Friday Photo #510 – Reine Autumn

Photo: Olstind mountain peak reflecting in Reinefjord in autumn color from Reinehalsen viewpoint, Reine, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. October 2, 2022. 08:42

It felt like an early autumn this year in Lofoten and by now the October winds have stripped nearly all of the trees bare. But it also was a bright and colourful autumn while it lasted, with the birch trees much more vibrant than the previous couple years. And finally, after a mild finish to September and start to October, the first dusting of snow finally arrived last weekend.

It was also somewhat of a backwards autumn this year, at least in regards to September, which experienced fantastically mild and sunny weather with many days over 10˚c and cloudless night after cloudless night of dancing northern lights.

It was also a poor summer as well, so maybe it finally rained itself out by the time September arrived. August should normally average 55mm of rain. This year Lofoten received 190mm! Making this August the 3rd wettest month (in total precipitation) in the last year. Yet in the opposite direction, September should Normally receive 128mm or rain. This year only 50mm of rain fell. This actually makes this September the driest month in the last year.

So it was a terrible summer followed by a fantastic start of autumn this year on Lofoten. By now though, the ‘normal’ autumn weather seems to have taken hold as regular spells of rain and wind sweep across Lofoten and most of northern Norway. With the sun lower on the horizon each day, the islands now wait for winter’s arrival.

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
30mm
ISO 100
f 7.1
1/80 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 #502 – Summer Wind

Photo: Clouds of beach sand blow across Horseid beach, Lofotodden national park, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. August 8, 2021. 10:02

While the weather forecast looked decent for a couple nights camping at Horseid beach, already during the early morning hours of the first night I could sense the wind picking up do to the increased shaking of my tent. By the time I emerged from my sleeping bag, it was a proper wind storm blowing across the beach. I had planned for a 2nd night, but with conditions as they were, I decided to pack up and catch the ferry home – better to return later than a potentially broken tent.

August is typically my favourite month for camping on Lofoten, as the nights are finally long enough that carrying a tent makes sense. Otherwise, in June and July when I will typically be shooting the late night hours anyhow, I can just head home when I’m finished and enjoy the comfort of my bed – as well as a lighter backpack! But in August, the headlamp and tent begin to be carried more often.

Still technically summer and having checked the weather forecast, one still always needs to be observant of conditions and adjust plans accordingly. For this scene, it wasn’t just the wind that led me call my trip a day short, but also that the large clouds of sand that you can see in the center of the image were blowing right across the camping areas of Horseid, leaving everything covered in a fine dusting of sand. Walking back into the wind was also a struggle, and I kept to the right side of the beach to avoid as much blowing stand as possible, but it was still there, stinging eyes and skin for the 1km walk across the beach.

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 8
1/640 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #491 – Kvalvika Midnight Sun

Photo: Midnight sun over Kvalvika beach, Lofotodden national park, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. May 31, 2022. 00:02

After what has been a cold and wet spring this year, the last week has brought the arrival of the midnight sun and full summer weather! The weather here can often be just like switching on a light, it changes that fast. And luckily, once it changed for the better, it has lasted the better part of a week with t-shirt weather – even while sitting on mountain tops at midnight.

The good weather of the last week has seen me exploring some new mountain areas, as well as visiting some familiar one, such as this image of Kvalvika beach, before the summer season kicks into full gear and the popular places become a bit to busy for my liking. So it is good when I can visit them in summer like conditions still in May. And this year is feeling like it will be a busy one after two years of covid as the roads are already filled with continental camper vans and motorhomes.

The weather forecast on this evening was for clear sky, which is actually not that good for photography during the midnight sun season. And as you can see, the light is kinda ‘boring.’ With a fully clear sky there is often enough sea haze to block much of the sunlight, causing a weak and soft light to shine over the landscape, while the sky overhead remains bright blue. In winter, with snow covered mountains, this would be perfect light, but in summer, it doesn’t work as well.

As you can also see in the photo, the mountains area already backlit by the sun, so I’m only looking at the shadow side of them. If I was looking for dramatic sunset light on the mountains themselves, I would have to have been here earlier or later in the year, when the sun would be setting to the west and shining onto the mountains. Although then, the sun would not be in the image either.

