a photograph of the night sky with stars and the aurora borealis reflecting on skagsanden beach in lofoten norway

Cosmic Forces

In Travel by DustinWong

I joined rock star landscape photographers Arild Heitmann and Ryan Dyar for their Lofoten & Senja Arctic Workshop/Tour for 10 days in March (www.lofotentours.com). Our group was there primarily to see the aurora borealis (a.k.a the northern lights) and photograph the cosmic spectacle in the majestic setting of the Norwegian Fjords.

Photo of a sunrise at a river bend in Norway

The Lofoten Islands are an archipelago located within the Arctic Circle around 68 and 69 degrees north latitude–a hot spot for viewing aurora during the winter. The islands consist of rugged mountain peaks that form right up against the shore. Snow melt flows regularly down the mountain peaks so creeks and waterfalls are very common. After countless turns, bridges and tunnels along the one road that traverses the island chain, the landscape continues to impress and left me in awe of how many opportunities exist in this small corner of the world. There are rocky shorelines and soft-sand beaches that nearly always have an impressive view of some snow-covered mountain on the next island. I found it quite unusual to be at a beach where straight offshore another large mountain can be seen. I suspect there are few places on earth where this condition exists.

Photo of a beach and mountain in Lofoten, Norway

We arrived at our cabins in the scenic fishing town of Hamnoy just outside of Reine. This quaint fishing town has become world famous for it’s photogenic qualities.

Reine, Norway

Photographing the Aurora in Norway

The second night we spent the evening at Skagsanden Beach, a well known location with an iconic mountain across the water. The skies were clear and around 9pm we started seeing some mild activity. After an hour the night sky had turned into a full blown spectacle.

Photo of the Aurora Borealis over a rocky beach coast line in Lofoten, Norway

Photo of the Aurora Borealis

Photo selfie under the Aurora on a beach in Lofoten, Norway

Looking straight up in the heart of the aurora borealis

A typical day on the workshop would start early for a sunrise, then back to our cabins for a nap and food. Some days we would scout out a place during the mid day, or just wait until sunset. We followed nature’s schedule (constantly checking weather conditions) and when there were chances for good light we were out shooting something. The region has so many scenic locations.

Photo of a river bend and grass in Lofoten, Norway

Zoomed in photo of Mount Rulten

Photo of the fishing town Reine during blue hour

We had some great lighting conditions.

A photo of a stormy sunset in Lofoten, Norway

A photo of a wave flowing over rocks during sunset at Vareid Beach, Norway

A photo of a stormy sunset in Reine

Photo of ice in frozen Solstadvatnet Lake during sunset in Lofoten, Norway

Photo of waves at Skagsanden Beach Lofoten, Norway

The aurora was a frequent occurrence for us, (half of the nights) each display presenting very different conditions. I thoroughly enjoyed traveling through this mystical land abound with photogenic opportunities. The fellow participating photographers were all very inspiring to be around, and our guides Arild and Ryan were always in great spirits and very open to helping teach their craft. I left wanting to return to explore more of the idyllic scenery.

Photo of Aurora Borealis over a mountain lake in Norway

A selfie on a road under the aurora borealis

A black and white photo of Mount Rulten