Friday Photo #464 – House Below The Mountain

Photo: A house between the mountains and the sea, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. October 18, 2021. 13:02

With a dusting of autumn snow to add contrast to the otherwise flat light of a snowy October afternoon, this lone house out on the fjord’s edge at Bø, was particularly nice looking on this day. I’ve passed by this house thousands of times, in all sorts of weather, and usually I don’t stop. But this time, the subtly of the moment was worth a quick photo.

It is not a dramatic image. In fact, its actually pretty boring. But Lofoten isn’t pure drama 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Many, if not most days, there isn’t much spectacular happening. And that is perfectly fine! And so here is a photo of a simple house beside the sea and below the mountains on a flat, overcast, and snowy October day.

What I do think works about the image, and is the reason I stopped this time, is the separation of the cool, slightly snowy background with the brighter autumn colors of the field immediately next to the house which adds a bit of contrast and separation that the flat light was unable to while still retaining a fairly neutral look to the image overall.

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 24-200mm f/5.6-6.3
160mm
ISO 100
f 7.1
1/160 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #462 – Fire In The Sky

Photo: Passing rain clouds illuminated at sunset over Reinefjord, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. October 4, 2021. 18:10

Sometimes we get lucky and all the elements line up at once; in this case, rain at sunset with a clear horizon. Then the sky turns to fire. It is not often that Lofoten has sunsets like this, and even when it does happen, the steep mountains often mean it can be quite localised. So to be in the right place at the right time is quite a treat, and a bit of luck – especially in autumn, when the western horizon is only visible from a few locations on Lofoten, so it is hard to see what is happening out there.

The weather forecast this autumn seemed to be completely backwards for the most part: rain when there was supposed to be sun, clear skies and aurora when it was supposed to be 100% cloud cover. The only reasonable guessing was just looking at the sky and hoping everything worked out for the best.

This particular afternoon didn’t look very promising, with rain in the forecast and a layer of clouds covering the Reine area. But as the hours passed, I could see the subtle beginnings of color lighting up the clouds from below. Always a good sign, but one still never quite knows what will happen. So as the sky got brighter and brighter, it was a nice surprise. And then, at the peak of the color a light rain shower passed over the mountains, adding even more color, it was the brightest sunset I’ve seen since the spring.

But a lesson to myself. I was focused on the show in front of me, that as the rain arrived, I forgot to turn around and look behind me. When I eventually did after some minutes had passed – a full rainbow was filling the sky! I wasn’t in the best position, so I had to run up the road to the Hamnøy bridge, where the rainbow had been circling around it. But I was too slow by about 30 seconds or so. And as I approached the bridge, changed lenses, and put on a polariser filter, the rainbow had already faded for the most part. I always tell my workshops clients to look behind themselves when intense light is happening to see if there might also be something interesting going on, but this time I forgot to listen to my own advice…

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 24-200 f/4-6.3
39mm
ISO 100
f 8
1/30 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #461 – Rorbu Reflection

Photo: Parking lot reflection of new rorbu cabins at Eliassen Rorbuer, Hamnøy, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. October 4, 2021. 19:05

After an 18 month break from guiding due to Corona, I was finally back in the Reine area and staying at Eliassen Rorbuer for two of my Lofoten photo workshops. Ongoing last year, they’ve expanded quite a bit, with many new cabins build (which I think makes them the largest Rorbu accommodation on Lofoten now). Along with new cabins came a new parking lot. And from all the rain this autumn, a parking lot reflection.

I think I shot this scene maybe 6-7 times as the lights changed throughout the days. Usually it was just for a couple quick snapshots while I was on my way to/from my cabin at various times of the day. Sometimes there was a car parked in front of the buildings, and I could shoot. While other times, the scene looked something like this. There was still some construction going on, limiting the angles I could shoot without a bunch of other junk in the way.

But for a simple puddle of rain water in a parking lot, I think it makes a nice image!

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
20mm
ISO 100
f 20
20 seconds
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #460 – Reine

Photo: Olstinden mountain peak emerges from passing autumn rain showers, Reine, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. October 2, 2021. 17:10

For as many times I’ve stood at the ‘classic’ Reine overlook at Reinehalsen over the year, I’m still unexpectedly surprised by unique and interesting conditions from time to time. I say unique and interesting, because that is what this weather was. It was not a dramatic, fiery sunset with the mountains glowing, or some crazy storm and blowing winds. It was actually a rather calm moment during the passing of a light rain shower.

Despite the grey weather, the wind was calm. And looking ahead at the forecast, this would likely be the only calm moment allowing for a reflection of Olstinden peak that my workshop group might have. So on the first afternoon with my first Lofoten tour group since the Covid lockdowns began in March 2020 I found myself standing at an old familiar place, waiting for the rain to stop and the water to calm. It finally did.

With the bright colors of autumn, I actually don’t mind otherwise grey and dreary weather. The color of the landscape is enough to brighten up the scene. But when the rain passed, and then began to turn into a low foggy mist concealing the lower peaks, this was something kind of special, bright colors or not.

