Friday Photo #525 – Winter Full Moon

Photo: Winter full moon over Ristind, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. January 5, 2023. 11:58

After the storms of the new year passed the weather of early January calmed just in time for the return of the sun, which I first saw on January 4th this year. At the same time was also a bright full moon filling the sky over Lofoten. And while I was happy to see the sun, I found it more interesting to shoot the moon.

Part of this is due to the fact that January sun is ‘south’ of Lofoten, barely rising over the water of Vestfjorden. So there’s not really too much you can do while shooting the sun, as its in an awkward location. The full moon offers much more variety in early winter, and being opposite the sun, if often in a more photogenic location during the midday twilight.

I wrote last month in Friday Photo #518, how I tried to shoot the full moon over Kirkefjord from Reinebringen, but didn’t quite succeed on the only day with suitable weather for that attempt. Conditions in January were no longer suitable for hiking Reinebringen, so I didn’t put in the effort for anything special. Though I knew the moon would shine over the mountains on the northern side of Vestvågøy during the day, so I kept an eye out for this.

I shot the moon here over two days. This first day produced slightly nicer light as the southern horizon was clear, allowing for a hint of alpenglow to shine over the mountains, Ristind in this image. Compositionally, with the multiple jagged peaks of Himmeltindene and Ristind, I found it easier for a long telephoto image, than a medium wide shot showing more of the landscape, as it was hard to light up all the mountains with the moon also in a location which felt balanced.

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 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6
350mm
ISO 100
f 5.6
1/80 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #517 – Last Light

Photo: Last December light over the summit of Skottind, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. December 2, 2022. 11:48

November has been fantastic this year! It turned out to be the 2nd driest month after September – and that’s only by 0.5mm of rain. But it looks like the weather if finally beginning to shift in the next days and Lofoten might finally receive its first proper snowfall of the year. So even with the polar night still a week-ish away, today’s clear sky will likely be my last time to see the sun for the year.

With the sun low on the horizon, if you actually want to hike in sunlight at this time of year you are mostly limited to mountains on the southern side of Lofoten. While higher peaks on the north side still also receive a bit of light, most of the way up/down will be in shade. I wanted as much sun as I could find today, so I headed to Nonstind – Ballstadheia which I knew would have all the sun Lofoten was to get.

Leaving home, I was initially worried about a quite a few low clouds hanging over many of the peaks of Vestvågøy and Flakstadøy. Yesterday and last night had also been forecast for clear sky, but in the cold and stillness, a low cloud formed over all the islands. It seems it took the arrival of a bit of wind to blow the clouds away and I was happy to see Skottind rising into the late morning twilight as I rounded the corner near Napp.

I was already partially up the mountain when the sun first peaked over the distant mountains of the mainland, at 10:46. A could wind was blowing from the south as the sun and I ascended in tandem, but the low low does little to warm you at this time of year.

Reaching the summit, clouds were blowing across the summit of Skottind. It’s already tripod light at noon these days, but I decided to add a 10 stop ND filter to capture the moving clouds, which looked slightly boring otherwise. I only brought my light hiking tripod, but finding a bit of a sheltered rock and keeping it fairly low, it seemed to hand 60 second exposures on the cold and windy summit of Nonstind better than expected.

I don’t know when/where I will see the sun again, but perhaps it will be here on Nonstind again in the first weeks of January when the sun returns to Lofoten again…

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 8
60 seconds
WB Daylight
10 Stop ND filter

Friday Photo #515 – November Sun

Photo: Rays of light shine from behind Skottind mountain peak, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. November 23, 2020. 12:03

In mid November I usually begin my ‘last sun of the year’ countdown. While the polar night, beginning December 6, is still a few weeks away, the November weather and cloud conditions can mean that Lofoten will see its last sun of the year at any time. From my house on the northern side of the islands, which already loses the sun in mid October, I have to drive around to the southern side of the islands if I think there might be any chance of light.

Or, perhaps I just get lucky on my way to the supermarket in Leknes, where part of my drive takes my be Nappstraumen, opening directly towards the south and the noon sun, should it be there. That is the case for this image, with rays of midday sunlight shining over Skottinden. Even at noon, the light is more like sunrise/sunset at this time of year, Which it more or less is.

The sun’s location in mid November is the same as in late January, when Lofoten is known for its continuous sunrise-to-sunset lighting conditions. The same exact thing happens in November, but there just isn’t typically many photographers or other tourists around, so no one really notices. Though the snows of winter do help with conditions as well, as the often snow-less November landscape often just feels cold and dark – as opposed to the glowing snowy mountains in January.

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
20mm
ISO 100
f 7.1
1/250 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #514 – November River

Photo: River flows through mountain valley, Unstad, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. November 3, 2020. 14:31

By mid November the last of the autumn color is beginning to fade from the Lofoten landscape as the wait for winter continues. The leaves will already be long gone from the trees, but there still can be some of the grasses and smaller bushes which hold on for a little while longer until eventually being covered by the winter snows.

