Friday Photo #418 – Second Sun

Photo: January sunrise/sunset over Nappstraumen, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. January 8, 2021. 12:39

The sun has returned to Lofoten! For the last two days, the sun has been visible again across the whole of Lofoten. Yesterday, Jan 7, was even better, with a perfectly clear sky and the sun floating along the southern horizon. But I was lazy and didn’t take any photos of it – the lack of snow in the mountains has left me somewhat uninspired for hiking lately.

Today, the sun returned again, but this time with a fiery sky. I was a again a bit slow to start my day, but on the way to Leknes I stopped by Nappstraumen for a couple images – I couldn’t completely ignore light like this.

Though with the sun still low on the horizon, and a fair amount of clouds around, the light was mostly focused in the direct south, not leaving me too many compositional possibilities. I shot a few wider images, but I couldn’t quite get the feeling I was looking for out of the foreground – the wave were quite small and the tide was low, forcing me out onto the seaweed, which I don’t think looks very nice.

So instead, once the sun popped around the bottom of Skottind, I put on the telephoto lens for a closer detail shot. By now the illuminated clouds had also pulled back quite a bit, leaving much of the sky a flat grey. Perhaps I should have also shot an image at 14mm to use as a reference. Not the best composition in the world here and I would have rather shot wider with a more dynamic foreground if there had been one. But at least it was a nice colorful sunrise over this part of Lofoten.

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 70-200 f/4
125mm
ISO 100
f 8
1/60 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #417 – A New Year

Photo: New Year twilight at the eye of Uttakleiv, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. January 1, 2021. 12:43

The new year has arrived with the soft pastels of winter twilight. Cold and clear, perfect weather for the first day of 2021 and a slightly slow start. Feeling lazy, I headed for a Lofoten classic, the Eye of Uttakleiv.

Lots of locals were out and about enjoying the weather, but at will likely be the trend for most of the winter and probably the first half of the year, no other photographers were around. Though had I not been lazy, I should have probably used the nice weather to head up a mountain. But there are still 4 months of winter left, so plenty of time for that in the days and weeks ahead.

You can see in the photo that the snow is still quite thin on Lofoten. It’s nice for driving, having the roads clear and mostly dry. But for photography, a little more white in the mountains would be nice! Soon hopefully.

The moon has been shining bright the last days, though in this photo it’s just a small spot above the rock on the left. It would have gone blurry from the 30 second exposure anyhow. I used a dark polarizer filter to actually bring out the reflection in the foreground water to add contrast against the dark rocks – though this did slightly make the ‘eye’ less visible, I liked the overall feel of the image better this way.

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24-70 f/2.8
24mm
ISO 100
f 14
30 seconds
WB Daylight
Breakthrough Photography 6 stop dark polarizer

Friday Photo #416 – Christmas Moon

Photo: Christmas moon in December’s twilight light over mountains of Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. December 25, 2020. 13:06

Driving home from Stamsund this afternoon I saw the moon sitting low over the mountains along the southern side of Vestvågøy. I was actually looking for a better angle of Vågakallen, which was rising nicely into the mid-day twilight. But unfortunately I was slightly too slow for that and by the time I got to a decent angle, a lay of clouds had drifted into the scene.

The moon looked quite cool, however, and was a good backup shot. Unfortunately again for me, since I had slept in my van, I put my 200-500mm lens into the house yesterday. Probably would have been a more interesting shot at 500mm, but I’ll never know…

God Jul from Lofoten!

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 70-200mm f/4
120mm
ISO 100
f 6.3
.6 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #415 – Polar Night

Photo: Twilight glow of December’s Polar Night over Vestfjord from Ballstadheia, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. December 12, 2020. 13:04

It has been nearly two weeks since the sun left Lofoten, and still a few more days to go until the winter solstice, when the days will finally begin to brighten again. The weather of the last week has improved somewhat from the soggy grey of November. Yet, with the sun not rising above the horizon, Lofoten only gets twilight light spreading out from the southern horizon.

On day’s without clouds, it almost feels like daylight, but not quite. And perhaps it is because I’m already well used to the darkness by now. I see references to how some people like this time of year, but I am not one of them. Maybe they think the light is special because it happens at noon, whereas in summer they are probably sleeping while I’m out wandering among mountains in the midnight light. I prefer the endless light of summer.

But the good thing about Lofoten is that no season lasts too long. In a few more months the northern horizon will be glowing at midnight and soon after that the midnight sun will return.

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 70-200mm f/4
140mm
ISO 100
f 5.6
1/60 seconds
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #412 – Reflection

Photo: Mountain reflection in Farstadvatnet, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. November 24, 2020. 10:53

After last week’s brief cold spell, the mild and wet weather of this November has continued, with daily rain and overcast skies. With the sun disappearing below the horizon in 10 days, I’ve probably already seen my last sunlight of the year – unless I happen to get lucky and randomly be in the right place at the right time for a sudden hole in the clouds. I think by the time this month is over, the temperature will end up being 3-4 degrees above average for November.

