Two people enjoy campfire at Bunes Beach, Moskenesoy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Recent Published Works – Norway and Lofoten

Two people enjoy campfire at Bunes Beach, Moskenesoy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Campfire at Bunes beach, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  April 2013

Lofoten Islands in National Geographic Traveler Poland – February 2014

A couple of my Lofoten images were published in the February edition of the Polish version of National Geographic Traveler magazine in an article about the world’s most spectacular islands, in which Lofoten rightly was included.

As someone who would loosely be described as a landscape photographer; I would rather be an adventure photographer, but I don’t have enough friends to travel with, so am forced to go alone and merely take landscape photos of my travels – or stay at home, the question is often asked: ‘ Would you like to shoot for National Geographic?’

While the answer is an obvious ‘YES!’  Life is not so simple as based upon the opinions of friends and family.  But now I’m proud to announce I now have some humble beginnings within the famed yellow borders.

Evening twilight over Reine from summit of Reinebringen, Moskenesoy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Autumn twilight over Reine from summit of Reinebringen, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  September 2013

Lofoten national geographic traveler poland

Photo: Lofoten – National Geographic Traveler (Poland), February 2014

lofoten-nat-geo-traveler-02

Photo: Lofoten – National Geographic Traveler (Poland), February 2014

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Hurtigruten and Geirangerfjord, Norway in Men’s Journal – June 2014

One of my Images of the Hurtigruten traveling through the Geirangerfjord in central Norway is in June’s issue of Men’s Journal magazine (US).  I took the image while on a multi-day hitchhiking trip between Bergen and Trondheim (and back) in the summer of 2006 – when I had a lot more free time than money – which is pretty much my same situation today.  I haven’t been to Geirangerfjord since that trip, but my fortune of good timing and weather has made the series of images I took there some of my best selling ones over the last years.

Hurtigruten Norway Mens Journal Magazine

Photo: Hurtigruten and Geirangerfjord, Norway – Men’s Journal Magazine, June 2014

Winter storm over snow covered beach, Unstad, Lofoten islands, Norway

Lofoten Islands Photography Workshop – January 2015

Winter storm over snow covered beach, Unstad, Lofoten islands, Norway

Photo: Clearing winter storm at Unstad beach, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.

I’m honored to announce that I’ll be joining the January 2015 Muench Photography Workshops tour as their guide to the Lofoten section of the tour.

The complete tour is 10 days, from January 15-25, 2015 and will be led by world renowned landscape photographers and workshop leaders Marc Muench and Andy Williams.  I will be guiding the group on the Lofoten part, January 15-20, after which the group will travel north to Vesterålen for several days spent whale and sea eagle watching.  It will be exciting tour to say the least, and is one of the earliest tours offered in the year, which is looking like it will be a crowded winter on Lofoten, which is perhaps becoming the ‘new Iceland’ for landscape photographers.

Our base for the Lofoten part of the trip will be Elaissen Rorbuer on Hamnøy, with fantastic photo opportunities just out the front door (and even from inside the cabins themselves!).

More info can be found here: Muench Workshops – Lofoten

As of June 1, 2014, the workshop is fully booked – sorry for not announcing earlier, if anyone was interested.  Still, I suggest getting in contact incase free space becomes available.  Or perhaps a 2016 workshop will be scheduled if enough people express interest.

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I myself will likely spend the remainder of January and most of February on the islands.  My skis got no use this year, so I’m hoping for better snow conditions in 2015!  And I really want to be somewhere high and alone in the mountains and watch the northern lights dance overhead.  I’m also thinking of maybe giving another go at the Kungsleden trail, if I can somehow afford it again.

Aurora Borealis - Northern Lights fill sky over Olstind mountain peak and reflect in fjord, Toppøya, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Northern Lights rise into the sky over Olstind, Hamnøy, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.

Female hiker leaves footprints in sand on scenic Horseid beach, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Lofoten Islands Winter 2014 – Horseid Beach

Female hiker hiking trail towards Horseid beach, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Hiking towards Horseid Beach, Moskenesoy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  March 2014

For a reason unknown to me, but likely having some purpose, the Monday morning ferry to Vindstand and Kjerkfjord leaves Reine at 07:00 am.  In early March this means it’s still quite dark out.  As the crew showed up and we boarded the boat I was still not sure where we would be going, but as the assistant came around to collect our payments I said Kjerkfjord.  We were committed now.

We were the only two passengers onboard as MS Fjordkyss idled out of the harbour and into the fjord.  The forecast was for dry weather, but I know better than to believe this, especially when Horseid is concerned, as the steep mountains gather all the nearby clouds and let them sit over the beach, dropping any rain they may have, before moving out to sea.  So as I saw the heavy layer of cloud hanging over the pass, I wondered if it would not have been better to go to Bunes, which was cloud free as far as I could tell.

As the boat headed deeper into Kjerkfjord the first few drops of rain began to fall from the heavy clouds.  Not again. I Thought.  I was hoping to hike this route at least once without rain.  My two previous visits having been rather soggy.

Soon the ferry pulled up to the small pier and dropped us off.  We were now alone and the end of the world.  Save for a few seagulls and the splashing of waves, the world was silent.

It must have been a bit colder here than in the fjord, as the rain began to turn into a warm snow, tentatively balanced on the border of freezing.  But it was just cold enough to save me from putting my rain shell on, where I would likely overheat on the hike up the pass.

An added benefit of the cold temperatures is that much of the normally boggy and wet trail was frozen.  Where feet would normally slip and sink into mud, the shoes gripped the solid ground and moved forward with ease.  That is until the ice was reached.

Though the trail was more or less entirely snow free, other than the light amount falling as we hiked, it was quite icy, especially on the beach side where the numerous small creeks oozed out over the trail in frozen sheets of ice.  The going down was slow, careful work to avoid slipping and several minor detours where required to circumvent some particularly icy sections of trail.  Eventually flat ground was reached and we could hike with a bit more ease.

