Sierra Nevada Mountains, California

Happy Birthday To My Blog – 10 Years!

Sierra Nevada Mountains, California

Lundy Canyon, Eastern Sierra, California. October 2005

Today I have to make a special announcement: Happy birthday to my blog! I can hardly believe it, but my first blog post was 10 years ago today!

On October 11, 2005 a younger version of me was a week away from flying to New Zealand on a working holiday visa good for a year. I had finished university in August, quit my job as the manager of a small video store, moved out of my apartment and sold/gave away most of the stuff I owned at the time.

With a couple weeks to kill before heading off on a new adventure in life, I made one last trip to the Eastern Sierra to have one last chance to photograph the autumn colors. The images from that trip were my first blog post.

I can’t remember what my expectations in life where back then, but I’m not sure I would have imagined myself typing these words from a small apartment in the German mountain town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, only just back home from 3 weeks hiking among the fantastic autumn colors of the Kungsleden trail in northern Sweden and a month after seeing my first iceberg while photographing a sailing expedition from Iceland to Greenland and back.

I’ve visited 29 countries in these last 10 years, with much of my focus being on Norway’s Lofoten Islands and my other website dedicated to them:

With 2016 seemingly just around the corner, I find myself working away on the beginnings of another travel site dedicated to The North. More on that to come in the following months. First I need to talk about Iceland, Greenland, and the Kungsleden. Plus my moving here to Germany in May – which hasn’t exactly been as smooth of a process as I would have hoped. Stay tuned…

And here’s to another 10 years! If I can somehow figure out how to make things work just a little longer…

Wooden walkway leading to Ramberg Beach, Ramberg, Flakstadoy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Archive Updates – Lofoten – Colorado – California

Wooden walkway leading to Ramberg Beach, Ramberg, Flakstadoy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Ramberg Beach, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  April 2013

First off, hello and welcome to the new site!  I’ve been pretty bad at blogging the last few months, and that was mostly because I knew I would be doing a big site update and so sort of lost interest in things for a bit.  So, if I have any readers left, things should be more or less back to normal from now on.

I’m still not finished working on the site with a few pages still needing to be added and a few minor layout tweaks and the such.  But I think everything looks much better overall, especially with the blog and website now combined as one.

What’s New:

Articles – This is a new section to bring better attention to some of the longer or informational articles I’ve written on the blog.  As it had been, stuff would just get buried away as new posts piled on top, without an easy way of finding if I had any further info on a particular subject.  Now, over the following months, I’ll be adding stuff to the articles section of the homepage to help make things a bit more orderly and intuitive.

The articles will be divided into a few sections:
Travels: These will mostly be random stories written about various travels.  Mostly thoughts and musings, or stupid stuff I do.
Destinations: Here you’ll find location specific and informative articles about a particular place, ie ‘Hiking the Besseggen Ridge.’
Gear: I’ll talk about the gear I carry and use in this section. Hopefully I’ll eventually get around to adding reviews as well.
And in the future I’ll be adding an Events or Festivals section. I go to a lot of cool and obscure events around Europe that few other bloggers seem to write about or might be hard to find info in English about; I’ll be giving you details on the ‘when and where’

Prints – You can now see what prints I have available for sale without having to visit my Archive.

New Galleries – I hate to say it, but my last website had gotten pretty stale! My last update had been in 2010, so I’m more than a little overdue for new content. Although I’ve always posted links to the photos as I added them to my Archive, few of you ever headed over there, so a few new galleries are here now. With several more still to add.

Archive Updates:

3 new updates to my Archives.

Lofoten Islands – Spring 2013: Images from My April/May trip to the islands

Colorado: It has taken a while to get these edited and online. Images from my hiking and backpacking trip to Colorado last summer.

California: A few new photos Mostly from last summer in Yosemite: Tuolumne meadows and hiking Mt. Dana.

Sunset over flooded tuolumne meadows in summer, Yosemite national park, California, USA

Photo: Sunset over flooded tuolumne meadows in summer, Yosemite national park, California.  July 2012

descending from Handies peak (14053 ft), San Juan mountains, Colorado, USA

Photo: Descending from Handies peak (14053 ft), San Juan mountains, Colorado.  June 2012



Photo: Sleepless in Stockholm.  March 2013

Who knew you couldn’t buy bus tickets (for city busses) on the bus in Sweden?  I thought this was generally normal practice: get on the bus, tell the driver where you’re going, and pay the necessary fee.  Not in Sweden.  So there I was in Stockholm at 3:29am and getting on the bus to Arlanda airport.

‘Sorry.’ The driver says, ‘You can’t buy tickets on the bus.’
Looking around sheepishly, ‘Umm, where can I get a ticket?’ I ask.
‘You can’t. Just get on, its OK’

Phew! And so my journey home began. First though, was the mandatory conversation with the drunk guy on his way home from a night out. I think you can see a lot about a city by walking around (sober) in the late hours of the night. Not to mention it can also be somewhat amusing. Although there are a more that a few places I wouldn’t recommend walking around in, but Stockholm seems fairly safe.

Sometime after midnight Tuesday, after over 30 hours of travel from Stockholm, I made it home to Santa Barbara.  It shouldn’t have been such a long trip, but the normal delays at San Fransisco helped to add a few hours to my journey.  I had tried to change to an earlier flight, but it would have cost me $75 to change everything at the ticket counter.  A few hours aren’t worth that much money to me, so I decided to stay with my normal flight.  But I was told that when I got to the gate, I could go and check about an earlier flight and could maybe get on one.  So I go to the gate, but there I’m told that since I have a checked bag, I couldn’t change my flight.

So a few hours pass, and then I see that my scheduled flight has been canceled.  Great.  I’m put on a plane a couple hours later, which gets one of those continually increasing departure times as the delays increase and increase.  I really wish they would just say how late the plane is going to be so I could possibly plan something else, instead of just adding 5 minutes to the departure time every 5 minutes.

Shortly before midnight I finally arrive in Santa Barbara and head over to the baggage collection. My bag never shows up. Great. I figured there was a 50% chance of this happening, and I was right. So I head over to talk to someone. ‘Duncan? A big grey bag?’ they ask. Yep. ‘Oh, your bag has been here for a few hours already…’ Ha! Then I mumble something about too bad me not arriving a few hours earlier…

Northern Lights - Aurora Borealis in night sky behind Olstind mountain peak, Reine, Lofoten Islands, Norway

10 Best Landscape Photos 2012

Reine, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Night comes to Reine, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February

-10˚ C with not even a hint of wind, the end of an absolutely perfect winter day on Lofoten.  This was the first clear night after a week on the islands, so I was waiting around the Reine area in hopes of seeing some aurora’s later that night, but first, I was presented with this scene as an extra gift.  Perhaps my favourite image of the whole year, as well as the coldest day of 2012 on Lofoten.

Northern Lights - Aurora Borealis in night sky behind Olstind mountain peak, Reine, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Aurora behind Olstinden, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February

I had been waiting a week for the right conditions to hopefully make this photograph.  To me, the pyramidical peak of Olstinden, as is rises out of the cold waters of the Kjerkfjord, is an icon of the Lofoten Islands.  The Aurora wasn’t as big as I was hoping for, but it’s a start to an image that I hope to refine over my next journeys to the islands.  I think the clouds make it almost look like an erupting volcano.

Å I Lofoten, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Approaching storm, Å, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February

My last full day after two weeks on the islands was one of winter storms sweeping the lands.  One of those days when you watch the snow heading towards you, take shelter for 20 minutes, then rush out again between flurries to hopefully grab a few photo.  The cliffs here, past the village of Å, and looking west towards the end of Lofoten are one of my favourite winter locations on the islands.

Lofoten Islands winter, Norway

Photo: Ice flower, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February

Warm temperatures brought snow melting rain to the islands.  My hope of ‘snowy mountain landscapes’ was lost and I was left searching for other interesting elements of winter to photograph.   Here, in a small tidal bay near Eggum, a rock had created a ‘flower’ like shape as the ice receded.  Now that the snow was gone, this added an element of interest to what would otherwise have been a fairly flat and mundane scenic.

Reine, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Olstinden winter panoramic, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February

In the cold and the calm of this evening the surface of the fjord began to freeze over.  With the inner waters still, Olstinden reflects in near perfect symmetry.  I wish there had been a bit more interesting light to work with, but I think the subject is still strong enough for me to like this image.

Mount Whintey, Sierra Nevada Mountains, California

Photo: Camping beneath mt Whitney, California.  April

I like the contrast of my yellow tent and the deep blue of the evening sky while camped at Iceberg lake on the mountaineers route to mt. Whitney.

Horseid beach, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Horseid beach, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  August

Horseid is a brilliant, Isolated, beach on the northern coast of Lofoten.  I hiked several hours through rain and whiteouts that at first I thought I had made a mistake heading there.  But by the next morning, the rain had stopped while the dramatic skies still hung over the mountains.


Summer evening twilight, Stamsund, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Summer twilight over Stamsund, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  August

Even in late August, Lofoten’s sky still glows at 1am as the next day quickly approaches.  I took an evening stroll up the hill behind the hostel to check for auroras but found this scene instead.  I just stood there for a while in the stillness, glad to once again be in the north.

Kungsleden trail, Lappland, Sweden

Photo: Autumn on the Kungsleden trail, Lapland, Sweden.  September

I can feel the cold in this image (as well as remember it).  The bright reds and oranges or the small scrubs in the sub-Arctic tundra of northern Sweden’s mountain, combined with snow covered peaks and grey skies are what the Kungsleden trail in Autumn is.

Offersoykammen, Vestvagoya, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Afternoon light on Offersøykammen, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  October

After an unsuccessful afternoon of chasing light around the islands, I finally decided to head up the small peak of Offersøykammen and see what cards the weather would deal me.  As the sun neared the horizon, clouds began to rise around the mountain.  But before I was enveloped in a gray so thick I could hardly follow the trail back down, the mist lit up in the sunlight shining a golden light across the Autumn mountain landscape.

Time for another year to draw to a close, though truthfully, I can’t say it comes too soon.  2012 was a difficult year for me,  one of more setbacks than accomplishments.  A few dreams have fallen through the cracks or been put on the the back burners indefinitely, with little hopes of revival.  I also didn’t get out photographing nearly as much as I’d planned (as I write this now, I haven’t touched my camera in almost in 2 months.).  If it wasn’t for a few trips to Lofoten, I’d basically have nothing to show for the whole year; 8 of 10 images here being from the islands, although maybe that speaks more about the brilliance of Lofoten.  I felt I was often stuck in the paralysis of inaction, unable to make any decisions or move myself or my career forward.  Maybe I put myself under more pressure to return with something ‘good,’ and ironically, chose locations to travel to where this is less likely to happen.  Or maybe I’ve simply raised my standards to something that I can only rarely achieve; and thus that lack of apparent achievement continues the cycle ad infinitum.  Who knows.

On the positive side, I do think there are a few good images here.  Maybe even a couple that I’d say are some of my all time favourites.  Although I’m not sure if this isn’t more based on my memories than of the actual photo.

In a couple more days I head north to Scotland to bring in 2013 on a small little island at the edge of the world.  So here’s to a good start of the new year; one that hopefully I can find some focus and kick some ass in!

PDN Great Outdoors Photo Contest 2012 Winning Image

2012 PDN great outdoors photo contest

Photo: 2012 PDN Great Outdoors photo contest

I’m proud to announce that for the second year in a row I have a winning image in the PDN Great Outdoors photography contest.

–CLICK HERE– to view the winners gallery

The photo is from the last night of a road trip though the desert southwest last year.  Taken in the Alabama hills, it is a 2 minute night photo of a lenticular cloud illuminated by moonlight as it hovers over the Sierra Nevada mountains of California.  I guess I’m glad I wasn’t lazy and off the bed once the sunset ended.

Ghostly lenticular cloud illuminated by full moon over Alabama Hills and Sierra Nevada mountains, California, USA

Photo: Lenticular cloud at night over Sierra Nevada Mountains, California.  April 2011

Mount Dana – Yosemite National Park

Mount Dana, Yosemite national park, California

Photo: Summit of Mt. Dana, Yosemite national park, California.  July 2012

Trying to avoid being too lazy while spending a few days in the Yosemite high country, we decided to head up Mt. Dana, the 2nd highest peak in Yosemite national park.  The forecast was for mostly clear skies, but things began to cloud up as we headed up in mid afternoon.  I had initially though of staying up there for sunset, but conditions looked a bit risky.  Heading up we even had a few minutes of snow/hail as some clouds passed over.  Once back off the mountain, thunder rumbled though the sky.

For some reason I’ve never been up Mt. Dana before.  I once had plans of climbing Dana coular, but those fell though.  In reality though, I don’t spend that much time in Yosemite as I mostly stay further south in the Sierra.  There were some nice views from the top, so I’m glad I finally made it…

View over Mono lake from Mt. Dana, Yosemite, California

Photo: View over Mono lake from summit of Mt. Dana, Yosemite national park, California.  July 2012


Hiking mount dana yosemite california

Photo: Descending the loose talus slopes of Mt. Dana, Yosemite national park, California.  July 2012

Tuolumne Meadows

deer and mist, tuolumne meadows yosemite

Photo: Lone deer in fog, Tuolumne meadows, Yosemite national park, California.  July 2012

After leaving Colorado we figured a few days in Yosemite would be a good way to finish off the roadtrip.  It was a long, hot drive across Utah and Nevada.  It is really amazing how many miles of emptiness this country still has.  Quite a contrast to driving in Europe (where I’ll be in a few more weeks) where one passes through town after town every few miles.  Although much of the land is probably empty for good reason, I sure as hel wouldn’t want to live out there.

For the most part we stayed in the high country of Tuolumne.  I cruised the meadows for 3 consecutive sunrises, but my willpower was not enough to defeat the fog.  Sunset on one day provided a bit more light, but still nothing too much.  On the last night we took a walk along the Tuolumne river under the full moon, was quite warm as well and the perfect end to two weeks on the road…

Tuolumne meadows yosemite

Photo: Summer sunset, Tuolumne meadows, Yosemite national park, California.  July 2012


Tuolumne meadows yosemite

Photo: Summer sunset, Tuolumne meadows, Yosemite national park, California.  July 2012


Tuolumne river night yosemite

Photo: Moonlight over Tuolumne river, Yosemite national park, California.  July 2012

Mount Whitney

Mount whitney camping

Photo: Night descends on camp at Iceberg lake with Mt. Whitney in background, Sierra Nevada Mountains, California.  April 2012

Over the weekend my brother and I attempted a quick trip up the Mountaineers Route on Mt. Whitney, California’s highest mountain.  We were a bit rushed on time, with my brother having a motorcycle race starting at 8am on Sunday, and also trying to beat the permit quota which starts today, May 1st.  So We turned around a little short the summit, not being able to commit the time needed and also not acclimatized enough.  This was his first real trip into the mountains so we weren’t looking to push things at all; the mountain isn’t going anywhere anyhow.  Was still a fun trip and wonderful weather.  Conditions this year are super dry, compare to my photos from this time two years ago.

Mount Whitney mountaineers route hiking

Photo: Hiking over rocky terrain of the mountaineers route with Mt. Whitney in the background, Sierra Nevada Mountains, California.  April 2012


Mount Whitney mountaineers route hiking

Photo: Ascending the mountaineers route on Mt. Whitney, Sierra Nevada Mountains, California.  April 2012


Mount Whitney mountaineers route hiking

Photo: Descending the mountaineers route towards Iceberg lake, Sierra Nevada Mountains, California.  April 2012

Mount Whitney

Mount Whitney Sunrise

Photo: Sunrise on east face of Mount Whitney, Sierra Nevada mountains, California.  May 2010

If everything has gone alright, something similar to this should be my view this morning and I should be on the top in a few hours…

Santa Cruz Island Fox

Santa Cruz Island Fox

Photo: Island Fox, Santa Cruz Island, Channel Islands national park, California.  April 2012

The Island Fox is native to 6 of the 8 California Channel Islands, with each island containing it’s own subspecies of the island fox.

By the year 2000, the fox population on Santa Cruz island had declined to around 135 adults.  The other islands suffered and even greater decline in fox population.  The reason is somewhat complex but a basic shorthand version is:  Historically, Bald Eagles were present on the islands.  A DDT spill in the 1950’s caused the Bald Eagle population to decline, eventually disappearing all together.  In the absence of Bald Eagles, Golden Eagles took up residence on the islands.  Bald Eagles eat fish, Golden Eagles eat small mammals and rodents.  Conservation efforts in the 1990’s removed introduced species from the islands, mainly pigs, deer, and elk.  Up to this point, pigs had been a main food source of the Golden Eagles.  With the pigs gone, the eagles took up predation on the Islands Foxes and the population declined.

In 2004, four of the Island Fox subspecies were classified and protected as an endangered species and about this time a breeding program was initiated.  The fox population on Santa Cruz Island is now around 700.

Over the course of the trip I saw five foxes in total.  Three on San Miguel island and two on Santa Cruz island.  I only wish I had had a bigger lens with me to get some better photos.


Santa Cruz Island Fox

Photo: Island Fox, Santa Cruz Island, Channel Islands national park, California.  April 2012