LOFOTEN & THE NORTHERN LIGHTS
7 DAY / 6 NIGHT LANDSCAPE PHOTOGRAPHY EXPEDITION
3 - 9 FEBRUARY 2019 (1 PLACE LEFT)
I'm joining Vagabond Expeditions to run a photography expedition exploring Lofoten’s pristine snow-covered landscapes by snowshoes or trekking. This expedition is designed to take you to some of the more remote locations that are normally not often frequented in winter, but of course we’ll be based in the heart of Lofoten so visits to the iconic locations like the villages of Hamnøy and Reine surrounded by fjords and mountains, and the rocky beach at Uttakleiv will also be on the agenda.
In late February this stunning archipelago of islands scattered between icy fjords and ocean beaches, punctuated by snow covered mountains and fishing villages is blanketed with fresh snow and breath-taking views are everywhere you look. With the low arctic sun giving fantastic light for almost the whole day, as well as unusually long sunrises and sunsets, Lofoten really is a photographer’s paradise. The geography of the islands with coastline on both the north and south sides and long fjords that separate the different islands give us so many different angles and locations to shoot at different times of day, and wherever we are there’s always the backdrop of dramatic snowy peaks as a focus for the images.
The focus of this particular workshop is to connect more deeply with the landscape by hiking to some of lesser visited winter destinations like Ryten or Offersøykammen, or the beaches of Bunes, Kvalvika, or if we are really energised, the remote Horseid. The expedition will take you through snow-covered landscapes, experience the Northern Lights, and witness unforgettable sunrises and sunsets on this custom-made photography trip.
This expedition only allows for a small number of participants who are joined by common interests for nature, photography and videography to make sure we can travel as friends, rather than just travellers!
ENVIRONMENTAL AND LOCAL ETHOS
The entire expedition is delivered with a strong ethos for the protection of the environment where we will endeavour to leave as small a footprint as possible. We only use local suppliers for the expedition in an effort to contribute to local communities and economy.
During this expedition we will be staying in two big apartments at Hattvika Lodge where each participant will have their own private room. Hattvika Lodge has access to a sauna and hot-tub and is well situated in an area with great access to the many great locations that we will be visiting.
Food is not included in this expedition. We can decide as a group whether we want to try the local restaurants or cook our food ourselves as our huts have large kitchens. We will buy food for breakfasts and packed lunches together to make sure that we can maximise our time out in nature.
Each day will have an element of movement (hiking or snowshoeing), but generally not more than 3-4 hours of movement. Previous trekking experience is recommended
Beginner, amateur, enthusiast and semi-pro photographers.
Medium physical effort with some 3 - 4 hour hikes in snowshoes
Landscape photography and shooting in unforgettable winter locations
Guided photography sessions
All transport during the tour
Post-processing sessions in Lightroom and Photoshop
All accommodation in a private room in two large, shared cabins
Snowshoes and poles (if required by the ground conditions)
Airport Pick up/drop off at Leknes (LKN) Airport
Insurance. All participants are required to have their own insurance appropriate for hiking in mountains, such as health, accident, mountain rescue, repatriation, cancellation, personal liability, etc.
Alcoholic beverages at the restaurants and huts
The weather in the arctic circle can either be stable for weeks or can change rapidly one hour to the next, so even though we have a planned agenda, this will be open to revision on the day. Each day we will study the synoptic charts and the local maps over breakfast to plan our day. For fair weather days we will head into the mountains and for poor weather days we will stay low and pursue the bad weather fronts as these often provide great opportunity for stunning photography.
The winter in the arctic circle is dark and provides long colourful sunrises and sunsets, with dramatic light in between as the sun is low on the horizon. In February, the sunrise is approximately at 9AM, but the photography opportunities generally start an hour before this with the soft morning glow. Sunset is at around 3.30PM and allows for photography for a while thereafter. Aurora Borealis can happen at any time after sunset but generally it is seen on clear nights when the night is at its darkest between 9PM and 3AM
DAY 1 (FEB 3)
The team from Vagabond Expeditions will pick you up at Leknes (LKN) airport. We will get into our vehicles and head for the authentic fisherman village Ballstad where we will be lodging at comfortable Hattvika Lodge, our a base camp for the trip. Ballstad is situated on one of the central of the Lofoten islands, which is perfect for exploring the beaches of Vestvågøy and Flakstadøy. We will have some time to explore the area and have a pre-expedition briefing. In the first evening we will have a first photography session of the village of Ballstad.
DAYS 2 - 6 (FEB 4 - 8)
Northern Norway is famous for its rapidly changing and unpredictable weather, so we will plan our day treks/snow shoe outings as we wake up each day when we know what the weather gods will throw our way. For fair weather days we will head off on snowshoes to remote beaches like Bunes, Kvalvika beach or maybe hike up to the peaks of Ryten or Offersøykammen for wonderful views across the fjords and surrounding peaks . If the weather is unsuitable for trekking/snowshoeing we will keep to the closer beaches like Haukland, Uttakleiv, Unstad and the stunning views across the peaks and fjord of the Tangstad area.