In summer, the worst section of the trail is the section around the lake and to the back of the beach.  Despite my best efforts keeping my feet dry to that point, they never remain so, as hundreds of meters of bog and wet grass need to be crossed.  Again, the cold came to our rescue and the frozen grass crunched underfoot.  A few particularly muddy sections remained unfrozen, but these were easily avoided.

Female hiker hiking across sand at Horseid beach, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Hiking across Horseid beach, Moskenesoy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  March 2014

Female hiker sets up tent on wild camping trip to Horseid beach, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Setting up camp at Horseid beach, Moskenesoy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  March 2014

Female backpacker takes in view from tent while camping at Horseid beach, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Wild camping at Horseid beach, Moskenesoy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  March 2014

Female hiker leaves footprints in sand on scenic Horseid beach, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Enjoying the brief winter sun at Horseid beach, Moskenesoy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  March 2014

Female hiker jumps in air on sand dune at Horseid beach, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Enjoying the brief winter sun at Horseid beach, Moskenesoy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  March 2014

Tent with scenic mountain backdrop while wild camping at Horseid beach, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Camping among the mountains at Horseid beach, Moskenesoy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  March 2014

Upon reaching the sand, it is a deceptively long walk to my preferred camping area on the small grassy hill at the front of the beach, overlooking the the waves as they wash against the jagged cliffs.  Here, there is one last obstacle to negotiate, in the form of a small creek.  Often it can be a small hop across and on to some rocks, but as we neared, it was obviously going to take a bit more effort.  Finding what I thought was a suitable place to cross, I put my trekking poles into the water and proceeded to jump.  The poles instantly sunk beneath the sand and I lost momentum, sending one of my feet deep into the water.  I mumbled a few low curses and I hiked up through the grass towards the top of the hill.  I guess I wouldn’t avoid wet feet after all.

As we began to setup camp I noticed the weather beginning to clear a bit.  I wasn’t sure if the March sun would rise high enough over the mountains for the beach to get any direct sunlight, as had been the case at Bunes beach a couple weeks before, but soon enough, the sun broke free of the clouds and cast a brilliant light over our camp and the beach.  We had been halfway through with cooking lunch, but gave this up to go enjoy what little sunlight we might receive.  A little before 13:00 shadow crept back across the sand as the sun returned behind the mountains for the remainder of the day.

With the beach now cast in shadow and the little warmth the sun provided gone, we headed back to camp to finally continue with lunch.  The fuel canister for my stove wasn’t enjoying to cold temperatures as I attempted to boil water for soup.  The best solution seemed for me to wrap my bare hands around it, my face a little closer to the flame than I would like, which provided enough warmth to get the stove moving at a slightly better pace.

The sky was nearly cloudless as evening arrived and I first headed back to the beach before then going out to the cliffs beyond camp, with some hope that maybe the sun might crest around the distant mountain which guarded the bay.  It didn’t, but there was still some nice light to be seen.

Normally while camping, I would spend some hours sitting around a campfire.  But in dry winter conditions, it was obvious that any attempt at a fire would likely light the surrounding grass and possibly start a wildfire.  Not something I was looking to do.  So it was back to the tent to warm up in the sleeping bags and stare at the stars.

The sky remained clear as the night progressed, and I proceeded with my usual system of having my alarm go off every 30 minutes in order to check for northern lights.  But as much as I would have loved a shot of Auroras filling the sky over my tent, they remained quiet.

Mountains rise above the scenic Horseid beach, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Winter twilight over Horseid beach, Moskenesoy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  March 2014

Tent illuminated at night while wild camping at scenic Horseid beach, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Night at Horseid beach, Moskenesoy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  March 2014

female hiker warms hands with stove on cold morning wild camping at Horseid beach, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Warming cold hands by the stove at Horseid beach, Moskenesoy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  March 2014

Mountain peak rises above female hiker hiking trail away from Horseid beach, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Hiking back towards Kjerkfjord from Horseid beach, Moskenesoy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  March 2014

Panoramic mountain view towards Horseid beach, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Panoramic view towards Horseid beach, Moskenesoy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  March 2014

Female hiker descending trail to catch ferry at village of Kjerkfjord, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Descending towards Kjerkfjord, Moskenesoy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  March 2014

View from jetty of small village of Kjerkfjord - Kierkefjord, only reached by boat, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: the Scenic village of Kjerkfjord, Moskenesoy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  March 2014

The only return ferry on Tuesday was the 15:00 afternoon one.  This gave us a plenty of time to lounge around camp before packing up and heading back over the mountain to civilisation.  It was another brilliantly sunny day.  One of those perfect moments where you’re glad to be out in the wild.  We gave ourselves longer than needed to make the return hike.  This turned out to be way more time than necessary as ascending the icy trail was much quicker than our previous day’s descent.  As we neared to top, we were cast back into the sun’s bright light, which remained over us for the remainder of the walk back to Kjerkfjord.

There is not much of anything in Kjerkfjord, but thankfully there is a small waiting room near the end of the pier; otherwise it would be a cold wait for the boat to come.  Though I still remember a bad storm in summer of 2010 while heading out to Bunes beach, and picking up passengers from Kjerkfjord, half the passengers getting on seemed near hypothermic and soaked to the core.  Perhaps it wasn’t the best day for a hike.  It turned out not to be the best night for camping either, as I had to take shelter behind the old lady’s house at Bunes to keep my tent from breaking.  The next two days were brilliant however…

Back at the car in Reine, we headed back to the hostel in Stamsund, which had now officially opened for the season, and I claimed my usual corner bunk.  The weather began to turn and gale force winds swept over the islands.  Indoor weather.

The storm caused havoc with the transportation and ferries were canceled or rerouted.  As the final days arrived, I was anxiously checking conditions in order to figure out a way off the islands.  In such condition, I would have likely taken the last flight of the day from Lenkes to Bodoø.  But as we were leaving Bodø on a Sunday morning, the airport in Leknes closes around 14:00 on Saturdays, not really ideal.  So with an OK looking forecast, I decided to gamble on the Hurtigruten being able to make it to port in Stamsund.

