My first week in the Arctic

As some of you might know (or have seen on Instagram), I’m on the Lofoten islands which lies in Norway and well within the Arctic circle. I’ll be here for five weeks, and I’ll try to do a blogpost every week. This is my story of  the first week. Most photos in these stories have been taken my phone and are just to be of an illustrative value.

The arrival

After two flights (one with a really cool small plane), a sleepover and a ferry, I arrive the next day in the afternoon at Reine. Where I’ll stay at the lovely guesthouse ‘Det Gamle Hotellet‘. The location of this guesthouse is simply stunning. It lies within the center of the immensely picturesque village. The scenery will quite literally blow you away!  Everywhere you look there is something beautiful to see. There is loads of traditional red fishermans houses, a little harbor, and it is surrounded by large mountains that run all the way to the waterline. Besides that, I’m also really lucky because the day before my arrival the weather has changed (it was quite bad before) and lots of snow have been dumped out of the sky! The forecast (although it is kind of hard to predict for this region) looks really promising as well.

Something really typical for this region are these racks filled with drying cod.Something fishy

One thing I notice right away are the large racks full of fish (and the slight smell of fish). I quickly learn that these are actually codfish that have been hung there to dry in the Arctic air. They hang the heads separately to lure birds away from the bodies. The heads are just easier for them to reach and eat from. One might think that those racks full off fish would smell particularly bad, but that is not the case. At least, not until temperatures rise 😉

They keep the heads away from the bodies on different racks making for a bit of a macabre scene.

Early sunrises

Because spring is starting (you wouldn’t have guessed with all the snow), days become longer and sunrise is quite early already and this will become even earlier during my stay (over half an hour per week roughly). This means getting up way before sunrise to get to certain shooting locations. The alarm is set at 5.00 am every morning. This first week I’m planning on staying in the area and explore most parts by foot and bike. Reine is simply amazing and breathtaking photo opportunities are up for grabs.

Doing sunrise shoots means getting up way before sunrise. But is it so rewarding!

Some sunrise spots I choose are a bit more challenging to reach with this thick pack of snow but really worth the effort. Besides that, just to hike in this area is fantastic. And when the sunrise turns out to be spectacular, than it is just an added bonus.

The rising sun turns the landscape into a pink and golden wonderland.

The Aurora

On day four I seem to have hit the jackpot! The sky is clear and an electromagnetic storm is forecasted. Now the sky only has to stay clear until it gets dark. After having a beautiful sunset session at Hamnøy, shooting a classical scene with the orange glowing mountain behind the little red houses, it is time to wait. While I do so I’m scouting locations to shoot the aurora from. Also, I wander around to stay warm and kill the time. When it is finally dark enough, I’m starting to witness a faint band in the sky just above the mountains. I immediately recognize this from my first aurora in Iceland, and I know it is starting.

It started of with just a band of faint light, nothing could have prepared me for the spectacle that I was about to witness (those pictures will follow later, I promise). There is still a lot of light of the setting sun however.

After a while I see bands of activity above, beyond and even towards the southern horizon. As it gets darker it gets really intense! Moving gracefully across the sky. At this point I cannot contain my excitement anymore, I run across the street like a headless chicken looking for a better spot to photograph all this activity from. But as I do so, the northern sky, where I just stood, starts to light up. I run back literally shouting ‘oooh’ and ‘aaah’. I’m so astounded by what is happening that it feels like I’m about to loose my mind. I feel really privileged to be a witness of this. I’m taking turns photographing and grasping towards the sky wondering what ancient people might have thought when this occurred. I stay until the intense activity dies off and take photos that I only could have dreamed of (I will show them at a later stage, I promise). Feeling blessed and delighted I finally return home, go to bed and set the alarm. Way to excited to sleep, I realize that I my alarm is about to go off in 3,5 hours… well what the heck, it was definitely wort it.

Exploding with pink

The next morning I’m still overly excited and when I reach my location for my sunrise shoot. I know that, again, I’ll be in for quite a show. The whole landscape turns pink as the sun slowly rises towards the horizon. In the afternoon I’m off exploring and come across a beautiful house/shed, which turns out to be really photogenic. Even with the friendly sky and the flat lighting the images turn out nicely, but I would love some more drama.

A bit more drama in the sky would really work for this place.

At the end of the day dark clouds start to appear, making for a dramatic sky. I know that this is exactly what my afternoon location needs so I quickly return towards this place before sunset. It turns out epic and tired but really pleased with the results I return home.

Rain and storm

One thing that the Lofoten are famous for is the ferocious weather. During the night it already starts to rain and there are strong gusts of wind. The snow becomes a mess and it is unpleasant to get outside. Because of this I don’t even set my alarm. I’m actually quite happy because it means getting some extra sleep. The whole day I take it slowly and enjoy doing nothing.

The next day I shortly get out but it is still raining too much, the sky is really grey and the light flat.Good weather and fresh snow

After this period of rain and wind, the sun returns. Now with all the snow gone, the landscape looks completely different and lots of shades of green start to appear. Locations that I’d been before, now look completely different. Bringing lots of new photo opportunities.

The snow has made way for beautiful shades of green.

As I’m writing this however, a new fresh layer of snow has fallen (as it already did last night) and where back in winterwonderland again. In a few hours I will be off taking a ferry across the Reinefjord to go to Bunes beach for sunset.

I hope you’ve all enjoyed this post (which is a little bit different from what I normally do). If want to know what I’m up to from a day to day base, follow me on Instagram where I’ll use the Instagram stories to make short videos of what I’m doing and where I am.



2 responses to “My first week in the Arctic”

  1. Hi

    Nice first blog post about your stay here on the Lofoten archipelago.
    Looking forward following your stay here during the next weeks.

    All the best Steven. (Maybe we run into each other somewhere along the road)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *