nature

A local treasure

Viker

Even though I think all of Hvaler is extremely beautiful, and if you want to experience the awesome Norwegian coast and nature you can go almost anywhere around the islands and be amazed, there are some places I have a sweet spot for. One of those places is Viker, and if you have read or read my blog you'll know that its a place I have visited quite often.

Usually I go to Viker in the spring, summer and autumn because thats when I think its at its most beautiful. But another reason is that during the winter the rocks out there gets extremely slippery because of the sea-spray that freezes. I was out there about a month ago and no matter where I tried to put my feet down I just could not get any traction.

A morning view of Viker, taken with the iPhone 6S

A morning view of Viker, taken with the iPhone 6S

500 shades of grey

The entirety of last week was another typical Norwegian winter weather week. Grey textureless boring clouds, cold winds and just generally awful conditions. The only glimmer of hope according to the forecast was Sunday, so I decided that I would get up early again and try to capture another sunrise. With the amount of snow we have had the last week, I wasn't sure where I should go and had actually planed to go to a place called Utgårdskilen before I decided against it Sunday morning and drove out to Viker instead.

Getting out there I knew that I really didn't want to go out on the rocks considering how slippery they where the last time I was there, so I decided to just go about 50 meters away from my car and out on a jetty made of rocks and concrete and see if I could capture something from there. It's weird really, I have been at Viker probably 50+ times but I have never really considered going out on the jetty and try to shot from it. Whenever I go to Viker I go out to the coastline on the rocks, its a nice little walk and the views out there are spectacular.

At Viker you're pretty much exposed to the elements, so when its cold outside its even colder out there. Luckily I have been smart enough to invest in some proper gear, so staying warm isn't that much of an issue and I can use my energy to scout and look for compositions instead.

The X-T2 is ready to go! Taken with the iPhone 6S

The X-T2 is ready to go! Taken with the iPhone 6S

The jetty out there is shaped like an upside down L, so I walked all the way out to where the turn is and set up my camera. I think the composition is okay, and I'm not sure if there really is a lot of other ways to shot from there. Sure, you can move your camera from side to side and change the parallax, but other than that I don't think there is a lot of options.

Since it had been grey the entire week and was forecasted to clear up in the morning I was hoping for a spectacular sunrise. Well, that didn't happen. The sky got some color in it and the clouds looked interesting, so even though it didn't have a lot of beautiful color it was still worth capturing.

Taken with the X-T2 and the 18-55mm

Taken with the X-T2 and the 18-55mm

What I do like about the shot above is the snow in the foreground. I think it gives a good contrast to the rocks and the water, and I'm not sure if I would like this shot at all if it didn't have the snow in it. I will try and go out there again during the fast approaching springtime and see how it looks, but I'm pretty certain this shot in particular works best with the snow.

This week it's supposed to be a little warmer but still grey and boring. I hope that the snow will melt a little so I can go back to Kuvauen again during the weekend if the weather clears up a little. I really want to continue to explore the new place I wrote about in a previous blog, and see what other compositions I can find there.


So until next time, have a good one!

Maybe next time

Early morning

Shooting sunrise is something that can be quite spectacular – this time was not one of those times. 
When my alarm rang 0620 I first thought it was time to go to work, and I spent a good couple of minutes before I remembered that it was in fact Saturday and I had planed to go out in the morning to do some photography. I had already packed my bag the night before, so I just had to brush my teeth, get dressed and fill up my water bottle before I could head out.

The weather this weekend has been so and so, and Saturday morning was nothing special.
I had decided to go to a place called Rødshue on Kirkøy here at Hvaler. Its a park with a lot of different sculptures, and generally a pretty cool place. I have only been there two times before, but never to try to do some proper photography.

You can read more about the park here:
https://www.visitnorway.com/listings/coastal-path-on-kirkøy-(hvaler)/10051/?lang=usa

Taken with the iPhone 6S

Taken with the iPhone 6S

When I left my house it was about -5C degrees, but out there by the coast with a lot of wind the temperature felt like -10C degrees at least. It was so cold that when I wanted to take a zip of water after having walked around for about 30 minutes, the water in my bottle already had little chunks of ice in it. But despite the cold and that it was pitch black outside I ventured on and tried my best to find a decent composition.

