Friday Photo #507 – September Rain

Photo: Autumn rain sweeps across distant mountains of Moskenesøy, Vareid, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. September 24, 2018. 17:43

It is the autumnal equinox today marking the beginning of the sun’s journey to the south. For Lofoten, this is the time of year where one can really feel the days begin to shorten as the islands lose approximately 1 hour of daylight per week. For the northern side of the islands, this is also the time of year when the mountain shadows begin to grow as the sun sinks lower in the southern sky. For my house, the 20th of October will be the last brief moments of direct sunlight before it returns again on February 19th – 4 long months in the shadow of the mountains.

This was a stormy and blustery September day, just on the edge of being too stormy. Luckily, The clouds were broken up enough to allow some rays of light shine through as the next wave of snow flurries swept across the landscape. I was out on the coast between Vareid and Vikten, which often works well for sunset at this time of year as the sun shines across the distant mountains of Moskenesøy, often creating interesting patterns of light and shadow.

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

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 70-200mm f/4
200mm
ISO 320
f 6.3
1/640 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #506 – Silence

Photo: Autumn rainbow over Vestfjorden, Lofoten Islands, Norway. October 14, 2019. 16:12

Autumn is a quiet period on Lofoten. The hustle and bustle of summer has gone and the winds of the winter storms have yet to arrive. Often is it a somewhat gradual change in which I eventually notice that one day the world suddenly feels quiet. But not this year.

I spent the second half of August traveling with my brother and friends along the north coast of Spain. Fun, but hot! Without even returning home, I arrived back at Harstad-Evenes airport and immediately drove to Sweden to hiking 140km along the northern section of the Padjelantaleden trail and a middle section of the Kungsleden trail, back to my van which had been parked in Kvikkjokk. It was a pretty quick transition from 30˚c of Spain to several nights below freezing in the mountains of Sweden. From Kvikkjokk, it is a long 10 hour drive home.

Waking up in the morning after my arrival I immediately noticed the absolute silence of the land. Even the sea was silent. It was eerie. Like I was in some sort of post-apocalyptic movie and everyone and everything had suddenly disappeared. Some wind and rain has passed during the last week, brining a bit more life to the islands, but it is still quiet. Having been long overdue with mowing my lawn, it felt like I was making a great disturbance in my valley on a Tuesday afternoon.

So, after a month of travel, I haven’t taken a single photo of Lofoten in the week that I’ve been home. The weather has been little on the grey side, but there has still been some nice light to find if one has been willing to put in the effort – which I have not – as I’m mostly stuck behind the computer catching up on overdue work.

This weeks photo is from back in 2019. I thought I had posted it already, as I quite like the simplicity of it – just a rainbow over the sea. I was with a group out on the southern coast of Flakstadøy near Nesland waiting for the clouds to clear over some distant mountains when I sensed the light changing and this bright rainbow fell from a rain shower over the Vestfjord. From my position I knew there wasn’t anywhere I could get in time to use the rainbow as part of some other composition, as it was too far out at sea and away from any nearby mountains or coastline. So I switched to a 70-200 telephoto lens and simply used the rainbow and cloud as the only subjects – which they were. I usually like to include a sense of place in my images, I don’t think it was necessary.

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

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 70-200mm f/4
82mm
ISO 100
f 5
1/400 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #505 – September Rain

Photo: Autumn rain showers fall over Narvtinden, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. September 13, 2021. 14:57

Compared to last weeks photo (Friday Photo #504) of somewhat boring and flat autumn rain, this week’s is a more dynamic version when bad weather should be embraced for the light it brings.

Lofoten’s weather changes quickly in the autumn. Two days previous to this it had been cloudless blue sky, the day before flat, grey clouds, and the evening after northern lights were dancing in once again clear sky. Four days with four completely different moods and photographic potentials. This is one of the reason that autumn is one of my favourite seasons on Lofoten; it is a dynamic time of year.

On days where I can see the rain is broken up in passing showers, as opposed to just one giant rain clouds covering Lofoten, I like to look for backlit showers in the late afternoon while looking west. Typically a day like this, if conditions remained the same, is unlikely to have much of a sunset if at all, as there are too many clouds concealing the lower horizon. Then it is often better to shoot mid mornings or mid afternoons with the sun higher in the sky, giving it more of a chance to shine through the gaps in the clouds. Although if you’re lucky, this type of weather might also produce epic rays of light near sunset of all conditions line up correctly.

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/4-6.3
75mm
ISO 100
f 10
1/500 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #504 – September Rain

Photo: September rain over the mountains of west Lofoten above lake Solbjørnvatnet, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. September 3, 2021. 16:33

As the calendar pages turn to September Lofoten enters the historically rainy and wet autumn period. September usually averages to just over double the total rainfall as August, and October brings even a bit more rain than that. Of course, these are just historical trends and some years are better than others if lucky, while others can be much worse!

For example, in 2021 September and July had roughly the same amount of rainfall. This wasn’t because it was a dry September, no, it was about average. It was because it was a terrible July, with roughly triple the rainfall than average. So, as far as last year was concerned, there was little difference between July and September’s weather. What this year will bring is anyone’s guess.

On this afternoon, I hiked up to the small mountain Tekoppstetten above lake Solbjørnvatnet in hopes of some nice shows of light in the passing rain. No light of too much interest arrived, just heavy rain and heavy clouds covering the landscape. Luckily, there’s a small cave to hide in to keep dry as I waited. But eventually, with the radar looking worse and worse I headed back down the muddy mountain path.

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/4-6.3
24mm
ISO 100
f 9
1/50 second
WB Daylight

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