„Isn’t it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?“
The plan was simple (like good plans typically are). Fly to Norway, get a rental and visit the Lofoten to capture some nice pictures of the Aurora Borealis. Spending only a few days is always a risk if you want to see the Northern Lights, but the Lofoten islands are beautiful even without them. Flying there was easy, there are good connections available to Narvik and we planned to pick up the car there, then set base camp in Svolvær, a really nice place with some good infrastructure.
At the airport, first doubts crept into the back of our heads when we received the rental. It was a small hybrid from Korea that generated our suspicions. Somehow, we were able to fit the luggage into the car, then started driving. I was expecting acceptable performance as the car should be fairly light, but every incline made the car breathe heavily, even small ascents forced the car to go slower. The small engine sounded miserable and it did not feel that the electric components of the powertrain were helping. Usually I would just shrug my shoulders, but the dashboard had a power meter extremely prominently on display that tried to show how much incredible power it was willing to offer us. Every time we felt like we would need to get outside to help the car by pushing it, the display jumping to top levels made our eyes roll. And I hope that fuel consumption was better without the snow that we encountered, I really expected better from a small hybrid. Not a bad car, but it really made you cringe too often.
And essentially that was only on the top of our list of challenges, we had heavy snowfall, a hotel that was essentially only offering bare-bone service in between Christmas and the new year and so many clouds that we could only dream of doing photography of the Aurora. But every challenge is also an opportunity to witness something else and we just refuse to fall into a depression just because of some snowflakes. And we were not disappointed at all.
Arriving at the hotel we went to bed soon and the next morning started to look very promising. You have to remember that at this time of year, sunrise is late, so this is not too early in the morning.
Some hours later and after a good breakfast, we had some fantastic light illuminating the mountains.
During our trip to Scandinavia 2015/2016, we already discovered that on the Lofoten, you can drive from Å to Bø. And yet we forgot to take a picture of both signs, so this time, we stopped to corrected that gap in our collection.
Although we were a bit annoyed that weather forecast was looking grim, that did not stop us from making tours. And we were incredibly lucky, we experienced a display even more rare than the Aurora Borealis: A fantastic and incredible display of polar stratospheric clouds. It even looked like a more uncommon type II.
The cameras had a really hard time with them, the dynamic range they had to cover was incredible. Those clouds are incredibly colorful, but very bright. Setting the camera to all manual I went through a full range of bracketing shots, one after the next. Only some of the files were able to capture the full spectrum of color that we witnessed, it was tricky to find good settings on the raw files. I can absolutely assure you that this picture is neither over-saturated nor showing false colors, this is how the sky looked like to the human eye. Amazing sight.
A rare natural phenomenon that slowly faded with the sun rising. Luckily the sun rises extremely slowly in this place, giving us ample time to find some more places that framed those clouds.
Or the other way round. It does not really matter, it was beautiful.
It felt like nature wanted to emphasize the landscape.
Still with dynamic rage being a challenge, we did not want to neglect the rest of the scenery.
Actually now our cameras were horizontally challenged as well. It became difficult to point the camera only in one direction, so we captured some panorama shots. Grab the picture with your mouse or your finger depending on what device you use and push it left and right to reveal all what we witnessed.
A little later we came across a display that just leaves you with your mouth open.
One day I would love to print this panorama in all its glory. I have to find a wall for it first, though. Yes, this is another horizontal slider. Level of detail in this picture is incredible, but file size is brutal: 29245×4509 pixels in a 1.29GB file. Although not close to the largest panorama that I created up until today which is more than twice as large. And yes, your computer needs some oomph to process those.
As you can see, we had some very nice winter landscapes. Unfortunately those pictures do not tell the story of the days that you look at all that snowfall from your hotel room.
The most western end of the road on the islands is a place where the ocean meets the coast after it has been roaming free for many miles. You can see how the water gets angry, consistently milling the stones. It might take some more time until we get a sandy beach at this spot, though.
It was one of those places where you enjoy the forces of water. And yes, doing photography close to it leaves you quite wet sometimes as well.
Sunrise? Sunset? Who cares. And for those that care, this is a sunset.
Incredible what colors the world has to offer.
Back to our hotel, we still had some hopes for getting to see the Aurora. As beautiful as the days were, the nights were all ridden with heavy clouds.
But that did not stop us. Yes, we saw the Aurora. Sometimes only a few streaks visible in between the clouds. We also checked whether we can do some video with the DSLRs, but without much to film, the results were quite meager.
An arc, not too bad.
Probably the one opportunity which showed a bit more sky.
Annoyingly the Northern Lights were actually relatively strong as well. It was just the clouds blocking sights.
Still even without the Aurora, the landscape was beautiful. And on a cold winter day, who needs blue sky anyway?
The diffuse light is wonderful and illuminates all those trees in a way that really exposes all details. It does not really matter this is still color pictures and not black and white.
The Lofoten are a populated place. I wonder how often you see your neighbors sometimes.
And then, only a few clouds, the sun playing with the atmosphere again.
The only time we saw some big game. Barely in reach for our lenses, we did not plan to bring large telephoto lenses.
This is what we came for. Sights that make you feel humble in front of nature. And curious what else the world has to offer.