Arctic Adventures

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. Last week I posted My first week in the Arctic. This will be my second story.

This story is about my visit to Vindstad and Bunes. This was so stunning that I’ll spend this whole post on this visit. I hope you’ll enjoy reading it as much as I had being at there. Most photos in these stories have been taken by phone and are just to be of an illustrative value, unless I mention camera settings, than they are taken with my camera.

On my way to Vindstad

It is Friday and I’ve just finished writing my blogpost. Now my plan is to take the ferry to Vindstad (pronounce: wiensta) and Bunes. I want to go here to hike, explore and of course photograph. Vindstad is only reachable by ferry through the Reinefjord. This ferry however, only goes a few times per day in winter and on Friday one at 15.00 from Reine. I’ll take this one because it also gives me the possibility to photograph during sunset. When I walk from the house to the port across the street, it is snowing like crazy. The sky is totally white and it comes down heavily. I wonder whether I’ll be able to take nice photos in these conditions, but I’m also stoked to go on exploring this cool and remote place. The ferry is small and fast. It takes about 40 minutes with two stops to cross the fjord, visibility however is zero, so I don’t even bother looking out of the window. I get dropped of at a wooden pier and gone is the boat. Now I’m on my own, and the boat won’t return until around 22 pm. Which of course I double check, because in these conditions you don’t want to stay overnight without proper gear.

The boat is quickly out of sight and I’m on my own again.

I have plenty of time to wander around and my plan is to go to the beach on the other side of the mountains. There is a lower part between two large mountains with a trail that leads there. My plan is to go up to that hill and see if the snow conditions allow me to reach the actual beach. There is only one road from the pier to Vindstad, and it is coverd with 30 centimeters of fresh snow. This place is breathtakingly beautiful. On my left, steep mountains and on my right the last bit of Reinefjord. Walking through Vindstad (which only consists of a few houses), I cannot help and wonder how life in such a remote place must be, and especially must have been well before the digital and electrical age.

Looking back on Vindstad, I wonder how harsh wintertimes would have been before the digital and electrical age.

I continue my path and reach the start of the trail leading onto the hill between the mountains. I pass a cemetery and the trail gets a little steeper. One thing I have to be careful about is that there are holes and trenches hidden underneath the snow, but besides that it is quite and easy walk. From time to time the snow is knee deep but progress is fast. As I reach the higher part of the trail, I get to a flatter part and I can actually hear the ocean.

Hiding from a blizzard

I reach the end of the flats and see the beach. The view is incredible, breathtaking and staggeringly beautiful. Such a dramatic scene. Steep high mountains on both sides, lots and lots of snow, and beautiful blue water. The black of the mountains contrasts heavily agains the white of the snow. An sea eagle flies past making the scene even more powerful. I also see a wall of white moving quickly towards me, and before I know it the beach is gone, the mountains are gone, the wind has picked up and snow is blowing horizontally. The only thing I can do now really, is to hide behind one of the large boulders and wait for it to pass.

The wind is pounding heavily and snow flies horizontally. Well hidden behind the boulder I feel grateful for my choice of clothing, not one second do I feel cold. The place that I’ve chosen as a hideout (well chosen… I didn’t have that much time actually) shelters me quite well, I get a little dusted with snow whereas everything that is exposed gets the full blast.

 

I feel grateful for the clothing that I’m wearing, not one second do I feel cold.

Enjoying the drama

For over twenty minutes the place gets hammered leaving a fantastic looking layer of snow on all the exposed rocks. There is no color whatsoever and when the blizzard gets a little less intense I setup my camera gear to capture this monochrome landscape.

Just before the end of the storm I take this picture. It is shot in color. 17 mm | F/14 | 1/25 sec | ISO 100

As quick as the storm set in, it’s gone again and the sun starts to shine. For today I decide to stay where I am overlooking the beach, and not climb down. There are so many opportunities that I don’t find it necessary to go down. I’ll do that in my next visit (I’ll get back to the beach during this trip for sure, maybe even stay overnight to photograph sunrise over the fjord on the other side). From time to time, big clouds appear, dumping more snow. None of them as violent and long as the first one however. I only have to hide once more but that is okay. I’m having so much fun photographing and taking in the scene that I take everything as a gift.

A sad story

Looking across the beach I’ll spot a tiny house on the far-out left corner, built on the rocks close to the water. With my long lens I’ll snap a picture. I later learn that this house is (or was) owned by a now old lady (if she is still alive). It has been built before world war two, as a summer house (which at this moment seems a bit far fetched I know).

Can you spot the little red house? 91 mm | F14 | 1/125 sec | ISO 100

One day during the war, a sea-mine floated towards the shore. It posed an enormous risk for the two houses, so father and son tried pushing it back to sea and away from the rocks. They failed, the mine hit one of the rocks and exploded killing both father and son and destroying one of the houses. This house was never rebuilt. The family left to Canada so from this day on, only one house remained. The actual rock is visible on the photo, close to the shoreline (with high tide it lies more submerged).

Sunset and returning home

I keep on photographing this spectacular place from different angles as the clouds and colors change. The setting sun adds a lot of drama to the place and with last light I return at the pier to wait for my ferry. I’m alone and it it is really quiet and peaceful. A snow shower that just went past now hangs over the fjord, dumping its snow. It looks epic with the mountains and the almost motionless fjord. And together with an old shed it creates a nice and dramatic image.

Snow is being dumped onto the fjord. 35 mm | F/22 | 20 sec | ISO 100

I keep on photographing different scenes until I hear the boat nearing over the fjord. I pack my gear and am greeted by the same friendly boatsman as before. This epic day ends with a fantastic route back to Reine. Now the visibility is good and I enjoy the view and all too soon we are back in the harbor.

This was my story for this week. 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. There are more great stories to come, so make sure to check once in a while!! Thanks for reading and feel free to share this post with your friends!!



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