bought this lens at the beginning of winter! It might not seem like much, but that extra 1.3 stops of light can make quite a difference. In this shot for example, I was at 4 seconds, where I would have been 8 seconds with a f/2.8 lens. Quite a difference! And I could have shot even faster had I raised the ISO beyond 1600.

Sadly, there is only a few more weeks left in the aurora season. So I will try to make the most of things in the days to come. Though the lens is a beast! So I’m not sure whether I will attempt to carry it up any mountains – and unfortunately, it doesn’t replace the 14-24.

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Sigma 14mm f/1.8
14mm
ISO 1600
f 2
4 seconds
WB Daylight
2 images – top, bottom

Friday Photo #271- Vik Aurora

Vik Aurora - Friday Photo #271

Photo: Northern lights over Vik beach, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. March 4, 2018. 00:25

I posted a similar image to this the other week – Friday Photo #268 – where the moon was directly over the beach. A couple weeks later, and the moon was more or less behind me, and out of the scene.

This night was quite amazing, with the aurora dancing with stunning speed and filling the sky from horizon to horizon! With nearly full moon lighting up the landscape, it was possible to shoot with a relatively fast shutter speed of 2 seconds, which for northern lights is pretty good!

On nights like this, 14mm is simply not wide enough. I want to show what is happening in the sky, yet I also want enough of a foreground to anchor the image and make it a decent composition. So I was shooting foreground and sky images in quick succession – it is important to be fast when the aurora is dancing so quickly, otherwise the reflections might not line up correctly if the aurora has moved between shots.

I wish Lofoten had more snow though, would have been a fantastic image with bright white mountains instead of a somewhat ugly brown on this night…

Camera Info:
Nikon D810
Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8
14mm
ISO 2000
f 3.2
2 seconds
WB Daylight
2 images – top, bottom

Friday Photo #270 – Ice

Ice - Friday Photo #270

Photo: Ice, Nedreheimredalsvatnet, Eggum, Vestvågøy, Lofoten islands, Norway. March 3, 2018. 17:34

I’m back with another detail shot this week. I originally headed out to Eggum for sunset, but soon the sun disappeared behind some clouds and the golden light was gone. So I headed over to lake Nedreheimredalsvatnet to see what I could find.

It has been a cold winter this year on Lofoten, and the whole of the islands are in a deep freeze – even the lakes in the west, which didn’t freeze at all last year. With only a short amount of daylight this time of year, everything at Eggum in frozen.

The lake can have some nice structures where the rocks crack through. Unfortunately though, I was not the first, and the light dusting of snow had been thoroughly walked through at most of the rock cracks. So I looked for something else.

I am still fascinated with ice, and the patterns that form. Maybe I will photograph a whole abstract series one of these days. Here, I simply liked the cracks with a light filling of snow to bring out some contrast. I knew that I would like this image as a 1:1, so I put on my 24mm tilt-shift lens and pointed the camera straight down, shifting the lens between shots.

Camera Info:
Nikon D810
Nikon 24mm f/3.5 tilt-shift
24mm
ISO 160
f 6.7
.3 second
WB Daylight
3 images – top, middle, bottom

Friday Photo #268 – Vik Aurora

Vik Aurora - Friday Photo #268

Photo: Moonlit aurora over Vik beach, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. February 22, 2018. 22:32

The nighttime sky has been quit active over the last week, with impressive aurora on many nights, though also a quiet night or two. Last night the aurora came out early, before 19:00 with the sky barely even dark and 4 hours later it was still going!

While staying at Haukland for a small private workshop we first headed to Uttalkelv, as we hadn’t yet shot the northern lights there. But soon we figured it would be best to head elsewhere as car after photo tour van after car arrived. To be blunt, Uttakleiv is a total shit show these days, with groups just walking up and setting their tripods right in front of you and shining headlamps all over the place. It is unfortunate, but Lofoten’s popularity has killed the enjoyment of this location for me and I will no longer shoot there during the winter season.

Luckily, there still remains a few more peaceful options, for now, just around the corner. And so we relocated first to Haukland and then to Vik as the night progressed. Normally I like the moon to help illuminate the scene. But the quarter moon of the past few nights just always seemed to be in the wrong position and made getting a nice composition someone difficult.

If the moon was in the side of the frame, then it would pull your eye away from the aurora. Eventually I just figured it was best to put the moon in the middle of the image, and hopefully the aurora would cooperate and form a nice enough shape around it. Which in this image, I think worked out well enough.

As the whole sky was filled with dancing aurora, and you can see by my exposure how bright it was, I needed a wider field of view than just 14mm. So I composed the scene with a lower, foreground image, and an upper, sky image. I could have perhaps cropped to 4:5, but I feel 1:1 works a bit better with this one.

Camera Info:
Nikon D810
Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8
19mm
ISO 1600
f 3.2
4 seconds
WB Daylight
2 images – top, bottom

Friday Photo #262 – First Sun

First Sun - Friday Photo #262

Photo: First sun of the new year, Offersøykammen, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. January 10, 2018. 11:16

Though the polar night technically finished around January 5/6, weather kept the sun hidden for a few days longer. But finally on Wednesday, with a clear weather forecast, the sun returned to the north!

Still low on the horizon, I was careful to choose a mountain in which I knew it would be visible. Offersøykammen was one of the safer choices, with enough composition options. Unfortunately though, heavy rain on Monday and Tuesday melted away much of the snow which has been covering the islands since Christmas.

Having spent much of November trapped by rockslides at home, It had actually been nearly 2 months since I last saw the sun. It might sound strange, but it was a welcomed sight to see my shadow for the first time since I can remember! I kind of never noticed it missing, but was I was standing on the summit and the first light hit me, I finally remembered.

The wind was blowing cold across the summit. Even so, I just sat there for almost two hours until my toes began to get slightly numb and the sun disappeared behind Skottind.

Thursday provided an even more colorful sunrise, unfortunately I was busy with other things and couldn’t get out. But there are many months of winter left, and plenty more opportunities for cold days in the mountains of Lofoten.

Camera Info:
Nikon D800
Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8
15mm
ISO 160
f 11
1/50 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #257 – Night Hikes

Winter Moonlight - Friday Photo #257

Photo: Winter moonlight on Mannen, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. November 30, 2017. 20:32

The polar night has arrived on Lofoten, and with it means that most of our lives take place in darkness these days. And so when the weather is calm, somewhat rare in the last weeks, and the moon is bright overhead, why not go hiking? And with the fortune of having a fresh layer of snow, headlamps were hardly needed either.

There were some small aurora this evening, but not enough for me to spend much time shooting them. I found this composition to be much nicer, opposed to looking north over Uttakleiv – where the northern lights were. The moon almost makes it look like daylight though we were still a few days before the full moon. But with a clear sky and fresh snow, it is actually much brighter than one might think.

Camera Info:
Nikon D800
Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8
14mm
ISO 100
f 4
60 seconds
WB Daylight