Friday Photo #368 – First Sun

Photo: Skottind rises over Ballstad in the soft January twilight, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. January 18, 2020. 13:35

And just like that, after weeks of bad weather, the sun returned to Lofoten both on Saturday and Sunday. Though this didn’t last long and by Sunday night 30 m/s winds were shaking my house again as another low pressure system swept over the islands.

Waking up Saturday I could see blue sky overhead. I wasn’t sure where to go, my original idea had to been to head west and hike something on Flakstadøy, but as soon as I drove around the corner to Napp I could see a fair amount of clouds in that direction. I could also see there was a layer of cloud low on the southern horizon that was blocking the sun.

The weather was still the nicest it had been in weeks, and so with little expectations I headed for an easy hike up Ballstadheia as at least the mountains were covered in a nice layer of snow. Getting higher up the mountain I could see the cloud layer was thiner to the west and there might be a chance that the sun would get out of it before setting. And eventually it did.

The sun is still low on the horizon and the light soft, but I saw my shadow for the first time in 6 weeks! Actually I had to struggle with a few shots as the shadows of my tripod legs interrupted several compositions I was attempting. Nothing too complain too much about though!

I also wanted to show this winder image so you could see that while the mountains have snow, the low ground remains almost completely snow free in west Lofoten. It is such a fine balance of only a few degrees here between a complete white winter wonderland landscape or a brown and soggy one. Just 2-3 degrees cooler and we’d be skiing in epic powder with all the precipitation we’ve had in the last month.

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 14-24 f/2.8
14mm
ISO 100
f 13
1/10 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #363 – Noon Sunset

Photo: Fire in the December sky, Nappstraumen, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. December 13, 2019. 12:39

Despite being fully cloudy over all of northern Lofoten for as far as I could see from home, the strong southern near-gale of the day led me to believe that there would maybe be a chance of clear sky visible from the southern side. So I threw my camera bag in my van as I headed to Leknes in the late morning. As I drove along Nappstraumen and could see the clear southern horizon over the Vestfjord, with heavy clouds over Lofoten, hmm, something interesting might happen…

After finishing my errands and getting a coffee to go, I could see the sky was already lighting up just before noon. If it had been a purely photographic day, then I would have already been in place somewhere – As my location in the center of Leknes, and needing to get somewhere with a open view towards the south meant I was at least 20-30 minutes from most places. The quickest location, though not ideal, would be to park near Skreda, with views over Nappstraumen.

The sky was even brighter when I arrived 10 minutes later. And the wind was blowing! I immediately headed out to one of the rock outcroppings – I was also wearing my rubber boots – but I could see the water was coming in quickly. A quick check to the tides and yep, high tide was in about an hour. So I didn’t want to hang out there too long!

In the crazy winds, it took me a bit of wandering along the shoreline before I found an interesting enough foreground, and a place were I wasn’t getting completely soaked in crashing waves and spray – though as you can see in the photo, I bit of water got me.

It took me a while before I eventually arrived at this final location, though still not entirely happy with the composition – and by now the sky was beginning to fade a bit. And while I have many photos with more color in the sky – also due to shooting a tighter composition, I think this image works a little nicer. I actually found a final composition that I liked even more, but by then too much of the sky had faded.

Now, this image could just be a normal sunset anywhere in the world. The difference here being that I’m facing almost 180˚ south, and it’s 12:39 in the afternoon. The sun remained below the horizon the entire time, Yet just high enough for about an hour of sunrise – sunset color in the clouds. And in only 6 months time, I’ll have to be looking the opposite direction, face due north, to watch the midnight sun gently floating above the sea…

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8
17mm
ISO 50
f 11
0.8 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #361 – Unstad Winter

Photo: Unstad beach covered in a dusting of light snow, Unstad, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. February 10, 2019. 08:52

Unstad in white. It was a strange snow on this morning, falling almost like ash and just dusting the landscape. The light was flat and almost contrast-less, but that fit the mood of the scene and turned the landscape almost colorless. If I did any black and white photography, this would have been a perfect morning for it.

