Reflection of northern lights in sky over mountains of Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Northern Lights Season Begins On Lofoten

Reflection of northern lights in sky over mountains of Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Northern Lights over Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. Sept 2, 2017

Friday night was the beginning on the northern lights season on Lofoten for me. While there had been some previous lights in the end of August, I wasn’t able to go out and photograph them, unfortunately. But Friday was a night worth waiting for! With clear skies and almost no wind, the sky repeatedly erupted in dancing auroras almost from horizon to horizon. One of the better aurora displays I have photographed recently, and much better than anything I had earlier in the winter.

And while I’m a bit sad the summer is gone, it was a full and adventurous one for me – largely the reason for the lack of blog posts here, I have been too busy to keep up with things – I hiked many new mountains and shot some of my best imagery yet of Lofoten. Even though I’m still dealing with paperwork and bureaucracy nearly 5 months after officially moving here, it was a good choice! So with no more midnight sun hikes this year, I’m greatly looking forward to the aurora nights!

I will try and keep things updated here more frequently. But for current Lofoten info, always head over to – where I keep things more current.


Aurora corona fills sky over Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Aurora corona over Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. Sept 2, 2017

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

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

Ice Lake Basin – Colorado

Ice Lake Basin, San Juan Mountains, Colorado

Photo: Ice Lake, San Juan Mountains, Colorado.  June 2012

After hiking Mt. Sneffels on the previous day, we headed up for a night at Ice Lake Basin, near where we had begun the trip at Clear Lake a week before.  All the pictures I had seen of the basin were spectacular, and one of the reasons why I wanted to head to Colorado in the first place.  I guess I saved the best for last.

Once again, rain decided to join us on the hike up.  And this wasn’t any wussy California rain.  Colorado rain drops are so big they almost hurt as they hit you in the head.  From time to time we’d have to hide under trees for a few minutes as the heavier showers passed but luckily enough the sky began to clear as we reached to tree line and headed out into the open.

I hiked into sight of Ice lake and just stood there, taking it all in.  Probably one of the most beautiful mountain landscapes I’ve ever seen.

After setting up camp for the night we just wandered around for a bit.  Rain still threatened but held off for the most part.  The sun came and went in a dance of shadows across the land and the day slowly turned to night; my last night in Colorado and I probably couldn’t have chosen a much better place.  The next day would begin the long drive across Utah, Nevada and back to California…

Ice Lake Basin, San Juan Mountains, Colorado

Photo: ‘Hurry up and take a damn photo, my feet are cold!’ Ice Lake, Colorado.  June 2012


Hiking Ice Lake Basin, San Juan Mountains, Colorado

Photo: Glad the sun is on us! Ice lake Basin, San Juan Mountains, Colorado.  June 2012


Backpacking along Colorado summer wildflowers

Photo: Walking among summer wildflowers, Ice Lake Basin, Colorado.  June 2012


Hiking Ice Lake Basin, San Juan Mountains, Colorado

Photo: Watching the rain, Ice Lake Basin, Colorado.  June 2012


Ice Lake Basin, San Juan Mountains, Colorado

Photo: Mountain Reflection, Ice Lake Basin, Colorado.  June 2012


Camping at Ice Lake Basin, San Juan Mountains, Colorado

Photo:  Night descends on camp, Ice Lake Basin, Colorado.  June 2012


Flowing river, Ice Lake Basin, Colorado

Photo: River at dawn, Ice Lake Basin, Colorado.  June 2012

Lofoten Islands Northern Lights

Lofoten islands northern lights Reine

Photo: Northern lights fill sky over Reine, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  Feb 2012

Out of 12 nights on the islands I only saw a minor display of the northern lights – aurora borealis on February 6th.  Most every other night of my trip the sky was cloudy and thus not very conductive to northern lights watching.   Capturing a photo of the lights over Reine, or more specifically the mountain peak Olstind is an image that has been on my mind for a while.  I think I came close, but the aurora wasn’t particularly bright so I’ll have to be back to try again.  As luck would have it, I missed a fantastic display of the lights just two days after I left the islands.  In addition to missing a good display that occurred at the end of January.