I kept checking the Hurtigruten website, which was reporting weather delays, but no cancelations for Lofoten.  And watching the marine traffic website, I could see the boat on course to Stamsund, though this didn’t necessarily mean it could make it to harbour.  Just before ten we said our goodbyes and left the hostel.  Soon enough we were greeted with the loud horn of the Hurtigruten arriving at the harbour.  The nervousness that I had been feeling all day calmed a bit.  Though in one last act to keep me a bit on edge, They seemed to have trouble lowering the passenger foot ramp, which lowered up and down for 20 minutes or so as us passengers looked on nervously.  Finally, they seemed to give up and we were herded onto the car elevator and taken below deck, where we then had to follow a maze of hallways and stairs to find the reception, my skis banging into just about everything they could.

It was a rough crossing, but not the worst I’ve encountered, as the ship made it’s way across the stormy waters of the Vestfjord and onward to Bodø.  Arriving in the early hours of the morning, we had a bit of time to spend in the ferry terminal waiting room before continuing on to the airport.  In my last couple winter encounters, the door has been locked, requiring a phone call to gain entrance.  But as I approached the doors open, where I was immediately hit with the stench of stale alcohol and some rather homeless looking guys sitting on the benches – the reason they began locking the door in the first place.  I made a bed out of chairs and did my best to sleep, but I was too nervous about the drunks to get much.  Unsure if the airport opened at 4 or 5 in the morning, we decided to split the difference and leave a little after 04:00am for the 30 minute walk.

Norway wouldn’t give us up so easily and we were given one last rainy walk through the dark streets of Bodø.  It turns out the airport opens at 05:00am, so we had to sit outside awhile before someone finally came along and opened the door.  Soon enough we were in the sky, and I was heading south after 5 weeks in the Scandinavian arctic.

 

Mountain peaks rise over empty sands at Kvalvika beach, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Lofoten Islands Winter 2014 – A Night At Kvalvika Beach

footpints in sand at scenic Kvalvika beach, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Footprints in the sand at Kvalvika beach, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  March 2014

It is a scenic bus journey from Narvik to Lofoten.  I keep telling myself that I need to spend more time exploring Vesterålen and Ofoten, yet when the opportunity seems to present itself, I remain in the west of Lofoten.  Maybe next time I say to myself.  Maybe if I’m ever allowed to move to Norway, then I would have more time to travel further afield and begin new projects.  But for now, Lofoten remains my focus.

Though somewhat deflated from my failed winter attempt at the Kungsleden trail in Sweden, I now had more time on Lofoten than I was expecting.  Or I should say, despite the fact that I’m born in February, I seem to consistently forget the fact that the month only has 28 days!  Before departing for Sweden, I had made a reservation for my car rental on March 1st, which once I actually looked at a calendar, would have cut my time on the Kungsleden trail a day or two shorter than I was wanting.  But as it turned out, I didn’t need those extra days anyhow and was returning to the islands a few days ahead of schedule.

On a misty Wednesday afternoon we hopped off the bus in Stamsund and headed to the Hostel and back through the door that I had departed only 10 days before.  I called the Car rental guys to see if I could get a car a few days earlier, needing something big to sleep in from time to time.  Luckily they said they’d have something available for me the following morning.  Perfect.  I was back on Lofoten and back in the continued pursuit of Photos.

The snow was just as absent as when I had left, though Roar informed me that one storm had passed, but was quickly melted away.  In fact, he was happy of the fact that in the winter so far, he had yet to need the tractor to clear the driveway of snow.  For locals, dry years make life easier.  For the photographer in search of winter on the islands, you need to plan to return again in the next year.

The following couple days were grey and uneventful.  However, checking the forecast Friday evening, it looked like the weekend would clear up a bit.  Not having had my fill of camping, we decided to head to Kvalvika beach on Saturday.

My previous visit to Kvalvika was a painful one, as I sprained my ankle hiking down from a sunset trip of Ryten and then had to hobble my way back out the following morning and spent the rest of my days sitting in the hostel.  So this time, I hit the trail with extra caution as it may have been snow free, but there were still significant portions of ice to negotiate.  Luckily the worst of the ice was on the fjord side of the trail, versus the steeper and slippery beach side of the mountain pass and was actually much easier hiking than I was expecting.  We arrived to an empty beach and picked out a nice place to put the tent for the night before beginning the process of scouring the beach to collect enough driftwood for a couple hours of campfire; much needed warmth on the first of March.

The weather didn’t clear as much as I was hoping, with a layer of cloud hanging over most the sky and casting a flat light over the beach.  I spent most my time wandering around the rocks and doing my best to avoid getting my feet too wet.  Sometime in the afternoon we were joined by another couple, Marcin Dobas, a talented photographer and adventurer from Poland, and his girlfriend.  I had been in some contact with them in the previous days and invited them out to the beach if they were in the area.  So evening came with the four of us sitting around in the light and warmth of the campfire until the winter’s cold made a warm sleeping bag seem like a wiser option.

I peaked my head out of the tent in the morning, light!  Well not much, but something to break up the otherwise still mostly grey and cloudy sky.  Soon it was gone, and Kvalvika was back to a cold, bleak grey.  We packed camp, said or goodbyes and then headed back over the hill.

Sunday was cold and dark.  I took a few photos here and there, but nothing of much interest.  We thought about heading out to Bunes beach on the afternoon ferry from Reine, but unfortunately it happened to be the ‘every other’ Sunday when there is no boat.  That plan not longer possible, we slept in the car near Reine and set our alarms for 6:00am, to catch the 7:00am Monday morning boat.  I faded of to sleep wondering where to go.  Bunes beach, the easier and safer option.  Or Horseid beach, the more difficult and wilder option, but also the more scenic and spectacular option.  The weather forecast was okay, but not brilliant.  And the last time I chanced Horseid I was tent bound for nearly 24 hours of endless rain.  I had the night to sleep on it…

Mountain peaks rise over empty sands at Kvalvika beach, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Sand, sea, and mountains – Kvalvika beach, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  March 2014

 

Mountain peaks rise over empty sands at Kvalvika beach, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: The steep cliffs of Ryten and Fuglhuken rise above Kvalvika beach, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  March 2014