Now of course this is Lofoten, and who knows what will happen over the next months and into winter. Last year November had the coldest day of the entire winter, which then turned into a rainy and warm January, and overall mild temperatures into the spring. While I wish for snow photographically, daily life is much easier without having to deal with constantly icy roads – there will be plenty of time for that later.

In the middle of the week, the wind dropped off sufficiently for some nice reflections of many of the lakes of Vestvågøy, as they are somewhat sheltered from the surrounding mountains. I was actually heading out to Unstad on Tuesday to shoot something when I passed the perfectly calm Farstadvatn. Normally I don’t stop here, but this day I think I had to, so I pulled over on one of the pullouts and walked down to the shoreline. I actually like that the lower ground is snow-free, adding a bit of separation from the mountains.

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8
45mm
ISO 100
f 10
1/10 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #411 – First Beach Snow

Photo: First beach snow of 2020/2021 winter at Haukland beach, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. November 19, 2020. 11:54

After some unusually mild November temperatures over the last weeks – and no shortage of rain! – the winds finally shifted to the north and brought a cold blast of winter snow across Lofoten. Although this looks to be fairly short lived for snow, as the winds will shift to the south again by Saturday, bringing more mild temperates and rain.

I had been at Haukland beach just a few days ago, working on one of my ongoing projects. Yet with Thursdays snow, and basically full blizzard conditions much of the day, I headed back to the area again, as it would at least offer me a fairly large choice of subjects depending on what the weather decided to do at any given moment. Though I could see on the weather radar that I would have a small 20-30 mininute gap between the super heavy stuff, I figured the beach would likely be possible.

Luckily I was also the first one of the day, having the fresh dusting of snow for myself, so I headed towards the river for the classic shot towards Veggen. The river and beach were nice and clean today – there had been quite some seaweed a few days prior – all blown away overnight I imagine. I Initially shot a few images at the river, but I’ve gotten better conditions before with pretty similar lighting and mood.

I liked the subtle cure and tone of this layer of sand on the right side of the image, created by the higher water flow overnight before the temperatures dropped. I couldn’t quite get the angle I wanted, otherwise Mannen, the mountain leading up to the right becomes too overpowering in the composition. But I still like the overall feel here – and finally some snow!

You can also see how dark it is getting on Lofoten now. Taken basically at noon, there is not much light on cloudy days like this. One month to the winter solstice and the beginning longer days again!

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24mm f/3.5 tilt-shift
24mm
ISO 100
f 11
13 seconds
WB Daylight
2 images – top, bottom
Breakthrough Photography 6 stop ND filter

Friday Photo #408 – Haugheia Tree

Photo: Changing perspective – Late autumn tree, Haugheia, Lofoten Islands, Norway. October 24, 2020. 16:06

I had been waiting for the right light to head back to Haugheia to spend a little more time in the small grove of trees I posted about a few weeks ago – Friday Photo #405. Though by now it was no longer the warm days we had in early October the the whole 2 kilometer walk was along ice covered trails, making it a little slower going to ensure I stayed on my feet!

But while the air was cold, the light was nice and warm, with the sun low on the horizon. I spent a little time in the other grove of trees, but the sun wasn’t in the right location for them and they weren’t as interesting as I remembered. This lone tree caught my attention more, and so I spent a little time with it.

The image below is the first composition that caught my eye, shooting wide at 14mm. But it also felt a little boring. The area is full of twisted old trees, so I wanted to incorporate some of those somehow. I tried putting something in the foreground, but never got anything I was content with as it then often became to busy of a scene – perhaps after the first snow I’ll go try again. Or maybe it was actually the sun itself which was distracting – maybe I also need to try on a completely overcast or foggy day.

In the above image, which I like more, maybe just because of the warmer tones, I switched to a 70-200 lens. My goal was still to isolate the tree but in a slightly more abstract way. I thought the framing of the branches in the foreground looked interesting enough and isn’t something I normally do.

I also eventually took a shot focused on the foreground tree branches with the background tree out of focus, but that didn’t look as interesting. And I should say that I actually don’t like photographing trees very much, so not sure why I’m actually going out hiking to find some. Perhaps it’s just trying to hold on to the last of autumn before the long winter sets in and most my images will be of snow. But one of these image will also likely be part of a long term project for a new eBook I’m working on, and I’m attempting to show more of Lofoten than just ‘pretty mountain views.’ It will be a struggle, especially in the coming two months, but hopefully it pushes me to something new, as I feel my photography have stagnated for a while now and I’m generally not impressed by anything I return home with.

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 70-200 f/4
120mm
ISO 100
f 6.3
1/250 second
WB Daylight

Camera Info
Nikon D850
Sigma 14mm f/1.8
14mm
ISO 100
f 14
1/60 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #405 – Indian Summer

Photo: October sun shines through a hazy blue sky over autumn birch trees, Haugheia, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. October 4, 2020. 14:34

After a wet and mostly wild weathered September (with a few windy days), October has brough Lofoten, and most of northern Norway an Indian summer. Since the beginning of the month the temperature has averaged over 12 degrees, about double what it should normally be, with a high temp of 16.2 degrees.

