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 #503 – Aurora Season

Photo: August northern lights spiral into the sky over Storsandnes beach, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. August 31, 2020. 00:50

This week it is my yearly reminder that the northern lights are not just a winter phenomenon and can already become visible in the last week of August in the sky over Lofoten.

Lofoten’s aurora season runs roughly from August 20 – April 20; so they are visible from Lofoten for 8 months of the year! For the very early and late auroras to be visible, it will typically have to be from a moderate solar storm, pushing the northern lights fully overhead or even into the southern part of the sky. Low to moderate activity needs a little longer to be visible, as the northern horizon still glows quite bring into the first weeks of September and from the first week of April.

Happy aurora season for all those coming north in the next months. The sun’s activity is still increasing over the next years, so the northern lights will be more common than previous years – it just requires the weather to cooperate!

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 20mm f/1.8
20mm
ISO 2000
f 2
2.5 seconds
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #500 – Sunset Season

Photo: August sunset over Myrland beach, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. August 3, 2020. 22:41

While the midnight sun of June and early July is simply a nice time for life on Lofoten, the real photography season of summer begins once the sun starts to fall below the northern horizon in the second half of July. The days are still endlessly long and the first visible stars are some weeks away, but now with the sun just barely below the horizon, the sunset – sunrise nights begin.

The most important factor though, is for the weather to cooperate. The best condition are for the northern horizon to be clear with moderate cloud cover over Lofoten. If the opposite occurs, a marine layer along the northern horizon and clear sky over Lofoten, the light simply fades out into a dull twilight. Luckily, I live facing directly north over the open sea, so even if all of Lofoten looks otherwise grey and gloomy, I can see what might occur once the sun hits the horizon.

Unfortunately, its not always that easy to plan in the ever changing weather and often times I head up into the mountains on nights which the light simply fades out. While other days, I think the weather looks terrible and then suddenly the sky catches on fire. At least I have a small beach I can quickly run down to to at least capture something. Though I think I probably have too many sunsets (and northern lights) from here now, so sometimes I’m even more lazy these days and just watch from my window. I guess I’m spoiled!

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 11
1/4 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #499 – Summer Harvest

Photo: Norwegian Marshmallows – AKA tractor eggs – in freshly cut field in late July, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. July 25, 2022. 01:42

Every year beginning sometime in mid July the summer harvest of the fields begin to provide winter feed for the few sheep still remaining on Lofoten. Until two years ago my neighbor used to farm this field, but he has since retired, leaving only one sheep farmer left in my small village. Even without local sheep, the grazing land remains quite important and other nearby farmers have taken over the cutting and harvesting of the fields.

A few weeks ago – Friday Photo #496 – I posted an image of the field on a stormy summer evening, still full of flowers but already becoming quite overgrown. It felt a little later of a harvest this year, even though the summer has been a good one and the overall feel of the landscape to me is that things are a few weeks ahead of ‘normal.’ Perhaps it was the fairly cold and wet weather in the second half of July this year that has seen them waiting.

And indeed they seemed to be in a hurry once the tractors did arrive; working until after midnight on both Saturday and Sunday nights. This picture was taken at near 02:00 early Monday morning just after they had finished wrapping the bailing the loose grass. And still later they returned to collect everything!

So for the farm meadows, the flowers are now gone for this year and harvested fields remain. In a while, once the grasses grow a little taller again, the sheep and lambs will be moved into the fields during the autumn after they’ve been collected from the mountains. And then they will also be gone, along with the migratory birds and one day I’ll stand out in my yard and notice that its eerily silent; all the life and noise of summer has gone. From then on, winter is not far away.

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
28mm
ISO 100
f 10
1/13 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #498 – Midnight Rainbow

Photo: Full rainbow under light of the midnight sun, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. July 4, 2022. 23:57

This was one of those stormy Lofoten days where the weather is quite boring and rainy during daytime, but as the sun gets lower on the horizon interesting light can happen. I had been out hiking Storknubben on GImsøy the day before in boring cloudless blue sky, but unfortunately had a meeting scheduled for this evening so I couldn’t get too far away from the house.

As midnight approached there was some nice light out in the distant mountains across the Nappstraumen so I wandered out to the field next to my house for a few shots. Soon I felt some drops of rain begin to fall while the sun was still shining bright. Behind me, I could already see the faint beginnings or a rainbow forming as the rain began to fall heavier and heavier from a seemingly invisible cloud.

With the sun low on the horizon and almost due north at midnight – the rainbow occurring almost directly south – I knew I wasn’t in the best location and it would take some time to get to a better composition for the location of the rainbow. So instead, I sent up my drone, which hasn’t seen much use this year as I understand their utility, I still have a fair dislike of them in general, just looking at the world through a tiny screen while a bunch of advanced technology does more or less all the work; that is not really photography for me. But alas, in the situation, my drone seemed like the best option, so I sent it up.

For what I generally consider the low quality image of a drone photo, I think it captured the moment pretty well, and was the only way I could do so without having already been on maybe Stornappstind, Middagstind or Møntind as the rain approached.

