Friday Photo #487 – Light And Shadow

Photo: Long shadows fall over the peaks of Veggen, Mannen, and Himmeltidan on Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. May 3, 2022. 21:25

It has been a turbulent and stormy start to May this year and any short moment of sunlight was quickly erased in the next wave of passing snow or rain. In these weather conditions the northern horizon area is typically fully cloudy, the opposite of what is needed for nice sunsets. But in the hour or two before sunset, there can be interesting dances and light and shadow across the mountains of Lofoten.

With the midnight sun only a few weeks away, the sun is now setting in the hight northwest of the compass, casting its last light over the northern side of Lofoten. I actually find this time of year somewhat frustrating, as the sunsets are now quite late, about 22:30, but the sunrises not quite early enough, about 03:45. So its a little hard to find the motivation to go out at ‘night’ after having eaten dinner maybe around 19:00-20:00. I’m slowly starting to transition to ‘midnight sun time’ where I spend all night out in the mountains. But the nights are still a little too long at the moment, especially considering the stormy conditions of the last weeks.

Luckily, at this time of year the light almost comes to me, so its not too bad to be lazy. And while I’ve shot this scene dozens of times over the years, its still a nice one. Especially since its just taken from my office window. So I can be sitting here at the computer typing away and take a quick look out the window to see if anything interesting is happening. If so, a couple quick photos, then back to work. Though some days can be more distracting than others and I find it difficult to concentrate on writing. But no complaints about that…

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
130mm
ISO 100
f 8
1/40 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #479 – Frozen Sand

Photo: Winter storm waves flow over frozen sand at Unstad beach, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. February 23, 2022. 15:52

During winter cold spells or after heavy snow of the beaches the sand often freezes into a hard, sandy ice. During calm periods, this mostly just stays as a frozen layer on the beach, with the waves gently washing over the beach. But when the waves pick up during winter storms, they often ‘chip’ away at the frozen layer of sand, sometimes forming interesting shapes and lines along the tideline.

This was one of those days at Unstad beach. The waves were big, 4m+, and washing high up the beach. The incoming tide would slowly break away the frozen layer of sand, eventually creating a sharp line across the beach. The bigger waves would break off large chunks of the frozen ice-sand and wash them higher up the beach – and often crashing into my tripod legs, making that series of out of focus from the movement. But as the water flowed back out, there were moments when the tripod remained still and the images sharp.

Even with boot on, it was a wet foot afternoon, as it was better to stay as close to the action as possible. There were a few other compositions I made some attempts at, but those were even closer to the waves, and I spent most my time running back up the beach before I could make a decent composition.

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 100
f 11
0.6 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #478 – Storm Chaos

Photo: Traffic jam and car stuck in snowdrift on E10 near Eggum in snow blizzard conditions, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. February 26, 2022. 15:10

In last week’s post I wrote about the coming warm weather due on the weekend. The rain eventually did arrive Saturday night, but not before enveloping Lofoten in a heavy blizzard throughout the afternoon causing chaos along the roadways throughout the islands. By Sunday morning, Lofoten was split in two, with several avalanches closing the E10 on Flakstadøy, and avalanche in Reine, and several of the side roads closed as well. This left tourists and other locals stuck in various locations across the islands.

I myself, ended up stuck in Leknes for Saturday and Sunday nights, with my road closed already since Thursday due to avalanches. I thought about walking home of Friday, but decided against it due to weather and the high avalanche risk. When I finally made it home, I could see several areas where my road had been covered.

But the real chaos of Saturday was on the E10 between Leknes and Solvær, which, when the storm hit in early afternoon caused traffic to come to a halt. I heard stories of people taking 6+ hours to make the normally 1-ish hour drive between the two cities. I was heading towards Svolvær from Leknes when I got stuck in traffic near Eggum, with several cars in the opposite direction stuck in heavy snow drifts on the road, or off the road completely.

Shortly after, I turned around to head back to Leknes as I could the weather was obviously too severe for driving. And even on the way back towards Leknes, the car ahead of me got stuck in a drift, but I was able to help push them out, so we could continue on.

The storm was forecast to be warm and rain, so I think a lot of people were caught out, not expecting the blizzard that hit. It was the worst driving conditions I can remember for years, perhaps even back to the hurricane in winter 2015.