On Sunday afternoon I decided to join some friends for a casual walk up one of the local hill near Leknes – what we jokingly refer to as ‘granny hikes.’ With a hazy, cloudless bleu sky and a bit of wind, conditions were not anywhere ideal for landscape photography. But as is my usual habit, I almost always carry my camera with me anyhow, even if only for a bit of extra exercise.

Initially, a few lone trees against the layered mountain background caught my eye, thinking of some sort of abstract-ish shot at 200mm or such. But I couldn’t find a tree which lined up with the background mountains to my satisfaction. But as I was trying to find a good angle, for one of the trees in the background of this image, the shadows of these twisted branches caught my eye.

I was in a bit of a hurry, with my friends waiting. So I didn’t have too much time to work on the composition – the think the lower left branch is too close to the bottom of the frame, so I should have moved back slightly. But otherwise, I think the empty hazy sky is what allowed this image to work somewhat. Anything else in the sky my have been distracting and taken away from the twisted shapes of the trees. But as it’s only a short walk, maybe I’ll return again for a different version, though I imagine all the leaves are probably gone by now.

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Sigma 14mm f/1.8
14mm
ISO 100
f 14
1/100 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #395 – Sunset Season

Photo: Bright sunset/sunrise at Uttakleiv beach, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. July 26, 2020. 02:43

With the sun finally sinking below the sea again in late July the sunset season on Lofoten begins – with potential for hours-long shows of the slow transition between sunset and sunrise in the northern sky. Some years can be better than others however, and for the previous couple summers, nice colorful nights seemed to be few and far between. This you though is making up for that! For the past week it’s been impossible to sleep as the sky has been exploding with color each night!

The sunsets have been good enough even for me to battle to summer crowds and parking fees at Uttakleiv on several occasions – they were still out collecting money at midnight this week! Though for this photo taken in the early morning hours, I was the only one up and photographing – with everyone else fast asleep in the 40+ tents on the grassy dunes above the beach. And I’ve found that to be true for most of the nights this week. There are few ‘photographers’ around and most ‘normal’ tourists seem to keep regular 9-5 travel hours – or to say, the days can feel quite crowded at times, but the nights are almost completely empty of people. Twice now at Uttakleiv I’ve been the only tripod out for fantastic sunsets.

If this light had occurred in winter, there would no doubt been a hundred tripods lined up across the beach. I do find it strange that Lofoten is largely ignored as a summer photography destination – maybe it is just the northern lights of autumn/winter that is the biggest draw? Or maybe since most photographers live at moderate latitudes they asocial summer with 03:00 alarm clocks? I don’t know. But as far as light goes – I’m not sure any other time of year can beat the potential of late July’s twilight nights.

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24mm f/3.5 tilt-shift
24mm
ISO 100
f 8
8 seconds
WB Daylight
6 stop Breakthrough Photography ND filter
2 images – top, bottom for 1:1 composition

Friday Photo #391 – Kleivheia Mist

Photo: Clearing mist over Skrådalstind from Kleivheia, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. July 2, 2020. 23:13

After several days of misty grey clouds and wind the sky was finally filled with nice puffy white clouds yesterday. Actually one of the nicer looking days (photographically) in weeks, as it has either been fully blue sky, or fully grey; not much in between. Though it my preference for hiking at night still under the midnight sun, perhaps I waited a little too long.

Sometimes the hardest part about hiking on Lofoten is actually choosing where you want to go. Even more so when you’re trying to be produce and choose somewhere with the best chances of getting some decent photos. I can always choose the old reliable classics, but as I’m still attempting to work on a new hiking guide this summer – whether that ever happens is still to be decided, mostly because I can’t afford to be driving in circles every day while I’m essentially unemployed thanks to Corona – I’m at least trying to choose some areas which I haven’t visited in a while. Last night that was Kleivheia, a rarely visited peak on the north side of Unstad.

The hiking isn’t very fun for the ascent of the steep, grassy gully – and even worse for the descent. And so as I saw heavy grey clouds blocking out the sun before I was even half way up, I thought about just turning around. Luckily I had a good podcast in my earphones and really, what else was I going to do otherwise? Not much. So I continued.

I came up there originally hoping to get nice golden light shining across Unstad bay and village. But that was just grey. I continued to the other side of the ridge, where there was some nice light over the Eggum side of the coastline, but it’s not the best composition in the world. So I just continued on towards the top.

I could see the next wave of clouds approaching and felt the first drops of rain. A rainbow appeared to might right, but I wasn’t in a good location. But it was one of those nice moments as a photographer when the light is moving fast and you’re racing to get into position – somewhere! Anywhere!

After the rain passed and the sun emerged again the valley between me and Skrådalstind began to fill with a swirling mist. Again, running from my previous composition I tried to get somewhere with at least a decent composition. But all the elements were moving so quickly that there wasn’t really time to fine tune a composition and within a few minutes the mist concealed the summit and the moment was lost. But it was worth the effort.

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Sigma 14mm f/1.8
14mm
ISO 100
f 10
1/30 second
WB Daylight