 

Wild tent camping at scenic Kvalvika beach, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Wild camping at Kvalvika beach, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  March 2014

 

Mountain peaks rise over empty sands at Kvalvika beach, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Morning light illuminates the cliffs of Kjerringa, Kvalvika beach, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  March 2014

 

Northern Lights - Aurora Borealis shine in sky over Olstind mountain peak and fjord near Reine, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Lofoten Islands February 2014 – Departure

Northern Lights - Aurora Borealis shine in sky over Olstind mountain peak and fjord near Reine, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Northern Lights fill the sky over Olstind, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

The sky was once again filled with clouds as evening came to Hamnøy.  We were mostly off to an early bed, Michael the only one remain up.  Sometime after I had drifted into to sleep I heard a knock at the door and Michael saying, ‘LIGHTS!’  Quicker than a fireman, I was back into my clothes and out the door.  Luckily, one of the benefits of staying at Eliassen Rorbuer is that you can more or less walk out the door and have a fantastic view across the fjord to Olstind.  It turns out we were somewhat late to the party though, as about 15-20 photographers and tripods were already lined up on the rocks.  During a lull in the aurora, Rod, Andrew and I (Michael was shooting a time-lapse), set off around the fjord to find some new compositions.  There is an abandoned Rorbu a little ways away that I have had my eye on for a northern lights image, so we went there and had aurora filling the sky for the next hour or so before once again returning into the night.

With a good weather forecast for Wednesday, Andrew and I made the decision to go camp out at Bunes beach for the night while the other two stayed behind.  I thought we would be alone, but somewhat unfortunately, a group of exchange students also joined us on the ferry, then proceeded to walk the length of the beach along the high tide line, leaving the otherwise unspoiled scene full of a thousand footprints before leaving to catch the afternoon ferry back to Reine.  So much for that.

The temperature was brisk, and a strong, blustery wind hampered any attempts of enjoying our evening campfire.  But with no snow, I could hardly call it winter camping.  Though in mid February, the beach is yet to receive any direct sunlight, so you’re left staring at the surrounding granite peaks and dreaming of the sun’s warmth.  Under clear skies we did our best to stay up into the night.  But in the cold and the wind and the darkness there is only so much willpower one has before the calling of a warm sleeping bag becomes overpowering.  So before 6:00pm my eyes were closing.  The trick though, is to set your alarm for every 30 minutes or so to keep an eye on the sky. After a couple hours Andrew woke me from outside my tent.  A green glow had appeared on the horizon.

It is a painful process to leave a warm sleeping bag, put on freezing clothes, and enter into the freezing night.  We walked to the beach, the sand frozen solid, making progress easier.  With the crashing waves at out feet we watched the sky, but it had now grown silent.  The wind was stronger now, and colder.  After sometime standing around, the sky remaining quite, a warm sleeping bag seemed like a nice alternative.  By the light of our headlamps and the glow of the moon we returned to our silent camp.

Returning back to Hamnøy the following morning, I spent the day lounging around and enjoying the warmth or the Rorbu while the others braved the bad weather in search of photos.

A couple more stormy days followed before it was soon time for the Australians to head home and for me to head east.  It was a cold Sunday morning that I was dropped off at the bus stop (that is being generous) in Leknes, destination Sweden, and snow.

Northern Lights - Aurora Borealis shine in sky over abandoned Rorbu cabin, Valen, near Reine, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Northern lights rise in sky above abandoned rorbu, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

Tent pitched below Helvetestind mountain peak at Bunes beach, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Camping below Helvetestind at Bunes beach, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

Mountains rise in distace over Bunes beach, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Evening light over Bunes beach, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

Boat sheds and mountains reflection on Selfjord in winter, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Calm reflection of Selfjord, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

Waves crash against rocky coastline at Skagsanden beach, Flakstad, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Waves crash against the rocks at Skagsanden beach, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

Silhouette shapes of empty cod drying racks at sunrise, Toppøy, near Reine, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Sunrise beyond empty stockfish drying racks, Toppøy, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

Waves wash over coastal rocks at Uttakleiv beach, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Lofoten Islands February 2014 – Arrival Of The Aussies

Frozen sea ice along winter coastline, near Nedredal, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Ice formations on the coast of Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

After the previous night’s sunset at Å, I was hoping for one last view of Reine in the morning, but alas, I rose to a heavy mist falling from the sky.  It was now Friday, February 7th, I had been on the island for a week.  A bit ahead of schedule, perhaps because I could feel the pull of a warm shower, I began my journey back to Stamsund to meet with the Australians.  We didn’t have any firm plans of meeting, just ‘sometime after lunch,’ as abstract of a term as that can be.  But with the day starting as it was, I figured they wouldn’t be getting out of the car much either.

No one was around when I arrived, and I’m not even sure if Roar was expecting me or not, but I called and announced my arrival and was given directions to our accommodations for the next days.  Opening the door to the cabin, I was greeted by a rush of warm air, something I hadn’t felt for days – I’m not sure my fleece or long underwear came off at all during the previous week.  A bit gross, I know, but that’s the way it is; you don’t have to worry about how bad you smell when you’re alone.

Soon however, a car, packed to the brim with three Australians – Rod, Michael, and Andrew – and accompanying luggage and camera gear pulled up outside.  You might remember that I traveled on Lofoten with Rod Thomas last year in the spring.  Now he and a couple friends were back for the winter experience, although the winter thus far was proving to have less snow than last year’s spring.  So it goes on Lofoten.  Michael Fletcher is a film maker and was there for a bit of behind the scenes documenting the trip, while Andrew Cooney, at just 18 years old, is a fellow landscape photographer looking for a bit of adventure in the north.

Not sitting around to waste any time in the short arctic days of winter, and with the weather seeming to improve a bit, the car was unpacked of unnecessary luggage and re-packed with people and cameras to hit the road.

Other than the popular beaches of Utakleiv, Haukland, Unstad, and Eggum, much of the central Lofoten island of Vestvågøy is often ‘drive through’ country for most photographers, as they move between bases at Svolvær in the east and Reine in the west.  I’m not sure why this is, probably because there are fewer roadside attractions than the other islands, especially Moskenesøy, where you barely need to walk more than a few meters from the car for something scenic. Vestvågøy requires more use of your legs to fully explore it’s character, but this doesn’t mean there are not some seldom photographed scenes that do make an appearance from time to time, and it’s actually my favourite island for Autumn.  In winter however, there is the difficulty of the sun.  Or more exactly, where the sun is.

The light of the winter months on Lofoten is very southernly directed, rising a bit to the southeast and setting a bit to the southwest.  And south means the open waters of the Vestfjord and, to put it bluntly, often not as scenic of a coastline as the northern side of the islands.  Of course there is Reine and Olstind, but to attempt to pull out a variety of images for multiple locations can be difficult at times with the sun low on the horizon and many areas receiving no direct sunlight.  This, combined with the often heavy cloud, means there are a limited number of locations where one can attempt, with an interesting composition, to photograph direct light.

We headed east from Stamsund, along the coastal route to Valberg and beyond.  In normal winters, where the islands are covered in snow from sea to summit, almost everything can be scenic here.  This year however, with the lower elevations mostly consisting of the drab, soggy brown grasses and heather of winter, it took a bit more effort to find something interesting.  So with little snow, ice is the next best thing.

I took us to the area around Dal, where there can be some interesting bog and moorland that sometimes freezes nicely.  But upon arrival, the ponds weren’t so interesting, but the ice covered coastal shallows, with some scenic views towards Vågakallen in the distance, were.  The sky didn’t do too much, but I found the ice textures to be fascinating.  Soon we were back at the hostel and I was enjoying my first proper dinner in days.

Northern Lights - Aurora Borealis shine in sky over frozen ice river and mountain landscape, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Northern lights shine in the mountains of Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

Northern Lights - Aurora Borealis shine in sky over frozen ice river and mountain landscape, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Northern Lights and frozen river on Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

What had been a non-eventful, and cloudy, sunset turned into clear skies as the evening progressed.  We headed out into the darkness and began the wait for Auroras.  A little after 9:00pm, they began to appear, though mostly quite faint.   We first headed to Myrland beach, as it gives a nice overview of the northern sky, with some scenery for the foreground.  But the lights quickly faded after our arrival so we headed back to Storsandnes beach to see if things would be better.

This was the near the location of the ice rivers which I had photographed a few days earlier, and wondered if it would make a good compositions for northern lights, should I get the chance.  So with the Aurora there, but not overly active, I headed up the hill with Andrew to see what I could come up with.  Nothing spectacular as it turns out, mostly because the sky began to cloud over again.  But I saw potential for the future with better conditions.  It was nearly 2:00am when we pulled back into Stamsund.  Luckily I had enough sleep reserves from the previous week already built up!

Saturday was grey and mostly uneventful.

Reflection of Vågakallen mountain peak over coastline, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Vågakallen reflection, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

Frozen sea ice along winter coastline, near Nedredal, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Coastal ice formations, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

Dusting of snow covers sand at Uttakleiv beach, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: A dusting of snow covers the sand at Utakleiv beach, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

Waves wash over coastal rocks at Uttakleiv beach, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Among the waves at Utakleiv beach, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

Walking out the door early Sunday morning just as the horizon was beginning to glow, I noticed and unexpected dusting of snow had fallen overnight, cool!  We first headed out to the coast at Dal again to see if any color would appear.  But what looked to have strong potential soon faded to a deep bluegray.  With the rare snow on the ground, I thought it best to get to one of the beaches as soon as possible, before the snow was washed away by the incoming tide or filled with footprints by other photographers or locals on their Sunday walks.

We headed towards Utakleiv, as that would provide up with the most options.  Passing Vik beach, it was full of seaweed and the tide was already receding from the snow line.  Haukland was full of people and dogs.  This left Utakleiv.  Exiting the tunnel, I could see there were no cars in the parking area, and pulling up, the beach, and faint layer of snow, where largely untouched.  Perfect!

It was well into the afternoon that some color began to appear in the western sky.  So we did the obvious thing, headed west.  This turned into one of the best sunsets I’ve ever seen on Lofoten.  Though unfortunately I don’t think I took us to the correct place to fully enjoy it.  We first attempted a location near Fredvang, but the tide was wrong, and it was a bit windy so we headed back to Skagsanden beach, with the sky and mountains fully aglow with bright pink and orange.  I was content with the day, but I felt the other guys were a bit disappointed that I hadn’t taken them to a more spectacular location.  Soon the light was gone and it was back to Stamsund.

The islands were dry, no rain and barely any snow, yet a layer of cloud was still nearly always present.  Monday was spent at Unstad beach before our final night in Stamsund.

Tuesday brought some interesting light at Henningsvær, but this soon turned back to the usual grey.  We didn’t have much time to waste anyways, as it was time to change locations and head to our new accommodation on Hamnøy for the next few nights.

Colorful sunset over mountains of Moskenesøy, near Fredvang, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Color fills the sky over Selfjord, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

Hustind mountain peak glows pink over Skagsanden beach, Flakstad, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Skagsanden beach glows pink during sunset, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

Waves flow among boulders at scenic Unstad beach, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: The ever-scenic Unstad beach, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

Mountain reflection in Harbour at scenic fishing village of Henningsvær, Austvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Harbor reflection at Henningsvær, Austvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

Winter sunrise over Vestfjord from Toppøya, near Reine, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Lofoten Islands February 2014 – Time Passes Slowly

Unstad beach, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Barely any signs of winter remain after 24 hours of rain, Unstad beach, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

Morning was slow to come.  After midnight had gone, time seemed to come to a standstill.  And though it seemed like hours had passed between looking at my watch, it was only minutes.  02:00 am, 03:00 am, 04:00 am; still 4 hours until dawn appeared.  The storm was calming now, but I knew I wouldn’t have much of interest to look forward to come first light, only a reason not to be laying down in my sleeping bag.

