Friday Photo #319 – Avalanche

Photo: Small avalanche over Myrlandsveien causing road to be closed, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. February 12, 2019. 11:36

This weeks post is not a pretty photo but a safety warning. This winter Lofoten is receiving the highest snowfall in decades and as a result many areas are at extreme risk of avalanches. During the initial storm, parts of Skjelfjord and Ballstad were under mandatory evacuation while the E10 was completely closed off on Flakstadøy – isolating west Lofoten for 4 days.

In the weeks since the big snows arrived, the usual series of winter storms are causing more chaos than usual, with many roads across lofoten closing again from avalanches or as a safety measure, in addition to busses being canceled as well. I myself have been either locked out or locked in my village multiple times in the last weeks, so in the few days I actually have off between guiding, I´ve only been able to stay at home a couple nights.

Tonight and all day Saturday the next storm will be sweeping across Lofoten. With wind casts up to 40 m/s, more or less all transport on Lofoten will be shutdown, and the Gimsøy bridge will likely be closed for extended periods of time. So if you need to get somewhere, do it today or you will likely have to wait until Sunday.

If you are visiting Lofoten this winter, it is extra important that you keep an eye on the weather forecasts, any road closures, and be aware that you might need to change your plans at the last minute.

Unfortunately for the amount of tourism Lofoten receives in winter these days, there is yet to be any efficient way for tourists to receive information or warnings in advance. You best option is to keep an eye on Lofotposten ( and keep an eye on any articles that look like a warning.

For road closures, Statens Vegvesen has an updated map of all roads in Norway:

For weather, keep an eye on:

For avalanche warnings:

It is also important to remember that for as scenic and popular of a tourist destination that Lofoten is, you are really visiting a quite rural part of an already low population country. Lofoten is about 24,000 people spread over 150km. The population of west Lofoten – Flakstadøy and Moskenesøy is only about 2,500 people. So as well as they are prepared for the normal bad weather, when something big comes, there simply isn’t the infrastructure to keep up. If you see a warning to stay at home, it´s wise for you to do the same and not end up in a dangerous situation with a potentially long wait until rescue.

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8
ISO 320
f 6.3
1/320 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #318 – Reine Dawn

Photo: Winter dawn over Olstinden, Reine, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. January 21, 2019. 11:34

I’m now underway with my second photo workshop (of 6) for the winter season. In my personal photography I’ve almost completely giving up on shooting the popular viewpoints, but while guiding I can spend a lot of time in the old familiar views. And sometimes after all these hours and years of being there I still get lucky with some nice light!

This was from the second morning of the last workshop. We had already been out for a while and the light had been amazing the whole morning. So it was just about time to head to my favourite cafe in Reine, Bringen Kaffebar, and have my daily cappuccino and cake when the light began shift a little and the sun rounded the mountains.

10 minutes earlier the whole face of Olstind had been illuminated and I was just taking some normal shot. Then I decided to throw on a Neutral Density filter and go for a couple long exposures before packing things in and hiking up the hill. This was one of those ‘just one more shot…’ moments. But I don’t even thing I realised how cool the lighting was until I got home and saw it on the computer.

I think this could perhaps be a new favourite Olstind shot of mine…

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8
ISO 31
f 13
112 seconds
WB Daylight
10 stop ND filter

Friday Photo #317 – Snowmegeddon

Photo: Myrlandsveien shortly after opening Wednesday evening after closure from heavy snowfall, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. January 30, 2019. 18:00

On Sunday, while I was enjoying perfect winter weather on Senja on the last day of my first photo workshop of the season, Lofoten was getting blasted by a winter storm. The radar was just a cloud of heaving snow flowing directly into Lofoten. And so while I was photographing a fantastic northern lights that evening, Lofoten was in full shutdown and emergency mode: flights canceled, roads closed, and people evacuated from avalanche zones.

Returning Monday evening I saw the chaos that had hit. Even with a full day to dig things out, the islands were just beginning to recover. My road was closed due to avalanches, so instead of going home, tired after 10 days on the road, I had to stay with friends for several nights. I was a bit stressed, as I had to go to the police in Svolvær on Thursday to drop off the paperwork for my visa renewal.

