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 #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 #453 – First Aurora

Photo: First northern lights of the season, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. September 4, 2021. 01:18

After last weeks post (Friday Photo #452) wonder when I might see the northern lights for the first time this season, an unexpected clearing of the clouds occurred after midnight and I saw the first dancing aurora of the 2021-2022 season. Luckily I was still awake and quickly headed out the door and down to my beach.

It was still pretty cloudy overall and the ocean was stormy from the days of wind – which means my boots eventually got flooded by a crashing wave. But the aurora itself was quite active were I could see it. If the sky had been perfectly clear, then it probably would have been quite a nice show!

Since then, it’s been back to wind and rain for the rest of this past week. Although it looks like there might be a clear night or two coming up on the weekend, so maybe that will be my second chance for the season. Fingers crossed.

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

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Sigma 14mm f/1.8
14mm
ISO 2000
f 2
6 seconds
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #450 – Silence

Photo: Misty clouds blow over Stortinden mountain peak, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. August 19, 2021. 21:17

A cold wind has been blowing out of the north for the last week. And while the sun has emerged from time to time, the mountains have mostly been concealed behind the clouds, like most of this summer has been. But there is a change in the air, subtle, but there. That our short arctic summer is slowly fading away to the first signs of autumn color among the blueberry bushes and birch trees.

But beyond the blowing wind, the crashing waves, the sideways rain, the return of the northern lights; there is another sign that summer is soon over. Silence.

It is a subtle change and not always one I immediately pick up on, but one day I notice something missing; the sounds and liveliness of summer. The chirping, screeching, cawing birds that keep me up on summer nights are suddenly gone. The fields around my house are silent.

This is the opposite of spring, where one day in late march I will see the first pair of oystercatchers sitting on a rock during my drive to Leknes. But perhaps I’m looking out for this more as it is a sign that winter will (hopefully!) soon be over. But in late summer I’m not even sure when I last saw an oystercatcher. Was it 1 week, 2 weeks, more? It is just sometime around now that I notice my garden has gone quiet, save for a crow or two circling around at random. And so as the migratory birds have gone south, the sun is slowly doing so as well.

It wasn’t until late evening that I headed out yesterday. The north side of Lofoten was covered in a heavy, low clouds, but things were breaking up on the southern side of the islands, eventually with fully clear sky over the Vestfjord. I wasn’t heading anywhere in particular, just maybe looking for something interesting when I saw the clouds blowing over Stortinden. The scene wasn’t ideal, as the river is barely flowing at the moment – it is better in spring, or after a heavy rain. But the scene was dynamic enough for me to put in at least the minimal effort to walk a little to a familiar location. Luckily I got there just in time, as within a few minutes the summit was completely concealed in clouds and the moment was gone.

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 13
8 seconds
WB Daylight
3 stop neutral density filter

Friday Photo #448 – The Lost Summer

Photo: The lost summer: Dark rain clouds conceal the summit of Himmeltindan from across Nappstraumen, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. August 4, 2021. 09:51

What started off looking like a promising summer in early June has mostly ended up as a wet and cool one. With only a few days here and there of sunshine between continuous weeks of low clouds and rain, even my neighbours have commented on how poor this summer has been thus far. A few weeks ago, tired of the rain, I even booked myself a last minute trip to Svalbard – where it was warmer on my arrival there than it was on Lofoten. Though the sun did eventually return for a few days while I was in the north – and with luck, Lofoten will hit 20˚c again this weekend.

But the overall appearance of this summer has been like this photo. Well, not even like this photo, as there is at least some nice drama in the clouds. This summer has just been flat grey a majority of the time. While I thought July was on the cool side, it ended up only being slightly below average. Perhaps it was the missing sun that made it feel cool. What was above average was the rain, nearly 3x wetter than normal – 116mm vs. normal July of 39mm.

August is often a month of transition from summer to autumn as the weather becomes more dramatic and the winds blow stronger. But as Lofoten has not really had a summer this year, who know what the next weeks will bring. Optimistically, we will have a warm and dry autumn – it cannot rain forever, right? However, with the border now open to northern Sweden, I’m personally setting my sights on the long, empty trails for my autumn wanderings.

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
54mm
ISO 100
f 8
1/200 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #447 – Mountain Mist

Photo: Misty clouds swirl over Storvatnet above Myrland, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. July 14, 2021. 23:15

There is a particular type of weather where the forecast shows sun, while a heavy, low cloud remains over the mountains – something similar to a high fog. Often though, this can be quite localised and more frequent with a north wind. So the southern side of Lofoten eventually is filled with sun, while isolated areas and valleys on the northern side of the islands can still remain in clouds and fog and the moist sea air impacts with the mountains. This was one of those types of days.

It is actually quite hard weather to predict and can often change quite rapidly. Usually, whatever weather you are looking at will have changed within 10-20 minutes. Particularly if planning on hiking and you see some cool clouds over a particular mountain, it will have completely changed in the the hour or two of hiking required. Often, the best plan is not to over think, but just choose a location or mountain, perhaps one with some flexibility to move around if conditions suddenly deteriorate and you end up in a whiteout with no visibility at all.

This particular day I was driving around and over thinking about which area to visit. It wasn’t until around 20:00 that I headed up the trail from Nappskaret, in the general direction of Middagstind, but not particularly fixated on getting to the summit. This was already the 3rd day in the week I had found myself in this area, and had already been up Okstinden a few days before. So I was just open to whatever the conditions would dictate.

And as it turns out, I ended up elsewhere, nearby a small little pond after scrambling up some steep sheep trails. I’ve been looking at this pond for a while, but never been, as it is the opposite direction of where I usually travel. But on this evening, it seemed like a pretty good area to be at, proving views over Storsandnes beach, Nappstraumen, and across to Himmeltindan in the northeast, as well as down to the valley of Myrland in the west – which had been covered in clouds for most of the day.

When I arrived, there were misty clouds blowing around the various mountain peaks, but these eventually faded and disappeared as the July evening sun still remained high overhead. I sat around waiting, not so much for any change in weather, but more so that the sun would move out of the background of my composition. It turns out this was a bit of luck, as I might otherwise had headed back home already content with a few decent photos for the evening. But as I waited, the mist returned.

I had semi-packed my backpack and moved off to a different area when I noticed the mist beginning to swirl around the outer mountains of the valley. Soon, it formed over the lake and blew in below me, illuminated by the late evening sun and almost perfectly filling the scene. It was a quite dynamic few moments and then the clouds vanished again and I could walk home…

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
27.5mm
ISO 100
f 10
1/40 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #446 – Cold, Wet, And Windy

Photo: Cold waves crash over the rocks at Myrland beach on a gloomy summer evening, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. July 18, 2021. 20:03

Summer seems to have vanished over the last week from Lofoten (and the rest of northern Norway). Starting with a ferry canceling storm last Thursday, the wind, rain, clouds, and cold temperatures have remained, with the thermostat barely reaching 10˚C most days this week. I’ve commented to friends that it already feels like autumn.

But it is still only July, and the weather will improve again – forecasted to the mid 20’s˚C for next week in much of northern Norway. But this last week has been pretty rough, and defiantly not summer-like. Beginning with last weeks storm, many motorhome tourists fled Lofoten, causing hours long waiting times at the ferries, until they too were canceled due to the weather. After a week of near constant rain and wind and cold, Lofoten is actually feeling pretty empty for what should otherwise be the height of the summer tourism season. But if I was traveling around Norway, I wouldn’t want to be on Lofoten during the past week either, when I can see it is nice and sunny down in the fjords.

Overall, I think this will probably end up as a below average summer in terms of temperatures (low) and rain (high). Last year we seemed to have endless sunsets every night in July and into early August. This year, I haven’t seen the midnight sun in a week – and by now it is already setting below the horizon. Midnight sun season is over for this year, and I never really got to enjoy the end of it, unfortunately. Though for being outdoors and camping, there still won’t be proper night until later in August. And as of today, it is one month until the northern lights become visible again over Lofoten, so there will be a different reason to stay up late into the night.

This weeks photo is just a simple wave photo from down on the beach. About as far as I got in the last days between the rain showers. I was actually hoping for a more dramatic photo for this weeks post to better reflect the conditions, but the light has actually been quite bad, with flat, grey, and contrast-less clouds concealing the landscape behind a wall of misty rain. So even though its been stormy, it doesn’t look so…

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
14.5mm
ISO 31
f 13
0.8 second
WB Daylight
3 stop ND filter

Friday Photo #445 – Brocken Spectre

Photo: Brocken Spectre in misty clouds from summit of Okstind, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. July 10, 2021. 14:20

In a case of Lofoten’s unreliable weather forecasting, the planned 6-peaks crossing of Flakstadøy that a friend and I had for last Saturday when the forecasted sun arrived in the morning as low, heavy clouds. What we didn’t know, based on our locations, was that the cloud burn-off had already begun from the southern side of Lofoten, resulting in blue sky for most of the island – except my valley of course!

As time passed, my friend headed up into the mountains from Nappskaret, I decided to join from my side and we met in the mountain pass below Stornappstind and Middagstind. What had been a warm and sunny day as I walked out my door turned into a moderate north wind as I reached the pass. Then we both began our way up higher to Jofinnskaret.

Strange things can happen over the mountains in a north wind. And on this moderately warm day, condensation clouds were forming over all the first mountain peaks on the northern side of the islands, resulting in zero visibility. We chose to head to Okstind, which, as far as we could see, was in and out of the clouds as they blew across from Middagstind.

Reaching the summit, we had fully blue sky to the south. While clouds raced in from the north. Half of Stornappstind was visible, while the other half was covered in white. Middagstind was nowhere to be seen. Okstind, was just on the border of clouds and blue, in and out of the mist every few moments for quite dramatic conditions (for the middle of the afternoon).

With the sun high overhead, A Brocken spectre appeared every time the clouds enveloped the summit. Not something I see very often here on Lofoten and worth a windy day in the mountains to experience.

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 100
f 8
1/500 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #443 – Sun Is Back

Photo: Mountain peaks of Flakstadøy reflect in small tidal pool, Vareid, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. June 30, 2021. 23:13

The midnight sun returned to Lofoten last night after an absence of several weeks. Not that the sun has set below the horizon, that is still a few weeks away, rather, Lofoten has been almost constantly covered with a lay of low, grey clouds for almost all of the 2nd half of June. Not unusual in any way, but also not ideal.

But finally, the sun is on the forecast and the temperatures will return to more summer-like levels (at least for us up here) for the better part of next week. For me, that means returning to the mountains again after a several week absence – I just can’t find the motivation at the moment to go hike out in the clouds. I haven’t done much camping yet this summer, so perhaps it’s time to pull out the tent before a bit before the July crowds arrive.

Wednesday I found myself driving around in circles, going all the way to Reine to chase what looked like interesting clouds, though I never found a decent composition. I almost thought about just hiking up Reinebringen, but was a little on the lazy side for that, and the parking lot was already more or less full anyhow. So I began my slow drive back home.

As I passed Ramberg, the sun first emerged from behind a layer of clouds. The first sunlight I’d seen in a while. The beach quickly filled with people, probably also wondering where the sun had been thus far on their summer holiday. Continuing east on my way home, I could see more and more sunlight shining across the landscape. I headed out towards Vikten, but then stopped when I saw the tidal pools near Vareid, knowing I could at least get a decent shot for the day.

I’ve shot this composition several times, and it’s nothing too special. I probably should have setup my tripod and focus-stacked the image so that the foreground rocks would be in focus. Instead I just held the camera low over the water for the fullest reflection and just focused on the mountains. It sometimes seems in landscape photography these days that everything needs to be sharp, but I don’t mind non-essential parts of a composition to be out of focus.

Or maybe I’m just lazy. Which I wish I knew of ahead of time so I didn’t have to drive all the way to Reine, when the day’s photo was just 10 minutes from my house.

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
49mm
ISO 100
f 6.3
1/100 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #442 – Flowers And Rain

Photo: The look of early summer: wildflowers and rain, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. June 24, 2021. 15:57

After June’s fantastic start this year, the weather has unfortunately returned to more normal conditions for early summer, with temperatures in the low teens over the last weeks and frequent passing rain showers or overcast skies. Well, Lofoten fared better than the Helgeland coast, where I spent a week in almost non-stop rain – the benefit of Lofoten being out in the sea is that the weather passes quicker, and doesn’t get ‘stuck’ over the islands as long. Although this isn’t always a positive.

But the rain is also what turns the landscape green and fills the fields, meadows, and hillsides with an assortment of wildflowers. Right now, at the end of June and into the first weeks of July is when Lofoten is at its peak of summer color – or what otherwise might be considered spring in more moderate latitudes of the world. This is the time of year I’ve finally been waiting for after the long thaw out from winter. Finally Lofoten has blossomed.

Soon however, during the first week of July, many of the coastal meadows, which are actually farm fields, will be mowed for winter feed for the farmers’ sheep and cows. This scene however, will survive the cutting, but eventually the flowers will seed and disappear. The grass here will still grow wild throughout the summer, waiting until the sheep are brought down from the mountains in autumn, and kept here for a while until they are returned to their barns for winter. Or in the case of the lambs, a less pleasant fate.

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
66mm
ISO 100
f 6
1/2320 second
WB Daylight