I shot elsewhere on the beach first, going for a cleaner images of just snow, sand, sea, and sky. But further down the beach was this pile of seaweed washed ashore by one of the numerous winter storms of 2019.

If there had been less snow I would not have taken the image, nor if there had been more snow. But somehow, with this sugar coating of white on the beach and seaweed, it seemed interesting. A pile of seaweed should be boring and ugly. But on this day, in this light, it worked I think.

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24mm f/3.5 tilt-shift
24mm
ISO 100
f 9.5
30 seconds
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #353 – Autumn Snow

Photo: Autumn snow over mountains of Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. October 4, 2019. 17:43

Winter is coming. Well, kinda… Lofoten had already received its first autumn snow while I was over hiking in Sweden in mid September – more on that later, but if you follow me on Instagram, then you know what I’ve been up to this summer and autumn. But as is usual with most years, waves of warm and cold cycle across the islands as autumn passes into early winter – until one day I’ll wake up and the outside world is white.

Last Friday I went for an evening hike. I was actually supposed to have hiked the mountain in the left of this image, Blåtind. But as I arrived at the parking area in Slydalen, I was in a complete white out of heavy snow. I knew it would eventually pass, but as it was a north wind, I figured it might get caught on the mountains for a while. So I decided to head to the other side of Vestvågøy to where the weather seemed a bit clearer and take an easy hike to Eltofttuva instead.

The mountains to the south remained mostly under the clouds during my ascent, but eventually the clouds cleared, leaving a nice dusting of white down to around 300m – The lowest I’ve seen the snow so far this season. Eventually the sun even emerged on the mountains for a little while before the next wave of snow arrived and I descended from Eltofttuva in snow and then rain.

By the next day the snow was gone. And a few days ago I was on the summit of Blåtind in the cold autumn sun. No remaining snow, unfortunately.

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24-70 f/2.8
55mm
ISO 125
f 10
1/10 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #350 – Lofoten Masters

Photo: Surfer at Lofoten Masters surf competition, Unstad, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. September 27, 2018. 15:13

This year will be the 12th edition of the Lofoten Masters surfing completion which takes place at Unstad beach from September 25-29.

Even if you are not a surfer, it is a cool even to watch, and last year I took one of my photo groups to watch some of the action with some of Norway’s best surfers in the water.

If you are not on Lofoten, it can be watched via live stream from the Lofoten Masters Website.

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 70-200 f/4
185mm
ISO 400
f 5
1/2000 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #329 – Spring Nights

Photo: Lenticular cloud over Himmeltindan at twilight, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. April 20, 2019. 22:50

Spring has arrived in the last week here on Lofoten – even up to 15˚ C in the last few days! That might not sound like much to anyone down south, but for me, it’s the warmest temperature I’ve had since September! I can even go on my evening jogs in shorts and a t-shirt at the moment. How long it will last, nobody knows. But at least it is a taste of summer for us! And a nice July day might not be much warmer than 15˚ C here anyhow.

Spring is a tricky time of year here on Lofoten. The light of summer but often the cold of winter. Though in sun and warmth and sun of the last week I can see the fields outside my house growing greener by the day. Which is quite a difference to last year when there was much more snow, especially on the mountains. It will probably snow again, perhaps several times, but at least the thermometer seems to be moving north.

Usually spring is a slightly unproductive photographic time for me. As I don’t really like the brown landscapes all that much. But this year, I will probably make much more effort to go out and photograph and to illustrate what spring is, as hopefully later in the year I’ll produce the final missing sections of my ’Seasons on Lofoten’ ebook guides – spring and autumn. Which I will likely combine together into one guide, as they are otherwise relatively short periods on their own. First though, I’m putting in long hours for the long overdue 2nd edition of Seasons on Lofoten – Summer, which should be out next week hopefully!