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

Camera Info:
DJI Air 2s
ISO 100
f 2.8
1/100 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #496 – Summer Rain

Photo: Midnight summer rain over mountains of Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. July 4, 2022. 00:07

So far this summer it has been one of those years with either completely clear weather or completely grey weather. And while sunset doesn’t occur during the midnight sun season from late May to mid July, so nice color can occur with the right cloud conditions. But often this year, even in the late night hours, the light has just been a bit, ‘ehhh…’ With the sun just hanging over the horizon in a semi-hazy blue sky. But finally this week there was a little bit of nice drama in the sky and the weather turned blustery and rain showers swept across the islands.

Luckily the fields by my house have escaped their summer cutting so far, by this late in the summer the grasses are already growing much higher than the flowers, giving the late a bit more of a wild and unkempt look than a few weeks previous. On my daily route to Leknes I can see the farmers have cut most of the fields already, so it won’t be long until this one is harvested as well and then the flowers will be gone for the year.

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
35mm
ISO 400
f 6.3
1/80 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #495 – Seagull Hatchlings

Photo: Three seagull hatchlings in evening light, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. July 1, 2022, 03:59

With summer will underway it is the beginning of hatching season for the local seabirds. What are usually already loud nights have become even louder as the various bird species squabble and fight to defend their chicks which are now free from the nests and generally just walk around. While there are (supposedly) no foxes on Flakstadøy, these three have a risky few months ahead of them, with predation from other birds the largest threat.

Beyond the wild lands of Lofoten, these little fuzzballs can be seen walking around literally everywhere during the next months: from parking lots in Leknes, sidewalks in Reine, piers in Henningsvær, and basically everyplace else. On my drive home from the Moskenes ferry late Monday night, there were multiple times I had to slow down on the E10 as there were various hatchlings just standing in the middle of the road.

These three have spend the last couple days on a rock just outside my house while the mother keeps watch the telephone pole in my backyard. Usually they take a bit more shelter in the grasses during the day and come out more in the evening hours. Though it does seem awfully exposed for them to just stand on top of a rock for several hours and I’m surprised I haven’t seen or heard any major attacks on them yet. Although perhaps the rock is safer, as the field will likely be cut within the week for winter feed for the local sheep, so probably best they stay out of the way of the tractor and mower.

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 200-500mm f/5.6
500mm
ISO 400
f 6.3
1/640 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #494 – Arctic Skuas

Photo: Arctic Skuas under the midnight sun, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. June 18, 2022. 01:02

I am admittedly a terrible wildlife photographer and even worse when it comes to birds – probably because I don’t really have much interest in birds anyhow. But there is one coolish bird in my neighborhood – Arctic Skua.

I first encountered Great Skuas on Orkney in 2003 and then over several following trips. Last summer on Svalbard was my first encounter in Arctic Skuas. Much small than Great Skuas, they are equally aggressive when approaching too close to their nesting area and will repeatedly attack any trespassers. Given my mostly non-interest in birds, I never really noticed that they were also here on Lofoten, and a breeding pair is in my neighbourhood.

I’ve made a few attempts to photograph them, but have yet to return with anything very good. My 200-500mm lens seems too slow to focus while they are in flight – they are fast!. So I generally return with a whole card full of soft images. The surrounding mountains also make it difficult, mostly limiting my shooting direction north towards the open sea.

I’m not sure if I have to patience required for wildlife photography, but I’ll make a few more attempts over the summer months.

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 200-500mm f/5.6
500mm
ISO 500
f 6.3
1/800 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #493 – Summer Wildflowers

Photo: Summer house by the sea, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. June 17, 2022. 17:28

With midsummer less than a week away Lofoten is now reaching its peak summer lushness. The landscape is bright green and the fields filled with the endless colors of wildflowers (though mostly yellow). While the temperatures have been a little on the cooler side still, hovering around 10˚C, the sun provides plenty of warmth for an evening bbq.

I was out in the ‘myr’ – or boggy marshland of my valley this afternoon attempting to photograph the local pair or arctic Skuas. They are fast, and hard to photograph, and more so because the valley is surrounded on 3 sides by high mountains. So I can only really get clean shots while looking north towards the sea, but they never seem to be in that direction! And, they are fast. It was much easier to photograph them on Svalbard last summer, where the surrounding landscape was much more open.

Walking back, my neighbour’s house was looking quite ‘summery’ set against the distant mountains of Vestvågøy and surrounded by wildflowers. I would have like to go a little wider, but there is an old barn just off to the left which I didn’t want to include in the frame. It’s only a quick snapshot, but I think it sums up quite well a nice summer afternoon on Lofoten.

This look will only last a few more weeks at most after which any areas which are actually farm fields will be mowed for winter feed for Lofoten’s sheep and cows. While the wild areas still remain, quite a lot of the meadows are actually farm fields, especially on Vestvågøy and Flakstadøy.

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
67mm
ISO 100
f 8
1/400 second
WB Daylight