Norway in Winter

The Lofoten Islands off the northern coast of Norway are unlike any other place I know of. There are snow covered mountains everywhere with many of them right on the edge of the sea.

I had made the trip to this area last year for the first time and there was so much there that I either had not been able to photograph or had not photographed under the best conditions, so a return trip this year was in order. This time I was there for a full two weeks to be sure I got what I was looking for.

There is a classic view of the red cabins in the village of Reine that I was hoping to capture this time with heavy snow on the ground around the trees. To our good fortune, it snowed heavily on our first day there and the next morning we were given the scene we were looking for.

Norway, Lofoten, Reine, Morning, Snowfall
Morning At Reine : Prints Available

If there is one constant in the Lofoten Islands, it is that the weather there changes constantly. We were always watching the radar and the sky and thinking about where we needed to be.

Norway, Lofoten, Hamnoy, Winter, Weather
Changing Weather : Prints Available

These little red boathouses are all over the Lofoten Islands. They’re all closed up in the winter, of course. We had been eyeing this one for days, waiting for a good blowing snowstorm to capture it in. Many of the images were ruined by snow on the lens, but with some diligent effort, we got a good one without any blemishes. I thought the way the snowstorm blurred out the mountain in the background was an excellent way to put emphasis on the little boathouse.

Norway, Ramberg, Winter, Boathouse, Snowstorm
The Boathouse : Prints Available

Although the water freezes in some of the fjords and inlets in the winter, it is constantly on the move with the tides. It can be all crammed up against the shore or too far out from it to include in an image and the trick is to have the ice close enough to the shore at sunrise to be part of the composition. We passed by this location many times and it just wasn’t right. Finally, on this morning, all the pieces fell into place. Not only was the ice in a good location, the wind was calm to give us the great reflections. It was just another example why you need one or two weeks in any location to be there at the right time.

Norway, Lofoten, Islands, winter, water, freeze, reflection
Ice Flow Reflection : Prints Available

This iconic location is overlooking the small village of Hamnoy. The little red cabins are the highlight of the show. Of course, a great winter sunrise with light on the mountain doesn’t hurt either. What made this sunrise so spectacular was the heavy snow that fell just before the sun came up covering the rocks right down to the water line. Sometimes you can only dream of having all the conditions the way you want them, but this time the dream came true.

Norway, Lofoten, Hamnoy, winter, snow, water
Norwegian Dream : Prints Available

Fishing is by far the largest industry in the Lofoten Islands. On this winter morning, we were photographing a variety of mountain scenes and they were nice, but just missing something. Then, this small fishing boat was heading out for the day and I knew it was going to provide the perfect balance and would be just what the scene needed. I guess I got a little lucky that day, but there’s nothing wrong with that!

Heading Out : Prints Available

There is a small waterfall in the Islands and the plan was to photograph it with the mountain in the background. The composition was okay, but after walking to an area above the falls, and getting my feet wet in the process, I fell in love with this composition from there. The angle of the flowing stream was perfect and the mountain behind the stream is absolutely beautiful. I tried quite a few compositions from there that were only slightly different from each other, but this was the winner. I love winter in Norway.

Norway, Lofoten, Mountain, Winter, Waterfall, Stream
Above The Falls : Prints Available

In the winter, the village of Hamnoy, Norway receives the direct light of the sun that rises from the southern part of the sky. It was clear enough where the sun was rising from the mountains and clouds behind the village lit up beautifully. The white snow, the pink clouds and the blue skies all worked in harmony at sunrise on this morning of Norwegian Colors.

Norwegian Colors : Prints Available

This location was one of our main targets during the two weeks we were in the Islands, but it needed a fresh winter snowfall to make it work. Finally, after ten days, the snow came and we headed out that afternoon with much anticipation. When we arrived, we found that the ice on the lake blocked the reflection of the peak of the mountain called Volundstind at most places along the edge of the lake. After some searching, we found a location where we could “get the point” of the mountain.

Norway, Lofoten, Fredvang, Volundstind, Winter, Reflection, Lake
Getting The Point : Prints Available

There is a fantastic view of the little town of Hamnoy in the Lofoten Islands from a nearby hill and it is just impossible to resist shooting this winter composition. It was simply the perfect morning with the sun rising behind us lighting up the village along with the mountains and clouds behind it. Although we were there for two weeks, we did not see similar conditions again.

Norway, Lofoten, Hamnoy, winter
Morning View : Prints Available

I head out west in April to check out some new territory between Lake Tahoe and Crater Lake. I’m hoping the road to Crater Lake will be open as it is currently closed due to broken snowplows.