The camera set up and ready to go. Taken with the iPhone 6S

The camera set up and ready to go. Taken with the iPhone 6S

The struggle.

You would think that in a sculpture park, with the Norwegian coast right next to it that compositions would just jump out at you. For some people that might be the case, but it most definetly was not for me. I walked around out there for a good hour at least before I found something to try to shot. I went to Rødshue because I wanted to capture some of the sculptures in the sunrise, but I think it's much better to go out there in the evening for some sunset photography instead because the sculptures all points in the wrong direction for the sunrise.

Rødshue Skulptur kunstpark hvaler kirkøy fredrikstad foto

The sunrise in itself was okay I think, not the best I have seen but far from the worst. As you see from the picture I think the left side is okay, but the right side with the really ugly cloud ruins it for me. I'm not a fan of the composition neither, and I'm kinda annoyed with myself for not being able to find something better to photograph out there. I will probably go back there some other time during the sunset instead and see if its easier to find something to photograph then. There are a lot of cool sculptures out there and a lot of rocks and paths that absolutely should make for some interesting shots, I just have to have a second look I think and keep practicing my composition skills.

My February plans

I hope that I will be able to go on a camping trip during February, I just need/want the weather to be a little better first. Next weekend I'm hoping that I will be able to go out again for another sunrise or sunset trip, I don't know where just yet but it will most likely be somewhere here at Hvaler again. Also, the days are getting noticeably longer now, so it won't be long before I can do some shooting in the evening after work also which I'm really looking forward too.

So until next time, have a good one!

Early Saturdays

The beach

After another week with pretty awful weather, the forecast predicted that the boring grey sky blanket would lift Saturday morning, so Friday night I decided that I would get up early to try and capture the sunrise. I choose Storesand beach as my location, its a place I haven’t photographed that often, but I know of some cool things there, like a shed made of the garbage that has been washed up onto the beach.

07:00 in the morning my alarm went off. I had slept pretty little during the night so I had to force myself to get out of bed. I went over to my window to see if the forecast had come true, and lo and behold the sky actually looked pretty good. It was still a lot of heavy clouds, but there were some clear spots and the clouds weren’t just those flat boring grey blanket clouds, but they had some texture to them.

I splashed a lot of water on my face to wake up a little, brushed my teeth, put clothes on and got into my car. From my house its a 20 minute drive to Storesand beach which is located on the island of Kirkøy here at Hvaler. During the summer its booming with people and is a great place to bring the family for some beach fun, but now during the winter you end up with this massive beach all to yourself, specially early in the morning. I arrived at around 07:40 and it was still very dark outside and I had of course forgotten my headlamp, but the parking lot is only a 100 meter walk away from the beach so it wasn’t a problem.

I have photographed the shed on Storesand before, but never during a sunrise. During the winter months the sun doesn’t rise behind the shed, so I was a little worried about getting any colour at all in the sky, and the clouds that looked to be gone when I woke up appeared to be coming back again. And dont get me started on the wind which was pretty insane.

The iPhone really isn’t a great low-light camera, but here’s the X-T2 all set up and ready to go!

The iPhone really isn’t a great low-light camera, but here’s the X-T2 all set up and ready to go!

After having found my composition (I knew before I got there what I wanted to photograph) it was just a waiting game to see if the sun would come out and cast some colour onto the clouds, or if the entire outing would be a miss, at least photography wise.

The X-T2 has a feature I really like which is “interval timer shooting” (ITS). I use this almost every time I find a composition and my camera has to stay still for an extended amount of time. First I set everything up, make sure my focus is correct and take a couple of test exposures, then I put my camera in Aperture Priority mode, switch over to interval timer shooting and let the camera take an exposure every second minute.

The sunrise was a 08:44, so I had plenty of time, so while my camera was shooting in ITS I was just walking around on the beach watching the sky and hoping for the best. The sky never turned crazy good, but in the end I think I got a decent picture.

