Friday Photo #295 – Aurora Season Begins

August Aurora - Friday Photo #295

Photo: Return of the northern lights season, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. August 27, 2018. 23:49

The northern lights are back over Lofoten! This image is actually from my second sighting, but conditions were a bit better this night. The previous night they were visible as well, but the sky was fairly cloudy and the aurora weren’t in the most photogenic location from the beach.

The sky is still not fully dark, but a solar storm brought high aurora activity over the north. Luckily, this coincided with a rare clear night in the last month, so more or less perfect timing for the first couple nights of aurora for the 2018/2019 aurora season. With the sky still relatively light, the aurora was faint, but still visible to the eye and still moving quite a bit. Had this show occurred only a few weeks later, then it would have been a fantastic night! But there are still 7 months ahead of northern lights here in the north, so I’m sure I’ll grow spoiled by April. For now though, It’s nice to see a return of the green dancing sky in this transition between summer and autumn.

I often get questions and sometimes read the false statement that northern lights are only a winter phenomenon. They are not! In reality, the aurora occur all year long. But during summer, it’s just not dark enough to see them. Only during these last days of August does the sky finally grow dark enough for the northern lights to overpower the summer twilight. But for the next weeks still, only strong aurora will be visible, as the northern horizon still glows throughout the night. Soon though, the night will be dark, and all aurora will be visible.

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Sigma 14mm f/1.8
ISO 400
f 2
2.5 seconds
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #294 – August Rainbow

August Rainbow - Friday Photo #294

Photo: Rainbow over Nappstraumen, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. August 20, 2018. 18:34

Usually I think of autumn as the season of rainbows here on Lofoten, with the turbulent weather and sun, rain, sun, rain, sun, type weather passing over the islands. But this year, summer seems to have ended with a nice sunset on the last day of July and immediately after, autumn began! To say that August has been rainy and windy would be an understatement.

I’ve barely gone to the mountains much lately, preferring to take up my old childhood activity of surfing in this wet and unpredictable weather. After more than 10 years away from surfing, I’m thoroughly hooked again. To the point that I’m looking at water housings for my camera. But I think they are beyond my budget for some years to come, unfortunately. Really not sure how people afford all this stuff. Perhaps I just need more followers on Instagram like all the cool people who take the same pictures from the same locations? Anyone got a yellow jacket, one of those woven blankets, and a drone I can borrow? Adventure and exploring…

So without bringing the camera out with me much lately, the only photos I seem to take are from by bathroom or office windows. Luckily, the views seem to be better than average lately, so I have a good excuse to be lazy!

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8
ISO 100
f 10
1/200 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #293 – August Twilight

August Twilight - Friday Photo #293

Photo: Full moon and August twilight over field of geitrams – fireweed, Gimsøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. August 9, 2017. 23:51

The nights are growing noticeable darker these days and with the often heavy clouds and rain of the last weeks, I’m having to turn on the lights in my house at night once again. That might sound like a strange concept to anyone from further south, but really, for the whole summer, I don’t need to use any lighting at home. But those days are now over. And with the first ‘autumn’ storm having passed over Lofoten last weekend, it is beginning to feel like summer is also over; and me complaining about it being too hot for a couple weeks in July just a distant memory. This week I even saw the first stars that I’ve seen in many months!

The landscape though, still filled with purple geitrams – fireweed, still holds onto summer as best it can. Even the weather might still give us another week or two of some warm temperatures if we are lucky. Otherwise, the thermometer seems to creep a little lower each week and it wont be too long until I pass by the first golden yellow birch leaf while wandering my way through the mountains – the sign that autumn has finally arrived.

This photo is from last year’s twilight of summer photo workshop. We had been out on Gimsøy for the evening, slowly beginning the journey back to stamsund in the fading light when I noticed a bit of fog beginning to appear across the landscape. With the mostly full moon in the background, I liked the soft look of the landscape. Luckily the night and flowers were nearly perfectly still for a 3 second exposure due to the low light. After a little while longer the fog grew thicker and engulfed the landscape.

Camera Info:
Nikon D800
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8
ISO 200
f 10
3 seconds
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #292 – Kvalvika Whale

Kvalvika Whale - Friday Photo #292

Photo: Decaying whale on the shore at Kvalvika beach, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. August, 4, 2018. 20:18

With a somewhat poor weather forecast yet still looking for a night outside on a misty Saturday night, we made the journey to Kvalvika beach. These days, with the parking lot overflowing and cars parked all along the road – even on a rainy Saturday – Kvalvika is a place I rarely visit in summer anymore. For the time being however, the west side of the beach still can be relatively quite, and there was only one other tent on this night.

Looking for a place to pitch my tent, I noticed the rocks looked a bit strange. Hmm, no, not rocks. A Whale! It looks like it’s been there a while by the decay. The cool air kept the smell to a minimum, but occasional the breeze blew onshore and, well…

The clouds were nice and moody, with occasional spells of rain passing now and again. I wish the whale was separated a bit more from the rocks – other angles worked better for the whale itself, but not the background. I wanted Ryten and Fuglhuken hidden in my shot, with the summits barely emerging from the clouds. So I had to settle with this angle, which makes it a little hard to tell what is going on, unfortunately. I also took some images of just the sea and the mountains, which are stronger compositions overall, but it is not that common that I sea whales washed ashore here, so this was still worth a shot.

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24mm f/3.5 tilt-shift
ISO 31
f 8
13 seconds
WB Daylight
6 Stop ND filter

Friday Photo #291 – September Aurora

September Aurora - Friday Photo #291

Photo: Autumn northern lights fill the sky over the village of Å, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. September 14, 2017. 22:26

Sometimes I feel like August is a light switch here in the north. Suddenly the nights feel dark again, the roads seem to have emptied overnight, and the weather has that first autumn chill. And August means that the aurora season is only a few short weeks away.

I will miss the endless summer nights, and after the cold rainy weather of June this year, July turned out to be fantastic! One of my hottest summer’s here on Lofoten – often too hot for the mountains actually! But summer will be back next year. And before the winter snow arrives there are still plenty of nights to be had out in the mountains – not under the midnight sun, but under the dancing aurora.

Last year, September’s weather seemed to be better than the whole of summer. With many clear, calm nights. This also coincided with some strong solar storms – Any talk of the coming solar minimum stuff in BS as far as I’m concerned. So I was lucky with several nice nights looking for some interesting new compositions to shoot under the northern lights.

This is a tricky pursuit however, with a high miss rate, as, unlike a sunset or some clouds in the sky, you can never be certain where the aurora will appear. A few times though, I seemed to be in a decent location with the aurora working fairly well for me. Such as this shot here, where I was camped on the summit of Andstabben, with the village of Å below me. Normally I’m not a fan of distracting city lights in aurora images, but in the case, with the aurora almost perfectly aligned with the direction of the lights below, it works for me.

Who knows what this September will bring. Even if only half as good as last year, I will be happy. Though I will also be away traveling for the first part of the month, and busy with workshops during the 2nd half – still some places available on my Exploring Autumn workshop. So I’m not sure how many nights in the mountains I’ll get, and if my time off will align with good weather and northern lights. We will see…

Camera Info:
Nikon D800
Nikon 214-24mm f/2.8
ISO 1250
f 3.2
15 seconds
WB Daylight