Friday Photo #458 – Uttakleiv Storm

Photo: Waves flow over rocky shoreline at Uttakleiv beach, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. October 13, 2021. 08:15

The autumn weather cycles of wind and rain seem to be in full effect over the last weeks with mostly turbulent weather sweeping across the islands. But this is a good thing, or, at least when you don’t have to be outside too much! I’ve just finished my 3rd and final photo workshop of the autumn, and each group had quite a variety of weather to keep them busy: wind, rain, rainbows, northern lights, fiery sunsets and sunrises, and everything in-between. Weather wise, autumn is defiantly the most dynamic time of year on Lofoten.

I had been at Uttakleiv earlier in the week at both low and high tides – a medium to low tide is generally required for the ‘eye of Uttakleiv’ to be visible, while high tide is typically more dynamic for the rest of the beach itself. With a nearly new moon at the time and with a large swell out of the north, but tides were quite extreme. At low tide, it was nearly impossible to head out onto the slippery, algae covered rocks, while at high tide, the waves were breaking very high up the shoreline, not allowing safe passage down to the lower rocks that usually work well as a foreground.

On my third visit the sea was a bit calmer while the sky itself remained stormy and turbulent, as a cold and icy wind blew out of the north. At first there had been bright clouds and a bit of blue sky in what is the background of this image. But it wasn’t long until the next wave of rain, which actually turned out to be stinging hai, was beginning to approach from the distance and darkening the landscape.

This time, the waves weren’t so large, so I could get into a better position on the beach, without too much worry of being swept out to sea. Although I did eventually end up with wet feet, despite the fact I was in rubber boots.

The large rock in the center of the image is always a compositional difficulty when shooting at Uttakleiv. In this case, I felt that just keeping it in the center of the image worked best, especially as the background mountains were softening up slightly as the hail passed in front of them. The water flows were difficult to find a nice balance, and I wish there was a little more action happening in the large black area on the right side of the frame, which feels a bit empty and distracting to me. But overall, I think Uttakleiv works best on stormy days like this…

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 31
f 11
.6 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #456 – Unstad Wave

Photo: Sea spay from crashing wave at Unstad beach, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. September 15, 2021. 15:37

This weekend it is the annual Lofoten Masters surf competition at Unstad beach on Vestvågøy – Northern Norway’s most famous surf beach. I don’t have time to attend myself and shoot any images, unfortunately. Or rather, I should say fortunately, since I will be guiding my first Lofoten photo workshop since the Corona lockdowns began in March 2020 – And I’m actually just barely home from my first tour since then, on Senja with Amazing Views Tours, where all work ended for me a year and a half ago. So it is good to be back out guiding again!

Most years it is in the autumn that the swells pickup again and the heavy seas once again flow into Unstad bay. This day was a little over head high when I stopped by in the afternoon. A few surfers were out, but none of the local pros, so I found a little more interest in just the shape and texture of the waves themselves. Especially since the sun was shining bright and lighting up the sea spray blown up from the offshore wind.

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 200-500 f/5.6
500mm
ISO 250
f 5.6
1/4000 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #444 – Summer Nights

Photo: Warm summer light over Nappstraumen and Skolmen, Lofoten Islands, Norway. July 6, 2021. 01:53

The return of the sun after a cold finish to June which I wrote about last week brought a fantastic heat wave (by northern Norway standards) across Lofoten over the weekend – even producing the first of our annual ‘Parking Chaos at Haukland Beach’ articles in the local newspapers on Tuesday – when we reached a temperature of 26.5˚C in Leknes. I would not be surprised if this will be the maximum temperature reached this summer.

And somehow, when the summer heat arrives, so do the people. But this week also corresponded with Norway’s opening to most countries in the EU on Monday. And seemingly overnight, Germans, Dutch, Finnish, and other camper vans are filling the roads here on Lofoten. I really don’t know how so many got here so fast, was everyone just waiting over in Sweden for the borders to open for tourism? So this past week it finally seems that the summer tourism season has arrived, after what seemed like a pretty slow and relaxed June. Perhaps also because the Norwegians have waiting for the borders to open, so they can leave Norway.

And while the blue skies of day are perfect for Instagram selfies and the Friluftlivs hikers, I still prefer the nighttime hours for my photography. And it was too hot for hiking anyhow – I spent my days in the water and getting sunburnt in my backyard. So up late as usual, I took a few photos out my window when a cool, this and wispy fog formed over my valley. I actually probably should have been up in the mountains for this night! Ooops…

But the sun is on its journey south again and once it begins to drop below the horizon in mid July, that is when the magical nights of color happen. So plenty more time to be out and about this summer. Just hopefully with slightly cooler temperatures so I don’t have to carry 4 litres of water up the mountains.

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
135mm
ISO 100
f 6.3
1/200 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #430 – Between Seasons

Photo: Clearing rain showers over Medskolmen at sunset, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. March 31, 2021. 19:31

After last weeks big storms the weather has remained wet and blustery most days, with passing rain showers sweeping across the islands. With clocks changing to summer time over the past weekend, sunset is now after 20:00 and the days are feeling suddenly long – It is strange to eat dinner while it is still light out.

With the sun now moving towards the northern part of the sky, the distant mountains from my house often catch interesting light in the evenings. It’s even cooler when there’s the passing rain or snow showers which come sweeping across the mountains. For this image, I was actually in the middle of a Zoom call, but the light was too good to miss, so I just had to keep shooting photos out the window while trying to pay attention to the conference I was in. Not too difficult. I would have liked to have setup a time-lapse instead, but that wasn’t possible unfortunately, as I left my tripod in my van. Next time maybe…

It has cooled down today with a bit of snow falling, but it is already feeling like it will be an early spring this year – as opposed to last year where there was still deep snow in the middle of May. I’ve even spotted the first budding trees over the last days. The weather can always change dramatically at any moment, but an early and mild spring would be nice this year – I’m waiting for the first day of t-shirt weather!

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 5.6
1/160 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #429 – After The Storm

Photo: Lost in the storm, broken row boat on the Unstad coast, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. March 25, 2021. 12:14

After a mostly calm winter, two back-to-back storms swept over Lofoten on Tuesday and Wednesday, with the 2nd one brining hurricane force winds to the islands. Wednesday was the first time this winter I saw 30+ meter/second wind gusts on my weather station, and in Stamsund wind was recoded at over 40 m/s (for note: over 33 m/s is hurricane force wind). While intense, luckily the storm seemed to pass by quickly, with the strong winds only lasting 8 hours or so. But that was enough to bring structural damage across the islands.

One of the losses was one of the red boat houses on the left side of the beach at Unstad, which you can see in the left background of the photo. It is strange to think of how many long winters and storms the buildings have witnessed, and then one day, it has been one storm too many. I guess that is one reason there aren’t too many old, or historic buildings around Lofoten, they just don’t last that long in the weather out here.

I had been sitting on the beach at Unstad on Thursday morning, a completely calm day compared to the previous 24 hours. It was actually the first day I have sat outside this year and noticed the warmth from the sun heating up my back as I watched the still slightly stormy waves in front of me. Sitting there, I noticed an unusually large amount of pained red wood broken apart across the rocks at the upper tide line. Usually storms bring in a lot of debris to the beaches, but this wood looked a little too clean to have been out at sea very long. Then, looking to the left, I noticed a few people walking around the boat houses, picking stuff up.

The old row boat here was lying a little ways away, just next to the road. I’m not sure if it had been blown here, or moved up from further down on the rocks. Either way, it is a piece of Lofoten history now lost to the storms.

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 7.1
1/250 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #427 – Winter Fog

Photo: Soft winter twilight over Himmeltindan, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. March 8, 2021. 17:23

After a windy weekend, Monday arrived with near absolute stillness. Slow, almost ghost like snow showers were gently floating across the islands throughout the day, bringing the mountains in and out of the clouds from time to time.

My original plan had been to go skiing, as the wind was forecast to increase during the week, blowing away the already thin layer of snow western Lofoten has at the moment. But as I arrived at the parking lot, I noticed I managed to forget my ski boots at home! Doh!!!

I also had my cross-county ski gear in my van, so I eventually made my way to Leknes after photographing a bit in the Fredvang area. In the late afternoon I took a quick lap on the Leknes skiløypa, not wanting to miss out on any movement for the day. This turned out to be a good choice anyhow, as it kept me in town later than I otherwise would have been and so I found myself driving home a little before sunset.

In the low areas west of Leknes, I noticed some thin wisps of fog floating over the frozen landscape. Usually this is more common in autumn, but not so much in winter. A little further and I noticed on of the lakes had a thick layer of fog, with barely visible trees on the far shore. I was already content with the photos I had shot for the day, but this was potentially not something to miss, so I turned around and parked nearby the lake.

While this lake had been well frozen back in February, the weather has been mild for the last weeks, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. As I got to the edge, I could see that I was breaking through the ice and into boggy ground underneath. I should note, that I know this area, and that the edge of the lake is not deep. If it was another, deeper lake or with a steeper drop off at the shoreline, I would not have continued.

I could barely see the trees on the far side, looking like ghosts in the thick mist. I tried to get a little closer, but still mostly breaking through the ice and sinking into the boggy terrain with each step. Finally I took one step too far and sank past my knees, completely flooding my boots with water and soaking my pants. Ok, that is far enough, and I went slightly back onto shallower terrain.

Ideally, I would have liked to go out to the middle of the lake so the trees in the foreground would be a bit more visible, but I defiantly was not going to risk that! So I had to be content to remain close to the shore where it wasn’t deep. Even with my lower half soaking wet, I took photos for another 20 minutes or so, as the fog was drifting back on forth on occasion.

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

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 70-200 f/4
165mm
ISO 100
f 7.1
1/60 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #426 – Winter Is Back

Photo: Snow covered birch copse on Haugheia, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. March 5, 2021. 13:35

Winter is back! After a rainy finish to February the temperatures have finally dropped again and the typical March snow flurries have been blowing across the islands for the last few days. Today though, the wind finally calmed and so I headed out into the snowy weather to Haugheia to see if the snow added any character to the small copses of wind twisted birch trees that sit along the ridge. You might recognize these trees from Friday Photo #405, during autumn last year.

Conditions were slightly more difficult today than on a sunny autumn afternoon, but I kind of like the starkness of the winter look a bit better. I had been hoping for heavier snow flakes, and while the forecast showed rain, it was a thin, light snow that was falling as I reached the trees.

I spent a couple hours shooting various compositions. It is really a place one can get lost in, especially in the larger grove, which I find the chaos of to be slightly intimidating for my general preference of clean and simple compositions. Even this image, with plenty of negative space, is already feeling on the busy side for me, especially the thick cluster of branches on the left side.

Though as an easy 20 minute walk from the parking lot, I should put in a bit more effort to explore the area, as they are some of the cooler looking trees in the western half of Lofoten.

Tomorrow the first proper storm of the winter is forecast to hit Lofoten after what has been a pretty calm and sunny winter overall – much better than last year! So I don’t think I’ll be back then, but hopefully all the snow doesn’t get blown away!

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 200
f 8
1/250 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #421 – Himmeltindan

Photo: Last light over the peaks of Himmeltindan and Ristind, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. January 29, 2021. 14:35

I don’t post panos very often because I think they’re too small on the computer screen, but for this image from today’s sunset, a pano was the best representation of the scene.

After a dry winter, the the central and western islands of Lofoten received around 20-30cm of snow on Monday night, immediately turning the islands into a winter wonderland which has so far been missing this season. And even better, the temperatures have remained cold and the wind has mostly been calm all while the weather has been fantastic.

It is unfortunate that this winters photo workshops have been canceled, as compared with the struggles of last years terrible weather and the struggle to find light, this year would be a dream for guiding, as there is literally light everywhere! But I’ve been out enjoying it for myself, and hunting for new locations which might work for future workshops.

I had passed by this scene yesterday with a completely clear sky. The full moon had already risen but was too far to the right of Ristind for any sort of useable composition. So I made plans to return today. However, the weather had other plans and a layer of clouds on the northern horizon blocked any possibility of me getting the moonrise photo I was looking for. Luckily, the light itself was fantastic, much better than the previous day. So, moon or not, I still ended up with something nice I think!

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 70-200mm f/4
130mm
ISO 100
f 5.6
1/100 second
WB Daylight
6 image panoramic

Friday Photo #418 – Second Sun

Photo: January sunrise/sunset over Nappstraumen, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. January 8, 2021. 12:39

The sun has returned to Lofoten! For the last two days, the sun has been visible again across the whole of Lofoten. Yesterday, Jan 7, was even better, with a perfectly clear sky and the sun floating along the southern horizon. But I was lazy and didn’t take any photos of it – the lack of snow in the mountains has left me somewhat uninspired for hiking lately.

Today, the sun returned again, but this time with a fiery sky. I was a again a bit slow to start my day, but on the way to Leknes I stopped by Nappstraumen for a couple images – I couldn’t completely ignore light like this.

Though with the sun still low on the horizon, and a fair amount of clouds around, the light was mostly focused in the direct south, not leaving me too many compositional possibilities. I shot a few wider images, but I couldn’t quite get the feeling I was looking for out of the foreground – the wave were quite small and the tide was low, forcing me out onto the seaweed, which I don’t think looks very nice.

So instead, once the sun popped around the bottom of Skottind, I put on the telephoto lens for a closer detail shot. By now the illuminated clouds had also pulled back quite a bit, leaving much of the sky a flat grey. Perhaps I should have also shot an image at 14mm to use as a reference. Not the best composition in the world here and I would have rather shot wider with a more dynamic foreground if there had been one. But at least it was a nice colorful sunrise over this part of Lofoten.

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 70-200 f/4
125mm
ISO 100
f 8
1/60 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #417 – A New Year

Photo: New Year twilight at the eye of Uttakleiv, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. January 1, 2021. 12:43

The new year has arrived with the soft pastels of winter twilight. Cold and clear, perfect weather for the first day of 2021 and a slightly slow start. Feeling lazy, I headed for a Lofoten classic, the Eye of Uttakleiv.

Lots of locals were out and about enjoying the weather, but at will likely be the trend for most of the winter and probably the first half of the year, no other photographers were around. Though had I not been lazy, I should have probably used the nice weather to head up a mountain. But there are still 4 months of winter left, so plenty of time for that in the days and weeks ahead.

You can see in the photo that the snow is still quite thin on Lofoten. It’s nice for driving, having the roads clear and mostly dry. But for photography, a little more white in the mountains would be nice! Soon hopefully.

The moon has been shining bright the last days, though in this photo it’s just a small spot above the rock on the left. It would have gone blurry from the 30 second exposure anyhow. I used a dark polarizer filter to actually bring out the reflection in the foreground water to add contrast against the dark rocks – though this did slightly make the ‘eye’ less visible, I liked the overall feel of the image better this way.

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24-70 f/2.8
24mm
ISO 100
f 14
30 seconds
WB Daylight
Breakthrough Photography 6 stop dark polarizer