In one of the times I was at a standstill, I managed to get a couple Iphone shots out the window of the chaos around me. But it doesn’t come anywhere near close to showing how bad conditions were and how poor the visibility was…

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

Camera Info:
Iphone

Friday Photo #477 – White Winter

Photo: Deep winter freeze at Nedre Heimredalsvatnet, Eggum, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. February 9, 2022. 11:42

Lofoten has been full of snow for the last weeks and even the often windswept outer coastlines and mountains have remained in a deep freeze – the landscape often looking like a black and white painting. But unfortunately, this will soon be coming to and end for the time being as the weather forecasts are warning of up to 50cm of rain arriving Saturday night.

It will actually be a very quick transition from white winter to brown winter. The forecast for Saturday at 08:00 is -5 degrees c, while by 20:00 in the evening the temperatures will have risen to 5 degrees c. A 10 degree temperature difference in only a few short hours. And with it, heavy, snow melting rain, which looks like it will last throughout most of next week as well, unfortunately. Even Tromsø further north doesn’t look like it will be spared of warm temperatures and rain.

So tomorrow will be the last morning to enjoy the winter wonderland for now. How much will be left? Who knows. But hopefully the snow soon returns and there are plenty more weeks of skiing here…

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 9
1/40 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #473 – Light And Shadow

Photo: Last light over the summit of Himmeltinand, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. January 27, 2021. 14:21

It is now the end of January and the sun has been climbing higher and higher in the Lofoten sky for several weeks now. Yet, the high arctic feeling is still here as the ‘Lofoten wall’ casts long shadows across the landscape. And many locations across the islands (such as my house) will not see the first sun of the year for many more weeks.

It is about five weeks after the winter solstice today, January 28th, and the sun will only reach a maximum altitude of 3.89˚ just after noon.

To give a comparison, on the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year, nowhere south of about Östersund, Sweden, or 62.86˚n has the sun lower than 3.89˚ in the sky. To say another way; no one living below Östersund, Sweden, or the small village of Berkåk along the E6 in central Norway, will ever experience the sun lower in the sky than it currently is on Lofoten today.

But! Like I write about frequently, the benefit of being so far north is that the sun returns quickly!

This time of year, late January and into early February is when I feel Lofoten it at its best balance of arctic north, yet with enough daylight for productive days of photography and not just sitting around in the darkness. If you are on Lofoten now, you will feel like you are in the far north. By mid February or so, this feeling slowly fades away as the sun climbs higher in the sky and Lofoten could be winter in any number of places in the world; the high arctic feeling is gone.

The visible side mountains in the background of this image are quite open the the southern sky, so already receive several hours of direct sunlight each day. While the snowy field in the foreground of the image won’t see the sun until the 17-18th of February.

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
70mm
ISO 100
f 6.3
1/80 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #472 – Winter Sun

Photo: January sun hangs low in the southern sky over Vestfjorden from Ballstadheia, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. January 18, 2020. 13:37

The official polar night ended on Lofoten two weeks ago and the sun rises higher and higher in the sky each day – with a total increase in 1 hour of daylight per week. Still though, mid to late January is quite a dark time on the islands, with the sun remaining perilously close to the southern horizon. So close, that even the seeming inconsequential low band of clouds on the horizon was enough to block all of this days direct light until it finally moved around them just before sunset – 14:05 on the date of this image, January 18th.

Turning around 180˚ and facing north, it was otherwise perfect weather over the whole of Lofoten. But the most light the landscape saw until this very last moment of the day was a soft winter twilight. That small layer our clouds was enough.

This was also the first day I had seen the sun in the new year of 2020. So Just barely! If I had decided to be lazy and had skipped hiking up Ballstadheia/Nonstind on this cold day, I probably would not have seen the sun at all, as hiking up to 400 meters bought me a little more light potential – which payed off in the end.

I’ve previously posted the image looking towards the north – Friday Photo #368 – Which is a much better photo and the scene I was actually up there to capture. Today’s image is an illustration of how the actual conditions look at this time of year.

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 4100
f 13
1/60 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #470 – January Sun

Photo: Midday January sun low in the southern sky over Nappstraumen, Lofoten Islands, Norway. January 13, 2021. 11:53

After a month below the horizon, the sun finally returns to Lofoten this week. Although the first sighting is always weather dependent, and even a low layer of clouds might hide the sun for another week or more. But it is back, and will reveal itself eventually!

If the weather forecast is promising, I often like to hike up a mountain for my first viewing of the sun in the new year. And hopefully one of many more hikes to come as the days get longer over the following months.

