Friday Photo #73 – Vaeroy Sunset

Værøy islands rise over sea while illuminated by winter sunset, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo:  Winter sunset over Værøy, Å I Lofoten, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 11, 2014.  15:11

The island of Værøy is located some 16km over the sea from the ending of the E10 in Å.  With the winter sun setting towards the southwest, just towards the right of the islands, they are often illuminated in the in the days last light as the sun passes low overhead before sinking into the sea.

Sunset images over Værøy are a winter and late autumn event only; the sun rising too high in the sky and setting too far west/north at other times of the year.  Often the lower horizon can be cloudy, so some of the best light will occur some 1-2 hours before sunset, particularly if the sky is partly cloudy.

With this image, I borrowed a friend’s 70-200mm lens and shot a series of frames at 200mm for a panoramic image.

Camera Info:
Nikon D800
Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8
ISO 320
f 10
1/320 second
WB Daylight
3 images – left, centre, right

Lofoten Islands Winter 2014 Part 4 – Arrival Of The Aussies

Frozen sea ice along winter coastline, near Nedredal, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Frozen sea ice on the coast of Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

After the previous night’s sunset at Å, I was hoping for one last view of Reine in the morning, but alas, I rose to a heavy mist falling from the sky.  It was now Friday, February 7th, I had been on the island for a week.  A bit ahead of schedule, perhaps because I could feel the pull of a warm shower, I began my journey back to Stamsund to meet with the Australians.  We didn’t have any firm plans of meeting, just ‘sometime after lunch,’ as abstract of a term as that can be.  But with the day starting as it was, I figured they wouldn’t be getting out of the car much either.

No one was around when I arrived, and I’m not even sure if Roar was expecting me or not, but I called and announced my arrival and was given directions to our accommodations for the next days.  Opening the door to the cabin, I was greeted by a rush of warm air, something I hadn’t felt for days – I’m not sure my fleece or long underwear came off at all during the previous week.  A bit gross, I know, but that’s the way it is; you don’t have to worry about how bad you smell when you’re alone.

Soon however, a car, packed to the brim with three Australians – Rod, Michael, and Andrew – and accompanying luggage and camera gear pulled up outside.  You might remember that I traveled on Lofoten with Rod Thomas last year in the spring.  Now he and a couple friends were back for the winter experience, although the winter thus far was proving to have less snow than last year’s spring.  So it goes on Lofoten.  Michael Fletcher is a film maker and was there for a bit of behind the scenes documenting the trip, while Andrew Cooney, at just 18 years old, is a fellow landscape photographer looking for a bit of adventure in the north.

Not sitting around to waste any time in the short arctic days of winter, and with the weather seeming to improve a bit, the car was unpacked of unnecessary luggage and re-packed with people and cameras to hit the road.

Other than the popular beaches of Utakleiv, Haukland, Unstad, and Eggum, much of the central Lofoten island of Vestvågøy is often ‘drive through’ country for most photographers, as they move between bases at Svolvær in the east and Reine in the west.  I’m not sure why this is, probably because there are fewer roadside attractions than the other islands, especially Moskenesøy, where you barely need to walk more than a few meters from the car for something scenic. Vestvågøy requires more use of your legs to fully explore it’s character, but this doesn’t mean there are not some seldom photographed scenes that do make an appearance from time to time, and it’s actually my favourite island for Autumn.  In winter however, there is the difficulty of the sun.  Or more exactly, where the sun is.

The light of the winter months on Lofoten is very southernly directed, rising a bit to the southeast and setting a bit to the southwest.  And south means the open waters of the Vestfjord and, to put it bluntly, often not as scenic of a coastline as the northern side of the islands.  Of course there is Reine and Olstind, but to attempt to pull out a variety of images for multiple locations can be difficult at times with the sun low on the horizon and many areas receiving no direct sunlight.  This, combined with the often heavy cloud, means there are a limited number of locations where one can attempt, with an interesting composition, to photograph direct light.

We headed east from Stamsund, along the coastal route to Valberg and beyond.  In normal winters, where the islands are covered in snow from sea to summit, almost everything can be scenic here.  This year however, with the lower elevations mostly consisting of the drab, soggy brown grasses and heather of winter, it took a bit more effort to find something interesting.  So with little snow, ice is the next best thing.

I took us to the area around Dal, where there can be some interesting bog and moorland that sometimes freezes nicely.  But upon arrival, the ponds weren’t so interesting, but the ice covered coastal shallows, with some scenic views towards Vågakallen in the distance, were.  The sky didn’t do too much, but I found the ice textures to be fascinating.  Soon we were back at the hostel and I was enjoying my first proper dinner in days.

What had been a non-eventful, and cloudy, sunset turned into clear skies as the evening progressed.  We headed out into the darkness and began the wait for Auroras.  A little after 9:00pm, they began to appear, though mostly quite faint.   We first headed to Myrland beach, as it gives a nice overview of the northern sky, with some scenery for the foreground.  But the lights quickly faded after our arrival so we headed back to Storsandnes beach to see if things would be better.

This was the near the location of the ice rivers which I had photographed a few days earlier, and wondered if it would make a good compositions for northern lights, should I get the chance.  So with the Aurora there, but not overly active, I headed up the hill with Andrew to see what I could come up with.  Nothing spectacular as it turns out, mostly because the sky began to cloud over again.  But I saw potential for the future with better conditions.  It was nearly 2:00am when we pulled back into Stamsund.  Luckily I had enough sleep reserves from the previous week already built up!

Northern Lights - Aurora Borealis shine in sky over frozen ice river and mountain landscape, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Northern lights over frozen river, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014


Northern Lights - Aurora Borealis shine in sky over frozen ice river and mountain landscape, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Northern Lights over mountains of Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

Saturday was grey and mostly uneventful.

Walking out the door early Sunday morning just as the horizon was beginning to glow, I noticed and unexpected dusting of snow had fallen overnight, cool!  We first headed out to the coast at Dal again to see if any color would appear.  But what looked to have strong potential soon faded to a deep bluegray.  With the rare snow on the ground, I thought it best to get to one of the beaches as soon as possible, before the snow was washed away by the incoming tide or filled with footprints by other photographers or locals on their Sunday walks.

We headed towards Utakleiv, as that would provide up with the most options.  Passing Vik beach, it was full of seaweed and the tide was already receding from the snow line.  Haukland was full of people and dogs.  This left Utakleiv.  Exiting the tunnel, I could see there were no cars in the parking area, and pulling up, the beach, and faint layer of snow, where largely untouched.  Perfect!

It was well into the afternoon that some color began to appear in the western sky.  So we did the obvious thing, headed west.  This turned into one of the best sunsets I’ve ever seen on Lofoten.  Though unfortunately I don’t think I took us to the correct place to fully enjoy it.  We first attempted a location near Fredvang, but the tide was wrong, and it was a bit windy so we headed back to Skagsanden beach, with the sky and mountains fully aglow with bright pink and orange.  I was content with the day, but I felt the other guys were a bit disappointed that I hadn’t taken them to a more spectacular location.  Soon the light was gone and it was back to Stamsund.

The islands were dry, no rain and barely any snow, yet a layer of cloud was still nearly always present.  Monday was spent at Unstad beach before our final night in Stamsund.

Tuesday brought some interesting light at Henningsvær, but this soon turned back to the usual grey.  We didn’t have much time to waste anyways, as it was time to change locations and head to our new accommodation on Hamnøy for the next few nights.

Reflection of Vågakallen mountain peak over coastline, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Vågakallen reflects in the winter coastline, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

Dusting of snow covers sand at Uttakleiv beach, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: A dusting on snow coveres Utakleiv beach, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

Waves wash over coastal rocks at Uttakleiv beach, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Waves wash among the rocks at Utakleiv beach, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

Colorful sunset over mountains of Moskenesøy, near Fredvang, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Winter sunset over the mountains of Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. February 2014

Hustind mountain peak glows pink over Skagsanden beach, Flakstad, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Pink winter sunset at Skagsanden beach, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

Waves flow among boulders at scenic Unstad beach, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Utakleiv beach, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

Mountain reflection in Harbour at scenic fishing village of Henningsvær, Austvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Winter dawn at Henningsvær, Austvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014


Friday Photo #72 – Winter Mountain Light

Winter sunset illuminates snow covered mountain peaks, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo:  Winter sunset over mountains, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 9, 2014.  15:35

This week’s image is not something spectacular, but more to illustrate wonderful light that I was in the wrong place for.  Other than the light, the image is rather boring as I feel there is no focus or subject to the scene.  From the position I was at, and with quickly changing light, It was all I could do at the moment.