A few more hours passed until I could finally see a heavy, misty grey dawn appearing over the beach.  I dressed and wandered down to the empty sands of Unstad beach.  The fury of yesterdays storm had passed and barely a hint of breeze blew against my face.

Sometime later I returned to my car for breakfast: an orange, some rice cakes, and chocolate, for the cold.  I sat for a while, waiting to see if any colour would appear.  But after sunrise had passed, I was gone.

I could tell it was going to be one of those days of soft, flat light.  I visited a few beaches and wandered around some hills, following an ice river up into the mountains.  And so the hours passed as I made my way west to Flakstadøy, where I noticed a bit of color beginning to appear.  Not much, but something other than grey.

A small river runs through the sand at Storsandnes beach, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: A river runs through Storsandnes beach, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

Mountains of Moskenesøy rise above sea at sunset, near Fredvang, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Misty light over the distant mountains of Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

Coastal landscape at Trollskjeran, near Ramberg, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Fading light along the coast near Ramberg, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

Looking for a place to camp, I headed down a small dirt road on the outskirts of Ramberg which took me out to the coast.  I noticed a good supply of wood which I thought could be turned into a decent campfire for the night and so I messaged my Italian friends to see if they wanted to join me.  A little while later they showed up and we set to making a fire.  Though it turns out I was slightly optimistic in my estimates of the wood, which was either too small and burned quickly, or too old and rotten, barely burning at all.  But at least it was a mild night, for February, so it wash’t too bad to sit around and have some light in the darkness, even if the heat was lacking.  Not to mention, it was a good excuse not to go to sleep in mid afternoon.

I was wanting to shoot something around Flakstad for sunrise, but pulling my car out onto the E10 and a quick survey of Skagsanden beach, it was evident that another grey day was in store for the islands.  So I headed further west, and back towards Reine, where I would have a direct view of the sun rising on the horizon.

I got stopped by the road works that have been going on for what seems like forever on the eastern part of Moskenesøy.  Originally what started out as just a new tunnel had turned more or less into a whole new road, tediously blasted, dug, and scraped into the rock. So there I sat, watching dawn approach over the Vestfjord and not knowing how long I would be stuck.  I even gave though to hopping out of the car and just shooting on the side of the road, but figured it might not be the best idea.  Time to sit and eat breakfast I guess, rice cakes and chocolate, for the cold.

Finally, after 20 plus minutes I was let free and on my way west again.  Dawn was near as pink began to fill the sky in the small gap along the horizon and into the ceiling of low clouds overhead.  Nearing Hamnøy I figured the sun would rise any minute and so I got out of the car and looked around.

I was hoping for a nice pink glow on Olstind, rising across the still waters of the fjord, but the horizon seemed to be a bit cloudy, and only a faint light reached the mountain.  Looking back over the Vestfjord as the sun cracked the horizon was about the only thing of interest, though not especially so from my vantage point.

Soon the sun was back in the clouds and I was counting the hours until darkness, where I could attempt to sleep again, to pass the time quicker.  I parked my car in the turnout by Djupfjord and began the wait.

Winter sunrise over Vestfjord from Toppøya, near Reine, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Winter sunrise over Vestfjord, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

Rocky coastline of Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Rocky coastline of Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

Morning arrived with more low, misty clouds, but I could tell a bit of a change from the last few days would happen.  I mostly stuck around Reine and Å, waiting for the hours to pass.  I could see winter storms passing over the mainland in the distance, but for some reason none arrived on Lofoten.  In late afternoon I headed out to Å and by chance ran into some German acquaintances.  Lofoten can be a small place sometimes.

A final kiss of pink in the sky over Værøy and the day was soon gone.  My first week on the islands was now over.  In the morning, I would head back to Stamsund, where I would meet up with the Australians and be their unofficial Lofoten tour guide for the next 10 days.

Approaching winter storm conceals Norwegian mainland across Vestfjord, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Winter storms pass over Vestfjord, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

Pink clouds at sunset over Værøy islands from near Å I Lofoten, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway
Photo: A kiss of pink over Værøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

Waves wash over snow covered rock in winter at Myrland beach, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Lofoten Islands February 2014 – Lessons In Sleep

Waves wash over snow covered sand in winter at Myrland beach, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Waves wash across snow covered beach at Myrland, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

February mornings are slow to arrive on Lofoten, so even if you’ve been up late chasing northern lights the night before, there is still plenty of time for a bit of sleep.  In fact, there is often too much time for sleep, as darkness is still the dominant element of the season.

Stirring uncomfortably for hours due to the combined effects of cold and the lack of a sleeping pad to soften the otherwise hard trunk of my rental car, I dreamed of dawn as the batteries faded in my iPod as I repeated the same podcast to pass away the time.  Looking at my watch, I decided it was time to rise, 07:00.

I exited the back of the car into a world of night, snow swirling brightly in my headlamp as I quickly hurried to the softness of the drivers seat and started the car.  I was expecting to see the beginnings of day appear on the horizon but the only thing to escape the blackness was the snow lit by the car’s headlights.

Doing my best to judge the wind direction, I left Utakleiv and headed towards somewhere which might be a bit more sheltered.  It’s always windy in Utakleiv anyways, even on calm days.  The squeak of the wiper blades were the only break in the silence as I traveled the dark, snowy roads to Myrland, on the eastern edge of Flakstadøy.  With a couple of seldom visited beaches, compared to the more famous neighbours visible across the Nappstraumen, Myrland has been a productive location for me in the last couple years, almost too visited.

Waves wash over snow covered rock in winter at Myrland beach, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Waves flow against snow covered rock at Myrland beach, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

I parked my car overlooking the sea, only barely visible through the snow and grey light which signalled the arrival of morning.  It was Sunday morning, and I had nowhere to go, only to wait in darkness and see what would happen.

