Friday Photo #323 – Sakrisøy Winter

Photo: Winter blue hour overlooking Sakrisøy, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. February 2, 2019

Sometimes there is nothing nicer the fresh snow on a cold winter morning. I don’t know how many times I’ve stood on this hill over the years, but a lot, and still, on mornings like this it’s worthing setting up the tripod for a few photos. In the early blue hour, sometimes it looks as if the mountains are glowing from within.

I actually found myself shooting quite a lot this winter workshop season. Perhaps it was because Lofoten had so much snow for a while, something which has largely been missing in recent years, or perhaps because there was also some quite interesting light and weather in familiar places that I’ve almost grown bored of seeing. Either way, I’ll have a lot of photos to edit during the next months.

For now thought, my photo tour season is over for this winter – though lofoten is still quite busy, there’s even a group walking around outside my house as I type. So my focus will mostly turn to the mountains for the next month until winter finally begins to thaw itself out in the short nights of April. And only 1 more month for aurora’s, so still need to keep an eye on the night sky, though I must say, I’ve been a bit spoiled this season, so it needs to be something big to draw me out of the house…

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8
21mm
ISO 100
f 8
6 seconds
WB Daylight

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 #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 #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 #319 – Avalanche

Photo: Small avalanche over Myrlandsveien causing road to be closed, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. February 12, 2019. 11:36

This weeks post is not a pretty photo but a safety warning. This winter Lofoten is receiving the highest snowfall in decades and as a result many areas are at extreme risk of avalanches. During the initial storm, parts of Skjelfjord and Ballstad were under mandatory evacuation while the E10 was completely closed off on Flakstadøy – isolating west Lofoten for 4 days.

In the weeks since the big snows arrived, the usual series of winter storms are causing more chaos than usual, with many roads across lofoten closing again from avalanches or as a safety measure, in addition to busses being canceled as well. I myself have been either locked out or locked in my village multiple times in the last weeks, so in the few days I actually have off between guiding, I´ve only been able to stay at home a couple nights.

Tonight and all day Saturday the next storm will be sweeping across Lofoten. With wind casts up to 40 m/s, more or less all transport on Lofoten will be shutdown, and the Gimsøy bridge will likely be closed for extended periods of time. So if you need to get somewhere, do it today or you will likely have to wait until Sunday.

If you are visiting Lofoten this winter, it is extra important that you keep an eye on the weather forecasts, any road closures, and be aware that you might need to change your plans at the last minute.

Unfortunately for the amount of tourism Lofoten receives in winter these days, there is yet to be any efficient way for tourists to receive information or warnings in advance. You best option is to keep an eye on Lofotposten (www.lofotposten.no) and keep an eye on any articles that look like a warning.

For road closures, Statens Vegvesen has an updated map of all roads in Norway: www.vegvesen.no/trafikkbeta

For weather, keep an eye on: www.yr.no

For avalanche warnings: www.varsom.no/snoskredvarsling

It is also important to remember that for as scenic and popular of a tourist destination that Lofoten is, you are really visiting a quite rural part of an already low population country. Lofoten is about 24,000 people spread over 150km. The population of west Lofoten – Flakstadøy and Moskenesøy is only about 2,500 people. So as well as they are prepared for the normal bad weather, when something big comes, there simply isn’t the infrastructure to keep up. If you see a warning to stay at home, it´s wise for you to do the same and not end up in a dangerous situation with a potentially long wait until rescue.

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8
28mm
ISO 320
f 6.3
1/320 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 #317 – Snowmegeddon

Photo: Myrlandsveien shortly after opening Wednesday evening after closure from heavy snowfall, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. January 30, 2019. 18:00

On Sunday, while I was enjoying perfect winter weather on Senja on the last day of my first photo workshop of the season, Lofoten was getting blasted by a winter storm. The radar was just a cloud of heaving snow flowing directly into Lofoten. And so while I was photographing a fantastic northern lights that evening, Lofoten was in full shutdown and emergency mode: flights canceled, roads closed, and people evacuated from avalanche zones.