We’re also really close to the beautiful Skagsanden beach in Flakstad, and Vareid, where stretch of coastline looks southwest towards the Flakstadøya peaks. Nearby is also Fredvang with it’s views of snow capped mountains above the Tordfjorden and the conical Volandstind peak.
Of course no trip to Lofoten would be complete without a visit to the villages of Hamnøy, Sakrisøy and Reine, and we’ll make sure to take in a sunrise in this iconic place as first light illuminates the cabins beneath granite walls of the peaks surrounding the Reinefjord, and spend a morning exploring this incredible area.
For poor weather days we may decide to hunt the bad weather systems as these often provides the best opportunity for photography.
DAY 7 (FEB 9)
Departure Day - The expedition will officially end at noon with transport to the airport.
SOME OF THE PHOTOGRAPHY TECHNIQUES COVERED IN THIS WORKSHOP
IN THE FIELD:
Understanding the light and choosing the best exposure
Composition. Balance and harmony, leading lines and creating depth.
Lens choice. From the wide-angle vista to shooting landscape abstracts with a telephoto lens
Shooting the night sky and the aurora
Shooting multiple image panoramas
Controlling light in scenes with a wide dynamic range using graduated filters and/or multiple exposures
Shooting in the blue hour and overcast weather
Using Lightroom to apply contrast
Using Photoshop layers to build up image adjustments
Photoshop masks for local adjustments
Using luminosity masks in Photoshop
Different techniques for blending multiple exposures of the same image
Using Nik Color Efex Pro, Silver Efex and Adobe Camera RAW on Photoshop layers
WHAT TO BRING
A dSLR or mirrorless camera
The criteria for the kind of work we’ll be doing is a camera that can be operated completely manually to ensure we get the best exposure with interchangeable lenses allowing us to cover a range of focal lengths
A wide angle lens
For many of the locations a wide angle lens really is essential if you want to get those epic landscapes that have snowy foreground leading to the cloud capped mountains in the background. 16mm or 17mm on a full frame camera (10mm or 12mm on an APS-C sensor camera) is ideal, but anything below 24mm (16mm on a crop frame sensor) should be OK.
A mid-range zoom lens
In some of the locations we’ll visit a wide angle zoom will make the mountains appear smaller, so a mid-range zoom will be great for maintaining the scale of the peaks while still including foreground. They’re also great for panoramas. Something in the range of 24-70mm (18-55mm on a crop sensor) is perfect.
A telephoto lens
We’ll often find ourselves shooting distant peaks or abstracts, which a telephoto is ideal for. A telephoto also compresses the landscape and is great for mountains when shooting from elevation. A range that covers 70-200mm (55-135mm on a crop sensor) is ideal.
We’ll often be shooting in low light and it can also get pretty windy, so a good tripod is an absolutely essential piece of equipment.
A cable release
This allows us to trip the camera shutter without touching the camera, which can cause movement blur during longer exposures.
Comfortable waterproof walking boots and thick warm socks
We'll be doing quite a bit of walking and snowshoeing, and we’ll often find ourselves standing in the snow while we shoot. It’s very easy for cold feet to completely ruin your day, so good boots with thick warm socks are vital.
Insulated jacket, water and windproof shell and warm clothes
We'll be in the Arctic Circle and with the strong winds blowing you should be prepared for temperatures down to almost -20. Layers are the way to go with warm base layers and insulated mid-layer of light fleece or synthetic insulation. A waterproof and windproof shell above that for when we are moving, and an insulated down jacket (preferably one that fits beneath your outer shell jacket) for when we are standing on location and early morning/night shoots Insulated long-johns/leggings below windproof hiking trousers, preferably lined, to keep your bottom half warmer.
Hat, gloves, chute and gaiters
It’s essential to keep your head and neck warm, so a good wooly hat below your hood really makes a difference, and a chute or neck-gaiter will protect your neck and the lower half of your face. It’s also easy for your hands to get cold so thick gloves with a pair of glove liners underneath for when you have to remove your gloves to operate your camera. If you’ve got them, mittens that open at the top so you don’t need to remove them are excellent. Finally, gaiters for the bottom of your trousers will keep the snow out and of your boots if you find yourself in deep snow.
When moving your camera gear for any length of time a backpack can really save your back. A good backpack, one with sturdy hip straps, can safely distribute the weight of your gear and really save you from aches, pains and potential injury. Bear in mind that you’ll often be putting it down in the snow as well so it should be water resistant.
Laptop with Adobe Lightroom or Camera RAW and Photoshop
We’ll be shooting RAW, and as part of each day will be dedicated to post processing images a good RAW converter like Adobe Lightroom or Camera RAW is essential. Other converters like Capture One are also fine. Adobe Photoshop is great for more advanced processing as it allows us to be much more subtle and creative in it’s use of layers.
If you have any questions about what to bring, don’t hesitate to contact us.
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