Landscape Photography in Lofoten’s treacherous weather

We woke up after a much welcomed good night’s sleep, recuperating after spending the previous day only on the road from Narvik to Ramberg, however you could smell the excitement in the air.

Exploring Lofoten through snowstorms

Lofoten is well known as a photographer’s paradise, be it in summer or winter, so naturally everyone was eager to grab their gear, go outside, and start shooting. We started by exploring Ramberg and the nearby beach, which looked absolutely amazing in summer photos. The path down to beach was, however, completely frozen and very slippery. I was more concerned with my equipment than myself. Not that I fancy an injury over a broken camera, but it was the first day there and it would’ve been a shame to miss all the photos.

small beach house is bravely facing the oncoming snowstorm
This small beach house is bravely facing the oncoming snowstorm

It is on this beach that we’ve met Lofoten’s treachery winter weather. During the week we’ve spent there, the wind was coming from the ocean in the West, and not from the mainland. This created some small and very localized snowstorms. This minute everything was beautiful and with plenty of light, and the next you couldn’t see 2 feet in front of you because you were literally in a cloud, surrounded by snowflakes. Then it would go away and we’d have sun and light for 5 or 10 more minutes, only to be engulfed in another snowstorm.

photographing in a snowstorm
Why did I bring the tele?

In the above photo I was actually trying to photograph waves crashing into some rocks. Where are the rocks? Exactly. They were there a minute ago! Somewhere…

It was an impending feeling of doom as you watched the snowstorm approach. I was almost expecting to see White Walkers marching through the mist as well.

A quick timelapse of Lofoten’s weather in Ramberg.

After the small adventure on Ramberg’s beach, we set off towards the Storvatnet lake. It is the biggest lake on the Averøya island, and our hope was that we’ll get some nice photos with greenish blue water and the mountains that surround the lake. But on our way there, we did make a couple stops for some amazing photos.

Lighthouse with crashing waves

Right after we left Ramberg we passed a small lighthouse, and also saw waves crashing into the rocky shore. The Norwegian Sea was angry that day, and there certainly was some composition to be had there. With the ever changing weather we took our chance and set up our telephoto lenses and our tripods, praying that we’ll have good light for a shot or two.

The wait paid off and we managed to get a couple images just before another snowstorm hit us. Everything felt like we were on the clock, as we could again see the fast moving mist coming toward us.

Waves splashing into the rocky shore with a small lighthouse.
Waves splashing into the rocky shore

Flakstadpollen Fjord – Mountain & Ice Paradise

Our next stop on our way to Storvatnet was on the side of the road, overlooking the Flakstadpollen Fjord. There was quite a bit of snow, and the entire fjord was covered in ice. But that ice was broken into pieces because of the tide, and it made for a breathtaking view with a mountain peak right in the center.

Again, we had to wait for good weather and light to press the shutter, but the result was amazing.

Flakstadpollen Fjord in winter
Frozen Fjord

Should I say that after taking this shot we were in another snowstorm? Five minutes passed and only the first couple blocks of ice were visible. So we gathered our gear and got back to the car.

This storm didn’t pass as fast as the first ones, and when we finally reached Storvatnet we were still in the storm. The blue lake we were hoping to find was also not there, as it was all frozen and covered in ice. We waited for a bit, however there was nothing we could do with no visibility, no light, and no contrast in the scene. So we moved on and decided to visit the infamous Hamnøy fishing village that you can find on every Lofoten postcard. But not before stopping home for a quick rest and dinner.

First visit to Hamnøy

With the snowstorm in full effect, we slowly drove to Hamnøy without even seeing the road in some portions, as it was all covered in snow and visibility was very poor. But, managed to get there, and onto the bridge. I think I’ll need a different blog post only to detail how many times we tried getting a good shot of Hamnøy. The weather would just not cooperate and we visited the small fishing village 4 or 5 times during our stay in the Lofoten islands.

On top of being cold, it was incredibly windy on the bridge, and it was the first time I regretted not having a heavier tripod, as I had to hold the tripod and camera with one hand, and keep myself anchored to the bridge with the other. Alas, we did get one shot before we’ve had enough of the cold.

misty hamnoy
Hamnoy in winter clothing

We were all frozen, and decided to leave Hamnøy and come back to get a better shot, with better lighting in the next days.

Long exposure bridges at the blue hour

As we were heading home it was already getting dark, making the road even more treacherous to drive on. We did have one final stop just before returning to Ramberg to photograph the two consecutive bridges at blue hour. It’s nice to end the day with some long exposure photography.

It was even colder and at least as windy as on the Hamnøy bridge. So windy, in fact, that it made shooting long exposures very tricky and almost impossible without a very sturdy tripod. Which I did not have with me. At this point, any hope of seeing the Northern Lights was gone, as it was clear as day we won’t have…uh…clear night skies.

So the last photo opportunity of the day were the two bridges. Somehow, I did manage to get a decent photo of a car passing over the bridge, and sharp as well! All the other photos from this session were out of focus or blurry because of the wind shaking up the tripod too much.

lofoten double bridge long exposure
Lofoten bridge long exposure

The last image is one that’s completely blurred if you zoom in on it, however I really like it. There were two cars passing at the same time and meeting right between the two bridges. The wind contributed to a shaky photo and it made the light trails look like some weird energy waves. It does have a sci-fi vibe to it, don’t you think? Makes you think of a certain anime, with energy waves moments before clashing in an epic fight.

lofoten double bridge long exposure

And this is how an exhausting day ended, with some great photographs but also some missed opportunities. With a last effort we managed to get home, prepare something to eat and take a quick look over the photos before falling asleep, dreaming of the breathtaking locations we’ll see the next day and the amazing photos we’ll take.

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