Friday Photo #525 – Winter Full Moon

Photo: Winter full moon over Ristind, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. January 5, 2023. 11:58

After the storms of the new year passed the weather of early January calmed just in time for the return of the sun, which I first saw on January 4th this year. At the same time was also a bright full moon filling the sky over Lofoten. And while I was happy to see the sun, I found it more interesting to shoot the moon.

Part of this is due to the fact that January sun is ‘south’ of Lofoten, barely rising over the water of Vestfjorden. So there’s not really too much you can do while shooting the sun, as its in an awkward location. The full moon offers much more variety in early winter, and being opposite the sun, if often in a more photogenic location during the midday twilight.

I wrote last month in Friday Photo #518, how I tried to shoot the full moon over Kirkefjord from Reinebringen, but didn’t quite succeed on the only day with suitable weather for that attempt. Conditions in January were no longer suitable for hiking Reinebringen, so I didn’t put in the effort for anything special. Though I knew the moon would shine over the mountains on the northern side of Vestvågøy during the day, so I kept an eye out for this.

I shot the moon here over two days. This first day produced slightly nicer light as the southern horizon was clear, allowing for a hint of alpenglow to shine over the mountains, Ristind in this image. Compositionally, with the multiple jagged peaks of Himmeltindene and Ristind, I found it easier for a long telephoto image, than a medium wide shot showing more of the landscape, as it was hard to light up all the mountains with the moon also in a location which felt balanced.

Head over to my Instagram account for (almost) daily postings of the local conditions here on Lofoten: @distant.north

Camera Info:
Nikon Z7 II
Nikon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6
ISO 100
f 5.6
1/80 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #524 – Stortind Winter

Photo: Stortind mountain peak rises over snow covered sand during low tide in inner Flakstadpollen, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. December 16, 2022. 11:16

By ‘normal’ weather standards, this past December was a good one. Starting out dry and cold, a couple passing storms put down a good layer of snow before quickly clearing to calm and cold weather again. It wasn’t until the holidays when a warm spell arrived, bringing windy rain across the islands.

Looking at the weather data below for 2022, you can see the last two Decembers have been abnormally dry, receiving only about 50% of expected precipitation. However, within the two Decembers themselves, 2021 was largely better during the 2nd half of the month, while 2022 was better during the beginning and middle of the month. This is more or less a small look at what happens throughout the year as well.

If one were to seek advice online about when its best to visit Lofoten, summer often gets the top choice – especially among non-photographers. This is sometimes true and sometimes not. Looking at 2022 you can see several spikes of warm weather, but an overall cool summer. You can also see the June and July had slightly above rainfall. And then August, which turned out to be the second wettest month of the year, with nearly triple the normal rainfall. And following with the normally wet and rainy September, it seems like the year1s quota of rain must have fallen in August, making September one of the driest months of the year.

What’s my point to all this? Nothing really. Or simply to illustrate the difference between what the weather should do, and what the weather actually does. Like everywhere else in the world, sometimes the weather is better than average, and sometimes worse. But you won’t know which until you get here and look out the windows.

Though a tip, mostly for those on road trips with a planned stop to Lofoten. Keep an eye on the weather before your planned visit, and this applies to the rest of Norway as well. If you can seen just a constant flow of rain and storms sweeping across Lofoten, try to adjust your plans if possible, or potentially skip Lofoten overall for a destination with improved weather. And the reverse can also be true, with southern Norway having the bad weather and then you should race north to Lofoten’s sun.

I myself use this tactic when planning short road trips around (northern) Norway or longer hiking trips over in Sweden. I generally try to give myself a rough timeframe of when I was to visit a place, and then keep an eye on the weather until the time seems right. In the last years I’ve tried to spend a bit more time down along the Helgeland coast south of Bodø. But the summer’s have left me checking the weather forecasts daily, hoping for a week of good weather. In the last years, I’ve had to settle for maybe 2-3 days of hopefully not terrible weather, between otherwise seemingly endless weeks of rain. Hopefully summer 2023 turn out better!

Head over to my Instagram account for (almost) daily postings of the local conditions here on Lofoten: @distant.north

Camera Info:
Nikon Z7 II
Nikon 14-30mm f/4
ISO 100
f 10
0.4 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #523 – Reinebringen Winter

Photo: Winter view over Reine from Reinebringen, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. December 11, 2022. 11:58

Late last week a pair of hikers required helicopter rescue from the summit of Reinebringen as they were unsure of their ability to descend from the summit. It was a cold and windy-ish day, but nothing too extreme by Lofoten standards, though the short days of early winter makes hiking a bit more risky simply due to the limited hours of light and reduced margin of error should a rescue be required; The Sea King helicopter is located in Bodø, while the alpine rescue team is located in Svolvær.

At a modest 448 meters high, it is easy to underestimate Reinebringen – and even more so since there is a stone stairway all the way to the top, making it perhaps Lofoten’s most popular hike in summer. Winter, however, is a different story.

Under usual winter conditions on Lofoten, Reinebringen is not a safe hike to attempt. And there are multiple signs at the base of the mountain warning so.

