14 Days on the Lofoten Islands – A Travel Documentary

50orsohours

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Hello everyone! I had the chance to visit the Lofoten Islands, far above the Arctic Circle, for 2 weeks in June this year (2018). It took me quite some time to sift through the images, and process all the things I've seen and experienced. Since I was on the lookout for some travel advise before I left, I decided to not just post images here but also give you some background as to what we did, and how we experienced this gorgeous part of the world. Hope you enjoy!

Warning: Image Heavy Thread!
TOC:
2. The Beaches
3. What to do on rainy days
4. Munkebu Hike
5. Kvalvika Beach
6. Midnight Sun (The End)
-----------------------------

Part 1: Travelling

As someone who is not very fond of airplanes, I had the crazy idea to just drive to the Lofoten. I am from Germany, and 3.5 days didn't sound too much when we planned the trip, but boy – did that stretch! In Germany, you can at least go as fast as is safe with your car, but as soon as you hit Denmark, the speed limit comes down to 130km/h, and Sweden – through which we traveled for 2 days – is even worse. And the streets are just straight on, which gets very boring very fast. Swedish "highways" – Taken with a drone (DJI Spark)

On the upside, the landscape was very pretty, albeit quite mosquito-heavy in mid-Sweden. On our third day, we crossed the Arctic Circle – it's easy to miss, just a sign by the road. But since we were traveling during the Midnight Sun, it meant it would not get dark anymore – the sun would not set for weeks and weeks, but just skim along the horizon. It's easy to read and accept these words, but wait until you sit at a beach at 1am in the morning and watch the sun paint the sky in amazing colors!

At the end of our very long trip we finally arrived in Ballstad, which is somewhere in the middle of the Lofoten islands (for those of you who were there already, we were only about 20 minutes from Hauckland Beach). Our house, rented via AirBnB, had promised us a "secluded private beach" and we were knocked off our feet when we finally saw it:

View attachment 672094

I had no idea that Norway had those colors ! Normally you only see moody pictures of the landscapes up north, but this was almost tropical. Ok, that illusion was shattered really quickly when we held our hands into the water – in June, it was still ice-cold with air temps only around 5-10C.

Part 2: First Hiking Impressions

Of course, we had come for the photos and that meant hiking to good photo spots. Somehow, I had not fully realized that and so I was puffing and huffing while we scaled steep mountains. We'd actually just had one hike during those two weeks where there was a proper trail to follow – otherwise you literally have to make your way up mountain-sides, through mud-basins, over rubble and huge mounds of boulders. This was what we had to scale for our first hike (meaning: start at sea level and make it up to the ridge):

View attachment 672100

Fun fact: this image was actually taken at 1:53am when we returned from a hike, but it was the only time this mountain range was lit from this side. But the hike rewarded us with an amazing view of the town we were staying at:

View attachment 672098

View attachment 672097
And if there's one thing I want you take away from this first post: bring warm clothes to wear in layers! You get really hot while climbing from 0 to 300 meters almost vertically, but once up on the heia, the flat area on top of the mountains, the weather can change in an instant. The wind cooled us down quickly, and rain was followed by a bout of snow. Bringing additional layers and a light down-jacket can make the difference between staying for a photo or having to return because you're freezing.

View attachment 672099

View attachment 672095
In the image above, you can see a massive mountain range across the fjord, with snow falling from the clouds on the left. We could literally watch as a light dusting of snow started to cover up those mountains.

Oh, and one more super useful tip: if you assume you brought spare batteries and memory cards for, say, your drone (or your camera), go and check before you leave! We had left the drone's memory card at our temporary home and were crushed that we couldn't get any video footage of the breathtaking view around us. Don't be like us ;)

tbc...

One of the best write ups I’ve ever seen. Excellent photos. But there are 2 things I noticed. First, in some of your photos, the blue in the skies is way too strong, it blends into the clouds. Easily corrected by reducing the blue a little bit. The second one is F8 at 12mm. You will get plenty of DOF at F4 or F5.6 and your photos will be sharper. Otherwise, as many of us said, wonderfully done post.
 

AlterKnabe

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Hallo Julia!
Das ist ein großartiger Reisebericht mit herrlichen Bildern. Ich möchte Dir meine Anerkennung aussprechen - auch für die Arbeit, die Du Dir mit der Bearbeitung der Bilder und der Erstellung der Texte gemacht hast. Ganz große Klasse!
Zu der freundlichen Kritik von 50orsohours: An einem klaren Tag sind die Farben auf den Lofoten unglaublich intensiv. Selbst falls Du da ein wenig Richtung Vivid aufgedreht haben solltest, geben Deine Bilder die Farben doch so wieder, wie ich sie selbst dort erlebt und in Erinnerung habe.
Danke für diesen Beitrag!
Hello, Julia!
This is a great travelogue with wonderful pictures. I would like to express my appreciation - also for the work you have done with the editing of the pictures and the creation of the texts. That's great!
To the friendly criticism of 50orsohours: On a clear day the colours on Lofoten are incredibly intense. Even if you should have turned up a little bit towards Vivid, your pictures show the colors as I experienced and remember them.
Thank you for this posting!
 