“The Shed” at Storesand beach taken with the Fuji X-T2 and the 18-55mm

“The Shed” at Storesand beach taken with the Fuji X-T2 and the 18-55mm

Like you can see, its not the most colourful sunrise ever captured, but it has some nice tones and the colourful shed is really something unique in my opinion.

The water is cold in December

After I had gotten what I primarily went out to photograph I ventured further down the beach.
I found some nice looking compositions that I will have to get back and photograph on another day, because the waves washed up so much that I would have been soaked since I weren’t wearing any rubber-shoes, and I really wasn't interested in an early morning winter bath.

Walking around a little more and towards the end of the beach I did find something that I thought looked nice and safe to photograph so I put up my tripod and camera and prepared to take another shot. In the shot posted bellow you guys will see a wave, and thats the wave that made it so I ended up with soaked feet anyways.

“Here it comes” on Storesand beach - Taken with the X-T2 and the 18-55mm

“Here it comes” on Storesand beach - Taken with the X-T2 and the 18-55mm

Was this picture worth getting cold and wet feet over? I don’t know, I kinda like it but I haven’t completely decided yet. What I do know is that when the wave washed up and turned my nice dry warm shoes into a cold wet mess I wanted to head home. So I packed up my gear and walked back to my car. I had then been out since 07:40 and now it was around 09:45 so I had gotten a good couple of hours outside during the morning which was super nice. I also got two pictures that I’m happy enough with so I can’t complain about the start I got on that Saturday.

My future plans

Next weekend I’m going on a little camping trip from Saturday - Sunday with a good friend of mine, we still haven’t decided on a location but both of us have photography as a hobby so hopefully I will be able to capture something. I have also decided that I want to go back to Storesand soon, its a place I really haven’t explored that much but I imagine that there are tons of cool compositions to be found.

And a little wish from me to my few readers, please think of the environment. The amount of plastic and general trash in the ocean is alarmingly high. We should take care of the oceans and the marine life, they are extremely important and we should treat them as such.

So until next time, have a good one!

Wild Camping & Photography

Camping season has finally started, I went on my first trip a couple of weeks ago but I got a serious headache during the afternoon so I didn't do any photography on that trip. This weekend a friend and I went back to the same place and camped again and it was a great trip. 

 

My home away from home

My home away from home

The place we went to is called Vansjø, its a pretty big lake and my friend has one of those cool little inflatable boats with a little electric engine on it so we took that and drove it out to a little island. 

The island itself is awesome, it got everything you need for a good day out and its relatively close to the shore if something bad is going to happen. Right next to the islands there's a smaller island that is crowded with seagulls, and if you're like me you get kinda tired of the insanely loud screams after a while - so luckily I remembered to bring my earplugs for when it was time to go to sleep. 

Every time I go camping I bring my fishing equipment, but I never catch anything (neither does my buddy so thats a small comfort). I dont know if its because I use the wrong lures or bait, I buy what I see other people recommend but so far all I have gotten is a couple of tiny baby fish.

A nest with eggs

A nest with eggs

One of the cool things to find was a nest with eggs, and there were some birds around the island laying on their nests as well. I'm a big believer in that you shouldn't disturb animals in the wild, so we set our camp away from the birds and tried to be as quiet as we could the entire time. I'm not really a bird person, but seeing the birds in the wild laying on their eggs like that is actually something I haven't experienced before so that was cool. 

The weather was really nice during the day, so I didn't do much photography before the sun went down, but I did try out a really long exposure shot of another island with a little cabin on it. In my camera bag I have both the Big-Stopper and Little-Stopper from Lee, so I combined those two together with my Polarizer and got a total of 18 stops of light for a 15 minute exposure. It was kinda windy so I'm actually surprised that my tripod was sturdy enough, and I actually think the end result was nice enough. The sun is in the middle of the sky so there isn't any beautiful golden light or anything like that, but it has a nice "camp" feel to it. 

A 15 minute long exposure taken with the Fuji X-T2 and the 18-55mm at f11.

A 15 minute long exposure taken with the Fuji X-T2 and the 18-55mm at f11.