Over all the years, I’ve never captured this scene looking quite like this. The moment didn’t last long though, and within a few minutes, the next wave of rain had arrived and more ‘normal’ type clouds began to conceal Olstind and the rest of the scene. Lucky timing I guess to capture a new (to me) interpretation of the familiar icon.

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 24-200 f/4-6.3
29mm
ISO 100
f 9
1/8 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #459 – Autumn Snow

Photo: Snow-dusted Stortinden rises over flowing waters of Mølnelva river, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. October 17, 2021. 15:00

The first real dustings of autumn snow finally seem to be sticking around the peaks this week, dropping down to about 350m or so over Lofoten. Even the roads have begun to get icy in the last days, so it is good that I have my winter tires on already – The date for this in Nordland is from October 16.

The weather this day was mostly terrible, with a fully overcast sky and regularly passing rain/sleat/hail showers. I actually only left the house in mid afternoon because I was bored and didn’t feel like doing computer work, so with no plan, I just drove west. With a lot of rain in the last days, I could already see that the flat series of small waterfalls which flow over the slabby rocks on the western side of Kilanpollen were flowing higher than normal. So I pulled over in the small pullout and headed up the river.

This is a fairly reliable scene which usually produces a decent photo when the conditions are right – such as for this image – nothing special, but nice enough for a bleak, grey afternoon. Soon after I arrived, rain began to fall again, but I think this added with a bit of atmosphere as some clouds formed over Stortinden and darkened up the sky overall, which had otherwise been a bit on the bright side. The water was flowing strong enough that I didn’t need to use an ND filter to capture the flow. And when I did for some different compositions later on, the water was actually a little too soft, so I think this shorter shutter speed worked better to still retain a bit of the detail in the water.

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 14-30 f/4
14mm
ISO 31
f 14
.4 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #458 – Uttakleiv Storm

Photo: Waves flow over rocky shoreline at Uttakleiv beach, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. October 13, 2021. 08:15

The autumn weather cycles of wind and rain seem to be in full effect over the last weeks with mostly turbulent weather sweeping across the islands. But this is a good thing, or, at least when you don’t have to be outside too much! I’ve just finished my 3rd and final photo workshop of the autumn, and each group had quite a variety of weather to keep them busy: wind, rain, rainbows, northern lights, fiery sunsets and sunrises, and everything in-between. Weather wise, autumn is defiantly the most dynamic time of year on Lofoten.

I had been at Uttakleiv earlier in the week at both low and high tides – a medium to low tide is generally required for the ‘eye of Uttakleiv’ to be visible, while high tide is typically more dynamic for the rest of the beach itself. With a nearly new moon at the time and with a large swell out of the north, but tides were quite extreme. At low tide, it was nearly impossible to head out onto the slippery, algae covered rocks, while at high tide, the waves were breaking very high up the shoreline, not allowing safe passage down to the lower rocks that usually work well as a foreground.

On my third visit the sea was a bit calmer while the sky itself remained stormy and turbulent, as a cold and icy wind blew out of the north. At first there had been bright clouds and a bit of blue sky in what is the background of this image. But it wasn’t long until the next wave of rain, which actually turned out to be stinging hai, was beginning to approach from the distance and darkening the landscape.

This time, the waves weren’t so large, so I could get into a better position on the beach, without too much worry of being swept out to sea. Although I did eventually end up with wet feet, despite the fact I was in rubber boots.

The large rock in the center of the image is always a compositional difficulty when shooting at Uttakleiv. In this case, I felt that just keeping it in the center of the image worked best, especially as the background mountains were softening up slightly as the hail passed in front of them. The water flows were difficult to find a nice balance, and I wish there was a little more action happening in the large black area on the right side of the frame, which feels a bit empty and distracting to me. But overall, I think Uttakleiv works best on stormy days like this…

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 14-30 f/4
14mm
ISO 31
f 11
.6 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #457 – Light And Shadow

Photo: Sun rays shine over the mountains of Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. October 7, 2021. 16:36

October has been off to a mostly cloudy and rainy start this year. But in-between the grey, there has been some nice moments of light. Autumn is usually a time of dynamic and interesting weather here on Lofoten, and yesterday was one of those days.

I spent the morning and afternoon shooting around Uttakleiv with my Swiss group from Amazing Views tours. The (nearly) new moon meant quite extreme tides, with the AM having a super low tide like I rarely seen, while mid afternoon, combined with large swell, saw waves sweeping high across the rocks. The same location but two completely different moods just due to the tide.

When it came time to move on, we had decided to go to Unstad for the sunset. However, as a little more of the western horizon came into view, I changed plans and decided heading to the Vikten area would likely produce better results. As we descended into Nappstraumen tunnel, I could already see a hint of the light show that was happening in the far distance over Moskenesøy. Turning towards Vikten, the light rays were shining over the mountains. One of those moments where one has to be quick, as the light might not last long. But it lasted long enough…

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 24-200 f/4-6.3
200mm
ISO 100
f 8
1/800 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #456 – Unstad Wave

Photo: Sea spay from crashing wave at Unstad beach, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. September 15, 2021. 15:37

This weekend it is the annual Lofoten Masters surf competition at Unstad beach on Vestvågøy – Northern Norway’s most famous surf beach. I don’t have time to attend myself and shoot any images, unfortunately. Or rather, I should say fortunately, since I will be guiding my first Lofoten photo workshop since the Corona lockdowns began in March 2020 – And I’m actually just barely home from my first tour since then, on Senja with Amazing Views Tours, where all work ended for me a year and a half ago. So it is good to be back out guiding again!