I’m of a sort of mixed opinion as to how good the Lofoten Islands are as a location for viewing the Northern Lights.  While snow covered mountain peaks rising out of the sea make for perhaps some of the best subjects to include in a photo of the northern lights, the weather on Lofoten greatly diminishes ones chance of seeing the lights.  I’d say that if you have 2+ weeks and want to see/photograph the northern lights than Lofoten Islands would be a good location.  If you’re time is limited to under a week, then it would probably be better to look to northern Sweden or Finland where the chances of having clear skies are much higher.  It doesn’t matter active the sun is, if the night sky is full of clouds, as it was 10 of 12 nights for my last trip, you’re not going to see anything.


Lofoten islands northern lights Reine

Photo: Northern Lights over Olstind, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  Feb 2012

10 Best Lanscape Photos 2011

lenticular cloud sierra nevada mountains californiaPhoto: Lenticular cloud over Sierra Nevada Mountains. April 2011

The last night of a 10 day road trip through the southwest and my favourite photo from the whole trip.  A lone lenticular cloud which had provided some decent color at sunset remained in the sky over the Alabama hills and Sierra Nevada mountains.  A near full moon for
illumination of the foreground and a 2 minute exposure gives a ghostly appearance to the cloud.

My 10 best images from 2011.  Well, maybe ‘best’ is not the correct word and ‘favourite’ would be more appropriate.  I thought about repeating last year’s ‘best from each month’ concept, but it wouldn’t have worked very well for this year.  For the most part I was largely directionless for extended periods of time, with the whole of the spring/summer basically a black hole for me photographically.  For the year overall there were some brief moments of productivity, but most of the time I was failing to achieve my goals visually.  I don’t really feel I grew at all photographically or found myself pushing my boundaries visually.  Much of the time I was struggling to even repeat images/ideas that I had made in the past, much less expand my vision and style forwards.  Hopefully 2012 provides more fertile ground as this last year seems mostly a waste to me.  Barely being able to tread water, much less chase my dreams.

Black Cuillins, Isle of Skye, ScotlandPhoto: Clearing winter storm over Black Cuillins, Isle of Skye, Scotland.  January 2011

Returning from New Year out on Scotland’s Outer Hebrides I decided to stay the night on the Isle of Skye.  As I awoke to heavy clouds and a light falling snow my hopes of sunrise diminished.  Sitting patiently and looking at the clock, I waited an hour to see if conditions would improve before continuing on the long journey south.  Just as I was about to start the car I noticed a bit of contrast in the sky.  I had dreamed of a ‘Skye in snow’ image for years and this was my first chance.  While it can definitely be improved upon, I still am glad for the opportunity.

Callanish standing stones, ScotlandPhoto: Callanish standing stones, Isle of Lewis, Scotland.  January 2011

I’m fascinated by standing stones.  This was my second visit to Callanish in as many months.  The rain held off into the night allowing me a bit of time to play around with some lighting of the stones.  I think this image helps show a bit of scale and how large the stones actually are.

Isle of Lewis, ScotlandPhoto: Coastal rocks, Butt of Lewis, Isle of Lewis, Scotland.  January 2011

Winds and heaves seas battered this most northerly part of the Isle of Lewis.  Rain showers were sweeping across the headlands with only brief interludes as the short winter day transitioned into night.  Beyond these rocks is 500 miles of the cold north Atlantic before one reaches Iceland.  Truly a feeling of being at the end of the world, or perhaps just Scotland.

Bandon Beach OregonPhoto: Bandon Beach, Oregon.  August 2011

With a 13 hour drive back home to California I struggled with the decision to get out of bed in the early morning hours or not.  I couldn’t see the sky from my campground, but I went ahead and made the 30 minute drive down the coast to Bandon.  I arrived to the sound the fog horn blasting into the morning darkness and the roaring of waves against the coast.  On the beach conditions were better than I could have expected.  Low tide and a calm wind, perfect for Bandon.  As the morning progressed a bit of color arrived before the dawn.  I was utterly exhausted by the time I got home late that night, but thankful for it.

Grand Canyon snowPhoto: Bright Angel trail and snow, Grand Canyon.  April 2011

It had been a last minute decision to head to the Grand Canyon.  Arriving in early evening to a foot of fresh snow on the ground and the possibility of the closure of all national parks due to the failure of the govt. to pass a budget I wasn’t really sure it was worth it.  Awaking the next day to a snow covered campsite and gray skies, I went out exploring a bit.  I hadn’t been to the GC in 10 years and finding my way around snow covered roads took a bit of extra effort.  At some point in the morning the storm began to clear and I found my way to the upper section of the Bright Angel trail.  I like the contrast of snow and desert in this image, a sight I don’t see too often.

