Never-ending sunrises/sunsets, a photographer’s paradise
I had been to Lofoten in the summer of 2004 on a two month camping trip around Scandinavia, and when I arrived to these Islands, north of Norway, I fell completely in love with the power of this landscape and with the size and shape of the mountains and peaks. I had always dreamt of coming back and I had the opportunity to go last February.
Travelling above the Arctic Circle is always a unique and a very cold experience… However, although Lofoten features a sub polar oceanic climate, winter temperatures are very mild considering its location. In fact, the effect of the Gulf Stream makes Lofoten the largest positive temperature anomaly in the world relative to latitude.
Our target was to capture some amazing landscapes in one of the most beautiful spots that you can find in Europe, and if possible, observe the Northern Lights. The trip had been planned to coincide with the peak of the Auroral activity and with the full moon…
Lofoten in winter
When we arrived to Leknes, it was snowing like I hadn’t seen in a very long time. . It was pretty chilly as well but the first thing I noticed at first light was that the landscape was completely different to what I had experienced 11 years ago.…The whole island was covered in snow and below the snow, there was a thick layer of ice. So when we started to drive on ice, I was a bit worried until I was told that the vans had spikes (snow tires) designed for that purpose. …
One of the first places we went to was the beach of Uttakleiv. Crampons were mandatory as there was ice and snow everywhere. Even the sand was frozen! This really puzzled me, I had never seen a beach covered in a white layer of snow. It was incredible!
The sunrises were so long and the light was so soft during the whole day that sometimes I would not even stop for lunch and I would continue shooting right until after sunset. Then, after a quick dinner, out again in the hunt of Auroras.
My fingers and toes were frozen and on a few occasions, I could not even press the shutter button of my camera. I was in pain but the excitement of capturing those amazing landscapes quickly made me immune to it. The wind and the cold weather not only tested my endurance but also the strength of my poor Pentax 645D… I think the extreme weather conditions were also too much for my Gitzo tripod. Two of its legs broke in pieces whilst setting up between some rocks trying to find a good composition...
I always shoot landscapes with a Pentax 645D medium format camera. I love it and it gives me files with a lot of detail to be able to print big and to push the files in Photoshop without showing noticeably noisy. However, I knew that my Pentax would not be able to capture the Northern Lights and for that reason I also brought a great little camera, and a great lens. The new Fuji X-T1 and the Fujinon XF 10-24mm f/4R OIS.
First Aurora experience
Although I only saw one Aurora, I managed to capture it with my camera and it was an incredible experience. To photograph Auroras, if you don’t want to lose the shape of it, you should expose at f2.8 for around 2 or 3 seconds and at around 1600 ISO. However, the aurora came when we were all setting up our gear on the beach and since it was my first Aurora experience I got a bit nervous and I could not find the correct settings in the dark... I ended up shooting it for 15 seconds. As a result, my aurora image didn’t have any shape and I had to ask a friend to give me some of his files to merge with mine.
Some might not approve what I have done with the post processing but really, the purpose of doing this was to have a bit of fun. The post processing video has been a bit controversial in Spain, where I am finding a large number of photography purists compared to Australia. In any case here is the video of the post-processing done to the image: