It is time for another travel report, this time to the famous Lofoten in northern Norway. Though there is not too much to report on. Unfortunately, the weather was miserable throughout the trip and I didn't really get any great pictures to show off. This could be all to say here, but although photography is almost always the focus of my travels, it is not the only thing that matters and it was a worthwhile experience nonetheless.
If you have seen any significant amount of nature and landscape pictures in your life, you have definitely seen a picture from the Lofoten islands before. Their steep mountains falling off directly into the sea are one of the most iconic subjects for landscape photographers on this planet. Usually these pictures then go with the mesmerizing green aurora borealis in the sky above or the pastel colored pink skies formed by the long sunrise-sunset transitions during the arctic spring and fall. I had wanted to go there for a long time and even more so after my great summer trip in arctic Norway, so this winter it was the time. I knew that December and January are not the ideal time for a winter trip on Lofoten due to the humid oceanic climate. But my winter break is short and the time from Christmas to short after New Year's was the only free window in my schedule for a longer trip in a while.
This time however, I was not alone. My friend Steph - despite not having any experience in the North - wanted to take on the challenge and joined me on this winter camping trip in the Arctic. I do like to be alone in nature as it allows me to really take in the surrounding, be free to think and focus on taking photos and just enjoying the moment. But being out with friends is amazing as well of course! Particularly in situations like having continuous bad weather, it is very valuable to have someone else around. I can tell you, being stuck in a cold moist tent for several days in a row can be very frustrating and borderline depressing when you're alone! But this time even though I did not have any great photo opportunities, we could still have a good time there.
After the looong journey by train and bus to the far North, we spent the week of time we had in the Southwest of the island group, in the area of Reine. We began our hike at the famous village of Hamnøy with it´s iconic red house against the background of the beautiful mountains there. I had planned to hike most distances but the steep mountain sides in the area largely don't allow that. That was not a big problem as we could take a boat instead, but the weather really made it a challenge. At just above freezing temperature, the snow was always mixed with rain and the moisture made the tent very uncomfortable and feel much colder than it actually was. And even worse, it made the snow extremely soft. Even big snow shoes were not enough to keep us from sinking deep into the wet snow. Just the 200 m ascent up the slope over Reinefjord was already a lot more exhausting than the 600 m I did in one day in the powder snow of Abisko National Park last year.
And rain and snow don't come out of nothing, they come out of clouds. We only had one clear night and day during the whole tour. The rest of the time it was continuously cloudy and grey. Daylight is extremely scarce in the arctic winter anyways and with those clouds, the dull light did not let me take any great pictures of the amazing landscape. We did at least get to see some polar lights during the night of New Year's eve. Though the photo is not a good representation of what we actually saw as they were too weak for the human eye to see the color.
But despite the weather, I was deeply impressed by the fascinating landscape and the beautiful coastal villages of Lofoten and I will definitely return there. Then at a better time of the year and with better preparation for the local conditions.
I also exposed a few pictures on black & white film with my analogue camera. I am excited to see how those turned out and if that may be something I could include more regularly in my photography in the future.
As a little bonus, I shot this panorama of the beautiful city of Stockholm at night during the stopover there on our way north.