New Photo Workshop – First Light – January 2020

Lofoten Photo Tour - First Light - January 2020

I’ve just published the dates for a new winter Lofoten Photo Workshop: First Light – January 10 – 16, 2020

It is a little bit last minute, but I’ve had some requests for more dates during the winter. It is the only tour in the 2020 winter that my own, and not in cooperation with another company, so it will be a small group size, limited to 4 – I can’t chase around more people than that wandering off in the winter darkness! 🙂

With the sun crossing the horizon on January 5 for the first time after the month long polar night, this photo workshop will be in an atmospheric time of the year where you can really feel that you are in the far north – as opposed to later in the winter were the days become a bit more ‘normal.’ If the weather cooperates, then we will experience several hours of continuous sunrise/sunset and that is what we hope for! But being the arctic, a proper storm is likely to pass by as well…

If interested, checkout the tour page: FIRST LIGHT

Friday Photo #333 – Reinebringen Sunset

Photo: Late evening sun over the mountains of Kirkefjord from the summit of Reinebringen, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. May 23, 2019. 23:12

Spring? Summer? Or does it really matter? While I normally consider May to be spring here on Lofoten, for all intents and purposes, summer has already arrived this year. Most areas of the islands are already quite green and the fields are begging to fill with flowers as the grass grows higher and higher. And it a couple more days, the sun will not set again – already early this morning the sun was rising from the sea just after 01:30 when I got home from hiking on Reinebringen.

The midnight sun – if you want to define it as being able to see the sun at midnight – has already arrived here on Lofoten some days ago. But that is not the real midnight sun here. For Lofoten, the midnight sun is above the horizon the entire night, never setting. So that will arrive within the week. The main difference is that due to European Summer time, the sun does not reach its lowest point until around 01:00, not midnight.

Only locations north of the Arctic Circle, located at 66˚33’, will have 24 hour sunlight during summer – increasing in length the further north one is. With Lofoten at 68˚ north, the islands enjoy around 6 week of 24 hour sunlight.

I am also highlighting Reinebringen today as a reminder that work will begin on the stone pathway in the beginning of June – during which time hiking on the mountain will be forbidden. Please, leave the workers in peace so they can do their job. Do not attempt to go around any barriers. The trail project has been many years in the works at the cost of millions of Norwegian Kroner. Hopefully it will be completed by middle of July at the latest.

I know travel has changed in the last decade and now there is mostly an emphasis on showing that you’ve been to bucket-list locations, than actually just going out and seeing what you find. But on Lofoten alone, There are literally hundreds of other hikes possible – many with even better views, so be a little creative and maybe find something that isn’t on Instagram 247 million times already anyhow.

You can keep up to date with the latest information about Reinebringen from their facebook page: Reinebringen Lofoten

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8
60mm
ISO 100
f 13
1/15 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #326 – Aurora Season Ending

Photo: April aurora and glowing horizon, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. April 2, 2018. 22:16

April brings the transition between night and day to Lofoten. As the month begins, the sky is still dark enough for aurora to dance across the sky, but as the weeks pass we finally tip the balance and the night is gone.

This past season has been good and bad. There have been some absolutely fantastic shows of northern lights, perhaps some of the best I have ever seen. Yet at other times, particularly during the autumn and into early January, the weather was not very cooperative, and there could be a week or more between aurora displays. At least for all of my week long photo workshops of the season, every tour got at least one nigh of aurora, with a few trips getting much more, despite the best efforts of the weather.

For myself, I never managed any mountain trips during the autumn. And with the nights quickly shortening, I might not have much time for any winter camping shots either. But I will do my best.

And as much as I’d like the aurora to continue, I’m already thinking about the season of light that is quickly approaching. It seems only a few weeks ago that after-work outdoor activities were impossible, as the darkness arrived all too early. Monday, I was able to go to Norwegian class in the morning, head home for lunch, go for a quick ski tour, meet my friends in a cafe, and then head of for an early evening surf session. And I was still home before sunset! So wonderful! And hopefully the landscape keeps its winter look, though its been a bit on the rainy side, unfortunately. But I look forward to being in the mountains as much as possible these next weeks!

I’ll see the aurora again in August – probably from over in Greenland.

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Sigma 14mm f/1.8
14mm
ISO 2500
f 25 seconds
WB Daylight

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 #324 – Horseid Beach Winter

Photo: Winter view over Horseid beach, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. March 16, 2019. 16:14

Though Wednesday was the first official day of spring, Lofoten is still a long way from thawing out – or I should say, any more so that the normal winter temperature swings which can bring rain anytime. And with my winter photo season pretty much over for the season I can begin to focus on some winter mountain adventures over the next weeks.

The first trip from last weekend was a long coveted winter view over Horseid beach. I joined some friends from Lofoten Fjellsport group for a ski trip up to Branntuva. I was a bit worried the snow would be too thin, but it turned out to be some of the best snow I’ve ever skied on Lofoten, especially the descent from Fageråskaret pass. Such nice turns! Though unfortunately, the length of the trip and an unfortunately late start meant that this was mostly done by headlamp.

This would have been a good night to camp and the sky filled with northern lights later in the evening. But being avalanche terrain, it would not have been safe for me to return alone.

It turned out to be a long day, around 9.5 hours and 13km round trip. I’m not quite back in mountain shape yet after 2 months of photo guiding, so I was a bit wrecked to Sunday to enjoy the fantastic weather, a coffee and cinnamon bun was all I had the energy for. This weekend a series of storms are sweeping across the islands, so it will be indoor weather.

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8
20mm
ISO 100
f 6.3
1/320 second
WB Daylight

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