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Iceland In Winter

I have made two previous expeditions to photograph in Iceland, but both were in the summer. The sun rises and sets from the south in the winter, which results in different possibilities in addition to the winter scenes. We were there for about 10 days at the end of January.

We began our trip going to the Snaefellness Peninsula to photograph the iconic little black church that is on the southern coast. We were there in time for a wonderful sunrise, which gave us some great light on some of the surrounding mountains there.

Iceland, Snaefellness, Peninsula, Black, Church, Sunrise
Morning Beams : Prints Available

Iceland, Snaefellsness, Peninsula, Sunrise, Mountains, Ocean
Snaefellsness Sunrise : Prints Available
Iceland, Snaefellsness, Peninsula, Mountains, Clouds, Winter
Winter Peaks : Prints Available

From there we moved on to the waterfalls in front of the mountain known as Kirkjufell, which we were able to capture as the sun was close to setting behind us. I think I still prefer the colors at this location in the summer, but winter has its own appeal.

Iceland, Kirkjufell, kirkjufellfoss, waterfall, river, sunset, mountain
Smiling Sunset

On our way to the southern coast of the island, we stopped at a thermal geyser area known simply as Geysir. After an overnight stay, we were able to capture the eruption of the geyser in the morning with the sun rising behind it. The sun lit up the edges of the geyser spray with it’s warm, orange light. It was exactly what we had hoped for.

Iceland, Geysir, geyser, Sunrise
Geysir Sunrise : Prints Available

Our next stop was the sea stacks off the coast near the town of Vik at what is called Black Rock Beach. Rather than sand, the beach is made up entirely of small black stones. It isn’t much easier to walk in than sand, but it is very attractive.

Iceland, Vik, Black, Rock, Beach, Sea, Stacks, Sunset
Black Beach Sunset : Prints Available

Near the beach is one of the iconic waterfalls called Seljalandsfoss. Although my favorite image of Iceland is of this waterfall in the summer, I was pleased with how well it works in the winter. There may not be a bad time to capture this scene.

Iceland, Seljalandsfoss, waterfall, winter
Winter Falls : Prints Available

Also on the southern coast is the famous glacier lagoon at Jokularson. Ice calves off of the glacier and floats out of a canal to the ocean and is then washed up onto the black sand beach. The goal is to capture a long exposure of the water running past the icebergs back into the ocean.

Iceland, Jokulsarlon, iceberg, sunrise, ocean
Ice Whale : Prints Available

Iceland, Jokulsarlon, icebergs, lagoon, ocean, sunrise
Side Flow : Prints Available
Iceland, iceberg, Jokulsarlon, lagoon, ice, sunrise, beach
Three Berg Morning : Prints Available

One of the things that you can do in the winter, but not in the summer, is photograph inside one of the ice caves that is underneath a glacier. This was definitely on my list as I had never done this before. The following are two photos from the ice cave, with one showing another person in it for scale. These caves can be huge!

Iceland, Ice, Cave, Blue
Huge And Blue : Prints Available

Iceland, Ice, Cave, Sun, Light
Into The Light : Prints Available

A trip to Iceland just wouldn’t be complete without photographing the Icelandic horses. We spent some time with the owner of one of the farms that had quite a few horses. It was a special experience and we had some very close access to them. They can be extremely friendly and will walk right up to you. We learned a lot about them and how to properly interact with them.

Iceland, Icelandic, Horses, Winter, Snow
Looking Back : Prints Available

Iceland, Horses, Icelandic
Hello There : Prints Available

I leave for Norway on February 10 to return to the Lofoten Peninsula. I was there last year and the scenes of the mountains by the sea covered in snow along with the little red cabins was just so special that I had to go back to it one more time. There is snow in the forecast as I write this, which definitely has me itching to leave.

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Colorado Fall Color

Jason and I arrived in Southwest Colorado hoping to find that there had been an early snowfall on the mountains like last year, but it was not to be. So, we made the decision to focus on scenes that were not so dependent on mountains.

With the clear morning skies, the first subject on the list was the rather well known group of curved aspen trees near Ophir, Colorado where the rising sun would provide some nice back lighting on the aspen trees along with a beautiful sun star.

Colorado, Ophir, fall, color, aspen, curved
Curves : Prints Available

Just south of Telluride is Cushman Lake, one of the prettiest fall color settings in Southwest Colorado. It had been windy for days, which causes ripples on the water and prevents the lake from having good reflections of the trees. We finally got a good forecast of calm winds so we got there before sunrise and were well rewarded.