On this evening, with a forecast for little to no wind, I was actually out at Kvalvika to photograph a different scene – these mountains reflecting in a small lake which is on the edge of the beach. But as I arrived out there at about 20:00 and 4 km of hiking, the beach side of the valley I hiked up and a bit of a breeze blowing in off the mountains and disturbing the lake too much for a reflection. I waited around for a while – until after midnight – hoping the wind would subside, but it never did.

Hiking back after midnight, once I got to the other side of the small mountain pass I could feel the conditions immediately calm. The (somewhat large) lakes I had to pass on my hike back to my van were perfectly still, with mirror like reflections of the surrounding landscape. So I was just a bit unlikely with the particular wind direction only affecting the Kvalvika beach area.

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
24mm
ISO 80
f 14
2 seconds
WB Daylight
6 stop ND filter

Friday Photo #469 – Reinebringen Twilight

Photo: Twilight moon over Kirkefjord from the summit of Reinebringen, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. December 30, 2020. 11:32

I generally don’t pay too much attention to the moon here on Lofoten. On this morning I should have! My first thought upon reaching the summit ridge of Reinebringen and seeing the full moon over the mountains in the twilight sky was that I should have arrived an hour or so earlier!

Lofoten’s northern latitude means that the moon has a somewhat ‘odd’ orbit, to put it simply and without going into technical details. So in general, the moon is not part of my active photography consciousness most of the time. Usually I’ll just randomly see it from time to time, and maybe it happens to be in a good location for a photo, though usually not.

In the summer, I’m quite aware of the sun’s elevation in the sky throughout the weeks around midsummer, where the sun never sets. For me, this is easier to plan for as it doesn’t move as quickly as the moon, so there is a little more of a buffer in regards to weather and other conditions, making the timing not so critical. But with the moon; there is only 1 full moon a month.

On this morning, I wish I had arrived earlier so that the full moon would have been in the centre of the mountain pass over Kirkefjord, instead of somewhat out of place on the right side of the image. In its current location I feel it doesn’t really and much to the scene, and is perhaps even a distraction.

Although had I been on Lofoten earlier, perhaps the moon would have been behind the small layer of clouds lower on the horizon. And, still being a week away from the return of the sun, it perhaps would have been more of a blue hour type light instead of the soft pink twilight. I’ll never know.

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
80mm
ISO 100
f 6.3
1/15 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 #454 – Early Autumn

Photo: Studalselva flowing through early autumn landscape below Tindstind, Sørvågen, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. September 12, 2021. 16:25

I woke up Monday morning to the first dusting of autumn snow across the higher peaks of Lofoten; A sure sign that we are now well into autumn. The snow seems early this year, which reinforced my observations that autumn itself seems to be a few weeks earlier than normal. Though this could also be a bit biased, as autumn was late to arrive last year. Either way, I think the wet summer, followed by an early cold spell, will hopefully lead to a colourful autumn this year on Lofoten. Just hope the storms stay away long enough!

With consistent rain through most of last week, on Sunday I headed west to Sørvågen to checkout the waterfalls and rivers of Studalselva which flow from Stuvdalsvatn. The autumn color was already quite mixed, with some trees already fully yellow/orange, while others have yet to turn at all. But I think the autumn color peak will be in late September this year – assuming weather conditions remain consistent – and not early October like most years.

The waterfalls were flowing nicely, but I ended up in the flatter part of the river first, with Tindstinden rising in the background. Even with my Wellies on and walking out into the river, I found it difficult to get a balance composition between the mountains in the background and the flowing river in the foreground. I just couldn’t (without wet feet) get to the right part of the river to balance out the scene properly. Especially because the mountain ridge to the right of Tindstind would become too strong and dominant if I showed to much of it.

Here are two versions of the scene in landscape and portrait format. I think the portrait format of this image works better in this case, as it avoids all the empty space of the upper left sky in the landscape image. I think I can spend a little more time working out the composition, but on this particular day, I was racing against the incoming rain, which eventually arrived and sent me back to my van.

With two Lofoten autumn workshops coming up in early October, I think I’ll have more time to spend in this location with the groups – just hoping the trees hold their color for another couple weeks!

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 14
1.6 seconds
WB Daylight
3 stop ND filter