I was hoping to be lazy on this rainy evening. The sunset was interesting, but not enough to get me out of the house. Finally though, a little while later all the low clouds passed and I was this glowing lenticular cloud floating over Himmeltindan. It is not often we get lenticular clouds here, so I quickly grabbed my camera and rain out into the bog of my neighbors field. It was windy – the whole reason the cloud was there – but warm. So between gusts, I managed a few images in the quickly fading twilight.

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8
38mm
ISO 100
f 7.1
5 seconds
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #327 – Aurora Camping

Photo: Camping on the summit of Veggen under April northern lights, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. April 11, 2019. 00:04

With the 2018/2019 coming to a close in the next days, the sky has been putting on a pretty good show over the past week. Last Friday I camped out at Kvalvika and had the whole beach for myself as the sky exploded with color, and the cool rocket launch from Andøya, which was a bit eerie to see at first!. And a few other nice nights during the week until I was free from class again and could camp Wednesday night – with a forecast for clear sky.

I initially thought about going up Reinebringen, but having been sent a photo of the route by a friend, it looked a bit too avalachy and dangerous just for some photos. So I headed up Veggen instead – and while the route itself was safe, I only brought micro spikes instead of proper crampons, which wasn’t the best choice for the hard, icy snow. Making the descent a little scarier than I would have liked!

Darkness comes late at this time of year, but there is still enough of it for the aurora to dance overhead. However, the time from sunset until ‘night,’ if we can call it that, can be a little bit of a wait – especially while camping in the cold! So it’s always a choice of how warm and cozy do you let yourself get in the sleeping bag, which then makes you a little lazy and hesitant to get out once you see a bit of green appear in the sky.

This night, I was a little lazy. I missed an early outburst that only lasted a couple minutes – I was watching the web cams from inside my sleeping bag – that is pretty lazy! But eventually I emerged into the cold and there was still some aurora to be seen. However, a wave of clouds was slowly moving in as well, so after an hour or so when the aurora peaked again, it was sufficiently cloudy to block the show. And thus around 01:00 I went back to the tent.

So defiantly not the best image ever, but perhaps my last of this season. And now, 4 months of (hopefully) sun in the north. After last year, we deserve a good summer this year!

Friday Photo #325 – Unstad Waves

Photo: High tide and big waves washing away sand at Unstad beach, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. March 24, 2019. 15:48

The past weekend’s storms brought some big seas to Lofoten. I headed to Unstad beach a couple times for some wave watching. Impressive indeed, and unfortunately, it’s quite hard to take a photo which shows the proper scale – and it was probably a little rough for any surfers to be out!

At high tide, the waves were especially impressive, washing well up the normally flat sandy beach. If you have never seen or been to Unstad before, then this photo might not show too much. But in fact, this small cliff doesn’t normally exist. Around a meter or so of sand has been washed off the beach during the storms. Quite a lot!

The sand will return eventually and the beach will be back to normal. But for now, it will have a different look, with rocks where there normally aren’t any, as they are typically covered in sand. It is always impressive to see the raw power of the ocean.

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8
24mm
ISO 64
f 11
.5 second
WB Daylight
6 stop ND filter

Friday Photo #321 – Unstad

Photo: Dusting of snow over seaweed and rocks at Unstad beach, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. February 10, 2019. 09:09

Looking out the cabin window in the early dawn light it was obvious there would be no sunrise this morning. As we neared Unstad, a light snow began to fall, covering the landscape in a light dusting of white. After some time photographing at the beach, I headed back to the rocky part of the coastline. There have been several big storms this winter, so a lot of seaweed is currently washed ashore on all the beaches, with huge piles still remain at Unstad.

Normally I find the seaweed an annoyance and somewhat ugly. However on this morning, the light layer of snow turned it into an seemingly random series of lines, which I though contrasted well with the rocks and the rest of the flat grey light. In any other conditions I probably never would have taken this photo. But here, on this morning, it was something interesting.

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24mm f/3.5 tilt-shift
24mm
ISO 100
f 13
.4 second
WB Daylight
3 images – top, middle, bottom

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