Friday Photo #33 – Olstind in Clouds

Heavy clouds conceal summit of Olstind mountain peak rising from fjord, Reine, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo:  Olstind hidden in Winter Clouds, Moskenesøya, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  Feb 17, 2013.  17:11

Olstind, probably the most iconic peak of the Lofoten Islands, when you can see it.  Taken at the same time an location as last weeks Friday Photo, another gloomy image during the fading light of a short February winter day.

For some reason I don’t imagine I’ll ever have enough images of Osltind.  While often times I pass the mountain by if it’s a scene and lighting conditions I’ve previously photographed, when something new is to be found I’ll usually make the effort to hop out of the car, or walk, and see what I can come up with.

I think the calmness of the evening drew me out here on this particular day.  I’ve seen the mountain hidden in clouds enough times before, but for some reason, there was something a bit more interesting this time.  The sky was heavy, as indeed, rain started falling only a few minutes after this image.  But at the moment, the islands were calm.  The waters of the fjord sat flat and silent, hardly making a sound on the barnacle covered rocks I was standing on.  And so yet another photo of Olstind was taken.

Camera Info:
Nikon D800
Nikon 24mm f/3.5 tilt-shift
24mm
ISO 100
f 8
8 seconds
WB Daylight
2 Images – Top/Bottom

Friday Photo #32 – Empty Rorbu

Derelict Rorbu sits on edge of fjord, Vestvalen, Reine, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Abandoned Rorbu, Vestvalen, Moskenesøya, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  Feb 17, 2013.  17:12

Like last weeks Friday Photo, this is a location I’m so familiar with that I’ve never thought of taking a photo of it before.  I’ve stood in front of this building a dozen times or more, with my camera pointed at Olstind – one of my favorite locations to shoot Olstind from as you can get away from all the power lines – yet I’ve never turned around and given much though to the building itself.  Perhaps I just needed the right conditions.

I find something haunting about this image.  It is dark and subtle, far from the typical ‘hero’ type Lofoten photos I and others normally take.  It feels lonely and forlorn, yet with a glimmer of something. A future.

Perhaps on most occasions I would not have even been here as the last traces of light faded from a February day while a gentle rain began to fall just as I put my camera in my backpack and wandered back to the car.  I was merely killing a bit of time before being graciously invited by another photographer I had met for a cup of tea in his Rorbu just down the road – an invitation not to be passed up while sleeping in a car in winter.  And so, I ended up with what is probably one of my favorite images of the trip.

Camera Info:
Nikon D800
Nikon 24mm f/3.5 tilt-shift
24mm
ISO 100
f 8
8 seconds
WB Daylight
2 Images – Top/Bottom

Friday Photo #31 – Winter Farm

Farm building in snowy winter landscape, Farstad, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Winter farm, Vestvågøya, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  Feb 16, 2013.  14:21

It had now been several days of heavy, mountain concealing clouds covering the islands.  Exactly the opposite of what I want, but often what is there.  At least it was still cold, and the snow remained, so there is that to be thankful for.  But it was one of those days where the needle on the gas tank drops lower and lower, yet the camera rarely makes it out of the bag.

I’ve driven by this lake and farm a hundred times or more, and never taken a photo, likely since I was headed towards something better.  But for some reason on this particular day, a day of otherwise almost nothing photographically, the emptiness of this scene caught my eye.  There is almost nothing but white and gray, save for a single farmstead.  Somehow I can almost feel the cold and the bleakness of the Lofoten winter in this image.  I’ll probably drive by a hundred more times and never take another photo.

Camera Info:
Nikon D800
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8
70mm
ISO 200
f 11
1/100 sec
WB Daylight
2 Images – Top/Bottom

Friday Photo #30 Flakstadpollen in Winter

Snow covers sea ice in inner Flakstadpollen, Kilan, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Frozen Sea ice in Inner Flakstadpollen, Flakstadøya, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  Feb 14, 2013.  09:01

As the second half of February arrived this year, the previous weeks of cold, but clear and calm weather came to an abrupt end.  Heavy clouds rolled across the islands and the beautiful light of the low winter sun was taken over by a flat, dull gray.  At least there was still a decent coat of snow that had yet to be too covered in footprints.

I often arrive to the islands in less than ideal conditions, often missing some brilliant light by a day or two.  But I always feel a need to get those first few photos.  I have been to the islands enough now to know that I need to be patient, but as days 1, 2, 3 pass by and I’ve hardly touched my camera, I sense a growing frustration within myself to get out and shoot something.  Oftentimes this can be a fruitless quest, but every once in a while, something interesting will appear despite all efforts of the light working against me.

This image only existed for a few day.  Thanks to a fresh coating of snow that had fallen overnight, ‘cleaning’ up the sea ice, which by itself, was not especially photogenic.  Luckily, despite the crowd of photographers on the islands this February, I was the first to come across this scene, finding it still untouched; though most groups only hang around Reine anyways, going for the ‘hero’ shots made popular by several photographers better known than myself.  But that is good, as I often find that I have the rest of the islands to myself.  Free of footprints in the snow, and to wander as I please.   Perhaps I shouldn’t give away too many secrets though…

Without the crack in the ice, this scene would not have worked at all as it would have been too flat and boring.  And I think in situations like this, one needs to resist the urge to punch up the contrast to some hyper-realism that didn’t exist.  The light was shit, as it often is on Lofoten in winter.  But using shape and form, there is still the possibility to find something interesting.

This is a scene where the 24mm tilt-shift lens is really is a valuable lens for Lofoten, often due the the sheer vertical relief of 800-1000m mountains rising directly from the sea.  Much winder than 24mm, and there are distracting elements on the edges of the frame.  But with a normal 2/3 crop, the tops of the mountains would be lost, unless getting low enough to the snow where the crack would then lose separation and definition.  I guess one could always crop from a wider lens, but I don’t really like to do that.

Camera Info:
Nikon D800
Nikon 24mm f/3.5 tilt-shift
24mm
ISO 100
f 13
1/30 sec
WB Daylight
2 Images – Top/Bottom

Friday Photo #28 – Hamnoya January Sunrise

Winter sun silhouettes empty stockfish drying racks, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Winter sun at midday, Hamnøya, Lofoten Islands, Norway. January 6, 2010. 12:50

By the end of the first week of January, the sun is just barely beginning to wake from its winter hibernation. Not even fully crossing the horizon, the sun slowly arcs the southern sky before the long winter night returns by mid afternoon. While I had already made a half dozen trips to the islands by this point, this was my first real journey into the heart of winter.

Alone and cold, my only shelter from the fierce storms that blasted the islands was my tiny rental car, unable to even fully recline the seats to sleep. I spent and average of 20 hours per day wrapped in my sleeping bag, reading by the light of my headlamp to pass the time, drifting in and out of sleep when I could. Snow fell so heavily on several days that the only place I could park so sleep for the night was next to bus stops on the E10 where a snow plow would hopefully arrive by mid morning to dig me most of the way out. But it was over these 5 days that I took some of my brilliant photos of the islands to date. I embraced to cold and the darkness and used it to my advantage.

This image is from my first full day on the islands. The night had been turbulent and stormy (I had yet to learn that Utakleiv is generally not a good place to sleep in a car in winter), but as dawn arrived, the islands clear and calm. By midday I found myself in the west as the sun was beginning to break the horizon. It seemed to just sit there, halfway between sea and sky.

Despite the fact that the horizon was clear, the clouds overhead never developed much color. The mountain behind me were glowing a brilliant pink, but I also wanted to capture something looking towards the sun, even though the scene was actually somewhat boring to tell the truth. So after unknowing getting my car stuck in the snow (I had to get pulled by some guy in a tractor I found clearing the streets a little later), I walked over to the cod drying rack, still sitting empty this early in the year. Trying a few composition, I eventually decided something a bit more abstract might fit the scene better. So I ’tilted’ the lens all the way to throw most of the frame out of focus and help lead the viewer towards the sun.

Camera Info:
Nikon D700
Nikon 24mm f/3.5 tilt-shift
24mm
ISO 200
f 5.6
1/160 sec
WB Daylight
2 images – top/bottom
Full lens tilt

Friday Photo #18 – Winter Storm

Dramatic scenery at snow covered coastline, Å I Lofoten, Lofoten Islands, Norway
Photo: Approaching winter storm, Å I Lofoten, Moskenesøya, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  Feb 12, 2012.  15:27

The last full day of my February 2012 Lofoten.  After nearly a week of positive temperatures and horrible rain, the thermostat fell below zero and snow once again fell upon the islands.  In late afternoon, I headed back to one of my favorite winter locations, the cliffs beyond Å.

It was one of those classic Lofoten winter days of snow flurries sweeping across the islands.  If you try and run from the weather on days like this, you’ll never get a shot if it’s more than a few minutes from your car.  You wait on the edge, watching as the next wave of snow heads towards you, shooting until the last minute.  Then you hide your camera under your jacket, turn your head away from the wind and wait until the snow passes, if it passes.

With luck, you only have to stand there 10-15 minutes until the clouds once again rise and a brilliant fresh layer of snow covers the land.  You try to shoot what you can as you watch the next cycle approach.  Repeat ad infinitum.  Winter on Lofoten.

Camera Info:
Nikon D700
Nikon 16-35 f-4
16mm
ISO 100
f 11
10 sec
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #17 – Reine Winter Sunrise

snow covered Olstind mountain peak glows pink in winter sunrise, Reine, Lofoten Islands, Norway
Photo: Pink dawn, Reine, Moskenesøya, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  Feb 19, 2013.  08:16

This is perhaps what Winter photography on Lofoten is all about, mountains glowing pink in the low hanging sun.  In mid January, this would be your view the entire day.  However by mid February, the sun rises sufficiently high were only the first hour of the day will provide this sort of light.

