Winter on the Lofoten Islands is the scene of many magical moments. The atmosphere is crisp and cold. Although the days are very short, the sky is often filled with intense and unforgettable colours ranging from pink to violet during sunrise and sunset.
The archipelago has many unique characteristics. During winter, the weather changes abruptly depending on the day. You can have sun, snow, wind or calm, all in one trip. The trick with shooting here is to have patience but to get out into the elements, even if it looks like the bad weather is not going to let up. Although it may be grey and ominous when you head out, the next second you may find yourself faced with a brilliant rainbow and gorgeous lighting illuminating the mountains. Dawn and dusk here are key elements, however with such short days, you can plan to be at one location for hours with ever-changing opportunities for different shots.
I had spent much of the afternoon trying to shoot at another nearby beach called Skagsanden but visitors had left too many tracks in the sand for the perfect shot to eventuate. The sun was soon to set, so by chance, I hurried over to Haukland to see what I could find. Haukland is one of my favourite beaches in the world and it is incredibly versatile for photography year-round. The mountainous backdrop is simply remarkable whichever way you turn. Luckily, the beach itself was secluded and devoid of visitors. The tide was coming in and so it had washed away many of the footsteps that other visitors had left on the beach earlier in the day.
I knew that I wanted a long exposure of incoming waves retreating from around a rock. It was initially difficult to compose, due to the number of rocks off to the left which distracted the eye. It had been snowing and the sky was grey, though as soon as it cleared, a swirl appeared in the clouds and I realised quickly that it aligned with the swirling of the water below. This created the perfect ‘S’-type curvature for leading the eye from the top of the image through to the bottom. Thankfully, the moment coincided with some brilliant colour in the sky!
This was shot on a Canon 5DSR with a Canon 16-35mm f/4L IS attached. I used a Galen Rowell GND 3-stop to balance out the sky and a Singh-Ray ND 3-stop to help slow the shutter-speed and increase exposure time to create the blurred texture in the water. I also used the LEE Circular Landscape Polariser to make the sky “pop” a little. My gear was mounted on a Gitzo Leveller tripod to minimise any movement during the long exposure. The final result was shot at 16mm, ISO 100, f/14 with a shutter speed of 1 sec.
Shortly after taking this photo, a shelf of dark, foreboding clouds moved in and sprinkled the entire scene in another dusting of snow.