Julia

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First, in some of your photos, the blue in the skies is way too strong, it blends into the clouds. Easily corrected by reducing the blue a little bit.

Well, the colors actually were a bit ridiculous on the sunny days. On some pictures I actually reduced the Vibrance in LR because it was too much, even for my taste. But in general, I like colors that pop and that's how I edit my images. Might not be to everyone's taste, but it makes me happy :) I do admit that in 2-3 photos, I could have probably taken down the vibrance a little bit, but I wanted the strong contrast and intensity because they reflected what I subjectively remembered from those days.

geben Deine Bilder die Farben doch so wieder, wie ich sie selbst dort erlebt und in Erinnerung habe.

Das freut mich zu hören, Walter! Ich konnte am Anfang meinen Augen kaum trauen da ich diese Farben auf den Lofoten nie erwartet hätte. :)
 

ChrisG

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Congratulations on a wonderful set of images and the write up added another dimension. Superb - I am in awe! Where's your next trip?
 

Julia

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Where's your next trip?

Uh, good question :) Maybe Iceland next year, or if I can get my target shooting (compound bow) to the next level, I can do some international competitions next year that will give me the opportunity to see new places :)
 

50orsohours

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Well, the colors actually were a bit ridiculous on the sunny days. On some pictures I actually reduced the Vibrance in LR because it was too much, even for my taste. But in general, I like colors that pop and that's how I edit my images. Might not be to everyone's taste, but it makes me happy :) I do admit that in 2-3 photos, I could have probably taken down the vibrance a little bit, but I wanted the strong contrast and intensity because they reflected what I subjectively remembered from those days.



Das freut mich zu hören, Walter! Ich konnte am Anfang meinen Augen kaum trauen da ich diese Farben auf den Lofoten nie erwartet hätte. :)

I had a feeling that if I mentioned blue being too much that it maybe misunderstood. I love colors to pop as much as anyone, maybe even a bit more and I didn’t suggest to reduce vibrancy, only to reduce the blue channel a little, until the edges of the clouds return white. It used to happen to me too, but one day I was looking at a set of images I processed from the day before and noticed it. Quickly figured out that a slight reduction of blue made all the difference and lost not an ounce of the pop.

I was just trying to be helpful.
 
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Thank you for you wonderful pictures.

I went to the Lofoten islands for a few days on my honeymoon trip in 2007 (that also included Bergen + a Hurtigruten trip), and the Lofoten were my favorite part.
I definitely want to go back there some time, and after seeing all these great pictures I want it even more :)

Last time I travelled mostly by car in the Lofoten, but that's my regret. Roads only go approximately sea level and you got you much better views by going up.
But my wife hates hiking... On all of the hikes you've done, were there some easy ones? Or short ones?

Did you get some nice pictures with the drone?
 

Julia

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Last time I travelled mostly by car in the Lofoten, but that's my regret. Roads only go approximately sea level and you got you much better views by going up.
But my wife hates hiking... On all of the hikes you've done, were there some easy ones? Or short ones?

Well, I think having a car is absolutely essential when you go to the Lofoten. I guess they have public transportation, too, but if you want to be independent and get to the hikes, you won't be able to do without a car. And yes, you won't really find any fantastic views without hiking – since the Lofoten are literally the tips of mountains peeking out of the water, the roads basically just go along the outside edge of the islands and you'll have to walk for everything else.

As for easy hikes:

Driving to Hauckland beach and leaving the car there offers you the option of taking a very easy trail along the outside edge of the island. You basically walk along the beach, around a mountain, and then you arrive at Uttakleiva beach. Very scenic and beautiful and super duper easy. There's almost no elevation change. You can then, however, hike back to Hauckland by crossing the mountain that separates it from Uttakleiva. Sure, you have to go up a few hundred meters, but the trails winds up so it's quite easy to master. The way down on the other side might be a bit challenging. You have a winding trail in the beginning, but it just stops in a sloping field of grass and you kind of have to just go down from there. But to me, that was the easiest hike in all of the 14 days we've been there. You might break a sweat, but still – really easy.

The hike to Kvalvika from the parking lot was ok-ish. You don't have to go up steep slopes, but it's a constant up and down over medium sized hills. I personally don't like that because I'd rather go up all the way and then down all the way. I find it very depressing to go down during the hike because I know I have to go back up again on my way back ;) You should only do this hike if it hasn't rained the same day or day before since it will get rather muddy. But it's just about 5km one way. I was just cranky because I was exhausted from the hike on the day before.

All the other hikes we did were more challenging, in my opinion. That's the lesson I took from this trip – if you want to get great vistas on the Lofoten, hiking is your only way.

I did share a few images in the post about what to do on rainy days, and they include the GPS coordinates in the description. Those were beaches and locations that you could drive up with the car, and the maybe walk down to the beach (a few hundred meters), but no hiking was necessary here. So there are a few spots that you can find like that (and of course, you can always visit Reine or Hamnoy, which we didn't since we weren't into buildings and people but only mountains and fjords).

Did you get some nice pictures with the drone?

My travel buddy got some really nice videos. He's not on many social media/photography sites, but he created a few spheric panoramas and you can find them here: Kuula | Home for your 360/VR images. Kuula | Share 360/VR photos and build virtual tours!
 

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