Pretty soon into our trip to Lofoten we realized the sunrises were often something special there. The high latitude means that the sun rises quite slowly above the ocean, casting it’s light almost horizontally onto the snowy peaks and bouncing off the bottom of any clouds. It really is wonderful.
The coastline near Vareid is a great place to capture the peaks of Flakstadpollen looking across the fjord to the south west with the sun rising from your left and picking out the mountains with golden light. We headed out there before sunrise on what was probably the coldest day of our trip. The wind was incredibly fierce on our backs lowering the temperature to around -20°, and walking out to the edge of the fjord was pretty treacherous as the rocks were covered with sheets of ice. I set up during the blue hour and jumped up and down to keep warm while I waited for the light to come.
The rest of the day gave us quite heavy overcast weather but sadly no snow, so we explored the islands some more, heading down to the brilliantly named town of Å at the tip of Moskensøya. Fishing is still a major source of income on the islands and wherever you go you find the racks where codfish are left to dry in the sun. At the time of year we were there most of the bodies of the fish had gone and only the heads, which we were told are exported to Nigeria to used for soup, remained. The smell when you get close to them is quite overpowering, but at the same time it’s hard to resist taking photos and trying to create dynamic graphic images.
That evening saw us back at the viewpoint in Reine capturing the village nestling below the peaks of the Reinefjord during the blue hour and waiting for the lights to come on.
When we arrived the clouds above us were really thick and heavy but across the ocean we could see that the mountains on the mainland were being bathed in beautiful late afternoon light.
Sadly the clouds around us never cleared so we never got any of that light. Reine however looks great beneath moody cloud and we spent an hour shooting panoramas of the whole scene as it got darker and darker, waiting for that moment in the blue hour when there’s still plenty of light, colour and contrast, but it’s dark enough for street lights to come on and give the scene another element.
The following morning the weather was still thick and cloudy. After being gifted so many beautiful sunrises, on this morning the sun was completely absent, hidden behind cloud so thick that it was impossible to tell when it had actually risen. We’d picked out another spot on the fjord looking across to the peaks of Flakstadpollen a little further south than Vareid, where we’d been on the previous morning. The moody conditions encouraged a different approach, focusing on capturing the cold atmosphere. Down next to the fjord's edge we’d noticed that the water lines had frozen into some fantastic shapes, so using a wide angle I got the camera very close to the ground and used them as leading lines into the composition. It’s the kind of location that when you start to look you find so many fascinating shades and textires to compose with and despite the freezing weather I really enjoyed shooting the location.
On our way back to breakfast we passed the well-known Skangsanden beach in Flakstad, a common sunset and aurora destination. We hadn’t had the right conditions to shoot it during the trip, but as we passed in midmorning the overcast weather was leaching all of the colour from the scene and as the wind scoured the beach it created an incredibly remote moody feel. There are a lot of different foreground textures there, so again I focused on trying to capture the mood and fit it to the scene.
Later in the afternoon Kostas and I attempted to capture the beach at Ytresand in the late afternoon light. The clouds had cleared by this point and the contrast was really high. From where we were shooting there wasn’t really a fixed focal point and the foreground was a mess of rocks, but sometimes it’s a nice challenge to work in places where there’s no obvious composition and less than optimal light and see if you can come up with something that works.
As the light got lower we decided to head over to the islands between the bridges across our local fjord and shoot the wonderful peaks from there. The conical shape of Volandstind really does pull the eye, and composing it meant getting as low as possible to cut out the road and bridge. Ideally I’d have liked to have a lot more snow in the foreground to cover the grass that was starting to show through the snowfall.
The next morning was our final one before we left and we felt we could still get more from the islands we’d shot on the previous evening Once again we were treated to a wonderfully colourful sunrise above the peaks of Flakstadpollen. Because I was happy with images I’d shot here on previous days I played around with shooting video and timelapses, capturing abstract images of the seaweed and experimenting with different exposures to create a particular kind of mood in the scene infront of me.
After breakfast and cleaning the apartment we climbed into the jeep for the 7 hour drive to Tromsø, stopping on the way at the incredibly picturesque fishing village of Henningsvær and it’s famous island football pitch.
When we finally arrived in Tromsø just after dark we cooked our final meal in Norway and got ready for bed. There was a shout from outside, where Konstantinos had gone to smoke a cigarette, and there finally, after being absest all week, was the dancing green curtain of the aurora. Flitting across the sky in constant movement it really is every bit as stunning as I expected. After being surrounded by beautiful landscapes for the previous week we were absolutely in the wrong place to capture a compelling image of it in the middle of downtown Tromsø, but nevertheless I couldn’t resist getting the camera set up and capturing it for posterity as it appeared above the buildings behind us.
And that was it for Lofoten this year, but next year I’ll be back again leading a Light Explorers workshop where we’ll be staying in those iconic red fisherman’s cabins in Hamnøy. If you’re interested in joining me take a look at my 2019 Landscape Photography Workshop. Alternatively you can sign up my newsletter for more information about workshops