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East Kilbride Camera Club's photography trip to the Lofoten Islands in Norway.

 

I have created this mini-site as a way of providing information to members of the camera club who have expressed an interest in joining the trip to the Lofoten Islands in Norway.

The idea is to go the Islands in January / February 2017 and spend 7 nights based in Reine giving members 6 full days to explore and photograph the islands.

We plan to fly from Aberdeen to Leknes where we will collect hire cars and drive an hour to our accommodation which is self-catering in traditional fishermans huts... with wifi! From there we can explore the Islands over the next week.


Sample Photographs

Click to view the full photograph. None of the photographs from Lofoten on this site are mine.


Lofoten in Winter

To give you an idea of what Lofoten is like in the winter I've posted a couple of videos below that I came across researching the area.

 
 
 
 
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The itinerary is based on staying in Reine for the duration of the trip which is where the majority of photography tours and workshops in the Lofoten's appear to operate from.

 

Map

I've begun marking up the popular photography locations following some initial online research, guides, websites, blogs, etc.

This is something that can been added to in greater detail over the course of 2016 once everyone is booked up to go and we can find out everyone's particular interests.

One some of the locations there are sample images taken in that area. At this stage each location has not been specifically identified - that is something that will be done over the next 12 months, etc.

 

Driving Distances

From the accommodation at Eliassen Rorbuer, the driving times (based on Google) to the following locations are as follows...

  • A - 20 minutes
  • Flakstad - 30 minutes
  • Haukland - 60 minutes
  • Stamsund - 70 minutes
  • Unstad - 75 minutes
  • Eggum - 80 minutes
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This is an indicative itinerary to give members an brief idea of what is involved, particularly for those who haven't been on a photography trip / tour / workshop before.

This is not your average holiday with the family where you might be lucky to get out with your camera for a couple of sunrises and a couple of sunsets. It is a photography trip and for many a one-off opportunity to visit a part of the world that many of us are unlikely to go back to.

 

Day 1 - Thursday

After everyone has finished work we will travel to Aberdeen where we will stay overnight at a hotel near the Airport (eg. Premier Inn Dyce).

 

Day 2 - Friday

Fly from Aberdeen to Leknes (details on flights here) arriving early evening. Collect the hire car(s) at the airport and visit the supermarket to stock up on supplies for the week (feel free to take food in your suitcase). From Leknes it is an hours drive to the accommodation in Reine (details on accommodation here).

 

Days 3-8 - Saturday - THURSDAY

We will have 6 full days of photography, will plan in advance the locations we wish to visit and as such each day will differ depending on where we visit.

However, a typical day will take the following structure...

  • 07:00 - 09:30... On location for sunrise
  • 09:30 - 10:30… Breakfast back at our accommodation
  • 10:30 - 13:00… Out to shoot for remainder of the day
  • 13:00 - 14:00… Lunch out on location
  • 14:00 - 17:00… Afternoon shooting staying out for sunset and until twilight ends.
  • 17:00 - 19:00… Back to accommodation for dinner
  • Evenings… Out in search of auroras and planning the next day

 

Day 9 - Friday

Early start to get packed up and depart for Leknes Airport. Fly back to Aberdeen (a couple of stops on the way) arriving back on home soil at 18:25. Drive back to Glasgow/East Kilbride late evening.

 

Dates to be confirmed but potentially Thursday 26 January to Friday 3 February or Thursday 2 February to Friday 10 February.

 

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Sunrise & Sunset

Below are a couple of tables that show the sunrise, sunset and twilight times for late January and early February 2017.

Generally the sunrises around 9.30am although civil twilight begins over an hour earlier. This will mean getting up and to location in advance of civil twilight.

So if twilight is 08:30 and we want to be there and set up by 08:00, it might be an hours drive which means leaving at 07:00 and an alarm call of 06:30.

FRIDAY 27 January

  • Twilight Starts 08:27
  • Sunrise 09:46
  • Sunset 14:52
  • Twilight Ends 16:11

FRIDAY 3 February

  • Twilight Starts 08:05
  • Sunrise 09:15
  • Sunset 15:25
  • Twilight Ends 16:35

FRIDAY 10 February

  • Twilight Starts 07:40
  • Sunrise 08:45
  • Sunset 15:56
  • Twilight Ends 17:01

Weather

It will be cold during January and February. In 2015 the average temperature was 0.3 degrees in January and 0.8 degrees in February. The warmest and coldest days were 7.1 (Feb 9) and -9.0 (Feb 14). An extra from Cody Brown's guide...

Don’t be intimidated by Lofoten’s arctic location. It’s not that cold, really! Thanks to the warm waters of the gulf stream, the Lofoten Islands experience relatively mild winter temperatures compared with locations further inland. The typical winter average temperature for January and February is around -1 ˚C. This does not mean that the temperature doesn’t drop below this, the coldest day of 2014 in Leknes was -12 ˚C. You should be prepared for such temperatures, but it will not always be so.


Light

The chart above also shows the maximum height the sun rises to which is generally not above 6 degrees and one of the reasons we may not want to go much beyond the 1st week in February.

The images below (which you can click on to view full screen) are an extract from Bruce Percy's eBook on Understanding Light where he briefly discusses light at different times of the day including the golden hour and twilight.

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Everyone is allowed one piece of hand luggage on board and would suggest that it is used to carry your photography equipment (tripods in hold luggage).

In terms of what equipment to bring this is down to each members personal requirements / interests.

  • Camera Body - goes without saying!
  • Lenses - wide angle definitely required given the vast landscapes. If you have a fast lens (f2.8) that will also help for shooting the aurora borealis.
  • Tripod - something sturdy. You will use it regularly throughout the day and for long exposures so you want to ensure it's not going to move.
  • Filters - ND and ND Grad filters if you have them. 
  • Polarizer
  • Shutter release cable - the easiest way for taking long exposures.
  • Batteries - bring spares as they can run out quickly given the temperature. If you use a battery grip worth bringing the AA battery holder and some AA batteries.
  • Memory Cards
  • Camera Cover
  • Lens Cleaners

 

Some items that may not be what you take with you on your everyday photography adventures...

  • Head Torch - we will up and on location before twilight and it will be dark so a good head torch is required.
  • Flask

 

Lenses... if you are considering buying a lens specifically for this trip you might wish to consider renting one instead.

Computer... it may be an idea for 1/2 in the group to take computers and if there are external hard drives a backup could be taken each evening of all members photographs?

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It can get cold and therefore you need to ensure you're well wrapped up. Each members clothing requirements will differ but as a generality here are some ideas.

A shortlist..

  • Plenty of layers
  • Hat(s)
  • Gloves
  • Good pair of boots - waterproof preferable
  • Thick socks
  • Thermals if you feel the cold
  • Ice grips (similar to these)

 

A detailed list...

This more extensive list was prepared by Cody Brown at 68North.com. However, if you take a look at some of the photography workshop websites they generally post the key clothing you need.

Upper Base Layer: I recommend synthetic shirts, but anything will work really. I typically only wear short sleeve shirts and let the other layers do the insulating..

Upper Mid Layer: I like a mid weight fleece, with a hood and preferably some wind blocking abilities. I almost never take this off while I’m on the Islands. If I’m hiking around in moderate conditions this might be the only layer I have on while I’m moving. My current fleece keeps me comfortable down to about -5˚C as long as I’m moving and the wind isn’t too strong.

Upper Shell Layer: I suggest a proper waterproof jacket, with hood. It doesn’t need to be insulated, just water- and windproof. I wear this over the fleece if it’s cold and I’m doing a bit of hiking, or if it gets really windy. If I’m just standing around on a beach, it usually stays in the car/bag. You can get away with using a windproof soft-shell, which will insulate a bit more, but if it does rain, you might get a little soggy.

Upper Insulation Layer: A sufficiently insulated down/synthetic jacket, preferably with hood, but not totally necessary. I typically always have this on while outside. I have used the lighter down jackets, but find I tend to get a bit chilly if I stop moving, so prefer something a bit warmer.

Head: A beanie is a must. Preferably something fleece lined with a bit of windproof-ness (I get cold ears!). I would also recommend a light balaclava or something else to cover a bit of your face/neck if it gets windy.

Hands: Gloves are also a must. I would recommend 2 pairs: a lightweight fleece pair, if it is just a little cold but which allow you to fully work with your camera. And a heavier, ski type glove should the conditions turn towards the worst. Those mittens that you can fold back, to free your fingers can also be handy to make a quick few camera adjustments.

For my legs: I typically like to use a soft-shell and long underwear combination on days that are cold and fairly settled. If I think there might be a chance of rain or the day is particularly windy, I’ll go with a pair of hardshell (ski type) pants for a bit more protection. I will typically carry one pair of each.

Lower Hardshell Layer: Doesn’t need to be anything fancy, but I like something that is a bit more ‘normal’ looking that I can just wear on a day-to-day basis. I also like pants that have legs zips of some sort, so I can vent heat and keep from sweating while hiking mountains. Alternatively, a set of pull-over rain pants can be a cheaper solution than dedicated winter hard-shells.

Lower Soft-shell Layer: A bit more comfortable than hard-shells, but still with good wind protection. Not typically waterproof though, so no good if it rains. I usually wear a mid/heavy weight version for a bit of extra warmth.

Long Underwear: I almost always have a set of light/mid weight long underwear on while outside. This helps to separate the wind-chilled pants from your legs, while providing a bit more insulation. If you generally live in a warm climate, I would suggest getting a heavy weight pair for a bit more warmth.

Socks: Any wool/synthetic mid/heavy weight hiking type sock.

Footwear:  At a minimum, a good waterproof hiking boot will be needed. A major source of heat loss can be from your feet while standing around on ice and frozen beaches. A few times I have arrived on Lofoten after travels elsewhere, and only with some light hiking shoes and frozen toes were often my weaknessIf you don’t plan on much hiking, then I would strongly suggest a pair of insulated winter boots. They don’t need to be those giant, fur lined ones, but something with a bit of extra warmth. And make sure they are waterproof.

Gaiters: I like to wear gaiters all day long. This way I can jump down snowy slopes and not have to worry about getting snow in my shoes. Not a requirement, but definitely handy.

Micro-spikes: While I don’t use these myself, if you are not all that familiar with walking on snow – ice, then I would highly suggest a pair. There will be ice everywhere and it can often be hidden beneath a light layer of snow. I’ve taken a few spills and broken a couple pieces of gear over the years; and nearly ended up in the sea once.

 

 

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The cheapest, easiest and quickest route is from Aberdeen with SAS/Wideroe at a cost of £300-£400 per person. Both the outbound and inbound journeys can be done in a single day (ie. no overnight stop) although it would be an early start to get to Aberdeen and it would be sensible to stay in a hotel (Premier Inn £20-£40 per person) the night before near the airport.

It should be possible to check in bags in Aberdeen and collect them in Leknes as Wideroe and SAS are part of the same airline group.

In addition, it would be booked as a single ticket which means if there are any delays then it is the responsibility of the airline(s) to get us to our final destination.

When I checked at the start of August these were the flight times from Aberdeen to Leknes flying Friday to Friday. You can fly out any day except Saturday (hence Friday to Friday).

However, from a recent check it would appear it may be possible to do both the outbound and return trips with only two stops via Bergen.

The flight schedules are likely to change and we will need to wait until early next year before we can confirm exact details.

 

What's Included?

The above price includes one checked bag per person (up to 23kg) plus one item of hand luggage allowing everyone to bring their camera equipment on board (except tripods) and anything else can go in the hold.

 

Group Booking

If there 10 or more going on then we will be able to book the flights as a Group Booking. They offer competitive prices (not sure how they vary from booking online!) but also allow name changes up to 5 weeks before travel.

 

Alternative Routes?

Instead of flying to Leknes we could fly to Harstad-Narvik. The benefits are that it costs c. £100 less and we may only have one stop going instead of two. The downside is that it's a 4 hour drive from the airport to Reine.

 

Flying from Glasgow?

For those interested, but more for comparison, flights from Glasgow are more expensive and longer with nearly 3 flights of 2 hours. The following route was over £500 per person.

Links

  • SAS (from Aberdeen / Edinburgh)
  • KLM (from Glasgow / Edinburgh)
  • Norwegian (from Edinburgh)
  • Wideroe (Bodo to Leknes / Svolaer)
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The most cost effective accommodation is self-catering in a rorbu (fisherman’s cabin). It will also enable us to eat at times more suitable to our schedule plus help keep costs down. The large living areas give us space in the evening to review and discuss the days photography and plan the following day.

From an initial search there appears to be a number of these scattered around the Islands and in larger towns.

Eliassen Rorbuer has 35 cabins that sleep 3 to 5 people (a mix of double / single / bunk beds). The cabins are renovated and have one or two bedrooms, a fully equipped kitchen, big living and dining room, bathroom with shower and free WiFi access. There is also a restaurant on site for any nights we don't fancy cooking.

