background image

February 2014


Image of the Month




Eliassen Rorbuer, Hamnoy, Lofoten Islands, Norway


Last year I just happened to be in the right place at the right time and was party to a conversation about the Northern Lights.  I have always longed to see them and said so.... and was promptly invited to go on a trip to the Lofoten Islands in February 2014.  During the conversation, I was very much aware of being there by happy accident and not by design.  I didn't expect to hear any more about it so I should think you might have heard me screaming all the way from London when I had a phone call a couple of months later asking me if I was still serious about wanting to go.  To be fair, I was an equal mixture of ecstatic and anxious.  Since 'blowing a fuse' in 2009, I've not been able to be very adventurous and I have never been anywhere so cold.  The Lofoten Islands are in arctic Norway!  Would I survive? Would I manage?
I angsted about footwear, thermal underwear, coats, layers, travelling, packing and almost everything that you can think of.  This was also my first trip without the support of the friends who know me best of all.  When the day finally came to leave London, I was excited but daunted.  I met up with the group at Heathrow and we flew to Stockholm and then took a second flight to Kiruna in Norway.  
For some daft reason, although I imagined being in the cold on the Lofoten Islands, I really hadn't imagined that I would step off the plane in Kiruna and walk down the steps in falling snow into a winter wonderland.  Magical!  After a Thai meal and a night in a hotel, we made the long, long drive to Hamnoy on the Lofoten Islands through spectacular snowy, mountainous scenery which just kept getting better and better.
  • fishing_huts.jpg
  • hamnoya_fishing_boat.jpg
  • home_sweet_home.jpg
  • jcbs_lofoten.jpg
  • road_bridge.jpg
  • room_with_a_view.jpg
  • seascape.jpg
  • snowy_sundown_on_the_beach.jpg
  • snowy_walk_on_the_beach.jpg
  • view_point.jpg
Hamnoy is the oldest resort in western Lofoten and is made up of fisherman's cottages or rorbuer.  The rorbuer were formerly used as lodgings for fishermen from all over Norway during the annual winter cod fishing season.  These little oxide-red cabins sit on stilts over the freezing Arctic Ocean and are incredibly warm and comfortable, surrounded by soaring mountains and spectacular scenery.  
  • eliassen_rorbuer_dawn.jpg
  • eliassen_rorbuer_dawn_2.jpg
  • eliassen_rorbuer_first_light.jpg
  • eliassen_rorbuer_pre_dawn.jpg
  • reine_pre-dawn.jpg
  • _reine_dawn.jpg
  • _reine_dawn_2.jpg
  • _reine_first_light.jpg
  • _reine_morning.jpg
  • _reine_morning_glow.jpg
  • _reine_pink_dawn_light.jpg
  • _reine_pre_dawn_2.jpg
The penetrating smell of drying cod hangs in the air.  Stockfish are hung up in pairs on hundreds and hundreds of drying racks.  Fish heads are hung on separate drying racks, rather like strings of onions.  Curiously, neither the gulls nor the local cats appear to take any notice of this potential banquet.
  • stockfish_3.jpg
  • stockfish_4.jpg
  • stockfish_5.jpg
  • stockfish_7.jpg
  • stockfish_8.jpg
  • stockfish_9.jpg
And then there was the aurora!  On our first night we were lucky enough to see some 'low activity' and I began to learn some of the photographic techniques but most of all, I took time to marvel at this astonishing spectacle, and pinch myself to be sure that I wasn't dreaming.  On another night we saw a much more impressive display. I had naiively assumed that it would be easily visible to the naked eye and soon became addicted to getting the camera to show me what I couldn't see.  Who knew that there were so many shooting stars?   I am no landscape photographer, but I'm learning!  I quite like the images that have the photographers in as they contribute to the sense of scale.   Yes, Pete Cairns, one of them is you!  Fancy meeting on a beach in Arctic Norway!
  • aurora_beach_with_a_view.jpg
  • aurora_circles_in_the_sky.jpg
  • aurora_dreaming.jpg
  • aurora_green_reflections.jpg
  • aurora_reflected.jpg
  • aurora_seascape.jpg
  • aurora_shooting_stars.jpg
  • aurora_skies.jpg
  • heavenly_green.jpg
  • magical_moment.jpg
  • photographer_s_delight.jpg
  • turquoise_fantasy.jpg
We weren't very lucky with the weather or the aurora but we had two beautiful dawns, two low level auroras and lots and lots of snow, then pouring rain and howling gales.... but the Lofoten Islands are at 68degrees north in Arctic Norway... and the weather could have been a lot worse.  Predictably, I am now desperately looking for ways to get back there.  There's a photographic opportunity at every corner.
Before flying home again from Kiruna, we spent a magical couple of hours visiting the Ice Hotel.  What a place!  If I win the lottery, I'd love to stay there for a day or so... and go dog sledding.
  • dog_sledding.jpg
  • dog_team.jpg
  • husky_team.jpg
  • ice_hotel_entrance.jpg
  • ice_hotel_frozty_flower_detail.jpg
  • ice_hotel_icebar_lost_and_found.jpg
  • ice_hotel_icebar_lost_and_found_2.jpg
  • ice_hotel_icebar_lost_and_found_3.jpg
  • ice_hotel_it_s_alive_ice_bed.jpg
  • ice_hotel_mind_the_gap.jpg
  • ice_hotel_narcissus.jpg
  • ice_hotel_pole_dancing_detail.jpg
  • ice_hotel_pole_dancing_detail_2.jpg
  • ice_hotel_reception.jpg
  • ice_hotel_room_detail.jpg
  • ice_hotel_sofa.jpg
  • ice_hotel_unicorn_1.jpg
  • ice_hotel_unicorn_and_claire.jpg
  • ice_hotel_unicorn_corridor.jpg
  • ice_hotel_unicorn_corridor_view.jpg
  • ice_hotel_unicorn_detail.jpg
  • ice_hotel_unicorn_head.jpg
  • ice_hotel_up_there_detail.jpg
Huge thanks to David Clapp who invited me on this trip.  It was the opportunity of a life-time and I am immensely grateful to have had the chance to join in with the fun, photography, music and laughter.


To navigate to a different month, please scroll to the top of this page or go via the menu on the left.