Friday Photo #212 – Flakstadpollen Winter

Lofoten Islands, Norway: Remaining snow at low tide in Flakstadpollen. Friday Photo #212 - 68 North. Lofoten Islands Photography and Travel

Photo: Snow formations in Flakstadpollen at low tide, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. February 16, 2016. 15:35

A day that had started with brilliant color (see Friday Photo 183) ended with the typical winter blue of heavy clouds over the snowy winter landscape.

With a heavy amount of snowfall in west Lofoten over the previous days, I had seen the possibly for this scene to form a few days previously. But with other places to go in better light, it had to wait for the right time. And more importantly, the right tide.

So in the fading darkness of late afternoon, I headed east from Ramberg to see if my intuition was correct. And it was. Often this area fills with cool and interesting ice formations, but the snow, which had partially melted away during the incoming tides, gave a slightly different look to the scene and interesting elements to use as a foreground.

The scene was utter chaos though, something which I don’t always work well with. So it took some time to find a composition that I felt wasn’t too busy and had a bit of direction to it. I’m not 100% sure if I succeeded, but I think the final result turned out ok.

Camera Info:
Nikon D800
Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8
ISO 100
f 14
1/8 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #211 – Reinebringen Winter

Friday Photo #211 - Reinebringen Winter

Photo: Winter view from Reinebringen over Kjerkfjord, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. January 15, 2017. 12:35

It is now 21:30 on Thursday night. I had already written a previous post for this weeks Friday photo, but events of the day have resulted in me sitting here at the computer tonight, with my alarm set for an early morning wake up tomorrow. This might be a bit unfocused due to my tiredness, but here goes.

Last Sunday, with a near perfect weather forecast, some friends and I hiked Reinebringen. My plan had been to camp on top, alone, after the others continued down. But upon reaching the summit, the winds were too high, and we decided it wouldn’t be safe to stay up there. So, despite carrying a heavy backpack the whole way, I headed down the mountain with them. A little disappointed, but I still had some nice light and got some pretty decent images. It was the right decision to head down.

After I posted some photos, I received many comments about hiking the mountain in winter, what the trail is like, etc. And, as I can only safely answer: I cannot say what the mountain will be like in xx days or weeks or if it will be safe to hike. Winter on Lofoten is constant change from day to day.

Fast forward to today, Thursday. It was supposed to be the start of my first photo tour of the winter so I headed early to Leknes to meet my client arriving on a morning flight. As time passed, the flight was eventually canceled, then the next flight, and the next…

It is here that I should say that severe gale force winds and heavy snow flurries have been blowing across the islands all day. Beyond just canceled flights, all buses were canceled, ferries canceled, and schools closed. To put it nicely, today was not a day to be outside.

On my second trip to Leknes, I found out half way that my clients later flight had just been canceled again. But already most of the way there, and still optimistic that she would arrive in the calming conditions later on, I continued.

Luckily, earlier in the day my friend had mentioned maybe going to the climbing gym. And so I thought perfect, I will hang out at the gym for a while and see what happens with the flights. Sounded like a good plan.

As soon as we arrive at the climbing gym, around 15:30, my friends phone rings. It is the Red Cross calling. Someone is injured on the top of Reinebringen and needs rescue. A few dozen thoughts ran through my head, but the biggest one was:


The conditions of today, combined with Reinebringen are the exact reason I wrote my WINTER HIKING article. Today was not a day to be outside, much less for a tourist possibly unfamiliar with the islands and landscape to be on a steep mountain like Reinebringen. Even driving to Leknes was scary today, and I would have rather not needed to do so.

And so my climbing session was over before it started as my friend headed to Reine to participate in the rescue. However, conditions were so dangerous on the mountain and the avalanche risk high, that the team could not safely reach the injured man. It wasn’t until 20:30 tonight that the winds finally calmed enough and the helicopter was able to pick him up and fly him to Bodø. That is 5 hours on the side of the mountain in gale force winds and blowing snow! Not a good way to end your holiday on Lofoten.

I do have some second thoughts about writing this, and it is only since the man was safely rescued that I am. And I understand that accidents in the mountains do happen, it comes with the territory. And perhaps I myself might need rescue one day. But a day like today was pushing the odds too much on the side of danger. And so I feel it has to be said again.

These mountains need to be respected. Even more so in winter.

As a footnote. I initially read in one of the articles that the work of the ‘Sherpa trail’ steps up Reinebringen would hopefully make the mountain safer for the many visitors. However, on my Sunday hike, I observed that the new steps lead directly into an avalanche zone – and were covered in avalanche debris. So, I feel I should add a note of caution to this point: that just because this mountain will have steps leading to the top in a few years, it will still require attention and good judgement – especially in winter! You can view a photo I posted to Instagram HERE.

Articles from the rescue: NRK Nordland, Lofotposten

Camera Info:
Nikon D800
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8
ISO 320
f 8
1/125 seconds
WB Daylight

New Image Gallery – Autumn 2016

Photo: September sunrise from Tønsåsheia, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. September 2016.

An image gallery from Autumn 2016 is now online: click here

It was a fairly mild autumn on Lofoten last year, and I managed to get in some long coveted peaks during this time. Fingers crossed for the same conditions this year. But first, winter!

Friday Photo #210 – Nesland Sun

Friday Photo #210 - Nesland Sun

Photo: Return of the sun! Nesland, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. January 12, 2017. 12:07

I was sitting down writing this text for another photo thursday morning, the sky grey and misty looking north towards Volandstind from my office window. Another indoor day I guessed. However, my empty tea cup took me on a trip to my kitchen, with southern facing windows. Sun! For the first time in more than a month!

I ran to my room, got dressed, grabbed my gear and hit the road. They sky was mostly full of clouds, so I knew I wouldn’t have much time. I first stopped just down the road in Skjelfjord, but there wasn’t enough light for a very interesting composition, so I headed around the corner to Nesland, and a little piece of coastline that has been pretty good to me over the winter.

The wind was blowing out of the south and the sea was nice and rough. I first tried a long exposure with a 6 stop ND filter. But requiring 10+ seconds, it was too long, and the sea lost its drama. Luckily it was still dark enough to get a second+ exposure with no ND filter – especially as I don’t have any for my 14-24 lens.

The dark rocks on the right side of the image feel a bit heavy to me and perhaps I could crop in a bit. But overall, not a bad image for a day I thought I would be tied to the computer…

Camera Info:
Nikon D800
Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8
ISO 50
f 16
1.3 seconds
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #209 – Winter Tourism

Friday Photo #209 - Sakrisøy Winter

Photo: Sakrisøy and Olstind in winter, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. February 22, 2015. 17:39

I couldn’t really decide for a photo for today’s post. However, with near storm force winds hitting the islands today, maybe I will talk a little about visiting the islands in winter. And more specifically, driving.

With the New York Times listing Lofoten as one of the top travel destination of 2017, it is going to be a busy year here on the islands. Already I have seen the rental cars begin the fill the previously quiet, near empty E10 which has existed over the last few months. The draw of winter here in the north is a powerful one – one of the reasons I myself decided to call this place home after traveling here for so long.

With the increase in traffic, I have recently seen some very poor driving practices from inexperienced winter drivers over the last days. Driving here in winter is scary, especially with sideways blowing snow at night (which is currently 15:30) and gale force winds. Driving 40 mph along the E10 is fine, and probably safe. But please, when choosing a place to allow others to overtake, do not pull over immediately before a blind turn, as has happened several times in the last days to me. I do not want to get killed trying to pass you! Find a straight section of road, and slow down there. The locals are not going to run you off the road if you do not immediately pull over when they arrived behind you – this is the countryside, we are used to tractors, sheep, and all kinds of other slow moving stuff on the roads…

Also, it is generally not allowed to park along the E10. It is a highway, despite the fact that the speed limit is slow in Norway and it might feel more like a country road. Unfortunately though, with snow covering many of the pullouts, unless you know where they are from experience, this means you might have to drive by that epic shot, or at least find a safe parking place and walk back. If you would not park along the highway at home, do not do it here either, just because its more scenic.

Drive extra carefully when the temperatures warm up/cool down. Lofoten is not as cold as it looks and the temperatures rise and fall continuously throughout the winter. The scariest time to drive is when it begins to rain after a cold period, turning the roads into a wet and slippery mess. Even pulling down into parking areas such as Skagsanden can cause trouble in these conditions. So be careful. And in the opposite effect, warm rain which freezes overnight will also turn the roads into chaos. The road crews do their best to prepare and maintain the roads for such conditions, but it can take time.

At the end of the day, Lofoten is here for you to enjoy! So do your best to do so. But please also be aware that the islands are not a giant amusement park. Winter tourism is a relatively new thing for the islands, and it might take some time for things to adjust, as this was traditionally a time locals have enjoyed quiet and solitude outside of the busy summer season. But times are changing and everyone should be able to get along…
Nikon D810
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8
ISO 64
f 10
20 seconds
WB Daylight