By late afternoon, it had become evident that there might be some nice light for sunset.  But how nice it became was truly unexpected by me, as it appeared there would be some clouds on the horizon, blocking out the final moments of light as is generally quite common on Lofoten.  But instead of fading, the light just kept growing and growing in intensity, lighting the cloudy sky in bright orange and pink while casting a brilliant light across the mountain peaks.

In mid to late winter, the sun sets over the ‘end’ of the islands in a southwestwardly direction.  This makes getting a direct view of the light with a scenic composition a sometimes challenging task.  It is already too west for anything around Reine, yet not high enough for any of the beaches on Vestvågøy.

Ideally, I would have positioned myself on top of Ryten or perhaps Offersøykammen, but it would have been impossible to know this at the time.

Camera Info:
Nikon D800
Nikon 85mm f/2.8 tilt-shift
ISO 50
f 8
1/25 second
WB Daylight
3 images – left, centre, right

Lofoten Sailing Expedition August 2014

spectacular view over mountains and fjords from Reinebringen, Lofoten islands, Norway

Photo: Autumn view from Reinebringen, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. 

I’m skipping this weeks continuation of my Lofoten winter travels series for a more important announcement:

I’m going sailing around Lofoten!

From August 23 to September 6 this year (2014) I’m joining the Vertical Shot Expeditions trip – as a paying participant – led by Vlad Donkov for a sailing journey from Tromsø, past Senja and Vesterålen, and concluding in a full circumnavigation of the Lofoten Islands.  The trip is a total of two weeks long and looks like it will be an exciting adventure to say the least!

I have known of Vlad’s work for sometime as he is another photographer with numerous Lofoten trips in the bag as well other arctic destinations like Greenland, Iceland, and northern Sweden.  The boat will be crewed by experienced arctic sailers.

Not to sound like an advertisement (I really am excited by this trip, as it will be a totally new way of seeing Lofoten for me), but I believe that there are still 1 or 2 places available on the trip.

Contact Vertical Shot Expeditions for more info: Website


Lofoten sailing expedition 2014

Photo: Vertical Shot Expeditions Lofoten sailing route map 2014

Prior to signing up for the trip last week, I wasn’t actually sure if I would return to Lofoten at all this year.  Partly because I have had a complete hike of the Kungsleden trail over in Sweden on my mind for a while, which I wouldn’t have been able to begin until near the end of August, which would likely make me miss autumn on Lofoten – and there’s no real reason for me to go after that.  And partly because I’m feeling the need to begin exploring some new areas beyond Lofoten.

I have a couple months to decide if I will spend a few more weeks in September of Lofoten after the trip ends or head elsewhere.  I’m thinking about maybe trying to get back to Sarek national park, and hopefully not drop my camera in a lake this time, or perhaps somewhere around Saltfjell on the Norwegian mainland.  I’ll probably just leave it to the last minute to see how I feel about things or see if I can find anyone interested in hiking with me.

Friday Photo #71 – Horseid Beach Camping

Tent with scenic mountain backdrop while wild camping at Horseid beach, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Tent and mountains at Horseid beach, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  March 3, 2014.  16:40

With each visit I make to Horseid beach, I’m more and more convinced that it is one of the most beautiful places in the world, and perhaps my favourite (non-mountain) place on Lofoten.  Even though you are not that far from civilisation, there is something so wild and rugged about the place and you could as well be on some lonely island on the edge of the world.

It was a snow-less winter this year, which made access to the beaches quite easy, relatively speaking on general winter conditions.  With a good weather forecast, I decided to take an overnight trip to Horseid.  My favourite camping location is on the grassy hill at the far end of the beach, right above the water.  The view from here is one of the best as you look back towards the mountains now in the far distance.

In this image I tried to capture a sense of the scale of the mountains and my tent.  I would have shot with a longer lens to give more compression to the image, but 85mm is as long as I typically carry these days, so I had to make due with that.

