Friday Photo #595 – Two Seasons

Photo: Mid May snowfall over mountains of Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. May 16, 2020. 22:45

This week’s photo is a nice example of the duality of May – Endless days and and snowy mountains. There have been many weeks of winter in the last few years in which the mountains don’t have such a nice fresh layer of snow. So for it to happen in May is a bit more unusual, but not too out of the ordinary.

If I didn’t know the location of this photo, and that the light is coming out of the north at 22:45 in the evening, I could think this was more of an autumn image, judging by the defined snow line half way down the mountains to about 300m. Although fro the closer observer, the snow filled gullies running down to lower elevations give way that this photo must at least have been taken after a significant snowfall and colder period. And then knowing the sun is towards the north means spring is the likely timing.

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Sigma 14mm f/1.8
14mm
ISO 100
f 10
1/15 Second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #594 – Still Snow

Photo: May sunset over Skrådalstinden, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. May 20, 2021. 23:33

With June and the summer hiking season just around the corner, the early season can still present significant amounts of snow in the inland mountain areas. So if you are looking for snow free routes, it is important to choose more coastal facing mountains early in the season.

Also note: Late spring and early summer is a time of increased rockfall. It is best to avoid hikes below steep terrain and stick to ridges and other open areas.

In this photo, on what turned out to be a fantastic sunset which I kind of wasted up on a mountain without any ability to change location, you can see the snowfields on the southeast face of Skrådalsdinen (770m), taken from Eltoftuva (361m). Most of the other inland mountains across Lofoten will look similar as well, especially the further east you go.

While there are still dozens and dozens of mountains accessible for snow-free hiking across Lofoten in the early season, you should be prepared for snow and ice across any inland or higher terrain. Which, if you are not planning or equipped for snow, will likely make many of Lofoten’s higher elevation peaks inaccessible until later in the year.

And watch out for falling rocks!

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 70-200mm f/4
200mm
ISO 100
f 6.3
1/80 Second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #592 – Late Nights

Photo: Evening sun shines over Kvalvika beach, Lofotodden national park, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. May 15, 2021. 22:55

Lofoten’s midnight sun season officially begins next week on May 24th. But for the whole of May, there isn’t really darkness, and in the last days before the midnight sun, it is practically daylight all night long already. Photographically, I actually prefer the weeks pre/post midnight sun, as this is when the chances for colourful twilight nights are best, while there is actually less color during the midnight sun itself, as the sun is never below the horizon.

I often use mid May to visit some of Lofoten’s more popular locations before they become too busy for my liking once summer fully arrives. One of these may trips is usually to Kvalvika beach for one of the last sunsets before summer. Maybe I camp, and maybe I just hike back out, but usually I’ll spend about 4-5 hours out there, hopefully alone in the last calm before the chaos. Although in the coming years, even in May I will probably need significant luck on my side to ever have a night alone at Kvalkiva again.

As a side night, having just returned from a long overdue trip back to California, I found an old hand drawn map for Kvalvika/Ryten in my travel journal from the summer of 2006 – when I camped alone at Kvalvika for 2 nights. The old days of limited internet info, no smart phones with GPS guided hiking apps, no social media hotspots. Guided instead by word of mouth, shared knowledge, and hand written maps. How the times have changed. And I’m not sure if I would say for the better…

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Sigma 14mm f/1.8
14mm
ISO 31
f 16
1/4 Second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #592 – Waiting For Summer

Photo: Oystercatcher in evening sunlight, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. May 10, 2021. 22:11

I’ve probably written this every year for the past 10 years, and I’ll write it again now: I find the month of May a strange season on Lofoten. It is a weird balance of summer light in a (brown) winter landscape. Knowing that the lushness of summer is only a few weeks away, I often feel that the often wonderful light of may is wasted on the boring and drab landscape.

Oystercatchers are typically the first of the migratory bird arrivals, typically showing up around mid/late March. By now though, the fields are full of birds, chirping away all night long as they look for mates and nesting locations. I could probably search why oystercatchers are called so, as I never see them eating oysters and they are more typically eating in the fields around my house. Maybe if I lived at a beach I’d see them eating some oysters.

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 200-500mm F/5.6
500mm
ISO 500
f 5.6
1/500 Second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #591 – May Or Winter

Photo: Cold weather and fresh snow leaves mid May looking like winter, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. May 8, 2022. 18:08

By early May the nights are no longer dark and the midnight sun is only a few weeks away. The light says summer! The weather however might not always agree, and winter fights to maintain its old on the islands. Summer will eventually arrive, but it can take until June or even July for that to happen.

This day was particularly dreary looking. Had I been shown the image and asked when I thought it was taken, I would have guessed anytime from November to April. I probably would not have guessed mid May. Aside from the snowy mountains, the landscape itself is still quite brown and wintry looking. I’m sure if I looked closer at the scene I would have seen the first signs of new grass growing, but from this distance, it just looks like winter brown.

This is one of the reasons why I find May a slightly frustrating month photographically. I know summer is coming soon and the landscape will be green and full of flowers. But the brown, dead grass and leafless trees of late April and early to mid May I find uninspiring. Even in the nicest light – which May often has as the days to the midnight sun approach, I wish the landscape was more vibrant and alive. But the winters are long here in the north, and so summer must wait a little while longer.

Camera Info:
Nikon Z7 II
Nikon 24-200mm f/4-6.3
85mm
ISO 100
f 8
1/100 Second
WB Daylight