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
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 ( 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:

For weather, keep an eye on:

For avalanche warnings:

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
ISO 320
f 6.3
1/320 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #318 – Reine Dawn

Photo: Winter dawn over Olstinden, Reine, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. January 21, 2019. 11:34

I’m now underway with my second photo workshop (of 6) for the winter season. In my personal photography I’ve almost completely giving up on shooting the popular viewpoints, but while guiding I can spend a lot of time in the old familiar views. And sometimes after all these hours and years of being there I still get lucky with some nice light!

This was from the second morning of the last workshop. We had already been out for a while and the light had been amazing the whole morning. So it was just about time to head to my favourite cafe in Reine, Bringen Kaffebar, and have my daily cappuccino and cake when the light began shift a little and the sun rounded the mountains.

10 minutes earlier the whole face of Olstind had been illuminated and I was just taking some normal shot. Then I decided to throw on a Neutral Density filter and go for a couple long exposures before packing things in and hiking up the hill. This was one of those ‘just one more shot…’ moments. But I don’t even thing I realised how cool the lighting was until I got home and saw it on the computer.

I think this could perhaps be a new favourite Olstind shot of mine…

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8
ISO 31
f 13
112 seconds
WB Daylight
10 stop ND filter

Friday Photo #317 – Snowmegeddon

Photo: Myrlandsveien shortly after opening Wednesday evening after closure from heavy snowfall, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. January 30, 2019. 18:00

On Sunday, while I was enjoying perfect winter weather on Senja on the last day of my first photo workshop of the season, Lofoten was getting blasted by a winter storm. The radar was just a cloud of heaving snow flowing directly into Lofoten. And so while I was photographing a fantastic northern lights that evening, Lofoten was in full shutdown and emergency mode: flights canceled, roads closed, and people evacuated from avalanche zones.

Returning Monday evening I saw the chaos that had hit. Even with a full day to dig things out, the islands were just beginning to recover. My road was closed due to avalanches, so instead of going home, tired after 10 days on the road, I had to stay with friends for several nights. I was a bit stressed, as I had to go to the police in Svolvær on Thursday to drop off the paperwork for my visa renewal.

Tuesday arrived and more people were evacuated and more roads were closed – west Lofoten still remaining cut off. Finally on Wednesday, so roads were beginning to be cleared and open up again, including my road. I had somewhat optimistically thought that if the road remained closed, I could perhaps just walk home and grab the paperwork I needed, then head out again. But as I drove out to my small village late in the afternoon, I was completely shocked by my sight.

Never before have I seen this much snow on Lofoten, much less falling in one day! I passed 3-4 meter high snow drifts, and it almost seemed like I was driving through a tunnel at times! I didn’t trust the road, so I just got what I needed and returned to my friends’ place for another night to be safe for heading to Svolvær the following morning.

I’m not sure how long this snow will remain. But it is simply incredible! Though with the height of the photo tour season just around the corner, there are going to be some difficulties, as parking is extremely limited at the moment since most pullouts have not been cleared. Even on my ski trip to Ryten today, I had to park down to road at the Kvalvika parking, which only had room for maybe 4-5 cars. So anyone coming in the next weeks is going to need to be a bit patient and understanding of the current situation.

Camera Info: