Mosquitoland

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I don’t know if you have ever been to North-Norway, or even are planning a trip there. But in case you are, you should know this: Visiting during the summer months involves a very high risk of being in constant war with the fierce creatures somewhat erroneously called mosquitoes. We are not talking about the small innocent kind that will give you an annoying bite and leave you with that. We are talking about wicked, jumbojet-sized, killing machines. And they come in billions. Armed with all kinds of weapons yet not fully understood by mankind, they will attack you constantly and will not leave you alone until you are all but a pulsating mass of hurt. This early morning in July, a photography buddy and I were driving around Vestvågøy in Lofoten when we saw this beautiful mountain reflecting in a small, mist-covered lake. Like the sirens in the Odyssey we could hear the marshland calling our names. Oh, we were so naïve. Little did we know of the evil that waited. We parked the car and wandered through the dense forest towards the lake. Half-way out on the marsh we understood the lure and the mistake. Armed with only a small innocent Hasselblad (!), a few lenses and a Gitzo series 5, I didn’t stand a chance. No hope for backup either. My buddy was already kicking and screaming in pain from the other side of the marsh. It got messy. For us, not the mosquitos. Miraculously, I managed to set up my tripod and capture a few frames before we fought our way back to the relative safety of our car. Days, even weeks, of pain followed. I haven’t had the courage to sit down and process the images before now, fearing it could wake up the evil again. PTSD I think they call it. When I finally manned myself up and started looking at them the other day, it looked like someone had combed their cat over my sensor. But there was no dust on my sensor. Only clouds of evil in the frame. I stared to use the clone-tool, but soon gave up and just exchanged the blurry mosquitocovered skies with the skies from another image captured later that morning. I think the result came out ok, but as you may understand, I have somewhat ambiguous feelings about it….

Lofoten road-trip

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Sunset from Flakstadøy (Nappstraumen). Looking north, you can see the iconic profile of the mountains near Utakleiv and Haukland beach in the distance.

Some of you may know that I was born and raised in the northern parts of Norway. Although I have relocated and currently live a little bit to the south, in Trondheim, I often visit “home” up north.

Every time I visit, I plan for some landscape photography. North-Norway has a very dramatic landscape, fabulous light and very unpredictable weather. All essential elements of a good landscape-image.

I spent one week in North-Norway this summer, and planned a road-trip to the Lofoten island well ahead. An old friend of mine and I were to take the ferry from the mainland (Skutvik) and over to the biggest city in Lofoten, Svolvær. Weather has been extremely wet and grey this summer, but as we sat in out car on the way to the ferry, skies started to clear. We had planned 2 days and nights of intensive shooting, mostly without sleep. We arrived in Svolvær late in the afternoon. The most photographed areas in Lofoten lies in the southern parts, where the mountains are most spectacular. This time we decided to head north from Svolvær and cover the island of Austvågøy the first night. Although the landscape is a little less dramatic here, It is still spectacular by most standards. And it is less covered by other photographers! We were mostly alone on the road this first night. We drove all around Austvåg and had a great time with a beautiful misty sunset and sunrise just a couple of hours later. After less that two hours sleep and a huuuuge breakfast we drove south to Vestvågøy, Flakstadøy and Moskenesøy. We had clear skies and the bright sunlight didn’t give us anything photographically, so we spent the day scouting for locations, eating and relaxing. When the loooong golden hour set in at around 7-8 in the evening we had found some great places and spent a few hours there. Coffee and redbull kept us going. Some skies emerged and promised for a beautiful sunset. We photographed the most iconic locations (Unstadvik, Utakleiv, Flakstad, Reine etc.) and a few lesser know all through the night. As morning arrived we were pretty much exhausted. As we waited for the mornings first ferry from Moskenes to Bodø, skies were all overcast and the magic was gone. Luckily enough we seemed to have hit the two only days in July with nice weather. Here are a few of the results from the trip. Visit my gallery on nordhaugphotography.com for more Lofoten images.

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The sun was setting, close to midnight, when we arrived in this location just north of Flakstad.

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A couple of hours later, the sun emerged from the ocean again and colored the landscape and the mist in a wonderful, warm hue.

Personal favorites of 2014, post #2. From Venezia.

Rialto gondolas

Rialto gondolas

 

 

Venezia, or Venice, in Italy is a photographers dream. I have visited this beautiful city several times, and every time I’m equally stunned by the timeless beauty and mood of this place. What makes it so rewarding to photograph is that it is so full of unique character. From the canals and gondolas to many of the wonderful building and small squares, so many characteristics are unique for Venice and the viewer instantly know where the image is captured. A visit during peak season, summer, can be a very hot and crowded experience, to say the least. I recommend a visit during late autumn, winter or early spring, when the locals mostly have the city to themself, the pace is slower and more relaxed and the often present morning fog adds to the mood of the city. When I visited last, in march 2014, I spent every night walking the narrow streets in dense fog. The image above was captured such a night by Canal Grande. I find that monochrome works very well in timeless cities like Paris and Rome, but maybe most of all in Venezia. I was fortunate enough to receive honorable mention for my monochrome portfolio from Venezia (where this image was one of several) in this years International Photography Awards, IPA. The picture below is captured a different morning, minutes before the sun emerged as a red fireball over St. Marks square.

Before sunrise, Venezia

Before sunrise, Venezia

 

 

The last of my images in this post is actually not from Venezia, but from a different island in the Venezian lagoon. About one hours ride with a “bus-boat” from Venezia, you will find the small island of Burano. Known for its characteristic small canals and houses painted in vibrant colors, it is definitely worth the detour for a photographer interested in travel and architecture! This image is also part of a portfolio that received honorable mention in IPA.

Burano study 7

Burano study 7