Friday Photo #3 – Reine Winter Blue

Reflection of Olstind mountain peak in harbour at Reine, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Winter blue, Reine, Moskenesøya, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  Feb 6, 2012, 16:50

Winter blue, Reine:  The day to this point had been my most productive day yet after 1 week on the islands.  A light dusting of snow had fallen over the previous night but as morning arrived the sky was clear and the islands were frozen in silence on the coldest day of 2012, -10.7˚C.

As evening arrived I hung out around Reine in hopes of some Northern Lights, though the forecast showed only a small probability.  As evening began in late afternoon the islands took on this amazing tone of blue.  And with near perfectly still waters, I knew this was an image to capture.

This is taken from the turnout on the side of the E10 just after the turnoff into Reine and is probably the most photographed scene of Lofoten.  Despite this, when you encounter a special light, you can still create something somewhat unique.

Camera Info:
Nikon D700
Nikon 24-70 f/2.8
ISO 200
f 10
15 sec
WB Auto
Single Image
No Filters

Friday Photo #2 – Autumn on Offersoykammen

Offersoykammen lofoten islands hiking

Photo: Autumn sunset from summit of Offersøykammen, Vestvågøya, Lofoten Islands.  October 3, 2012

To coincide with this weeks new hiking guide, here’s a photo from the summit of Offersøykammen, a small, isolated mountain peak on the western most edge of Vestvågøya.

Autumn on Offersøykammen: The day so far had been a typical blustery Autumn day on Lofoten; clouds and rain, light and shadow.  But as late afternoon approached, and having nearly driven around the whole of Vestvågøya, I knew I had yet to capture an image that would represent the day, and more importantly, the brilliance of Autumn on the Lofoten Islands.  The previous day I had also hiked up Himmentindan, the highest peak on Vestvågøya, so I was telling my legs I’d give them a rest day.  And so with that in mind, I figured I might as well make the easy hike up Offersøykammen and see what the light would provide.

I reached the summit as the sun was hanging low over the mountains of Flakstadøya in the west, casting a brilliant golden light over the colourful Autumn foliage on the relatively flat summit.  I shot several compositions including various rocks as a foreground element, but this scene seemed the most balanced to me.

As I waited around for the sun to lower, I noticed a mist begin to form around the mountain below me.  This soon turned into light clouds blowing over the ridge, climbing higher and higher until the summit was surrounded by a sea of clouds.  I went back to the rocks and made this image, as I like the way the mist had a softening effect on the light.  10 minutes later, I was in a complete whiteout, the sun now invisible.  And so my hopes of sunset were gone.

As I left the summit and descended back below the clouds I soon discovered that I had pretty much chosen the only peak to be covered in clouds, nearly everything else remained free and clear in the softening evening light.  But looking back, I think the clouds had near perfect timing for the creation of this image, something maybe a bit more special than I would have seen had it not arrived.

Technical notes: Image is from a single RAW file processed twice: once for foreground and once for background.

Camera Info:
Nikon D800
Nikon 24-70 f/2.8
ISO 100
f 13
1/10 sec
WB Daylight
Single Image
No Filters

New Hiking Guide for Offersoykammen

There is now a hiking route guide for Offersøykamen, an easy hike on the west side of Vestvågøya.  CLICK HERE to check it out.

Friday Photo #1 – Unstad Winter

Winter storm over snow covered beach, Unstad, Lofoten islands, Norway

Photo: Clearing winter storm, Unstad beach, Vestvågøya, Lofoten Islands, Norway.   January 7, 2010

For me, photography on the Lofoten Islands is more than just pointing your camera at something scenic and pressing the shutter.  This is the first photo in my new ‘weekly photo’ series I’ll be posting every Friday.  For the most part I’ll be selecting from Images already appearing on this site, but from time to time I’ll also post some photos that didn’t make it here for some reason which I still find interesting.  In these posts I hope to go beyond simple descriptions of each photo and talk more about why I made the image, how I made the image, and other elements I think are of note.

Clearing storm at Unstad:  It had been snowing heavily since the night before.  I was now halfway through a short 5 day trip January trip to the islands.  A trip that so far had shown me the islands in a way I’d never seen, nor photographed before; and which produced some of my all time favourite images.