Usually at this time of year I’m not in the mountains as often as the days are short and the trails are often quite icy and slippery. Actually, November is perhaps my least photographed month on Lofoten. Sometimes there is special light here and there, but often is is just flat, grey, and rainy – like in todays image.

If I am out photographing, I’ll typically try and find scenes without any trees preset, which isn’t too hard in the wester half of Lofoten! And if there’s been a lot of rain lately, then usually the small rivers are flowing quite nicely and might be a useful subject.

Located just outside of Unstad, this small little creek has become a favorite of mine as a rainy day location, as it’s only a few minutes walk from the parking lot, but has a multitude of different angles it can be photographed from. I’m actually not sure I’ve ever photographed this location in ‘good’ weather, but maybe I’ll have to try one day.

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
0.5 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #511 – Unstad Waves

Photo: Sea spray flows off crashing waves at Unstad beach, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. October 4, 2022. 18:18

I nice and clean autumn swell was hitting Unstad the other week just a few days after the Lofoten masters surfing competition – which I unfortunately missed. I arrived a while before sunset and was mostly shooting the surfers out in the nice backlit waves. Eventually though, the sun dipped into a layer of cloud on the horizon and the light soon faded.

But as the twilight approached, the offshore wind still kept blowing a nice sea spray off the incoming sets. I watched a few sets roll through, which timed with a stronger gust of wind sent the sea spray flying in a beautiful dance above the sea.

By now it was slightly too dark for a fast shot to freeze the motion, and the light had been better when the sun was still visible. But going in the opposite direction, I tried a slightly longer shutter speed to capture a bit more of the flow of the waves and wind.

Like most things to do with the sea though, it seemed I watched the best waves pass by, and by time I pulled out the camera the conditions had changed slightly. Or perhaps its just the difference between watching the real motion of the wind and waves vs. trying to capture the moment in a still image. Either way, I think this image is a good attempt, but not really representative of the moment I was trying to capture.

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
115mm
ISO 50
f 13
0.3 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #501 – Rainbow Season

Photo: Partial rainbow over distant mountains of Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. August 5, 2022. 16:22

Like last year, this year has also been a cool and wet July and beginning of August on Lofoten, with July receiving almost 2x the normal amount of rainfall. Though this isn’t too bad, considering areas along the Helgeland coast have had the wettest summer since 1900! I’ve been attempting to make a few trips over to Helgeland throughout the summer, but the long term forecasts simply show near endless rain most of the time.

The wet weather has also led to a significant number of mountain rescues so far this summer, including the death of a young hiker on Reinebringen in June (the second death on Reinebringen in a 6 month period, the previous being in December 2021). The trails of Lofoten, especially the popular ones which are over-eroded and generally unmaintained are in pretty terrible condition due to all the mud. Even whin the sun briefly shines, I’ve mostly been sticking to quiet, untraveled areas that are mostly off-trail, as its far safer than muddy, slippery trails where it is easy to have a quick slip and end up with a sprained ankle or worse.

Fortunately, with the rain comes rainbows. This day last week was full of them and I was quite distracted from work while always looking out the window. It would have been a nice day for mountains views and a good soaking, but a strong south wind was blowing across the islands, so better to keep to low ground. Luckily, my office window still has a decent enough view!

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
48mm
ISO 100
f 8
1/320 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #492 – Summer Rainbow

Photo: Summer evening rainbow circles the sky over Haugheia, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. June 8, 2022. 21:51

After last weeks brief visit of summer – hitting 20˚c on June 1st, the temperature took a significant drop over the weekend for several days of wind and rain, and a fresh dusting of snow down to about 700m. With the sun emerging again on Wednesday, I headed out to Haugheia for an evening walk and just to get the legs moving a bit after several days stuck here in front of the computer. The evening sun was shining in the mostly blue sky as I left home for the 10 minute drive to Haugheia.

As soon as I crossed the tunnel to Vestvågøy I noticed a bit of rain begin to hit my windshield. Hmm, that wasn’t supposed to be there. Soon, I noticed a fain rainbow being to appear over the leknes area, brighting over time as I neared the trailhead. As I got out of my van and put on my backpack a heavy summer rain was falling and a bright rainbow was circling the sky.

Haugheia wasn’t really the best location for such an occurrence, especially since it was nearly 20:00, the rainbow was in the southern part of the sky over the ugly industrial parts of Gravdal and Leknes harbor. So I just continued up the trail, trying to ignore the rainbow as I didn’t think I could get much of a shot anyhow. But as the minutes passed by, now probably 10 minutes since the rainbow first formed, it just stayed there. After a few minutes of hiking I got to a higher area where I finally thought it might at least be worth a quick snapshot.

There still wasn’t much, if any, of a foreground, but standing on a bit of a higher rock, I could at least take a semi-interesting shadow-selfie. Nothing special, but it would have been a shame to let such a nice rainbow pass without a single photo. So this was probably the best I could have managed in the situation. Had I known how long the rainbow was going to last, I probably would have driven to some other nearby location. Maybe next time.

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
17.5mm
ISO 10
f 7.1
1/125 second
WB Daylight

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