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.

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

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.

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

Arizona & Utah at Night

When the skies are clear and you can’t get the sunrise and sunset images you want, there is the option of going out and doing some night photography. The Milky Way core is above the horizon from late March through October, so it isn’t a year round opportunity.

It has to be truly dark, which is from 2 hours after sunset to 2 hours before sunrise. For general safety reasons, you probably don’t want to be doing this alone. In this case, I was with another photographer, but it was still creepy at times.

Monument Valley in Utah is famous for its large rock formations known as The Mittens. We thought this would be a nice place to begin our night efforts. Night photography is totally different from the daytime. All the camera settings and concepts are changed. So, you get a nap from 10pm to 1am, get up and shoot until 4am and then back to bed. We joked that it was like we were going back to the kindergarten school of photography.

The first night was a learning experience, to say the least. We learned quickly though, and the second night’s efforts resulted in a nice shot of the Milky Way over Monument Valley.

Utah, Monument Valley, Milky Way
Monumental : Prints Available

About 20 miles south of Monument Valley, just into Arizona, is this incredible rock mountain known as Agathla Peak. The light from the nearby town of Kayenta lit up edges of the peak providing some great highlights. This location is really in the middle of nowhere, so the creepy factor at 2am was pretty high. Again, it was our second attempt there, but I am super pleased with the result.

Arizona, Utah, Milky Way, Agathla Peak
Kayenta Lights : Prints Available

While at Monument Valley, we took a morning to drive up to an old Indian ruin known as House On Fire. The unusual way the colors streak in the rocks over the ruins has the look of flames, which resulted in the name. I had been wanting to shoot this scene for years and I was finally able to check it off the list!

Flames : Prints Available

We left Monument Valley and headed to Zion National Park for our last couple of days of this expedition. The good news is that there were a few other people out there in the middle of the night, so it wasn’t quite as creepy. Plus, being in a National Park just felt better. The iconic mountain, known as The Watchman, is just slightly illuminated by the light of Springdale. With the long exposure needed for the sky, the mountain appears to light up quite well. There is more to do in this location, so a return trip there could be called for.

Utah, Milky Way, Zion National Park, The Watchman
Night Watchman : Prints Available

During our first morning in Zion, there were some storm clouds that we waited 2 hours for to clear enough to show the peaks. It truly lasted about 30 seconds and they were gone again. The contrast of the bright green spring colors of the Cottonwood trees against the red rock was marvelous.

Utah, Zion National Park, Mountains
Breakthrough : Prints Available

I’ll be heading to the southern Oregon coast and the northern California redwoods next week. The hope is for the rhododendrons to be in bloom and for the fog to roll in among the redwoods. If all goes right, some really nice images are possible.

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

Eastern Sierra and Death Valley

The eastern side of the Sierra Mountains near Bishop, California provide many opportunities for great landscape photographs. I have been there before, but I had some unfinished business there. It had been a slow year for snow in the mountains, but to my delight, there were some pretty good snowstorms in the mountains for several weeks before we arrived in mid-March. The photographs of the mountains just aren’t the same without it.

A primary target was the view of the mountains with the Owens River in the foreground. Yes, it’s been shot a million times, but it was still on my to do list. There were no clouds in the morning, so the usual image at sunrise just wasn’t working, so I waited a few hours for them to appear. The rising sun also provided light, and color, for the vegetation surrounding the river. Sunrise is not always the only option.

California, Eastern Sierra, Owens River
River Reflection : Prints Available

During the day, I’m always out looking for something different to come back to at the right time. I was north of Bishop heading north on a small ridge road looking for mountain views not realizing a snowstorm was crossing the valley behind me. Luckily, I turned around and saw the storm. I quickly headed back to where there was a small canyon, ran out to a good view and captured this wonderful image of the storm crossing the valley.

California, Storm, Eastern Sierra, Mountains
Sierra Storm : Prints Available

After shooting the storm from the north, I headed immediately to a spot to the south of the storm I had picked out where the late sun would light up a group of trees. Knowing they would have the dark clouds behind them, I knew I had to get there.

California, Trees, Eastern Sierra
Storm Colors : Prints Available

Next up was Death Valley. Having been there before, I had a good idea of what I wanted to accomplish. The last time I was there, I was not able to get up to Aguereberry Point due to road conditions. The roads were better this time and I wasn’t going to be denied. One afternoon trip to scout the shot followed by two sunrise trips to get a decent sky. Check this one off the list!

California, Death Valley, Aguereberry Point, Sunrise
Aguereberry Sunrise : Prints Available

The Mesquite Sand Dunes were a place I definitely wanted to return to and capture some better images. Last time I wasn’t prepared to shoot during high winds and sandstorms, but this time I was, equipped with ski goggles to cover my eyes. The winds clean the dunes of all previous footprints and provide wind streaks in the sand. There is also a softer look as a result of the blowing sand.

California, Death Valley, Sand, Dunes
Sand Shadows : Prints Available
California, Death Valley, Sand, Dunes
layers : Prints Available
California, Death Valley, Sand, Dunes
Sandplosion : Prints Available
California, Death Valley, Sand, Dunes
Soft Desert : Prints Available
California, Death Valley, Sand, Dunes
Wind Streaks : Prints Available

It was a very successful expedition. Next up is an April trip to some unusual places in Arizona and Utah red rock country.

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

Lofoten Islands of Norway

At the far north end of Norway, above the 68th parallel, lie the Lofoten Islands. The jagged mountains rise straight up out of the various fjords and are so close, it seems you can reach out and touch them. The wintertime photography there is exceptional and has only become popular in recent years, which is somewhat surprising.

The combination of the red Norwegian cabins against the snow covered mountains is simply stunning. Everywhere you look there are amazing photographic opportunities. The days were short with sunrise at 9:00 am and sunset at 3:30pm. This gave us great low light all day. As a bonus, there was the ability to photograph the Aurora, which we were able to do on one of the clear nights.

Understandably, I’ve been wanting to get there for a few years. It finally worked out for me this year and I couldn’t have been happier with the results. I am looking forward to going back.

Next up will be Death Valley and the Eastern Sierra in March.

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. http://www.facebook.com/JosephFilerPhotography

Norway, Lofoten, Renie, sunrise, mountain
Sunrise Perfection : Prints Available
Norway, Lofoten, Renie, Mountains, Reflection, Sunset
Renie Sunset : Prints Available
Norway, Renie, Mountain, Clouds
Morning Movement : Prints Available
Norway, lofoten, Rahmberg, Beach, Sunset
Snowbeach : Prints Available
Norway, Renie, Morning
Morning Glory : Prints Available
Norway, Lofoten, Renie, Morning
Cotton Candy : Prints Available
Norway, Renie
Norwegian Wood : Prints Available
Norway, Lofoten, Skagsanden, Aurora, Beach
Norwegian Nights : Prints Available
Norway, Lofoten, Skagsanden, sunrise, reflection
Winter Reflections : Prints Available
Norway, Lofoten, fjord,
Frozen Warmth : Prints Available
Norway, Lofoten, Skagsanden, Beach, Sunrise
Skagsanden Sunrise : Prints Available
Norway, Lofoten, Renie, Mountain, Sunrise, Moon,
Mountain Moonrise : Prints Available