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Reine – Lofoten Islands

Landscape photo Reine in Autumn, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Autumn, Reine, Lofoten Islands, Norway.

What a difference two months make can make to a scence.   The Lofoten Islands have become somewhat of a long term project of mine.  I was there 3 times in the last year alone and have a rough plan to be back again in July, as I haven’t been there during summer since 2006, so I need some better coverage of the islands during that time of year.  So far I’ve been there in: January, March, April, May, July, August, September, and October.  So I’ve still got a few months to fill in.  And one might think what difference does a month or two really make, but with a place in the far north, there are quite dramatic changes in scenery as the year passes on and I think all of it is interesting to see.

Reine in Winter, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Reine in Winter, Lofoten Islands, Norway.

Glenbrittle and Black Cuillins

Reflection in lochan, Black Cuillin hills, Glenbrittle, Isle of Skye, Scotland

Pleasant autumn afternoon wandering around down in Glenbrittle, Isle of Skye, Scotland.  Glenbrittle is probably one of my favorite places on the island, both the the view and access to the Black Cuillins as well as the coastal hiking.  This was generally my go to spot whenever I thought the sun would shine for more than a few hours – which isn’t all that often in November.

Black Cuillin hills as seen from Glenbrittle, Isle of Skye, Scotland

Reflection in lochan, Black Cuillin hills, Glenbrittle, Isle of Skye, Scotland

Stockholm

Sightseeing boats along waterfront, Stockholm, Sweden

I feared Stockholm, as I did all ‘big’ cities back then.  It was the summer of 2001 and my buddy Joe and I were on a 2 1/2 month trip though Scandinavia.  We had good plan, yes we did.  Arrive at Arlanda airport, put our backpacks on and walk out into the forest, heading north for several weeks.  Visit a couple rune stones, drink from rivers and lakes, make a nice little camp fire each night and visit a town or village once every week or so to resupply on food.
Cobble stone street of old town - gamla stan, Stockholm, Sweden

Ha!  Our backpacks were so heavy that we could hardly even walk.  After wandering around for 45 or so minutes we discovered that one simply couldn’t ‘walk into the forest’ from the airport, or at least not without more bushwhacking than we had a desire for after some 30+ hours of no sleep.  So the decision came, Stockholm or Uppsala.  “Well, Uppsala is fairly small.  We can go there then walk out into the forest and find a place to crash for the night, better than being stuck in some giant city with no idea where to go.” So we thought to ourselves.  45 minutes later we were getting off the bus somewhere in the middle of Uppsala around 10:00 at night.  Hmm, Lost again.  Luckily, my asking a woman on the street for directions in my 5 words of Swedish led to her letting us stay at her place for the night.

“We’ll probably go to Mora next.” I said.
“What?  No, you don’t want to go to Mora!”  Camilla replied.
“Why not?” I asked.
“Well, there is nothing there.  It is just a boring town, nothing to see.”  She replied.  “Why don’t you go to Jämtland.  There are nice mountains and lots of hiking. Quite popular among Swedes.”

Storkyrkan in the old town, Stockholm, Sweden

So the summer started.  We headed generally north through Sweden and into Norway. We ended up in some real shitholes of towns as well as some cool places. Mostly we traveled by pure dumb luck of two 20 year olds, not having a guidebook or anything for help.

By the end of July we ended up in Göteborg, a city down on the south west coast of Sweden.  By this time we felt like veteran travelers.  We knew that you had to get on the correct ‘wagon’ when taking the train, otherwise if you just sat in a seat with your number on it, someone else might show up looking to sit there at the next stop.  We could hop on the city trams like a local and navigate the streets with only minor episodes of getting lost.  We could catch ferries out to cool little islands, being the only non Swedes around.  My Swedish had improved to 10 words and I actually knew how to say ‘Hemköp‘ correctly.  Life under the long summer days was good.  So the decision was finally made, Stockholm.

Historic ship AF Chapman at Skeppsholmen, Stockholm, Sweden

Now, to cut a long story shot, I loved Stockholm and ended up spending nearly two weeks there all in all.  Normally, and even to this day, I’m not much of a fan of cities.  But Stockholm, well, It is such a cool place that I can’t help but like it.  I spent endless days just wandering among the narrow streets of Gamla Stan or out on the wilds of Djurgarden.   Afternoons sitting in Cafe’s or eating ice cream with new friends on warm summer evenings.  I guess it’s good that I put of Stockholm until the end of the trip, otherwise I may have just been lazy and sat there for 2 months…

I finally returned again in October 2009, the streets still familiar in my mind like I was just there the month before.  The crisp autumn days and colors turned the city into a near magical place.  As much as I liked the summer, I now think autumn is the time to visit.

Wooden park bench with autumn leaves

Autumn in the Lofoten Islands Photo Gallery

Landscape stock photography: Reflections of autumn trees in Steinbakkvatnet lake, Hinnøya, Vesterålen, Norway

Photo gallery of Lofoten Islands in autumn: Click here

I’ve created a stock image gallery of Lofoten islands, Norway from September and October 2009.  Most of the pictures are from Moskenesøy, Flakstadøy, and Vestvågøy islands, with a couple from Vesterålen as well (such as the above photo of the lake).  I spent about 2 weeks at Stamsund, one of my favorite places in the world where I’ve returned to again and again since 2001 (I should probably just try and move there one of these days).  I rented a car for a couple days with a fellow traveler and Lofoten addict so I was able to get out to some of my favorite beaches at Utakleiv and Unstad, as well as the nearly tropical looking beach at Ramberg.  I also got to explore a few new areas, such as Gimsøy, where I had never previously been on my normal hitchhiking journeys through the islands.

My last few trips to the islands had always been in the late winter/early spring so I decided it was time for a change of scenery from endless snow to actually having some color in my photos.  Weather wasn’t always so good, hence the need to stay for 2 weeks just to get a day or two of sunlight and blue sky, but I think I had pretty good timing as far as the turning of the trees.  I think it’s always something magical to watch the snow level creep lower and lower down the mountains each night until one day the first big snow storm comes and turns the whole world white.

travel photographer: Scenic beach at Ramberg, Flakstadøy, Lofoten islands, Norway

Ramberg Beach, Flakstadøy, Lofoten islands, Norway

Travel stock photo: Snow covered rocky coastline at Stamsund, Vestvågøy, Lofoten islands, Norway

Autumn snow on rugged coast at Stamsund, Lofoten islands, Norway.

If you have any trouble seeing the below slide show, please let me know.

Racetrack – Death Valley

Night photography at Devil's Racetrack playa, Death Valley national park, California

5 minute self portrait on a cold night under a nearly full moon out on the playa at the Devil’s Racetrack in Death Valley national park, California.   I took two seperate 5 minute exposures with the Nikon 24mm tilt-shift lens to get the ‘square’ format.  One upper, one lower.  No tricky Photoshop needed.

I had my stopwatch going to measure the exposure but since I was afraid to move my arm and risk putting it back in a slightly different location I had to count in my head as best I could. When I got to 5 minutes in my head I took a peak at my watch, 4:57, and quickly ran back to the camera.  Pretty good internal clock. I could have left the scene earlier, but some ghosting would have occurred as I was gone a greater percentage of the overall exposure, so I wanted to remain as close to the full 5 minutes as possible.

The Racetrack is better know for the ‘moving rock.’  Unfortunately, that section of the normally dry lake bed actually had some water, so I couldn’t go there as footprints last a long time out there…

Burg Hohenstein

Burg Hohenstein castle, Mittelfranken - franconia, Germany

Warm winter light on a cold winter day at Hohenstein a few weeks back.