By the afternoon on this day I was beginning to grow frustrated with having spent the day driving in circles without finding any scenes to shoot.  Finally, as the light was fading I headed out along the snow covered road to Unstad to see if by chance the storm would have been deflected around the mountains. [note: Unstad can often have weather isolated from the rest of the islands.  It can be extremely windy while most other places are relatively calm.  Alternatively, Unstad can escape any detrimental weather hitting the rest of the islands.] Emerging at the far side of the tunnel, I found the snow had ceased falling, although it must have happened recently as the entire village and beach was completely covered and some of the residents had just pulled out their snow shovels and tractors.

I probably drove a little to fast in my excitement and desire to spend as much time as possible in the ever darkening light.  The road to the parking lot on the right side of the beach hadn’t yet been cleared, so I drove as far as I could until I got stuck. I got out and walked down to the sea from there.  Light is more important than a stuck car!

I spent the next hour shooting, until it was completely dark.  This image, produced sometime about halfway though, remains one of my favourites.  Something about snow covered rocks leading into the sea seem totally surreal for someone who grew up on the beach in southern California.

A few technical notes:  With few exceptions, I always keep my camera white balance set to daylight.  Firstly, because I learned photography on film, so I more of less know what I’m going to get in different lighting conditions.  And Secondly, since I often combine multiple images for panoramics or square crops, it’s best to have a consistent white balance; and if I leave my camera on auto, I’d forget to change it 90% of the time.  But, when shooting in dark, winter conditions like this, daylight white balance doesn’t work very well.  The reason is that there is so much blue light present in the scene, that you will clip the blue channels while red and green remain underexposed.  By switching to shade white balance, a more neutral exposure is produced, and thus you can make a properly exposed photo without clipping the blue channels.

Camera Info:
Nikon D700
Nikon 24mm f/3.5 tilt-shift
ISO 200
f 16
25 sec
WB shade
Single Image
No Filters

Skottinden – New Hiking Page

And the first new update of 2013 goes to the mountain Skottinden –CLICK HERE

Skottinden, an imposing and steep peak located on the southwestern peninsula of of Vestvagoy is a short, but rigorous hike to high, airy summit with 360 degree views.

Traveling To Lofoten In February

In just over a month from now, I’ll be walking off the ferry in Moskenes and be on the Lofoten Islands once again.  I’m excited!  I wasn’t exactly sure if this trip would happen, but it seems I can’t stay away from the islands for too long.  This will be my 12th trip to the islands, and 4th in the last year.  I guess if I’m not allowed to live in Lofoten/Norway, I might as will visit as much as possible!

As usual, I’ll be flying into Bodø, arriving in the early evening.  I usually have time to drop by a shop and buy stove fuel, which gives me more flexibility once on the islands and not have to look for it right away.  I have also specifically chosen to arrive on a Tuesday so I can take the 01:30 ferry to Moskenes early Wednesday morning.  The benefit of taking this sailing is that the ferry first stops at Værøy, instead of the usual direct sailing.  The result is that I get a few more hours sleep on the (relatively) comfortable seats of the ferry, as compared to the uncomfortable floor/chairs of the waiting room in Bodø.  The ferry still arrives a few hours before sunrise, but depending on the weather, this leaves me with a few options as how to start the trip.

If the weather is bad, I’ll most likely take the bus directly to Stamsund and pickup a rental car which will also serve as my home while I’m on the islands.  If for some unusual reason I arrive to calm conditions, I’ll look into the possibilities of hiking up Reinebringen and an overnight bivy on the summit.  Another possibility would be to take the ferry to either Bunes or Horseid beaches and try to camp there.  But at this point, it’s completely useless to try and plan as there is no way of knowing what conditions will be when I arrive.  I just have to get there and see.  Either way, I’m hoping to be a little more ‘adventurous’ on this trip.  I dream of taking a photo of Northern Lights in the sky over Reine while on the summit of Reinebringen.  Wish me luck!

And, if by chance you’ll be on the Islands between Feb 13 – March 1, get in contact and perhaps we can cross paths at some point…