Based on 2016 prices, the cost for 7 night’s incl. towels, linen and cleaning on departure is £600-£800 per cabin in low season, £150-£200 per person depending on the type of cabin and the number sharing.

You can read reviews from other travelers here.


Photographs of EliasSen Rorbuer

 

LayouT / LOCATION of Eliassen

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The original costing included a 4X4 through Europcar and was based on paying at collection. When you added in the additional driver, etc this took the price to nearly £1,000 for the weeks rental.

However after further research it appears that a 4X4 is not required during the winter months and on that basis the cost comes down quite significantly.

Good prices were available on Avis (albeit for 2016) for an estate car which would be required given the amount of luggage (a big suitcase and camera equipment per person).

An estate car including an extra driver (so the driving can be shared) is approx £500 which works out at £125 per person if split between 4.

We would not have more than 4 people per car as it will become a bit uncomfortable. So for example, if we have 7 people then it will be 4/3 but the total cost will be split between 7.

The cost excludes all the additional insurance charges as it may be more cost effective to buy separate insurance via Insurance4CarHire, etc.

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The estimated cost for the trip is £650-£750 per person based on prices obtained over the summer for travel in 2016.

Once we begin booking elements everyone will be committed to the costs. What is unacceptable is for people to drop out and the impact is increased costs for others who are left going on the trip.

 

Included in the cost...

  • Flights to/from Aberdeen with SAS/Wideroe
  • A superior two bedroom cabin at Eliassen Rorbuer
  • Car hire with Avis (Estate car)

 

Not included in the cost...

  • Fuel to/from Aberdeen Airport and airport car parking
  • Hotel near Aberdeen Airport for the Thursday night (£20-£30 per person)
  • Fuel for hire car in Norway
  • All food and drink
  • Any additional excursions
  • Travel insurance – essential everyone has this

 

The car hire and accommodation are based on 4 people sharing a car and a 2 bedroom cabin and was priced in October 2015 for January 2016. The flights were priced in Summer 2015 for travel in January 2016. It would be prudent to allow for some cost increase.

 

What happens if more or less members go?

The costs vary depending on the number of members going as this impacts the number of cars required (max 4 per car) and the number of cabins need (3, 4 or 5 people sharing).

As an indication I've prepared the table below which assumes £350 per person for flights and £500 per car. For accommodation it ranges from c. £155 to £210 per person depending on cabin size and assumes 12 NOK to the £.

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WHEN DO I NEED TO CONFIRM?

Ideally as soon as possible as it gives a firmer idea on the numbers to enable confirmation of cars and huts required.  On the basis that the intention is to book flights when available everyone will be asked to confirm mid to late January 2016. Details will also be collected (passport, contact, etc) at time of confirmation.

 

When will we be booking it?

Flights should become available in late February / March 2016 and the intention would be to book as soon as they are available (assuming a sensible price). The last flight is operated by a small plane (37 seats) and books up quickly. Accommodation and car hire will follow thereafter.

At this stage, everyone who confirms themselves for the trip will be committed to the costs. As explained here, what we don't want is people dropping out which then results in higher costs for those still going.

 

Special clothing / footwear?

Everyone will have different requirements but it can get very cold and warm clothing will be required. A good pair of boots and ice grips will also be needed. This is something that can be discussed in more detail.

 

How much will additional costs be?

These are not that easy to predict but here's a very rough estimate...

  • Fuel to/from Aberdeen - £10-£15 per person
  • Airport Car Parking - £10-£15 per person
  • Airport Hotel - £20-£30 per person
  • Car Hire Fuel - £30-£50 per person ???
  • Food - you can bring food with you and we can do a shop in the supermarket. May eat out a couple of times and grab lunch on the go, etc. Allow say £150-200 (c. £20-£30 per day).

 

What if I want a day of rest?

Every member is free to do as they please and it is by no means not compulsory to get up for sunrise or stay out until sunset each day. 

That said it is a photography trip and for many a one-off opportunity to visit a part of the world that many of us are unlikely to go back to.

If people wish to stay in the cabins and rest that is fine but it may mean they are there for a period of time without access to a car as if there are people wanting to take photographs then that is where the cars go.

As an example... there are 8 members on the trip and we have 2 cars. One day 6 members want to take photographs while 2 wish to stay in the cabins and rest. Both cars will be used to take the 6 members out.

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Any questions or comments feel free to ask me at the club on Monday evening's or via the club's Facebook page.

Alternatively fill in the form below...

 
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