Colorado, Telluride, Cushman, Lake, Fall, Color, Reflection
Morning Reflection : Prints Available

Colorado, Telluride, Cushman Lake, Fall, Color, Aspen, Tree,
Above The Lake : Prints Available

Colorado, Telluride, Cushman, Lake, Fall, Color, Reflection
Morning Calm : Prints Available

The remnants of Hurricane Rosa that had come ashore in Mexico were on their way to Colorado. The viewpoint of Mount Wilson near Telluride was the perfect place to capture the incoming weather. The morning sun was still shining on the mountain and the aspens in front of it when storm clouds began building behind the mountain. I could not have asked for more.

Colorado, fall, mountain, Mount Wilson, Storm, Clouds
Southwest Storm : Prints Available

We continued searching the back roads around Telluride for good fall color scenes and came across a stand of aspens where an old road appeared to go through them. It was raining, which did a nice job saturating the color of the leaves, but had me heading back to my dry car without spending time to see where the old road went. Maybe next time. Down yet another back road was a stunning setting showing off the contrast between the pines and the aspens.

Colorado, Telluride, Fall, Color, Road, Aspen
The Old Road : Prints Available

Colorado, fall, Telluride, trees, aspen, color
Constrast Of Colors : Prints Available

Not too far northeast of Ridgway, Colorado this unusual ridge with Courthouse Rock makes for a wonderful fall color scene. At sunset, it sits high above to the east allowing the setting sun to light it up beautifully. On this day, the sun was not blocked by any clouds as it made its way to the horizon behind us, providing us with a warm glow on Courthouse Rock.

Colorado, Ridgway, Sunset, Courthouse, Rock, Fall, Color
The Courthouse : Prints Available

We headed to Crested Butte in search of some new scenes. The leaves had begun to fall off most of the aspen trees, but we headed out early on the winding dirt road west of town where some very nice fall color scenes can be found. On the way back to town, we came around a curve and there it was, this wonderful grouping of pines and aspens that we couldn’t see when previously heading the other direction. Everything about it was perfect, with the pines surrounded by the aspens on the left and the grouping of the white aspen trees on the right.

Colorado, Fall, Color, Crested Butte, Ridgway, Telluride, Aspen, Tree
Fall Contrast : Prints Available

It was on to Aspen to see what was happening with the fall color there. The iconic image at Maroon Lake was not possible due to extremely low water levels and still no snow on the mountains. So, we headed up Fryingpan River and were able to capture a nice scene of the Cottonwood trees overhanging the river. Just like Aspens, they turn yellow in the fall, as well.

Colorado, River, fall, Cottonwood, Aspen
Cottonwood Colors : Prints Available

Finally, during the last two days of our time in Colorado, it began to rain, with snow at the higher elevations. The best place to capture snow on the mountains was going to be at McClure Pass, west of Aspen. On our last day, we got there before sunrise planning to photograph from the river at the bottom of the valley, but found the entire valley to be covered with low clouds and fog. I thought our day was done, but then decided to drive to the top of the pass to see if we could get above the clouds. It worked, and we were rewarded with two incredible images.

Colorado, McClure, Pass, Mountain, Fog, Fall, Color
Morning Light : Prints Available

Colorado, Mountain, McClure Pass, Fall, Color, Sunrise
Above It All : Prints Available

Next up will be a November trip to Death Valley and the red rock country of Utah during the peak of fall color there.

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Sedona and the Grand Canyon

August is definitely the time to be in the Southwest with the high likelihood of great clouds and storms. The goal was to capture some great images and I was thrilled with my success.

After flying in to Phoenix, the plan was to spend one night in Sedona and capture one sunset and one sunrise image. For sunset, I headed south to Oak Creek to get a different view of the iconic Cathedral Rocks. At the end of a road that seemed to be going nowhere, I came across this scene with the old wooden fence with Cathedral Rocks in the background. It may have been photographed before, but I had not seen it and decided this was where I would plant myself and wait for the soft, warm light of the setting sun behind me. The billowing cloud behind the Rocks made it all come together.

Arizona, Sedona, Cathedral, Rock, Red, Rock, Country, Sunset, Fence
Sedona Sunset : Prints Available

For sunrise, I took a chance. Cathedral Rocks have been photographed from the Slickrock Trail many times at the end of the day, but based on where the sun was going to rise to the left of them, I thought sunrise might work pretty well. I hiked out pre-dawn, was the only one there and got the camera down low in position for the reflection in the water that was in the depression in the rock. Many images were taken, but this was the one that had the best clouds and sky. I hiked back to the car knowing it was going to be good.