Tuesday arrived and more people were evacuated and more roads were closed – west Lofoten still remaining cut off. Finally on Wednesday, so roads were beginning to be cleared and open up again, including my road. I had somewhat optimistically thought that if the road remained closed, I could perhaps just walk home and grab the paperwork I needed, then head out again. But as I drove out to my small village late in the afternoon, I was completely shocked by my sight.

Never before have I seen this much snow on Lofoten, much less falling in one day! I passed 3-4 meter high snow drifts, and it almost seemed like I was driving through a tunnel at times! I didn’t trust the road, so I just got what I needed and returned to my friends’ place for another night to be safe for heading to Svolvær the following morning.

I’m not sure how long this snow will remain. But it is simply incredible! Though with the height of the photo tour season just around the corner, there are going to be some difficulties, as parking is extremely limited at the moment since most pullouts have not been cleared. Even on my ski trip to Ryten today, I had to park down to road at the Kvalvika parking, which only had room for maybe 4-5 cars. So anyone coming in the next weeks is going to need to be a bit patient and understanding of the current situation.

Camera Info:

Friday Photo #316 – January Twilight

Photo: Winter twilight at Storsandnes beach, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. January 13, 2019. 14:19

Driving home on Sunday afternoon the other week after a night of storms – the world was now quiet. Clouds on the southern horizon still kept me from seeing the sun, but the rest of Lofoten was glowing in the soft pink and blue pastel colors of winter. With fresh snow on all the mountains, they can sometimes feel like they are glowing from within, they are so bright and white.

Luckily I was smart enough to pack my camera with me, knowing there might be some good conditions this day. And usually I don’t stop at Storsandnes too much anymore, only 2 km from my house, it is kinda a familiar sight by now. But the light was too amazing, so I had to. And somehow, even at 14:00 on a Sunday afternoon, no one had walked on the beach yet, so the snow was footprint free!

I think I had already missed the best of the light by the time I arrived, but it was still good enough. There is something so magical about these soft winter colors. And it looks much better in real life, as it’s slightly hard to translate to a photo before it begins to look fake and over saturated.

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8
ISO 80
f 10
30 seconds
WB Daylight
6 stop ND filter
2 images – top, bottom

Friday Photo #315 – Winter Snow

Photo: Snowmegeddon arrives to Lofoten, View over Nappstraumen, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. January 18, 2019. 12:16

After last weeks relatively warm storm stripped most of west Lofoten of it’s snow, the past week has been making up for lost time! After several days of heavy snowfall now and high winds, it is snow chaos on much of Lofoten. I even had trouble getting home last night and had to leave my van stuck in a snow drift until my neighbour could clear the road and pull me out with his tractor this morning.

In conditions like the last days, it is best to avoid driving, especially at night, if you are unfamiliar with the roads. The roads are slippery, narrow, and snow drifts can for unexpectedly and quickly in places. Wait till the storm clears, much nicer looking anyhow. You won’t have much to photograph if your car is stuck in a ditch off the side of the road.

The weather forecasting has also been quite unreliable in this last week, due to the constantly changing conditions. Best accuracy is to look at the actual radar image. Yesterday was supposed to have been somewhat sunny actually, according to the forecast on Wednesday. But it turned into a full winter storm, blasting straight down over Vestvågøy the entire day.

Tuesday and Wednesday were also my first to days on skis this season. It’s still quite dark here and I’m in Norwegian class until 12:30 or so during the week, so only had time to go up a small hill near leknes. But it’s nice to have the legs moving again! Yesterdays trip was canceled due to the weather, and the same for today – though it has actually cleared a little, and i might have been able to make it.

I can feel the days are getting lighter, but I’ve only just caught a quick glimpse of the sun while driving to Leknes on Wednesday. So I’m still waiting for my first opportunity to photograph it again! With my first photo tour of the winter season beginning tomorrow, I should have plenty of opportunities – weather cooperating!

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8
ISO 400
f 7.1
1/125 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #314 – Winter Storm

Photo: Storm waves wash over Myrland beach, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. January 11, 2019. 13:52

I was hoping to post a photo of my first sighting of the sun today, but I have not seen it yet, even a week now after the end of the polar night. On Wednesday I went for a hike up Offersøykammen as it was the only slightly decent weather forecast for some time, but the clouds remained too thick.

