Any tour guide with even half a conscience will recognise the gut-wrenching feeling of lying in bed listening to the wind howling and the rain pounding outside. If it happens once or twice on a tour, the guests will likely sympathise but night after night and I start to stress. Arctic Norway is never going to be straightforward in winter and that’s why we go, but a constant near-gale south-westerly with all that it brings, isn’t good news.
I’ve been to Lofoten enough times to see at its best. Snow covering the landscape from head to foot, brooding skies topping jagged peaks and aquamarine seas lapping at sandy shorelines. Factor in the possibility of a decent aurora showing and you have the makings for some pretty spectacular images…and expectant tour guests. Sadly 2015 didn’t tick as many of these boxes as I’d have liked but that just meant we had to try that bit harder.
Based in Flakstadoya we ventured out at first and last light in all but the worst of weather. Tripods were blown over, guests were blown over and I have to admit, I was blown over (along with my now deceased 1dx and 16-35mm lens – sorry Canon). It was uncomfortable at times and plain hopeless at others but Northshots guests are made of strong stuff and both of our groups showed fortitude, teasing out shots when the weather relented and the light did its best to inspire. It wasn’t classic landscape photography but we soldiered on.
In these situations you know that sooner or later you’ll get a break. It’s unfair to compare two very different tours but the highlight for me was halfway through the second when one night, despite a pretty mediocre forecast, the skies lit up with the most amazing aurora display. For an hour, broken cameras and fatigue were forgotten as we revelled in one of nature’s visual treasures. I’m only posting a hint of what we saw here but it made the trip for all who were lucky enough to be there.
Landscape photography is a fickle business at the best of times and the arctic can be cruel but when it comes good –and eventually it inevitably does – there’s nowhere better. You always want more; I always want more, but you can only shoot what’s in front of you and together, we did a pretty good job at doing that.
I’d like to thank both our 2015 tour groups – I know it wasn’t easy. Next winter sees us in Iceland, an equally impressive destination, but if you fancy a wild winter Lofoten adventure in the future, drop us a line to register your interest.