Arizona, Sedona, Slickrock, Secret, Sunrise, Cathedral, Rocks
Secret Sunrise : Prints Available

From Sedona, it was on to the Grand Canyon. The forecast did not look good for storms, but I know that can always change. I spent the first couple of days going to every overlook and learning how they would work at different times of the day. I wanted to be able to make the right decision as to where to go for sunrise or sunset based on the clouds and what I could see on the radar images. The storms finally came and I somehow managed to be in the right place and not be struck by lightning.

The Grand Canyon is one of the most difficult places I have ever had the pleasure to photograph. This trip allowed me to learn a great deal about it. I’m already thinking about going back next August.

Arizona, Grand Canyon, Sunset, Lipan, Point
Lipan Lights : Prints Available
Arizona, Grand Canyon, Sunrise
Canyon Contrast : Prints Available
Arizona, Grand Canyon, Sunrise, Panoramic
Ultimate Sunrise : Prints Available
Arizona, Grand Canyon, Sunset, Yavapai
Yavapai Sunset : Prints Available
Arizona, Grand Canyon, Yavapai, Rain, Storm
Yavapai Rain : Prints Available
Arizona, Grand Canyon, Sunset, Grandview, Point
Grandview Sunset : Prints Available
Arizona, Grand Canyon, Sunrise
Illumination : Prints Available
Arizona, Grand Canyon, Sunrise, Moran, Point
Moran Morning : Prints Available
Arizona, Grand Canyon, Storm,
Underwater Canyon : Prints Available
Arizona, Grand Canyon, Lightning
Canyon Strike : Prints Available

Next up will be Southwest Colorado for fall color scenes. It is an area that I truly love going to and have learned so much about. I’m crossing my fingers for healthy fall color and some snow on the mountains!

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Oregon Again!

After a couple of years of talking about it, my sister was finally able to accompany me on one of my photo expeditions. We had a fantastic time together and the search for images almost became unimportant.

We started this expedition in northern Oregon around the Columbia River Gorge. We were disappointed that the trails and waterfalls around the Gorge were still closed off due to the Eagle River fires of 2017. We did make one afternoon trip down to Trillium Lake for sunset before moving up our schedule to head to central Oregon.

The calm conditions at Trillium Lake were just what we had hoped for, but we didn’t figure in all the people that would be at the lake on a Saturday afternoon enjoying various summer activities. The kayaks and paddleboarders didn’t do the reflection any favors, but I do feel this image conveys the enjoyment of being out there with others to enjoy a great sunset.

Oregon, Trillium, Lake, Sunset
Summer Sunset : Prints Available

We moved on to central Oregon, basing in the town of Sisters, which is a wonderful little town northwest of Bend and close to the rivers and waterfalls we were targeting. There is a section of the McKenzie River, that for some reason, has a bright and deep blue color to it. You would think from looking at the images that it couldn’t really be that colorful and that I increased the color. The river really does have that much color!

Sahalie Falls is a large and powerful waterfall that you start out quite close to. To get the scene right, the trick is to get back from the falls to include the river. It’s a slippery, muddy climb down the embankment and you risk falling in the river, but the result is worth it!

Oregon, McKenzie River, Sahalie, Falls
Sahalie Falls : Prints Available

Just up the trail from Sahaile Falls is a wonderful log footbridge that goes over the river. I simply cannot pass up bridges like this. It was not possible to find a place along the river to photograph it from there, so I decided on an image of the bridge itself. As it turns out, this may have been good fortune, as I really like the image.

Oregon, McKenzie, River, bridge, wood
Summer Crossing : Prints Available

Our next target on the river was Koosah Falls. Photographing these falls was the biggest challenge of the trip. It was an extremely steep, muddy and root filled scramble down a steep 50 foot embankment to get in position. I wasn’t sure if I should do it, but I really wanted to capture this image. I was absolutely thrilled with the result and equally happy to make it back up the embankment to the trail.

Oregon, River, McKenzie, Waterfall
Koosah Blue : Prints Available

We searched for every possible location to access the McKenzie River and there was only one more that we found, at the end of the river before it poured into a reservoir. There wasn’t really a marked trail, but I could see that if I crawled under and over some downed trees, I could get to a small area with a great view up the river. I can’t begin to say how thrilled I was to find this spot. I have never seen it photographed from here before. The colors were vivid and the view spectacular.

Oregon, McKenzie, River, Blue
Blue Rush : Prints Available

Next up will be the Grand Canyon in mid-August during the monsoon storm season. I am hoping to capture some lightning images over the canyon along with some great sunrises and sunsets. This is another one that has been on my list for a while.

Thanks for looking and feel free to share. You can also follow the journey on Facebook for more current photographs that may not be on the blog. https://www.facebook.com/JosephFilerPhotography