A Northern Norway Adventure
When you go to Lofoten or Senja (or anywhere in Northern Norway really), you have to be prepared to survive the elements. Be it harsh winds with a hint of sea salt bringing the message of wild tall dark waves from the sea. Or biting cold gusts of mountain air, breathed by ancient giants who dwell on inaccessible mountain tops. Or, if you are feeling adventurous, why not mix it all up and maybe toss in a healthy dose of rain, hail and snow. Maybe some treacherous ice that may send you (or your vehicle) stumbling, into whatever abyss snowy watery wastes have decided to open up, tailored especially for you. It all sounds really awesome actually. Few things make you feel so alive when the ground and sky are mixing. A chaotic ritualist dance of the elemental giants.
But what you can't prepare for is the flu. Pure and simple flu. Nothing heroic about it. It came creeping a few days before my departure and it got worse, till I had to notify my friend Ron, that, hey man, I am so terribly sorry, I can't go. Spoiler alert: I went anyway. Just two days later. I won't bore you with travel and getting-healthy logistics, but suffice to say I missed Lofoten, but made Senja and got three days to enjoy its treacherously amazing scenery, and one day of freezing my ass of at Otertinden.
I also slept 12 hours the first night in Senja. It is not something you want to do, as a landscape photographer. But I am not just a landscape photographer, I am also a sleeper. Extremely good at that, the sleeping. And I hear constantly, that the road to a long and happy life is a balanced life style. So I slept, in my Airbnb's insanely soft bed (seriously, it was like a cloud that went through whatever pulled pork goes through that makes it all real mushy and pleasant to chew). I slept all through the sunrise, which was okay, because there was none. Nothing. Zero. NOL. Just a thick storm of snow. Instead, later that day, Ron and I made preparations for what seemed to be a promising night for northern lights. Eagerly monitoring geomagnetic storm forecasts and cloud movements, we talked about how awesome it is going to be. The skies will bloom in green and purple. Epic pictures shall be captured. It all looked very assuring and we set out just after sunset (which we still didn't see. Because of the snow storm.) in our rental car with necessary spiky tires for the icy labyrinth of roads we were about to traverse.
We spent around six hours driving around and exploring. There was a full moon, unusually bright. But northern lights we did not see. Eh, sometimes they just don't show up. You know what, strike that. Almost always they just don't show up. Okay, there was one stripe, taunting us, like a distant echo of a vision unseen, a sky spectacle that will forever remain a secret to everyone who was outside that night. And there were quite a few photographers in Senja even during this harsh time of year. Actually, we didn't see anyone else besides them photographers, farther confirming my suspicion that no one else actually likes traveling to these magnificent places, at night and during cold, unsteady weather. I wonder why.
We did get unusually bright full moon shots though, which was unique to me. It was a lil’ somethin’ like this: A chilling atmosphere captured as a glimpse of time, never to return, but forever to stay, on my camera. We drove around more and found out that some of the roads were physically closed because there was too much snow. We also found out that the reason we couldn't park next to a tall dark mysterious building to explore a nearby snow-covered beach, was that it in reality was a building dedicated to quickly spewing out an ambulance if the need should arise. Waddling, sometimes waist-deep, in snow, and devouring cold fish-burgers to keep the spirits alive, we gathered a bunch of moon-lit shots with snowy patterns scattered around the landscape, and went home.
We woke up early next day. When the weather forecast shows an icon of a shiny ball of sun with some smaller essence of clouds around it, you should even sacrifice something as important as sleep. One hour of furious teeth brushing, breakfast, coffee, and countless desperate visits to the toilet (so you won’t have to go when you should be photographing the rising sun - it really is a unique category of fear of missing out) and shoveling the snow off the car, finally lead us to the road. We had a plan to go to a specific spot, but as reckless landscape photographers, we failed at it miserably, when we saw something even cooler. Almost always follow your gut! We took the detour, and stayed there for good two or three hours, eyeing the sunrise and the following golden hour. This morning I got to see something I have never before: a sandy beach with snow and ice on. We don’t have many sandy beaches in Norway.
We didn’t even consider the tide. It was barely by accident that I remembered my backpack lying somewhere in the middle of the beach, before the waters engulfed it.
I took probably 10 portfolio-worthy pictures this day, but I only managed to process two of them so far. As an inherently lazy person who also likes to spend my free time on gaming (Grim Dawn anyone?), sometimes I am amazed I even get that far. The remains of the day and night were uneventful, but the following morning had us repeating the same process, only in a different location.
I got to play with snow patterns blown by the wind. Even got to jump into some of them. Childhood impulses taking over.
Our last day on the magical Northern Norway lead us to a new location, a new Airbnb with a super friendly host, and endless freezing winds in -16 Celsius. And while I was trying to warm up in the car, devouring another cold fish-burger and blueberries (not at the same time!), an almost missed opportunity at a sunset photograph.
My trip back was boringly delayed by 7 hours due to an incompetent airline Widerøe, who still refuse to issue a refund, but besides that this five day adventure was magical! If you are reading this sometime later than April 2019, you should find more photographs from this trip in the gallery category “Mountains”. The photographs themselves are taken during late February.