In this image, even week after the polar night has ended, and just before noon, you can see how low the sun still remains in the sky. It won’t be until early February that the days begin to feel somewhat ‘normal’ for anyone visiting Lofoten. Before that, it is still quite dark and atmospheric here in the North. Perhaps one of my favourite times of year actually, as the ‘deep winter’ feeling is present, but then I know the return of longer days are actually not too far away. Much nicer than November, when one can feel the winter darkness creeping further in day by day, with many long dark nights still ahead.

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

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8
52mm
ISO 31
f 13
1/25 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #468 – December Hiking

Photo: Hiker on the snowy ridge towards Vikjordtinden under a dark December sky, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. December 28, 2020. 12:50

Hiking days start early in December. And even then, there still might not be enough time to get to where you were planning to go. On the case of this dark and windy December day, the objective was Vikjordtinden on the southern side of Vestvågøy. We never made it.

Every day in December we wake up before sunrise here in Lofoten. If it is just a working day on the computer, then the time doesn’t matter too much. If I’m actually planning to go outside and do something, then this needs to be as a reasonable hour in the morning as the hours of visible light are preciously short – there is no time to waste!

Heavy clouds make December’s world even darker, so even just before 10:00 we were walking through the icy forest in near darkness. Luckily, there was no snow on the lower elevations and the boggy areas were mostly frozen, making for fairly easy hiking. But soon we left what little there was of a trail and headed cross country up a steep mountain ridge. The hiking here was somewhat slow and the warm-ish thin layer of snow that we eventually climbed into the heavy, wet, and slippery. And just deep enough to fill in the dozens of holes between rocks and the bushes.

The wind was blowing strong from the south, though not terribly cold. Continuing along the ridge, the snow deepened just enough to make route finding difficult as we climbed over rocky steps, careful not to slip. This took time. It was just before 13:00 by the time we reached the first high point along the ridge, before a long descent then another long climb to the summit. Not much light left on this dark December day.

And so I took a few photos before we turned around and began the slow descent. Returning to my van by headlamp.

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 400
f 5.6
1/13 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #467 – Unstad Surf

Photo: Arctic surfing on Monday’s 4+ meter swell at Unstad beach, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. December 13, 2021. 12:21

A nice and clean looking 4-5 meter west swell was forecast to hit Lofoten on Monday so I decided to head out to Unstad to checkout the action. I don’t shoot surfing too often, but when the waves are big here, there’s usually some good stuff to watch. There was only one problem this week…

It is the middle of December and Lofoten is in the period of the Polar Night – Mørketid – when the sun does not rise above the horizon. And although the sky was clear to the north, there was a heavy layer of clouds over the southern side of the islands, blocking much of what reflected light might have made it over the mountains to Unstad. So it was dark. ISO 4000 dark at noon!

I generally try to shoot surfing at 1/1000 second, and ideally closer to 1/2000 second. But in the middle of December, 200km north of the artic circle, that is not really possible. So 1/640 was the best I could manage without turning the waves into sand dunes from all the grain of a higher ISO.

Eventually, I switched to video, which was more manageable due to the lower shutter speed required. I’m still very much a beginner when it comes to video stuff, so it was at least some good practice under difficult light…

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 4000
f 5.6
1/640 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #466 – Last Sun

Photo: The last visible sun peaking over the southern horizon before the beginning of the polar night, Stamsund, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. December 8, 2021. 11:56

The polar night has officially begun on Lofoten this week – the time of year where the sun no longer rises over the horizon. We won’t see the sun again until January 5th at the earliest. And I say earliest, because the return of the sun is as weather dependant as its departure. The latest ‘first sun’ for me has been January 18th.

Lofoten has experienced an early winter cold spell over the last two weeks. A big improvement to last years endless rain – though that will be back after the weekend, unfortunately. With the cold often comes clearer skies and horizon. However, I have actually been enjoying a semi-tropical sun down in Madeira for the last two weeks, so as I flew home to Lofoten on Wednesday, I figured I had already seen my last sun of the year.

But as a friend was driving me to Stamsund to pickup my van, I could seen the horizon glowing bright. Soon enough, a glimmer of sunlight poked above the horizon. I quickly cleared the snow from my van and headed to a spot on the road towards Steine. I didn’t have time for any sort of spectacular photo, and the mountains were glowing quite nicely. But it was simply enough to get an image of the sun (partially) above the horizon on my return to Lofoten. December 8th, this is now the latest I have seen the sun in the year.

Moving almost parallel to the horizon, the light didn’t last long before the sun sunk below the sea again, for its final time in 2021.

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
145mm
ISO 100
f 8
1/160 second
WB Daylight