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

Friday Photo #440 – After Midnight

Photo: Midnight sun under Fredvang bridge, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. May 29, 2021. 00:46

The Lofoten Islands are now two weeks into summer’s midnight sun season – and still more than a month away until the sun will touch the sea on the northern horizon again in mid July. Some years it feels like a long wait until summer. This year we have been lucky, with fantastic conditions for weeks! Though now it will be raining for several days – though looking at my semi-brown lawn, I guess we need it!

A late night message of orcas near Hamnøy saw me driving west from home at 22:00. I caught a brief glimpse of them outside of Sakrisøy, but they were moving fast toward the west – and road closure near Reine to widen the narrow causeway that has caused traffic problems for years was underway, so I couldn’t continue to follow them.

But it was a nice May evening as I made my way back home. Crossing Kåkersund bridge, which connects Moskenesøy and Flakstadøy I saw the sun shining over the straight to the north and almost stopped to try and take a photo, but decided on continuing on. Eventually as I made my way along the narrow, winding road of Flakstadøy I could see the sun again, low on the horizon to the north. As I continued and the bridges came into sight, I thought there might be a possibility for an interesting photo.

Luckily, there was a fish factory that I could park in which had the sun almost perfectly aligned under the bridge. In a hurry, I first shot from near where I parked, but the composition wasn’t as interesting, but the sun at that moment had been higher in the sky. As the sun moved eastwards, I had to move to center it under the bridge again. But in only these 5-10 minutes, it had also dropped in elevation.

I now know the timing I need to be there for, so I think I will go back one of these days and try to make a better version of this image with the sun centered directly under the bridge. It seems like it could be a cool and unique image.

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

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6
330mm
ISO 250
f 5.6
1/500 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #438 – Storbåthellaren

Photo: Looking out over Nappstraumen from Storbåthellaren cave, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. May 24, 2021. 15:40

Even after 5 years of living and 20 years since my first visit to Lofoten, there are still some places that have eluded me thus far. Perhaps it’s because I usually focus on summits here and save my ‘flat’ walking for Sweden or elsewhere, or maybe I just never got around to visiting for whatever reason. So was a friend asked me if I wanted to join in for their annual spring hike to visit the Storbåthellaren cave, I was more than happy to join along.

Having never been to the area, I did a quick survey of the map and estimated the trail at around 8km or so from Kilan to Napp, along the western side of Nappstraumen. This turned out to be wrong by a good margin, with the total distance being 13km of rocky and undulating terrain. Luckily there was plenty of water along the route, as we were all complaining that the 10˚C sunny spring weather was too hot for hiking and sweating away under the bright May sun. I think this counts as the first hike of summer!

Once reaching the cave, we stopped for lunch, as this was roughly the 1/2 way point of the journey. Even in the shadow of the cave’s entrance, it was still a mild enough day to remain in a t-shirt.

The cave itself is the oldest known residence on Lofoten, with archeological evidence dating back to 6000 years when the first people were beginning to arrive on Lofoten.

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 100
f 8
1/80 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #437 – Midnight Flow

Photo: Midnight sunset over Myrland beach, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. May 18, 2021. 00:06

The arrival of the midnight sun is just a few days away here on Lofoten, but already for the last week, we’ve had incredible all ‘night’ light shows. May’s weather can often be hit or miss, its either all good or all bad. This year we seem to have been on the good side, with pretty calm and mild conditions for most of the month. But more important for the photographer, the northern horizon has remained clear on many nights. Which, combined with a layer of clouds over Lofoten itself results in crazy, hours long sunset-into-sunrise during the midnight hours. It’s basically impossible to sleep before 03:00 these days.

This photo is from the evening/following morning of 17th of May, Norway’s national day. The whole day was warm and sunny and perfect for a backyard bbq. While I have little to no view of the sunset conditions during winter, as high mountains block all my views towards to south, I have perfect views of the conditions during summer – especially for what is happening on the horizon. And then even better, I can be lazy and just walk a few minutes to my favourite beach for decent photos. Which sometimes makes it hard to find the motivation to head up into the mountains and wait around for light which may or may not happen, when I can otherwise be completely lazy.

But with summer just around the corner now, last night was my first midnight mountain of the season, with hopefully many more in the coming months!

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 31
f 14
0.6 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #436 – Spring Thaw

Photo: Small waterfall flowing from melting spring snow below the mountains of Flakstad, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. May 12, 2021. 21:46

It was a strange and mostly snow-less winter in west Lofoten and so much of the lower elevations have been snow free since the beginning of April (minus a quick snow shower or two) but it finally seems the spring thaw is underway in the higher elevations and the small mountain rivers are flowing. The first flowers are in the fields and the lower elevation trees have their first leaves. Higher up though, the landscape is just beginning to grow, otherwise remaining mostly winter-like in appearance.

I always find this a strange time of year for photography. The days are now endless and there has been some interesting light over the last weeks. But I don’t like the brown, winter landscape so much. It just feels a bit dull and boring – especially since I know that the lush greens and meadows full of wildflowers are only a few weeks away. So May always feels like a month of waiting for me: The summer light has arrived, now the landscape needs to catch up. But day by day it does and the fields outside my house look slightly greener each morning and a little more snow has disappeared from the mountains. And with the sun shining bright, it might actually be t-shirt weather this weekend and it looks like the weather will cooperate for a nice 17th of May barbecue on Monday.

This photo is actually 3 vertically shifted image from at 24mm tilt-shift lens. The original cropping is 4:5, but this here is 2:3 – which I normally don’t like in vertical format. However, in the 4:5 crop, the rock on the lower right side of the image felt too large and overpowering. I tried cropping in tighter overall, but then I needed to compromise with getting too tight on the mountains, or loosing too much flow in the water. So out of all the options I had, 2:3 crop seemed the least offensive one to me.

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

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24mm f/3.5 tilt-shift
24mm
ISO 31
f 13
0.4 second
WB Daylight
3 image vertical pano

Friday Photo #435 – Midnight Rain

Photo: Soft rain showers fall into the sea after midnight in May’s twilight light, Lofoten Islands, Norway. May 5, 2021. 00:40

With the arrival of the midnight sun less than 3 weeks away, there is already no more darkness during the nights on Lofoten and I’ve already found myself transitioning to ‘midnight sun’ mode: ie. stay up until 02:00-03:00 and sleep til noon-ish. Though part of this is also because I should probably get curtains that block more light, as mine basically do nothing.

But it is also that my mind can’t settle. It is possible to shoot 24 hours a day now, so even when I know it’s time to sleep, I’m thinking about what photo possibilities might happen over the next hours. It is a similar restlessness to big aurora nights, where even once home after being out for hours, I still can’t settle, and constantly look out the windows, wondering if I should go back out again.

This photo here is from one of those situations. I had already been out hiking for sunset for several hours. But on my way home, a layer a cloud cam in from the south, leaving a small band of the glowing horizon in the north. I stopped along the road and shot a few photos, but once home, I couldn’t ignore the light for much longer – eventually ending up shooting a time-lapse sequence as the gentle clouds floated over the sea. This photo is from my bathroom window.

While this is a pretty simple, and dare I say, boring image, what is special for me is the time it was taken. If this was just 19:00 in the evening, then ehhh, no big deal. But this is almost 01:00, the darkest hour of the night. I think I’m just looking forward to summer! And the glowing nights are the first sign of the magical summer months here on Lofoten.

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 100
f 8
3 seconds
WB Daylight