Lofoten islands coast, NorwayPhoto: Dark skies over Vestfjord, Stamsund, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  October 2011

This is one of my favourite view points while staying in Stamsund.  Not because it’s the most spectacular view in the world, but because it’s a place I can return to again and again and always see something new.  I can watch the spring sunrise from here.  I can see the autumn’s first snow or (as in the next photo) the sky filled with the Northern Lights.  The sea can be rough and white capped with mist filling the air or as still as a pond.  This view reflects the moods and temperament of the Islands.

Northern Lights Lofoten Islands NorwayPhoto: Northern Lights over Vestfjord, Stamsund, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  October 2011

The last night (beginning to see a trend here) of two weeks on the Lofoten Islands.  The perfect conspiracy of conditions for the best Northern Lights I’ve ever seen.  I wish I had had a wider lens to show more of the sky, as it was completely filled with light, dancing and swaying from second to second.

Utakleiv beach, Lofoten islands, NorwayPhoto: Utakleiv, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  October 2011

It was another one of my stormy days at Utakleiv.  The tied seemed particularly low this day and I wandered out on the slippery rocks towards the edge of the sea.  My attention was focused towards my feet as the rain forced me to keep my lens pointing downwards.  I came across this scene of one rock burrowed into another.  The work of a 100 years of waves.

Frankenjura bouldering, GermanyPhoto: Frankenjura bouldering, Germany.  November 2011

Towards the end of November I found myself back among the old familiar rocks of the Frankenjura region.  Dark and misty forests, cold temperatures and short days.  Not the most ideal climbing conditions, but so it goes.  A bit of off-camera flash in the middle of a dyno to the next hold gives a bit of depth to the image.

Northern Lights Over Lofoten Islands, Norway

Lofoten islands, Norway Northern Lights

Photo: Northern lights fill sky over Lofoten Islands, Norway.

October 8, 2011. It was my final night after another two weeks on the Lofoten islands.  There had been a couple minor displays of the northern lights but for the most part these nights were cloudy and stormy, blocking any aurora that would normally be visible.  Finally on my last night the conditions seemed perfect; clear sky and only a calm breeze.  As the hours of darkness passed I would take a look outside in hopes of aurora.  8:00, nothing.  9:00, nothing.  10:00, nothing.  10:30, a bit of something!  Fingers crossed.

By 11:00 the night sky was filled with the best aurora that I’ve ever seen.  Horizon to horizon, the whole sky was dancing with light for a full hour.  I stood out on the edge of the sea, waves gently crashing ageist the rocks, and photographed into the night.  And it was one of those moments I wished I had 20 arms and 10 cameras, as there was so much going on I didn’t know where to point my camera first.  Needless to say, it was a good farewell I was given by the north.

Lofoten islands, Norway northern lights

Photo: Aurora Borealis over mountains of Lofoten Islands, Norway


Lofoten islands, Norway aurora borealis

Photo: Aurora Borealis over mountains of Lofoten Islands, Norway


Lofoten islands, Norway northern lights

Photo: Northern Lights fill sky, Lofoten Islands, Norway


Lofoten islands, Norway northern lights

Photo: Northern Lights in sky over rocky coastline at Stamsund, Lofoten Islands, Norway



4th of july fireworks santa barbara 2011

4th of July fireworks over Santa Barbara harbour.  A bit on the weak side this year, so it goes…

Moonrise over Vestfjord

Full moon rising over Vestfjord, Stamsund, Lofoten islands, Norway

Photo: Full moon rises over Vestfjord on a calm autumn evening, Stamsund, Lofoten islands, Norway.  Oct 2009

The last month has been pretty slow for me so I’ve been processing some older stuff to send into my agencies.  Mostly its crap that I passed over for a reason, but I’ve found a few decent images here and there.  I think looking back on work after a year or two gives a different perspective than that of immediately after the trip.  Perhaps the separation of time means I look more at the image alone, without the added memories or emotions that may be associated with it.  Or maybe I was simply going for a particular look or theme immediately after a trip.  Whereas now I can look back and figure if its a halfway decent photo, I might as well see if my agency wants it.  Though I’m sure there are slightly more productive things that I should be doing, like writing a business plan that will hopefully allow me a work visa for Norway.