Lofoten 2015

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.

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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.

NS-PC-12185526Red squirrel (Sciurus vulgarise) foraging in pine forest in summer, Scotland.

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.

NS-PC-12185199NS-PC-12185022NS-PC-12185171Red squirrel (Sciurus vulgarise) foraging in pine forest in summer, Scotland.

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7 Comments

  • Alan MacLEAY says:

    Fabulous aurora shot! Bit jealous of week 2 now.

  • Alan MacLEAY says:

    Fabulous aurora shot! But jealous of week 2 now.

  • Waldemar Halka says:

    Thanks for the tour, Peter, and sorry to hear about you camera and lens. I almost lost my camera in Reine the day after the tour ended. I managed to catch the tripod as it was falling and brace it’s fall with my body. It was a close call.

  • Steve Thomas says:

    I agree with Alan about the envy of week two … but then again the shot I got from week one which has got the best reaction so far was of Skagesand Beach at night just waiting for the aurora that never showed… and I’ll take the poorer display we got on week one as I did at least get to see the aurora for the first time in my life. You didn’t mention the other factor than wind and rain – hail squalls which stung so much one of our number was heard to say how nice it was one day when we had “snow that didn’t hurt”. But if it were that easy and painless, too many people would want to do it! And by the way, my own camera & lens are at the repairers as I type and look set to cost several hundred quid to fix. No pain, no gain…

    A great trip and I hope this puts off enough people that I can find a space on another one 🙂

  • Gary Killon says:

    You know what, I’m kind of glad we had crappy weather. I’m off to Glencoe on Sunday for a few days and the weather forecast is rubbish but you know what, I’m not bothered. This trip has taught me you can get something out of anything. Before Lofoten I wouldn’t have dreamed taking my camera out of the bag in some of the conditions we had. But we did and in the end it was worth it. Who needs blue skies and postcard shots anyway? And as for green and purple skies, don’t even get me started on how much I hate those. OK that last bit might be a lie. Cheers for the memories everyone

  • Helen Woodward says:

    Incredible pics Pete. Do hope you are feeling better? x

  • Carol Darby says:

    Awesome reading Pete. And stunning images. I am pleased that you venture out in any weather as I will be joining you in Iceland in September. I am sure the weather will be a little kinder than in winter but I still hope it isn’t pretty blue skies. We get plenty of that in Australia and it is so boring.

    I will be going to Lofoten for two weeks prior to Iceland and your images have me so excited about the scenery I will encounter. Not winter but it will be stunning just the same.

    I look forward to finally meeting you in less than 6 months time.

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