Camera Info:
Nikon D800
Nikon 85mm f/2.8 tilt-shift
ISO 200
f 4
1/250 second
WB Daylight
3 images – left, centre, right

Lofoten Islands Winter 2014 Part 3 – Time Passes Slowly

Unstad beach, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Heavy skies over Unstad beach at dawn, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

[Part 3 of my February/March 2014 Lofoten Islands travels]

Morning was slow to come.  After midnight had gone, time seemed to come to a standstill.  And though it seemed like hours had passed between looking at my watch, it was only minutes.  02:00 am, 03:00 am, 04:00 am; still 4 hours until dawn appeared.  The storm was calming now, but I knew I wouldn’t have much of interest to look forward to come first light, only a reason not to be laying down in my sleeping bag.

A few more hours passed until I could finally see a heavy, misty grey dawn appearing over the beach.  I dressed and wandered down to the empty sands of Unstad beach.  The fury of yesterdays storm had passed and barely a hint of breeze blew against my face.

Sometime later I returned to my car for breakfast: an orange, some rice cakes, and chocolate, for the cold.  I sat for a while, waiting to see if any colour would appear.  But after sunrise had passed, I was gone.

I could tell it was going to be one of those days of soft, flat light.  I visited a few beaches and wandered around some hills, following an ice river up into the mountains.  And so the hours passed as I made my way west to Flakstadøy, where I noticed a bit of color beginning to appear.  Not much, but something other than grey.

Looking for a place to camp, I headed down a small dirt road on the outskirts of Ramberg which took me out to the coast.  I noticed a good supply of wood which I thought could be turned into a decent campfire for the night and so I messaged my Italian friends to see if they wanted to join me.  A little while later they showed up and we set to making a fire.  Though it turns out I was slightly optimistic in my estimates of the wood, which was either too small and burned quickly, or too old and rotten, barely burning at all.  But at least it was a mild night, for February, so it wash’t too bad to sit around and have some light in the darkness, even if the heat was lacking.  Not to mention, it was a good excuse not to go to sleep in mid afternoon.

I was wanting to shoot something around Flakstad for sunrise, but pulling my car out onto the E10 and a quick survey of Skagsanden beach, it was evident that another grey day was in store for the islands.  So I headed further west, and back towards Reine, where I would have a direct view of the sun rising on the horizon.

I got stopped by the road works that have been going on for what seems like forever on the eastern part of Moskenesøy.  Originally what started out as just a new tunnel had turned more or less into a whole new road, tediously blasted, dug, and scraped into the rock. So there I sat, watching dawn approach over the Vestfjord and not knowing how long I would be stuck.  I even gave though to hopping out of the car and just shooting on the side of the road, but figured it might not be the best idea.  Time to sit and eat breakfast I guess, rice cakes and chocolate, for the cold.

Finally, after 20 plus minutes I was let free and on my way west again.  Dawn was near as pink began to fill the sky in the small gap along the horizon and into the ceiling of low clouds overhead.  Nearing Hamnøy I figured the sun would rise any minute and so I got out of the car and looked around.

I was hoping for a nice pink glow on Olstind, rising across the still waters of the fjord, but the horizon seemed to be a bit cloudy, and only a faint light reached the mountain.  Looking back over the Vestfjord as the sun cracked the horizon was about the only thing of interest, though not especially so from my vantage point.

Soon the sun was back in the clouds and I was counting the hours until darkness, where I could attempt to sleep again, to pass the time quicker.  I parked my car in the turnout by Djupfjord and began the wait.

Morning arrived with more low, misty clouds, but I could tell a bit of a change from the last few days would happen.  I mostly stuck around Reine and Å, waiting for the hours to pass.  I could see winter storms passing over the mainland in the distance, but for some reason none arrived on Lofoten.  In late afternoon I headed out to Å and by chance ran into some German acquaintances.  Lofoten can be a small place sometimes.

A final kiss of pink in the sky over Værøy and the day was soon gone.  My first week on the islands was now over.  In the morning, I would head back to Stamsund, where I would meet up with the Australians and be their unofficial Lofoten tour guide for the next 10 days.

A small river runs through the sand at Storsandnes beach, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Storsandnes beach, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

Mountains of Moskenesøy rise above sea at sunset, near Fredvang, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Winter light over mountains of Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

Coastal landscape at Trollskjeran, near Ramberg, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Last light near Ramberg, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

Winter sunrise over Vestfjord from Toppøya, near Reine, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Winter sunrise over Vestfjord, Toppøya, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

Rocky coastline of Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Rocky coast of Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

Approaching winter storm conceals Norwegian mainland across Vestfjord, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Winter storm passes over Vestfjord, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

Pink clouds at sunset over Værøy islands from near Å I Lofoten, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Pink sunset over Værøy, Å I Lofoten, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

Friday Photo #70 – Winter Cod Racks

Silhouette shapes of empty cod drying racks at sunrise, Toppøy, near Reine, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Empty cod drying racks at dawn, Toppøya, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 15, 2014.  08:41

During my first two weeks on Lofoten I had wandered around Toppøya on numerous occasions; with the southerly winter sunrise, it is often a good location for views across the Vestfjord if the sky looks like it might do something interesting.  On my final sunrise before heading off to Sweden I found myself wandering around the small rocky island once more.

Heavy clouds filled the sky, but, as often occurs in winter, there was a narrow break in the clouds along the horizon.  Just enough for a few moments of light before the sun is swallowed up by the sky for the days and the light turns flat and gray.  The light was too week to cast much colour, or light up Olstind behind me, so as I was walking back to the car I noticed the sun lined up quite nicely with these cod drying racks.

The lines caught my interest, but without the hanging stockfish, the scene felt a bit empty.  So I decided to go for the full ‘tilt’ effect with my 85mm tilt-shift lens and throw most of the scene out of focus to give the scene a more abstract effect.

Camera Info:
Nikon D800
Nikon 85mm f/2.8 tilt-shift
ISO 100
f 4
1/100 second
WB Daylight
3 images – left, centre, right
Full lens tilt

Lofoten Islands Winter 2014 Part 2 – Lessons In Sleep

Waves wash over snow covered rock in winter at Myrland beach, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Myrland beach at dawn, Flakstadoy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

[Part 2 of my February/March 2014 Lofoten Islands travels]

February mornings are slow to arrive on Lofoten, so even if you’ve been up late chasing northern lights the night before, there is still plenty of time for a bit of sleep.  In fact, there is often too much time for sleep, as darkness is still the dominant element of the season.

Stirring uncomfortably for hours due to the combined effects of cold and the lack of a sleeping pad to soften the otherwise hard trunk of my rental car, I dreamed of dawn as the batteries faded in my iPod as I repeated the same podcast to pass away the time.  Looking at my watch, I decided it was time to rise, 07:00.

I exited the back of the car into a world of night, snow swirling brightly in my headlamp as I quickly hurried to the softness of the drivers seat and started the car.  I was expecting to see the beginnings of day appear on the horizon but the only thing to escape the blackness was the snow lit by the car’s headlights.

Doing my best to judge the wind direction, I left Utakleiv and headed towards somewhere which might be a bit more sheltered.  It’s always windy in Utakleiv anyways, even on calm days.  The squeak of the wiper blades were the only break in the silence as I traveled the dark, snowy roads to Myrland, on the eastern edge of Flakstadøy.  With a couple of seldom visited beaches, compared to the more famous neighbours visible across the Nappstraumen, Myrland has been a productive location for me in the last couple years, almost too visited.

I parked my car overlooking the sea, only barely visible through the snow and grey light which signalled the arrival of morning.  It was Sunday morning, and I had nowhere to go, only to wait in darkness and see what would happen.

Now, this is normally the time when having a book would be useful to pass the time.  But as I had been somewhat busy back in California prior to my departure to Lofoten, I didn’t have the time to procure any.  Or to say more accurately, it didn’t seem like much of a priority.  Maybe I was making a statement to the universe that the light would be so good that I wouldn’t have anytime for reading, or perhaps I simply forgot what being alone and bored was like.  Anyhow, I would soon regret this decision, though not so much as to buy an over-priced book in Norway; not much of an English reading selection on Lofoten anyways that could entice $30 from my wallet for an day’s entertainment.  To add even more to my first world problems, I hadn’t even brought my laptop with me to at least get some writing done as my ambitious plans for Sweden didn’t allow for the extra weight.