For the last two days Lofoten has been getting blasted by a proper winter storm. More of less everything on Lofoten is shut down today. All ferries are canceled, flights are canceled, busses are canceled, vehicles have been blown off the road, power is out in some locations, and some buildings are having to roofs blown off. This is serious weather, not outside weather. And not a day to go touring around if you are unfamiliar with the conditions. Don’t put yourself or others at risk

The Gimsøy bridge recorded wind speeds over 50 m/s – That is 180 kph! More than a hurricane! The Swedes and the Germans have given the storm a name, Jan and Donald, respectively. Apparently its not big enough for the Norwegians to name. Is that a polite way to call our Swedish neighbours wusses?

I only managed to walk down to my local beach between rain showers. Even at low tide, the waves were crashing almost to the back of the beach. I ended up quite deep in the sea at one point before I found a large enough rock to stand on. So while the photo might just look like a somewhat average day here on Lofoten, it really was crazy!

Most of the rocks in the image are normally completely covered in sand and not visible. So it looks like a meter or more of sand has been washed away from the beach. It will be a completely different place the next time I shoot it. Luckily the sand will eventually return, but it might take some time.

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8
ISO 160
f 10
.8 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #313 – Waiting For The Sun

Waiting For The Sun - Friday Photo #313

Photo: Waiting for the sun to return, Nappstraumen, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. January 4, 2019. 14:47

Today is 33 days since I saw the sun for the last time – (Friday Photo 309). It was a windy day and I was at this exact same spot, watching the sun hover just over the horizon next to Skottind. And it will likely be this spot that I will see the sun again for the first time this year – though hopefully while on my way to a mountain.

Just like we don’t know we’ve seen the sun for the last time until it eventually doesn’t rise again – we never know when the sun will return. Tomorrow the sun crosses the horizon (depending where on Lofoten you are), after that it is simply a waiting game for the southern horizon to be clear enough – which is not looking too good for the next few days at least. Last year January 10th was my sun-return-day, the previous year, January 12. But the exact day doesn’t matter too much, simply knowing the sun will soon be back is enough to lift one’s spirits.

This was now my 3rd polar night living alone on Lofoten. And in all honesty, the novelty of the experience has long since faded. I dread November and what I know is coming – especially this past year when it has rained almost non-stop since August. I can feel my mind grow heavy and I just want to sleep. And working from home, I can begin to feel a bit stuck – last year I actually was! Maybe I only leave for an hour or two at the gym or climbing wall most days. Or even just a coffee in my favorite cafe to have some lights other than my own and hear the voices of people. Next year I’m going to Spain and learning how to paraglide – Or maybe Patagonia for a long walk. Where doesn’t quite matter, but I will do my best to leave.

This is also the first post of year 7 for these Friday Photo blogs. I never imagined it would continue for so long and I now often find myself struggling what to write – after 312 posts about Lofoten, is there much more that needs to be said? I don’t know, but I will continue on…

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8
ISO 50
f 10
30 seconds
WB Daylight
6 stop ND filter
2 images – top, bottom

Friday Photo #88 – Summer Storm

Ray of light silhouettes stormy mountain landscape, Vestvagoy, Lofoten islands, Norway

Photo: Ray of light shines over Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  August 1, 2010.  22:12

Despite what you might see in the travel guides, summer on Lofoten is not always blue sky at 20+ degree temperatures.  The summer of 2010 was a particularly cold, stormy one, with only a few days of calm weather.  Weather that I took full advantage of.

These years were still in my ‘backpacking’ days, where I traveled predominately by hitch hiking or bus.  But my friend Søren and I did manage to pay out enough money for a two day car rental at one point during the trip.

The day had been spend exploring the north side of the islands, where the weather had been a bit better, before finally returning to Stamsund.  But as evening progressed, we could see that the light might do something interesting and so we hopped back in the car and headed towards Utakleiv.

Up on Hagskaret, the high pass between Stamsund and Leknes, I saw this light.  I knew we were probably a bit too late to reach any of the beaches so I pulled over and took this photo.  Just a beam of light shining below the heaving clouds.  It rained for the next days.

Camera Info:
Nikon D700
Nikon 85mm f/2.8 tilt-shift
ISO 200
f 8
1/200 second
WB Daylight