Having stayed up somewhat late the previous night shooting a fantastic display of the Northern Lights I was perhaps a bit sluggish to leave my sleeping bag this morning; also aided by the fact that this was the coldest day of the entire trip.  Lucky for me, the sun moves slow in the north, leaving enough time for a lazy photographer to prepare for the day.

Having slept in the car at the parking lot in Å, not my preferred sleeping place, but all the others were covered in deep snow, I figured heading to the tourist viewpoint in Reine would probably be my best bet.  The upper view point was already crowded with others, so I headed down to the lower one, which few people seemed to visit for some reason.  I like the view from here better anyhow.  And so, I now have yet another image of Olstind, a mountain that I’ll probably never grow tired of photographing.

Camera Info:
Nikon D800
Nikon 24-70 f-2.8
40mm
ISO 100
f 10
1/30 sec
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #16 – Vik Beach Winter

Sea and snow meet at Vik Beach, Vik, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway
Photo: Winter tide, Vik Beach, Vestvagøyå, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  Feb. 16, 21013.  17:19

For several days a layer of low clouds had enveloped the islands and concealed the sun.  Flat, gray light was all there was to be found over most of Lofoten.  Finally, as evening arrived I headed out towards Utakleiv, where I planned to spend the night.  I was originally going to stop at Haukland beach while on my way, but there was already a crowd of other photographers there – and for some reason, I’m a bit self-conscious about invading another photographers ‘working space.’  Nothing more annoying than composing a shot and have some dude, or usually a workshop group, as numbers bring boldness, set up a tripod in the middle of your scene.  But I digress, a rant for another day perhaps…

So I instead headed towards Vik beach, which sat empty.  I had good luck with my timing as the incoming tide was meeting the snow line on the beach, which I often find an interesting motif.  The clouds here on the north side of the island also began to show some texture as they first met with the mountain wall of Lofoten.

There seem to have been a sheep or two which had wandered up and down the beach, leaving a maze of footprints in the otherwise almost completely untouched snow.  This reduced the possibilities of including more foreground in the composition and meant I needed to keep just to the water’s edge.  But in the end, I think it worked out quite okay.

Camera Info:
Nikon D800
Nikon 24mm f/3.5 tilt-shift
24mm
ISO 50
f 16
25 sec
WB Daylight
6 stop B+W ND filter
2 images – top/bottom

Friday Photo #14 – Winter Rorbu

Traditional Rorbu cabin reflects in fjord in evening light, Valen, Reine, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Valen Rorbu, Moskenesøya, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  Feb 17, 2013.  17:00

Heavy skies had covered the islands for several days.  After spending the afternoon at Å, waiting for a sunset that would never arrive, I returned to the area of Reine while waiting to meet a friend in the early evening.  I sat close to the fjord at waited for any possibilities of light, but nothing.  The clouds hung low, concealing the mountain peaks.

As I was leaving the car, heading in the opposite direction, towards a view of Olstind, I saw the lights of this Rorbu turn on as the inhabitants returned from a day at sea.  Perhaps not what I would normally photograph, the gloomy weather drew me towards the light and this scene.  I made my way down the snow covered slope to some rocks just above the water, perilously perched on the snow and not knowing where one misstep would put me into the sea.

I took a few photos until the fishermen left and the lights turned off.  A moment of good timing or I would have missed the photo.  I think the heavy clouds concealing the summits of the distant peaks helps add to the atmosphere of this photo.  I can feel the darkness of Winter in this image.

Camera Info:
Nikon D800
Nikon 24mm f/3/5 tilt-shift
24mm
ISO 100
f 8
3 sec
WB Daylight
2 images: top, bottom

Friday Photo #13 – Haukland Beach Winter

Haukland beach, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Haukland Beach winter, Vestvågøya, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  Feb 20, 2013

After a week of fairly cold temperatures and calm conditions, the weather began to change on this day.  Winds and increasing temperatures swept across the islands.  Rain instead of snow now fell and setting up a tripod became difficult.

I was planning on spending the night at Utakleiv, but after a quick trip out to the beach, it was quite obvious that I wouldn’t be taking any photos there.  So I headed back through the tunnel to Haukland beach and relatively calmer conditions – though I still had to wait for a lull in the breeze before attempting to take a photo.  The sea was rough, and crashing high up on the beach, so after a few minutes of observation, I found myself just at the edge of the high water line.  Then comes the waiting game…

Finally, after what seems like forever, the next set of waves arrives, pushing the sea just to the edge of my tripod legs.  With luck, the wind also remains calm for the 25 second exposure to keep my light backpacking tripod from shaking too much.  Moments later, drops of rain begin to fall from the clouds and photography is over for the day.

Camera Info:
Nikon D800
Nikon 24-70 f/2.8
24mm
ISO 50
f 16
25 sec
WB Daylight
Filer – B+W 6 stop ND