Returning Monday evening I saw the chaos that had hit. Even with a full day to dig things out, the islands were just beginning to recover. My road was closed due to avalanches, so instead of going home, tired after 10 days on the road, I had to stay with friends for several nights. I was a bit stressed, as I had to go to the police in Svolvær on Thursday to drop off the paperwork for my visa renewal.

Tuesday arrived and more people were evacuated and more roads were closed – west Lofoten still remaining cut off. Finally on Wednesday, so roads were beginning to be cleared and open up again, including my road. I had somewhat optimistically thought that if the road remained closed, I could perhaps just walk home and grab the paperwork I needed, then head out again. But as I drove out to my small village late in the afternoon, I was completely shocked by my sight.

Never before have I seen this much snow on Lofoten, much less falling in one day! I passed 3-4 meter high snow drifts, and it almost seemed like I was driving through a tunnel at times! I didn’t trust the road, so I just got what I needed and returned to my friends’ place for another night to be safe for heading to Svolvær the following morning.

I’m not sure how long this snow will remain. But it is simply incredible! Though with the height of the photo tour season just around the corner, there are going to be some difficulties, as parking is extremely limited at the moment since most pullouts have not been cleared. Even on my ski trip to Ryten today, I had to park down to road at the Kvalvika parking, which only had room for maybe 4-5 cars. So anyone coming in the next weeks is going to need to be a bit patient and understanding of the current situation.

Camera Info:
Iphone

Friday Photo #316 – January Twilight

Photo: Winter twilight at Storsandnes beach, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. January 13, 2019. 14:19

Driving home on Sunday afternoon the other week after a night of storms – the world was now quiet. Clouds on the southern horizon still kept me from seeing the sun, but the rest of Lofoten was glowing in the soft pink and blue pastel colors of winter. With fresh snow on all the mountains, they can sometimes feel like they are glowing from within, they are so bright and white.

Luckily I was smart enough to pack my camera with me, knowing there might be some good conditions this day. And usually I don’t stop at Storsandnes too much anymore, only 2 km from my house, it is kinda a familiar sight by now. But the light was too amazing, so I had to. And somehow, even at 14:00 on a Sunday afternoon, no one had walked on the beach yet, so the snow was footprint free!

I think I had already missed the best of the light by the time I arrived, but it was still good enough. There is something so magical about these soft winter colors. And it looks much better in real life, as it’s slightly hard to translate to a photo before it begins to look fake and over saturated.

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8
38mm
ISO 80
f 10
30 seconds
WB Daylight
6 stop ND filter
2 images – top, bottom

Friday Photo #315 – Winter Snow

Photo: Snowmegeddon arrives to Lofoten, View over Nappstraumen, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. January 18, 2019. 12:16

After last weeks relatively warm storm stripped most of west Lofoten of it’s snow, the past week has been making up for lost time! After several days of heavy snowfall now and high winds, it is snow chaos on much of Lofoten. I even had trouble getting home last night and had to leave my van stuck in a snow drift until my neighbour could clear the road and pull me out with his tractor this morning.

In conditions like the last days, it is best to avoid driving, especially at night, if you are unfamiliar with the roads. The roads are slippery, narrow, and snow drifts can for unexpectedly and quickly in places. Wait till the storm clears, much nicer looking anyhow. You won’t have much to photograph if your car is stuck in a ditch off the side of the road.

The weather forecasting has also been quite unreliable in this last week, due to the constantly changing conditions. Best accuracy is to look at the actual radar image. Yesterday was supposed to have been somewhat sunny actually, according to the forecast on Wednesday. But it turned into a full winter storm, blasting straight down over Vestvågøy the entire day.

Tuesday and Wednesday were also my first to days on skis this season. It’s still quite dark here and I’m in Norwegian class until 12:30 or so during the week, so only had time to go up a small hill near leknes. But it’s nice to have the legs moving again! Yesterdays trip was canceled due to the weather, and the same for today – though it has actually cleared a little, and i might have been able to make it.

I can feel the days are getting lighter, but I’ve only just caught a quick glimpse of the sun while driving to Leknes on Wednesday. So I’m still waiting for my first opportunity to photograph it again! With my first photo tour of the winter season beginning tomorrow, I should have plenty of opportunities – weather cooperating!

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8
58mm
ISO 400
f 7.1
1/125 second
WB Daylight

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