Most years it is in the autumn that the swells pickup again and the heavy seas once again flow into Unstad bay. This day was a little over head high when I stopped by in the afternoon. A few surfers were out, but none of the local pros, so I found a little more interest in just the shape and texture of the waves themselves. Especially since the sun was shining bright and lighting up the sea spray blown up from the offshore wind.

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 200-500 f/5.6
500mm
ISO 250
f 5.6
1/4000 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #455 – First Autumn Storm

Photo: Waves from the year’s first autumn storm crash over the rocky coastline at Nesland, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. September 22, 2021. 14:58

The year’s first autumn storm, or høststorm, in Norwegian, swept across Lofoten and most of the Norwegian coastline on Wednesday. Heavy rain and high winds brought both flooding and structural damage, including several washed out roads. Out driving around in the afternoon as the storm was beginning to subside, the mountains were absolutely flowing with water – I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many waterfalls before!

The morning was filled with heavy rainfall, but by mid afternoon I could see on the radar that the sky would dry up somewhat, and so I headed out looking for some photos. These storms always come out of the southwest, which is a semi-awkward direction on Lofoten to get the full visible effects of the storm, especially the crashing waves. The bridge between Flakstadøy and Moskenesøy was closed from high winds, so I decided to stay on Flakstadøy and not head west to Å, where the waves might have been hitting the strongest.

Luckily, the coastline near Nesland is also a good location for large swells coming up the Vestfjorden, and so I headed there to see what what happening. Although I should note that the several kilometres of dirt road below steep cliffs gave me a bit of hesitation, as with so heavy rain, rock and mudslides can often occur in the area – and I’m surprised my road remained open as well.

Rounding the last turn from Skjelfjord and out onto the exposed coast I could already see waves crashing high into the sky. Perfect! Arriving at the parking area and heading out to the cliffs, the air was full of mist and sea spray, giving me a constant soaking. The waves were breaking wildly and crashing high up the rocks. Almost too much chaos.

I experimented with several different shutter speeds, but in the wind and sea spray, it was a little hard to see what I was actually capturing. And between shots, it was nearly a full time job wiping off my lens. I wanted to capture some of the chaos and flow of the sea, while also showing some scale. Though I think this image is lacking on the later part, as looking at the image on my screen in no way represents what it was like standing there and feeling the crashing of the waves into the cliffs below me – and then the soaking of saltwater as the wind swept the mist over me. It was an absolutely tremendous amount of water which was moving around in a beautiful dance of chaos.

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 24-200 f/4-6.3
24mm
ISO 31
f 14
0.6 second
WB Daylight
3 stop ND filter

Friday Photo #454 – Early Autumn

Photo: Studalselva flowing through early autumn landscape below Tindstind, Sørvågen, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. September 12, 2021. 16:25

I woke up Monday morning to the first dusting of autumn snow across the higher peaks of Lofoten; A sure sign that we are now well into autumn. The snow seems early this year, which reinforced my observations that autumn itself seems to be a few weeks earlier than normal. Though this could also be a bit biased, as autumn was late to arrive last year. Either way, I think the wet summer, followed by an early cold spell, will hopefully lead to a colourful autumn this year on Lofoten. Just hope the storms stay away long enough!

With consistent rain through most of last week, on Sunday I headed west to Sørvågen to checkout the waterfalls and rivers of Studalselva which flow from Stuvdalsvatn. The autumn color was already quite mixed, with some trees already fully yellow/orange, while others have yet to turn at all. But I think the autumn color peak will be in late September this year – assuming weather conditions remain consistent – and not early October like most years.

The waterfalls were flowing nicely, but I ended up in the flatter part of the river first, with Tindstinden rising in the background. Even with my Wellies on and walking out into the river, I found it difficult to get a balance composition between the mountains in the background and the flowing river in the foreground. I just couldn’t (without wet feet) get to the right part of the river to balance out the scene properly. Especially because the mountain ridge to the right of Tindstind would become too strong and dominant if I showed to much of it.

Here are two versions of the scene in landscape and portrait format. I think the portrait format of this image works better in this case, as it avoids all the empty space of the upper left sky in the landscape image. I think I can spend a little more time working out the composition, but on this particular day, I was racing against the incoming rain, which eventually arrived and sent me back to my van.

With two Lofoten autumn workshops coming up in early October, I think I’ll have more time to spend in this location with the groups – just hoping the trees hold their color for another couple weeks!

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
14mm
ISO 31
f 14
1.6 seconds
WB Daylight
3 stop ND filter