Now, this is normally the time when having a book would be useful to pass the time.  But as I had been somewhat busy back in California prior to my departure to Lofoten, I didn’t have the time to procure any.  Or to say more accurately, it didn’t seem like much of a priority.  Maybe I was making a statement to the universe that the light would be so good that I wouldn’t have anytime for reading, or perhaps I simply forgot what being alone and bored was like.  Anyhow, I would soon regret this decision, though not so much as to buy an over-priced book in Norway; not much of an English reading selection on Lofoten anyways that could entice $30 from my wallet for an day’s entertainment.  To add even more to my first world problems, I hadn’t even brought my laptop with me to at least get some writing done as my ambitious plans for Sweden didn’t allow for the extra weight.

If you’ve previously read about any of my Lofoten travels it might seem like I’m poor at planning and haphazardly stumble around the islands.  But this is actually a well thought out plan to keep me productive as possible.  You see, my greatest enemy is laziness.  And comfort brings laziness.  If you have a warm fire, hot food, and a soft bed, the weather is almost always ‘too bad to go outside,’ or ‘it will be better later.’  But it turns out that ‘later’ never comes.

Stuck in a car for 24 hours, outside becomes an escape from boredom.  And outside is where the photos are.  So even with poor light and casting winds, boredom leads my mind to thoughts like, ‘Hmm, I wonder what might be up that hill,’ or ‘those rocks look sort of interesting, I wonder if I can come up with something.’  So really, every shot I take might not be jaw dropping colorful (over processed) sunsets, and I probably even take a fair amount of bad photos, but the short days of winter tend to be the most productive for me, since i have no comfort to escape to.  Though I often do allow myself a berlinerbolle for breakfast every day or two to have a little bit of comfort.  Ample supplies of chocolate help as well.

After some time the storm begins to pass and the sky continues to lighten.  I look down to the sea and see what I’m looking for in the soft light as the small waves meet the snow covered beach.  I pull out my gear and get to work for the next hour until a flat grey light has enveloped the islands.  With northern lights the previous night, and now scenic snow covered beaches, I thought I was off to a pretty good start for winter on Lofoten.

Before I left California a few people had gotten in contact with me who would also be traveling on Lofoten around the same time as myself.  As morning passed, I got in contact with a nice italian couple, who like myself, were also doing the car-camping thing and made plans to maybe try and meet up somewhere down by Reine or Å.  So off I headed, west along the E10 towards Moskenesøy.

Passing Reine, the light wasn’t so nice so I continued on towards the town with a name that everyone always seems to have trouble pronouncing, Å.  Perhaps also one of the shortest town names existing anywhere.

Å I Lofoten, the formal name to distinguish it from any other Ås which might exist, can often be a good place for winter sunset, as the afternoon sun passes low over the distant island of Værøy rising across the sea before meeting with the final mountains of Lofoten itself.  January to early February is one of the best times for this location, before the sun begins to set too high in the west as the vernal equinox begins to near and the days grow long.

Well, it turns out, the light down there wasn’t so good either and there wasn’t much snow out on the rocks which is really needed for the scene.  On the other hand, was a frozen lake Ågvatnet, with cool patters of light snow drifting across the surface, blown across the ice since the passing of the morning’s storm.  The more interesting patterns and shapes were deep in the center of the lake and I was somewhat hesitant to venture alone that far onto the ice.  But upon seeing a few locals walking and ice skating around, I figured a frozen death wouldn’t likely come on this day and proceeded out onto the lake, soft rays of sunlight hitting the surrounding mountain peaks.

Patterns of snow cover black ice of Lake Ågvatnet in winter, Å I Lofoten, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Snow patterns on a frozen lake Ågvatnet, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

Patterns of snow cover black ice of Lake Ågvatnet in winter, Å I Lofoten, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Snow patterns on a frozen lake Ågvatnet, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

A little while later I headed into Reine where I met up with my new Italian friends, before deciding to head back to Å again.  Once more, it didn’t look like the light would do much for sunset, so we headed out onto the lake again until night arrived.

The one benefit of the dry and snow free conditions this year was that all the parking areas where clear and open.  Often it can be a bit of a challenge to find a snow free area to sleep in the car overnight, particularly in the western part of the islands and often I’m left parking under the bright lights of the parking lot in Å, which you’re technically not supposed to camp in, but that’s more so it doesn’t fill up with motorhomes all summer long, or so I tell myself.  This time though, the nice turnout near the Djupfjord bridge was open, and despite being right next to the road, is about the best place to sleep between Å and Reine.

Cod Stockfish hang to dry in cold winter air, Toppøya, Reine, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Stockfish drying racks, near Reine, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

Cod Stockfish hang to dry in cold winter air, Toppøya, Reine, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Sunrise and rain fill the sky, near Reine, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

Morning brought with it a cold wind and a promise of rain.  It was now Monday, and my second full day on the islands.  Again, despite laying flat in the back of the car for 12+ hours, a combination of discomfort and jet lag served me with a restless sleep and I was once again glad to be back in the driver’s seat awaiting the arrival of another day.

I headed to a location near Reine and watched as the approaching rain and rising sun raced to see who would greet me first.  It was a tie.  Heavy drops of rain began to hit me just as the sun peaked over the jagged, teeth-like mountains of the Norwegian mainland and shone across the waters of the Vestfjord.  A flash of pink lit the sky for a couple brief minutes as I retreated to shelter, only to be drawn back into to rain moments later and as a rainbow briefly encircled Olstind.  Back at my car, I said goodbye to the italians and headed back east to Leknes.

Rainbow forms over Olstind mountain peak and Fjord, Reine, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Rainbow over Olstind, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

The rain was still falling as I pulled up to Leknes.  My main objective was to find a sleeping mat for the back of the car, unsure how many more nights on the hard, cold floorboards I could take.  Sometimes the large Coop supermarket in the mall has something cheap on offer, and last year I even pickup a proper blow up mattress that one would use as a guess bed at home for only 99 NOK.  It looked a bit funny in the back of the car, but it slept like a dream.  This time, no luck (though I did see one later at the end of February, when I no longer needed to sleep in a car).  The closest things was some exercise type yoga mat for 120 NOK.  I guess that would have to do.

