Friday Photo #399 – Aurora Season

Photo: First sighting of aurora borealis – northern lights in the sky over Lofoten of the 2020/2021 aurora season, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. August 23, 2020. 00:50

Anytime after around August 20th the wait for the first aurora of the season begins. The weather has generally been cloudy for the last week and so even with the forecast of a possible incoming solar storm, I didn’t put much effort into looking – as I generally just saw clouds in the night sky.

And so Saturday night I was on my way to bed a bit after midnight and took one last look at the sky while brushing my teeth. Hmm, that could be aurora! I thought as I saw a light streak high overhead in the now somewhat clear sky – though the clouds were quickly incoming from behind the mountains. I ran and grabbed my camera to take a test shot. Green! Yep, northern lights!

Like a rehearsed fireman off to a fire, I was out the door and heading down to my local beach, anxiously watching the sky overhead. The aurora was still there. The clouds were moving in quickly so I didn’t have too much time to think or look for the best foreground composition. I just wanted to get something at all. Luckily the aurora increased for a couple minutes once I began shooting – even forming into this green heart in the sky.

Even at nearly 01:00, the darkest time of the night, you can see the horizon was still glowing bright. I actually think the surrounding clouds in this image help make it better by darkening what might have been an otherwise overly bright horizon.

I saw a dancing corona directly overhead the following night as well, but the hole in the clouds was too small for me to make the effort to go out. But the season has begun! And hopefully it turns out a little better than last year.

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Sigma 14mm f/1.8
ISO 1250
f 2
2.5 seconds
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #398 – Changing Seasons

Photo: Changing seasons – low August clouds sweep across the summit of Olstind, Hamnøy, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. August 22, 2019. 11:58

Every year in late August there comes a shift from summer to autumn. That’s not to say summer cannot have weeks of grey and dismal weather, which most years there is plenty. But in summer there is alway hope that the sun and warmth will come back again. By mid to late August, that hope begins to fade with each passing day. And as the sun circles lower and lower in the sky, the winds become a little more frequent until that first autumn storm arrives, letting us know summer is really over.

But with the changing weather comes more interesting conditions and the beginning of rainbow season with the more frequent passing rain showers. Though on other days, like it has mostly been since last weekend here, the clouds can be low and dark, and full of a misty rain which coats everything. But at times, even these clouds clear, giving you a hint of the mountains rising above.

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8
ISO 64
f 11
30 seconds
WB Daylight
B+W 10 stop ND filter
2 images – top, bottom

Friday Photo #397 – The Sunsets Continue

Photo: The sunsets continue, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. August 11, 2020. 22:23

The nights are getting darker, but the fantastic sunsets continue. This has been the most colorful summer that I can remember in recent years. Usually 2-3 sunsets like this would be good. But they have been continuing for weeks this year. Luckily I can just wander down to my neighbourhood beach when I’m lazy, so at least I have some photos of what occurred this year, otherwise I might not believe it myself!

But now, midway into August, I can feel the usual shift in the weather. It is nothing specific, more a sense that the sun is lower in the sky and summer will soon be replaced by autumn. Although the typical August weather here on Lofoten might already be considered autumn weather for countries further south. In today’s image you can see the moody sky which was overhead – luckily the northern horizon remained clear though!

Soon though, my attention will shift from sunsets to auroras, which might become visible anytime within the next week. We are loosing 1 hour of daylight per week here on Lofoten, so the nights are steadily growing longer. On last weekends hiking trip was the first time I brought my headlamp again this season. Last years aurora season was pretty poor, mostly due to the near constant cloud cover. So far this summer, northern Norway has received the most hours of sunshine in the whole country. Will this continue over the next months, with endless clear night skies and dancing northern lights like in September 2017? Or will the clouds return again? No one knows. But with the world locking down again, it’s not like I’ll be going anywhere, so I guess I’ll eventually find out…

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Sigma 14mm f/1.8
ISO 31
f 11
1 second
WB Daylight

Der Landschaftsfotografie Podcast Interview

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure to chat with my German photography friend Alex Otto on his Landschaftsfotografie podcast for episode 51.

You can find the podcast here: Der Landschaftsfotografie Podcast Episode 51: Cody Duncan

Otherwise it’s also available on Apple Podcasts and more.

As usual, mostly talked about living on Lofoten and working as a photographer and guide here, as well as some history of my previous travels and the changes I’ve seen in landscape photography over the years – it’s almost 15 years ago now that I was about to board a one way flight to New Zealand and spend the next months living in a van, long before the social media #vanlife trend of attractive often semi-naked couples always posed in exotic locations with all the necessary props carefully placed. Back then it was just the beginning of my photography career and almost a decade of traveling – quite a difference to the hermit I’ve become in the last couple years where I now almost never leave Lofoten – though that is not always by choice…

Anyhow, head on over and give it a listen.

Friday Photo #396 – The Maelstrom

Photo: The Maelstrom – Mosken and Very rise in the distance across Moskstraumen, Lofoten Islands, Norway. August 1, 2020. 22:32

Until last weekend I had only visited Lofotodden – The very western tip of Moskenesøy once before during a sailing trip in 2014 where we moored in Buvågen bay for a night. So when a friend informed my that they had a boat ride lined up for the weekend, I was excited to join in!

The Original plan had been to hike to both Refsvika and Hellsegga, but in typical Lofoten fashion, a heavy layer of summer fog enveloped the islands of Friday and well into Saturday. So we skipped Refsvika and just decided on a night camping on Hellsegga, a 600 meter high flat mountain rising over the southern end of Lofoten – basically the end of Lofoten.

From the southern side of Hellsegga one has fantastic views over Moskstraumen, one of the worlds strongest currents, and the islands of Mosken and Værøy. There is lots of folklore in Norway about Moskstraumen and whirlpools swallowing ships and sailors. But un this particular evening it looked quite calm in the fading summer twilight.

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 70-200mm f/4
ISO 100
f 6.3
1/50 second
WB Daylight
2 images – top, bottom for 4:5 ratio