The upper 1/3rd of the mountain, below which much of the time hiking is spent, consists mostly of steep rocks slabs which release frequent avalanches, even well into the spring – when rockfall also becomes an increased danger. The steps themselves will be covered in snow in most places, if not entirely, especially on the upper portion of the mountain where wind blows deep snow into the gully where the steps are located. The wind also means the snow on the upper, steepest part of the mountain can often be hard and icy, much more so than lower down.

On Friday Photo #518’s post with an image taken from this same day, I wrote that the storms passing at the time meant Reinebringen would probably not be a safe hike for the rest of the winter. A warm-ish and rainy holiday season, followed by multiple days with a cold south-east wind blowing straight into the mountain has also added to the danger, as most of the upper mountain snow is probably quite icy and hard by now. Any new falling snow will likely be quite avalanche prone for the foreseeable future.

Beyond the avalanche risk of the mountain, the hike itself is quite steep and exposed. Once crossing into the upper half of the route, there are many places where one would not want to fall. And tragically, the mountain has taken two young lives in the last year alone: December 2021 and June 2022. Reinebringen’s 448 meters and popularity should not be underestimated.

So, with all of the above saying Reinebringen is a danger hike in winter and should be avoided, how am I posting a photo of a winter view from Reinebringen? Well, specific winter conditions and very little actual snow meant the hike was less risky than usual for winter. One benefit of living on Lofoten full time is that I can observe the changes in weather and the mountains. I knew this was the first snow of the winter and only a small amount had fallen, while the weather remained cold and stable after the storm had passed. So this was a rare opportunity for a winter visit to Reinebringen in conditions that were fairly predictable and safe.

And importantly, never be afraid to turn around. I had actually made a visit to Reinebringen in late November. There was no snow present, but Lofoten had been in a deep freeze of clear, windless days. A thin layer of frost was covering everything from sea to summit. I started up the steps, which felt fine. But around step 30-40 I turned around to test the feeling of the steps on decent. Even with spikes on my shoes, they were quite slippery and caution was needed. The thought of having to descend 2000 steps in such manner seemed like a difficult and dangerous task. And so I continued down the 30-40 steps and back to my van. A cappuccino at Bringen cafe was a better idea than Reinebringen on this day.

Head over to my Instagram account for (almost) daily postings of the local conditions here on Lofoten: @distant.north

Camera Info:
Nikon Z7 II
Nikon 24-120mm f/4
ISO 100
f 8
1/20 second
WB Daylight

Searching For Northern Lights Video

Searching For Northern Lights on Lofoten YouTube Video for Destination Lofoten.

Last winter I was filmed by some of the guys from Lofoten Film Collective for a project about shooting the northern lights for Destination Lofoten. The result is a nice little video which you can now find on YouTube.

Friday Photo #522 – First Sun

Photo: My first sunlight of 2023 as the sun partially rises over the Vestfjord, Hamnøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. January 4, 2023. 12:25

After a stormy holiday season with lots of wind and rain, the weather has finally cleared just in time for the return of the sun to Lofoten! Wednesday I headed towards Reine to try and catch a glimpse and there she was, shining over the southern horizon of the Vestfjord.

This winter season has been the shortest polar night since I moved to Lofoten in early 2016. My last sun sighting was December 11th (Friday Photo #519) from the summit of Reinebringen – which you should no longer hike this winter season, and there was a helicopter rescue there yesterday of stranded hikers. And the return of the sun on Wednesday, January 4. So 23 days between sightings of the sun. Not too bad, as I’ve periods of up to two months some years.

With the sun now having crossed the horizon, the days will begin to feel much lighter. Though the rising of the sun is still somewhat slow, roughly 0.1˚ per day. It will be another week, January 13th, before the sun is fully 1˚ above the horizon at its highest when viewed from Reine. So this is the time of year when Lofoten’s snow covered mountains glow red and pink throughout the day in one continuous motion from sunrise to sunset.

There has also been a wonderful full-ish moon filling the twilight sky over Lofoten the last days, of which I have much better images than a boring closeup of the sun – which could have been taken anywhere, at anytime of day, really. But I was happy to see the sun again, so pictures of the moon can wait, as they are not as time sensitive. So perhaps next week’s post will be a nice picture of the moon over some mountains. If nothing else more interesting occurs between now and then…

Head over to my Instagram account for (almost) daily postings of the local conditions here on Lofoten: @distant.north

Camera Info:
Nikon Z7 II
Nikon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6
ISO 100
f 5.6
1/1000 second
WB Daylight

Commercial Driving Regulations of Photography Workshops and Other Tours in the Lofoten Islands and Norway

Beginning on November 1, 2020 changes to Norwegian transport laws require all small scale tourism operators (photo workshops, northern lights tours, climbing/kayak/ski guides, etc) to be in possession of a taxi license – løyve / drosjeløyve, for the transport of commercial clients.

This article will be a brief summary of the rules and regulations for Norway. As most of the information is only available in Norwegian, I thought I would provide an overview in English, as I think many (international) commercial guides are not aware of the rules which exist in Norway. These regulations are mainly for the driving and transport of paying commercial clients, in which photography workshops are considered a part, even the smallest of groups.

In Norway, all persons offering (paid) commercial transport of clients must have two things:

Kjøreseddel – Commercial Driving License

This applies to the driver of the vehicle. All drivers must have a valid Kjøreseddel when transporting clients.

In Norway, the Kjøreseddel is obtained from the police after filling out some paperwork and submitting a health check from the doctor. From Nov 1, 2020, obtaining a kjøreseddel also includes completing education and exams as a taxi driver. It is my understanding that a commercial driving license from the EU is also valid within Norway.

A kjøreseddel has no fee to receive.

Further information can be found at:

Løyve – Transport/taxi License

This applies to the vehicle/business used for transport of paying clients. All vehicles must have a valid Løyve, and follow a series of other regulations as well, such as being registered as a taxi and yearly EU control tests.

A løyve can only be given to a vehicle owned by the guiding company or person if self employed. Due to the requirement for police and financial checks within Norway, a løyve can only be obtained by a Norwegian registered business/person using a Norwegian vehicle. Rental cars/vans cannot be used. Further, the vehicle can only be driven by the owner or an employee of the business. ie. one cannot rent out a vehicle with a valid løyve for someone else to use. In new regulations going into effect in 2026, a new løyve will only be given to electric vehicles. Additionally, a tour guide/business must then also apply ‘not to be a taxi,’ so as to not need the otherwise required taxi meter. So yes, it is as it sounds: You need to apply to for a taxi license, and then an exemption not to be a taxi.

In summary, only a Norwegian registered business with a Norwegian registered vehicle can offer transport of commercial clients within Norway. And the driver of said vehicle must be an owner/employee of the business with the løyve for that specific vehicle. **

The processing fee for a løyve from the county is 3700 NOK (2023)

The løyve is obtained from the county in which one lives or operates their business. In the case of Lofoten, this is Nordland county.

Further information can be found at:

More information from the Norwegian road agency here:

All persons/companies possessing a valid transport løyve can be found here:

In the (somewhat rare) event of a traffic control, the lack of either of these two documents will result in the immediate loss of driving privileges within Norway.

Unfortunately, these regulations make it difficult, if not more or less impossible, for non-Norwegian based guides/businesses to legally operate photo workshops, hiking tours, skiing trips, etc., within Norway, unless additionally utilising a licensed transport company. Furthermore, there are very few licensed operators within the greater Lofoten area; much less than current demand would be during the height of the photo workshop season in February and March. With expected increased enforcement in the coming years, it will have a very negative effect on tourism in Lofoten – especially during winter, when a majority of tourists are via photography workshops.

As I wrote above, this article in mainly so these Norwegian rules can be found in English and to bring attention to new rules which kind of slipped by while the world was focused on Covid and most photo guides saw a complete collapse of their business. And, as I’ve experienced over multiple contacts with the responsible authorities, even they are not always fully understanding their own regulations. So this is just a basic summary of how the rules currently exist in January 2023.

An additional reason for this article is that a member of Lofoten’s photography and guiding community has taken it upon themself to search via social media and websites for photographers and other guides offering workshops in Lofoten. With this, they have made multiple reports to the police and Nordland county. I’m aware of several local guides who have received ‘information’ letters from the police, as well as a German workshop leader who has been contacted by Nordland county. And I’m sure there are many more which I haven’t heard about. Rules and regulations should be followed, but a fellow guiding business spying on and reporting unsuspecting people to the police, especially after several years of Covid travel restrictions and financial difficulties in the travel industry, is not the way I would go about having a greater awareness and adoption of licensing by guiding businesses. A better idea would have been to offer information of help, such as I’m attempting with this article.

**There are exceptions if a vehicle like a tour bus which has more than 16 passengers, but that is different than the purpose of the explanation here.


I thought I would add a quick update now that the winter photo workshop season has ended for the year. After I published the original articles, I received a few panicked emails from guides with upcoming workshops that had not previously been aware of the transport regulation changes and were wondering what to do.

This year was a busy as pre-2019, if not even more so. The islands were filled with dozens and dozens international workshop groups in rental vans with no sign of enforcement anywhere that I heard of. The only mention I saw the entire winter around driving regulations was an enforcement action on a Malaysian tour operator in Tromsø, but this seems like it was more about multiple years of tax fraud on income earned in Norway, than the driving documents themselves, though it was briefly mentioned in the article alongside a multitude of other offenses as well.

I cannot tell you to break the law, but on Lofoten at least, it seems no one cares. It feels like the commercial driving documents are more of a burden to locally operating small guides like myself, putting us at a disadvantage to international groups who can and will continue to use rental vehicles and remain unaware that these new laws even exists. So with no (apparent) enforcement, ignorance actually is bliss and better for business. Where as local guides must own/insure their vehicles which might only be needed 10-15 weeks a year for guiding.

I generally consider the Norwegian authorities to be fairly competent, but the short shortsightedness of these regulations leaves me quite disappointed. It is already enough of a struggle to run a small business in western Lofoten while still competing on the global tourism stage. And then for the Norwegian government to handicap local guides with regulations and financial expenses which are not (equally) enforced on international tour operators is simply insulting.