The rain was still falling as morning passed to afternoon and I made my way out to Unstad.  Arriving at the beach, the wind was blowing fiercely and huge clouds of mist were blowing off the sea.  I made my way down to the waters edge but at times it was nearly impossible to stand as gusts of wind blew loose my footing on the slippery rocks.  I haphazardly cut and taped a plastic bag around my camera to protect it from the driving rain and hale.  My hands near frozen, I lost grip on one of my lens caps and it went flying off somewhere far beyond my reach.  After a few moment, I figured I’d had enough and retreated to the car.

I wanted to park my car on the left side of the beach, but in the blowing winds it was rocking like a boat at sea and I wasn’t too sure it would remain in the same place all night long so I opted for the more sheltered parking area at the right side of the beach.  After making myself a sandwich for lunch, I curled up in my sleeping bag to keep warm.  It was just after 14:00.

I next opened my eyes to find night had arrived.  Looking at my watch, it was 20:00.  The rain was still falling at the wind ever blow, but now with a slightly calmer temperament.  I turns out I had parked my car in the light of a newly installed street light, so I moved to car into the shadow cast by the old building, then was back into my sleeping bag.  Twelve more hours until daybreak and I’d already had the better part of a night’s sleep.  I thought of what the distant morning might bring.

Offshore wind blows waves at Unstad beach, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Winds blow over waves at Unstad beach, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

Northern Lights - Aurora Borealis shine in Sky over Vik Beach, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Lofoten Islands February 2014 – Aurora Greetings

Northern Lights - Aurora Borealis shine in Sky over Uttakleiv beach, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Northern Lights fill sky over Utakleiv beach, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

The journeys from California to Lofoten are always long, and I always arrive thinking of the soonest possibility I can lie down flat on a bed, or in this case, the back of my rental car.  I also made the mistake of arriving on the islands on a Saturday, which is never a good idea, as it meant a long wait in Leknes for my bus to Stamsund, where I would pick up my car.  Normally I would hitchhike, but this time I was burdened with ski gear which would no doubt ruin any chance I had of catching a lift.

It was finally the early afternoon when I pulled up to the parking area at Utakleiv beach, folded down the backs seats to the car and crawled into my sleeping bag.  Early afternoon on February 1st while north of the arctic circle means it’s just about dark.  I was soon asleep.

Some hours later the slamming of a car door followed by some somewhat loud voices woke me from my slumber.  It was dark.  I wiped a clear spot from the fogged up windows to see if the stars were out, in which case I would try and stay up a bit longer and wait for Northern Lighs.  But upon peaking out the window was a gift even better, Auroras!  A faint green arch hanging over the beach and mountains.  I quickly dressed, prepared myself for the cold, then hopped out of the car and went down to the beach, the lights now getting brighter.

I shot for a while at the beach, but I noticed the stronger parts seemed to be coming from behind the mountains to the left, so I quickly headed back to the car and drove a few km to the beach at Vik, more of less just around the corner from Utakleiv, and giving a much more open view to the western part of the sky.

Barely have put my camera back on the tripod the sky lit up, from the horizon, fully overhead, and then behind me.  Not a bad welcome to Lofoten!

Northern Lights - Aurora Borealis shine in Sky over Uttakleiv beach, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Northern Lights shine in sky over Utakleiv beach, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

 

Northern Lights - Aurora Borealis shine in Sky over Vik Beach, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Auroa beam over Vik beach, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

 

Northern Lights - Aurora Borealis shine in Sky over Vik Beach, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Northern Lights over Vik beach, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

 

Northern Lights - Aurora Borealis shine in Sky,  Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Cascading Auroras fill night sky over Utakleiv beach, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

 

Northern Lights - Aurora Borealis shine in Sky over Vik Beach, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Northern Lights rise in sky over Vik beach, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

Frozen Lake Agvatnet in Winter, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Return From Lofoten

Frozen Lake Agvatnet in Winter, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Patterns of snow on a frozen lake Agvatnet, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014

It was a long journey in the north for me this year, with more than 5 weeks north of the arctic circle, most of which was spent on Lofoten.  And as usual, not everything went according to plan.  To start, there was hardly any snow on Lofoten, but at least this meant that it didn’t rain much either.  The islands were simply dry.  So while the snow covered beaches were few and far between, there were lots of other interesting elements and textures in the land to photograph.  And it also meant that hiking was pretty easy and so I enjoyed nights camping out at Bunes, Horseid and Kvalvika beaches, and found some nice light.

I have now been in Wales for about 3 weeks.  I would have made some updates sooner, but I have largely been computer-less most of this time.  With plans to ski tour on the Kungsleden, I didn’t bring my laptop from California as I normally would.  Wanting to keep by backpack as light as possible under the extra burden of ski gear.  But in a case of bad timing, as soon as I landed in Germany and had phone reception again, I was informed that something was wrong with the iMac I use here in Wales.  Well, it turns out that the hard drive had crashed.  Great.  So when I arrived here in early March, instead of getting to work on images right away, I was left figuring out what to do.  It turns out a new computer was the best, and quickest solution to get me back on my feet.  It was almost time for an upgrade anyhow.  But between this, and dropping my D800 in a lake in Sweden last year, I’ve had a few more hardware expenses than I would like.

With my savings nearly completely eaten up, it’s always nice to see emails along the line of, ‘Wow, you take wonderful photos!  I would like to use them [on a money making website] for free in return for credit [which will get me more people wanting free images].  Oh, and by the way, I need you to remove your watermark for me.  Cool, Thanks!’   Sure you can use my images for free if you buy me a new camera and computer. Cool, thanks.

On a more positive note, I’m going to be involved with something pretty cool next year.  More on that later.

I’m not sure if I’m going to do a long writeup for this trip, or maybe break things down into smaller stories to keep the post going as long as possible, as I’m feeling like I’m falling into the ‘silence’ rut again.  But there should be no shortage of images, that’s for sure.  Looking through the 100 or so images that I have edited so far, I think this will be one of the most diverse collections of images from any single trip to Lofoten.  And throw in a couple nights of Northern Lights as icing on the cake.

Northern Lights over Vik beach, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Northern Lights over Vik Beach, Vestvagoy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 2014