Just 20-30 minutes before the sun was about to set a huge bank of clouds rolled in over Vansjø, making the possibility of some nice golden light on the trees slim to none. So I took my equipment with me and ventured over to the other side of the island where a log was pointing out into the water, and there was some cracks in the sky letting some nice colour shine trough and reflect on the water. My tripod stood on some really shaky ground, so I was a little worried that I would get some blur because of that but in the end it turned out okay I think. 

A 30 second exposure taken with the Fuji X-T2 and the 18-55mm at f11

A 30 second exposure taken with the Fuji X-T2 and the 18-55mm at f11

After I had that shot in the bag I was satisfied. The little colour that was there quickly disappeared and at least this time I got a couple of shots that I'm happy with compared to last time when my head started to ache like crazy. 

I packed up my stuff and went back to the camp to grab a beer and barbecue some sausages on the camp fire and just relax and talk with my buddy. 

A nice little camp fire

A nice little camp fire

By the way, when camping (or if you're just out in the woods) make sure to pick up your litter! Every time I go camping or just for a walk I find so much trash and it sucks. How selfish and stupid do you have to be to throw your trash in nature, ruining it for everybody. Leave no trace behind is a golden rule that we all should follow.  

And before I end this post, I also just want to tell everybody to be careful when handling hooks for their fishing equipment, I somehow always manage to get it stuck in one of my fingers. It might not look that bad but I would still prefer to not have it happen you know....

The result of getting a hook stuck in my thumb, again.

The result of getting a hook stuck in my thumb, again.

So until next time, have a good one!

Viker, again!

After what has felt like a year with miserable weather, the grey textureless cloud blanket disappeared right in time for easter and the five days I have off from work. 

Now that the winter is supposed to be gone (its still freezing outside) the sun doesn't set before around 20:00, which means that I again have time to go out and shot in the afternoon before its pitch black and be able to look around and find some compositions, something that I have really missed the last five months. 

Last night I ended up at Viker again, its one of my favourite places here at Hvaler but its starting to get kinda hard to find anything to shot out there that I haven't already shot. 

 

Doing some scouting with the iPhone 6S.

Doing some scouting with the iPhone 6S.

The walk from the parking lot and out to the shore is a short 10 minutes. Its not very difficult to get there, but once you're there it feels like you're far away from society, something I enjoy when I'm out in nature. 

Yesterday when I got there I first walked to the rocks you see in the upper left corner of the scouting picture, but I had no chance at finding anything there to photograph that I hadn't already done. I mean, I have no issues with taking the same picture twice, but then the second picture has to be an improvement on the first one and yesterday that would not have been the case. 

So after walking around for about an hour on that distant rock, I gave up and headed back to where the scouting picture is taken from. And lo and behold, I found something that I hadn't noticed before, a nice rock in the water, not connected to the main land at all. It caught my eye, and I decided that tonight, trying to capture that rock in the sunset would be my goal. 

The X-T2 set up and ready to go for sunset. (Taken with the iPhone 6S)

The X-T2 set up and ready to go for sunset. (Taken with the iPhone 6S)

When I got to my final location I still had about 40 minutes before sunset, so I could really take my time to set up, focus properly and do small adjustments to my composition until I was satisfied. About 10 minutes before the sun went down I put my camera to intervalometer mode and just let it take three bracketed exposures every minute. When the sun had gone down completely, I put on my Lee Big Stopper (10stop ND) and took a 125second exposure to smooth out the water. Lately I haven't been that fond of really long exposures, specially on water- but on this occasion I thought I worked out well. 

Fuji X-T2, 18-55f2.8-4 at 30mm with a 125second exposure. 

Fuji X-T2, 18-55f2.8-4 at 30mm with a 125second exposure. 

When I had taken the images I needed and wanted I did what I normally do, packed my camera gear and just sat on the rocks and enjoyed the rest of the sunset. 

So even though it was very cold and a little windy, I ended up with a shot and I got to experience yet another beautiful sunset at one of my favourite locations. And now that summer is getting closer, the sun will stay up longer and longer giving me the opportunity to go out and shot even more. I also have a lot of plans for some wild camping this year, so hopefully I will be able to get some good shots out of those trips as well. 

So until next time, have a good one!