Northern Lights fill sky above mountains of Lofoten Islands, Norway

Lofoten Images in 2015 Geo Saison Calendar

Northern Lights fill sky above mountains of Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Northern Lights over Stamsund, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  October 2011

For any of you guys in the German speaking countries, a couple of my Lofoten Islands photos are in the GEO ‘Im Licht des Nordens’ 2015 calendar.

The first image is on the cover, a photo of the northern lights I took in October 2011.  It was my last night of a two week autumn trip to Lofoten.  Thus far, the sky had been quiet, not a hind of northern lights to be found.  Though 2011 was a turbulent autumn, so there often wasn’t much night sky to be seen.  But finally with one night left the weather calmed and the sky remained clear.  I could sense that auroras would appear.  The islands’ final gift to me; making sure I didn’t leave empty handed.  They lights were somewhat late to arrive, but when they did, wow!  I stayed on shore to photograph while Roar took the others out on the boat to gaze at the sky from the calm waters of the Vestfjord.  This was the best aurora I had seen up to that point.

The second image from from the summit of Offersøykammen.  Frustrated with my efforts for the day thus far, I decided just to hike up the small mountain and wait for sunset.  With about 40-50 minutes remaining before sunset, a layer of cloud began to develop over the summit of the mountain.  The cloud thickened, but before I was lost in a total whiteout I was given about 15 minutes of beautiful light.  I never saw the sunset, and as I descended the mountain and could see again I discovered that I hiked up the only mountain covered in cloud.  Though I think it worked out for the best in the end…

So, if you’re in Germany/Austria/Swiss and want to purchase the calendar, you can do so here: Geo – Im Licht des Nordens



Geo Saison calendar 2015


View over Nappstraumen from summit of Offersøykammen, Vestvågøya, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Autumn light over Offersøykammen, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  October 2012

Spring storm over farm field, Opole voivodship, Silesia, Poland

Silesian Fields

Spring storm over farm field, Opole voivodship, Silesia, Poland

Photo: Dark skies over green fields, Opole Voivodship, Upper Silesia, Poland.  May 2014

I stopped along the side of the road in the village of Ligota Bialska (Formerly Ellguth), deep into the southern reaches of the former region of Upper Silesia, to take a quick photo of the WW1 memorial and record the names of the fallen in search of my families distant connections.  From a farm building across the street I hear a shout and then two men begin approaching our rental car.  Though we rented the car in Katowice, the obvious ‘W’ (Warsaw) license plate of the rental agency denoted us as distant foreigners in this quiet, rural part of Poland.

We explained my interest in the memorial.  That I was looking for traces of my family.

‘Hindera? Yes, I think I knew of some Hinderas.  Over in Smicz.’  The old man muttered through his few remaining teeth.

‘Ahh, yes, the name seems familiar.’ His friend interjected.

‘Do you know of still any around?’ We asked.

‘Hmm, no.  It has been a long time.  You’ll probably find them in the cemetery by now…’ The old man replied.

And so we continued on through the Silesian countryside.  The Spring sky dark and heavy with rain.  I was in search of the dead; names now long forgotten.  Upper Silesia is a lonely part of Europe.  Formerly the eastern most expansion of the German Empire and now an empty part of Poland.  Just to the south lies the Czech border, whose mountains rise along the horizon, above fields of barley, wheat, rapeseed, and corn.  The green and yellow fields contrasted with the blue and black sky overhead.  A storm was approaching.

We passed the villages that I have only seen by name in birth, marriage, and death records of my ancestors: Grabina/Grabine, Otoki/Ottok, Ligota Bialska/Ellguth, Biala Prudnicka/Zülz, Wasilowice/Waschelwitz, Smicz/Schmitsch, Wilowice/ Mühlsdorf, Kolnowice/Kohlsdorf.  Tiny, one road towns of crumbling brick buildings and potholed streets.  You’re more likely to see tractors than cars driving along the roads.  The locals watch you out of the corner of their eye, as the rental car was far too nice to be owned by any resident.  What were we doing there?

The addition of the historic German names in 2005 to many of the villages seems to have come at the distain of some locals, and more than once, I noticed the German version of the town name covered in black spay paint.  It appears history still holds bitter memories for some.

We drove further south to Prudnik, now just 5 kilometers north of the Czech border.  After driving in a few circles we next headed west towards Nysa. Just outside of town the sky erupted.  Lightning cracked and thunder rumbled all around us.  I made a quick turn off onto a farmer’s dirt road and into a field where I attempted to photograph the action.  I was just on the edge of the storm but soon that cold breeze picked up and a bolt of lightning hit a little to close for comfort.  Heavy drops of rain began to fall.  I thought of my ancestors, leaving these fields for a new home in Nebraska in the 1880’s and 90’s.  They may have moved a content away, but still they remained in a familiar land.

The storm passed and as we reached Nysa a bit of sun was beginning to shine.  The cities cathedral, beautiful and imposing, rose high above the city center.  But the place overall was a bit too busy for my liking.  And so we took the narrow country roads back north to Opole.  The rain caught up to use once again.  This time without any drama, just grey, liquid skies which lasted into the night.

If it weren’t for an historic family connection, then there is little doubt that I never would have heard of, much less visited, Polish Silesia.  And while you wont ever see any of these town names appearing in guide books or magazine articles, there is still a wealth of history and a lifetime of stories to be discovered in this lonely corner of Europe.  I have little doubt that I’ll be back again.

Abandoned building, Grabine - Grabina, Prudnik County, Opole Voivodship, Silesia, Poland

Photo: Abandoned house in the village of Grabina/Grabine, Opole Voivodship, Upper Silesia, Poland.  May 2014


Abandoned building, Grabine - Grabina, Prudnik County, Opole Voivodship, Silesia, Poland

Photo: Wind and Curtain, Grabina/Grabine, Opole Voivodship, Upper Silesia, Poland.  May 2014


Bales of hay stacked in field, Grabine - Grabina, Prudnik County, Opole Voivodship, Silesia, Poland

Photo: Bales of hay, Grabina/Grabine, Opole Voivodship, Upper Silesia, Poland.  May 2014


Spring thunderstom over Rapeseed field, Prudnik County, Opole Voivodship, Silesia, Poland

Photo: Spring thunderstorm over field, near Laskowiec, Opole Voivodship, Upper Silesia, Poland.  May 2014


Spring thunderstom over fields, Prudnik County, Opole Voivodship, Silesia, Poland

Photo: Approaching storm over field, near Prudnik, Opole Voivodship, Upper Silesia, Poland.  May 2014


Nysa cathedral, Opole Voivodship, Poland

Photo: Nysa Cathedral, Nysa, Opole Voivodship, Upper Silesia, Poland.  May 2014


Old barn in farm field, Prudnik County, Opole Voivodship, Silesia, Poland

Photo: Lone barn in field, Opole Voivodship, Upper Silesia, Poland.  May 2014

Rainbow at Sunrise over mountains from Bunes Beach, Moskenesoy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Lofoten – Norway Travel Plans – Summer/Autumn 2014

Rainbow at Sunrise over mountains from Bunes Beach, Moskenesoy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Sunrise rainbow at Bunes beach, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  August 2013

A couple days ago I booked two sets of plane tickets for Norway!  As many times as I’ve been to Lofoten now, I still get excited once I commit to a plan and get things rolling.  Only seven weeks of waiting left – well, I’ll hopefully keep quite busy at work to be able to pay for it all.  If not, I’ll be selling off some gear that doesn’t see much use anymore.

I was actually getting a little stressed, as I waited a little too long and prices were getting expensive!  But for some reason I remembered that Norwegian Airlines now has a Los Angeles – Oslo flight (direct).  Checking prices, it was about 1/2 price of anything else I could find (as I write this today, July 2rd, you can fly LA – Oslo (via Stockholm) on September 10th for $347 one way. Some cheaper prices if you go out a few more months).  Even more so in that I need to fly to Norway, but return home from the UK – which they also have London-Gatwick – LA direct as well.

I’ve flown with Norwegian plenty of times on inter-Europe trips to Norway, but haven’t ever taken one of their long haul flights before.  Knowing they are a bit ‘spartan,’ (ie: you need to pay for anything extra, even food) I’m not 100% sure what to expect, but for the price, I think I’ll be happy.  And hell, even half the United flights I seem to end up on don’t even have personal TV screens.  It worked out as the most convenient connection to get me to Tromsø anyhow.

Sorry to sound like an advertisement for Norwegian.  Though unfortunately for me, I don’t get to write one of those ‘This post was brought to you by Blah Blah Blah, opinions my own etc…’ at the bottom of this post – which would mean I got something for free.  I didn’t.  I just think this is a good deal for us Americans heading to Norway, and elsewhere in Europe.  Especially for us California folk.  And I really like Norwegian’s system of more or less considering every flight as one-way, which means it’s not any extra cost to fly to one destination and leave from another as you can easily book two separate one-way flights.

Now I just need to talk my brother into driving me to LA on a Sunday afternoon…

AUGUST – Sailing Trip to Lofoten

As I mentioned a little while back, I’m going sailing around Lofoten with Vertical Shot Expeditions.  I can’t really write how excited I am about this, but I am!  It is the first time I have ever signed up for any sort of tour – I’m normally quite a firm DIY type person; but there’s not really a way I could put a sailing trip together myself – well, maybe if I won the lottery or found some heavy duty sponsorship – so the opportunity to participate in this trip was too good to pass up.  Hopefully I’ll return with lots of new images for this site.


I have been a little on the fence about what to do after the sailing trip, which ends September 6.  I have received a couple requests for some small private group tours – workshops around Lofoten for the Autumn, but so far none of these have come to fruition.  I also thought about going back to Sweden for another try at Sarek national park.  But I think it will be better if I put this off another year.   Luckily, life sometimes as a way of making decisions for you.

Without going into to much detail, I will be spending the whole of September on Lofoten.  I’ve already spent several hours looking at the topo maps at UT.NO, planning for the next series of mountain hikes to add to this website.  I think I’m gathering a pretty good list of peaks that I’m trying to sort out into various priority levels.  Though I’m not overly optimistic that the mostly calm, dry weather of the last two years will repeat itself again, so we’ll see how many mountain days I actually get.  There are also a few peaks I would like to revisit, like Himmeltindene, where I didn’t have the best Photography weather on my previous trip.  And there are a few seldom photographed valleys full of birch trees that will hopefully turn a brilliant gold come the second half of the month, with vertical walls of granite rising above.  So that might requite a few nights out in the tent, waiting for the light.

OCTOBER – Norway Road Trip

I’ll probably leave Lofoten around the first of October, although I’m a little hesitant to leave right as the northern light season is beginning, hopefully I’ll see something decent by the end of September.  From Lofoten, I’ll have two weeks to travel through central Norway, and visit some places that have been on my ‘to photograph’ list for a while.  Though I fear I might be a little late in the year for some places.  In mid October I need to be in the Netherlands to catch a ferry to the UK.  Which is probably for the better, as the car wont have snow tires.

By the beginning of November I’ll be home in California again, counting down the days until January 2015 when I head back to Lofoten to help guide a Photography workshop by Muench Workshops.