Its 16:00 here in Sommeroy, north Norway and its been dark for two hours. Outside the hotel a blizzard rages. Visibility is below 50 meters at times. Welcome to Norway!
I’m here co-leading a workshop with famed aurora and landscape photographer Antony Spencer for Light & Land. We have just collected our group of 12 clients from Tromso airport and arrived safely at our hotel about an hours drive away. The journey was interesting to say the least as the blizzard raged. Here in Norway, they leave a thick layer of ice on the roads all winter and just scrape away the excess snow. All vehicles are fitted with studded tyres which grip into the ice incredibly well. Driving this way takes a bit of getting used to at first, but you soon learn.
Tony and I met at Heathrow airport at 05:00 yesterday for our flight. In fact, we were so busy catching up over breakfast that we almost missed our plane. I was the last person to board with seconds to spare. It took me to Oslo to get my breath back 🙂 Oslo was clear of snow and looked beautifully autumnal as we came in to land. It is on a similar latitude to Scotland and so, although it does get cold and snowy later, at this time of year it is much like Scotland. A quick change of planes and we headed north. Much further north. As we descended through the cloud it was apparent we were well and truly in the arctic.
I then had a baptism of fire, learning to drive on ice, in the dark, on the opposite side of the road to the way we drive in the UK. Oh, and a blizzard blew up. I don’t know if Tony enjoyed the drive. I was too busy concentrating to be concerned. Darkness at 14:00 has a weird effect on you. It feels like you should be heading for bed when in reality it is only the middle of the day. From a photographic point of view, this short day is wonderful. Sunrise here is, for the next few days, at around 10:00 – 10:30 (the days are shortening really fast and before we come home the sun will not be rising at all – I will get to experience the 24 hour arctic night) and with sunset at 14:00 we have this soft light for the whole time. Even when it is overcast the water goes a gorgeous steel grey blue, which offset against the snow and mountains is to die for. Its like photographing in a perpetual “golden hour”.
Sommeroy is a beautiful little area of islands, an archipelago that Norwegians visit in the summer. I think they think we are mad coming here at this time of year.
Today, Tony showed me around the area a bit and we managed to fire a few frames. I have included some here. All are jpegs made on the Fuji X-Pro1.
I will try, as time allows, because the clients come first, to blog each day and post a few images, to keep you up to date on our adventure. Hopefully there will be some aurora shots to show you as the week too. Clouds permitting. Watch this space.