If you’ve previously read about any of my Lofoten travels it might seem like I’m poor at planning and haphazardly stumble around the islands.  But this is actually a well thought out plan to keep me productive as possible.  You see, my greatest enemy is laziness.  And comfort brings laziness.  If you have a warm fire, hot food, and a soft bed, the weather is almost always ‘too bad to go outside,’ or ‘it will be better later.’  But it turns out that ‘later’ never comes.

Stuck in a car for 24 hours, outside becomes an escape from boredom.  And outside is where the photos are.  So even with poor light and casting winds, boredom leads my mind to thoughts like, ‘Hmm, I wonder what might be up that hill,’ or ‘those rocks look sort of interesting, I wonder if I can come up with something.’  So really, every shot I take might not be jaw dropping colorful (over processed) sunsets, and I probably even take a fair amount of bad photos, but the short days of winter tend to be the most productive for me, since i have no comfort to escape to.  Though I often do allow myself a berlinerbolle for breakfast every day or two to have a little bit of comfort.  Ample supplies of chocolate help as well.

After some time the storm begins to pass and the sky continues to lighten.  I look down to the sea and see what I’m looking for in the soft light as the small waves meet the snow covered beach.  I pull out my gear and get to work for the next hour until a flat grey light has enveloped the islands.  With northern lights the previous night, and now scenic snow covered beaches, I thought I was off to a pretty good start for winter on Lofoten.

Before I left California a few people had gotten in contact with me who would also be traveling on Lofoten around the same time as myself.  As morning passed, I got in contact with a nice italian couple, who like myself, were also doing the car-camping thing and made plans to maybe try and meet up somewhere down by Reine or Å.  So off I headed, west along the E10 towards Moskenesøy.

Passing Reine, the light wasn’t so nice so I continued on towards the town with a name that everyone always seems to have trouble pronouncing, Å.  Perhaps also one of the shortest town names existing anywhere.

Å I Lofoten, the formal name to distinguish it from any other Ås which might exist, can often be a good place for winter sunset, as the afternoon sun passes low over the distant island of Værøy rising across the sea before meeting with the final mountains of Lofoten itself.  January to early February is one of the best times for this location, before the sun begins to set too high in the west as the vernal equinox begins to near and the days grow long.

Well, it turns out, the light down there wasn’t so good either and there wasn’t much snow out on the rocks which is really needed for the scene.  On the other hand, was a frozen lake Ågvatnet, with cool patters of light snow drifting across the surface, blown across the ice since the passing of the morning’s storm.  The more interesting patterns and shapes were deep in the center of the lake and I was somewhat hesitant to venture alone that far onto the ice.  But upon seeing a few locals walking and ice skating around, I figured a frozen death wouldn’t likely come on this day and proceeded out onto the lake, soft rays of sunlight hitting the surrounding mountain peaks.

A little while later I headed into Reine where I met up with my new Italian friends, before deciding to head back to Å again.  Once more, it didn’t look like the light would do much for sunset, so we headed out onto the lake again until night arrived.

Patterns of snow cover black ice of Lake Ågvatnet in winter, Å I Lofoten, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Snow covers lake Ågvatnet in winter, Moskensøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014


Patterns of snow cover black ice of Lake Ågvatnet in winter, Å I Lofoten, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Snow covers lake Ågvatnet in winter, Moskensøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014
The one benefit of the dry and snow free conditions this year was that all the parking areas where clear and open.  Often it can be a bit of a challenge to find a snow free area to sleep in the car overnight, particularly in the western part of the islands and often I’m left parking under the bright lights of the parking lot in Å, which you’re technically not supposed to camp in, but that’s more so it doesn’t fill up with motorhomes all summer long, or so I tell myself.  This time though, the nice turnout near the Djupfjord bridge was open, and despite being right next to the road, is about the best place to sleep between Å and Reine.

Morning brought with it a cold wind and a promise of rain.  It was now Monday, and my second full day on the islands.  Again, despite laying flat in the back of the car for 12+ hours, a combination of discomfort and jet lag served me with a restless sleep and I was once again glad to be back in the driver’s seat awaiting the arrival of another day.

I headed to a location near Reine and watched as the approaching rain and rising sun raced to see who would greet me first.  It was a tie.  Heavy drops of rain began to hit me just as the sun peaked over the jagged, teeth-like mountains of the Norwegian mainland and shone across the waters of the Vestfjord.  A flash of pink lit the sky for a couple brief minutes as I retreated to shelter, only to be drawn back into to rain moments later and as a rainbow briefly encircled Olstind.  Back at my car, I said goodbye to the italians and headed back east to Leknes.

The rain was still falling as I pulled up to Leknes.  My main objective was to find a sleeping mat for the back of the car, unsure how many more nights on the hard, cold floorboards I could take.  Sometimes the large Coop supermarket in the mall has something cheap on offer, and last year I even pickup a proper blow up mattress that one would use as a guess bed at home for only 99 NOK.  It looked a bit funny in the back of the car, but it slept like a dream.  This time, no luck (though I did see one later at the end of February, when I no longer needed to sleep in a car).  The closest things was some exercise type yoga mat for 120 NOK.  I guess that would have to do.

The rain was still falling as morning passed to afternoon and I made my way out to Unstad.  Arriving at the beach, the wind was blowing fiercely and huge clouds of mist were blowing off the sea.  I made my way down to the waters edge but at times it was nearly impossible to stand as gusts of wind blew loose my footing on the slippery rocks.  I haphazardly cut and taped a plastic bag around my camera to protect it from the driving rain and hale.  My hands near frozen, I lost grip on one of my lens caps and it went flying off somewhere far beyond my reach.  After a few moment, I figured I’d had enough and retreated to the car.

I wanted to park my car on the left side of the beach, but in the blowing winds it was rocking like a boat at sea and I wasn’t too sure it would remain in the same place all night long so I opted for the more sheltered parking area at the right side of the beach.  After making myself a sandwich for lunch, I curled up in my sleeping bag to keep warm.  It was just after 14:00.

I next opened my eyes to find night had arrived.  Looking at my watch, it was 20:00.  The rain was still falling at the wind ever blow, but now with a slightly calmer temperament.  I turns out I had parked my car in the light of a newly installed street light, so I moved to car into the shadow cast by the old building, then was back into my sleeping bag.  Twelve more hours until daybreak and I’d already had the better part of a night’s sleep.  I thought of what the distant morning might bring.

Cod Stockfish hang to dry in cold winter air, Toppøya, Reine, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Stockfish hang to dry in the cool winter air, Toppøya, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

Cod Stockfish hang to dry in cold winter air, Toppøya, Reine, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Sun and rain meet at dawn, Toppøya, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

Rainbow forms over Olstind mountain peak and Fjord, Reine, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Rainbow over Olstind, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

Offshore wind blows waves at Unstad beach, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Wind blown waves at Unstad beach, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

Friday Photo #69 – Winter Tree

Lone winter tree silhouetted against mountain sunset, near Fredvang, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Tree silhouette, near Fredvang, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 4, 2014.  14:27

For the month of May I be focusing on panoramic images for each week’s Friday Photo.  I don’t shoot as many panos as I used to, I tend to go square more often than not these days, but they still make up a sizeable portion of my work.

Heavy rain had soaked the islands during the previous 24 hours.  But as the storm cleared and morning passed into afternoon the islands grew still and quiet.  A light layer of cloud filled the sky, giving a warm glow to the low winter sun.  The mood felt almost tropical, as low, misty clouds hugged mountains and filled valleys.  The silhouettes of the distant mountains looked more like something out of China – the place where you see all those images of the cormorant fishermen guys.

The shoreline wasn’t as scenic as I was hoping, but the light was interesting enough that I thought it would be a waste not to take any photos.  While I would have preferred snow, I found the silhouette of this tree to be somewhat interesting to create an image that isn’t stereotypically ‘Lofoten’ looking.

Camera Info:
Nikon D800
Nikon 85mm f/2.8 tilt-shift
ISO 100
f 11
1/250 second
WB Daylight
3 images – left, centre, right