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Yorkshire based Professional Landscape and Wildlife Photographer

Adventures in the Arctic 2015/16 part 2

Posted on 30/01/16

I'm running a little behind on blogging this season. I've been crazy busy with tours, managing to do my own photography and learning how to cross country ski. But here is the second blog which really focuses on the lake Torneträsk freezing and a little road trip to Lofoten.

The first photograph was from a night off when I went with the talented wildlife photographer Andy Skinner who runs Images Of Wildlife. We went to one of my favourite spots but had a tough job wading through waist deep snow to get to these trees but the aurora played for us.

Aurora trees

There has been no shortage of aurora this year with a lot of big displays I always like it when you get an unusual shape and I can see a bit of an evil Pinocchio in this one. This was the second tepee we have put up so that we have 3 separate local locations to take guests.

Aurora face

As I mentioned in my previous blog December had generally been much warmer this year and it wasn't until we got to January that the really cold weather kicked in and the lake started to freeze. It did get really cold in January. We had one week of air temperatures of -32C and with wind chill at times it was getting down to -42C. Although this sounds tough it's totally workable as long as you look after yourself and your equipment. These temperatures and weather conditions made some really interesting photographic opportunities.

As the lake started to freeze but the weather was still windy blocks of ice get smashed up and then blown to the west side of the lake. They can then freeze together to form ice like the below. At this stage I would say less than 0.1% of the lakes surface had frozen.

Torneham plates of ice

Below shows some of the crazy waves which push that ice across the lake. Some of these waves have traveled over 40 miles to get to this point. The mist you see is the freezing mist the lake produces at the point when it's going to freeze. I was facing into a very strong wind at air temperatures somewhere below -30C to get this shot. After each shot I had to scrape ice off the lens and I had to check my self for any frost damage smile

Torneham waves

This season we had lots of these waves in really cold conditions and therefore some superb ice has formed on the cliffs. This image really shows how the ice is formed.

Silverfallet before the ice

One thing with the arctic is you never know what you are going to see. I've no idea why this frog thought that it might have been a good idea to come out of hibernation. Here it was encased in about 1cm of ice on the beach.

Frozen frog

One of the other impacts of the freezing mist from the lake is the fantastic frost that develops in the trees. In this shot I've tried to frame Narnia with the frosty branches. You have to take real care not to touch the branches though as they just snap as they so brittle.

Framed Narnia

I also wanted to get down to the waters edge and that gave me this view which is my favourite landscape image out of this trip yet. These icy blocks all seemed to leaning in the right way. I have a little mantra whilst photographing in the arctic "If some thing looks interesting photograph it now" and this was a classic example of why you need to. I went back to this site 2 days later. All of this had disappeared under further ice formations and lost all the form seen in this picture.

Ice blocks

The next two photographs show the day the lake froze. This is the same view as the photograph 4 photos above. You can see how much more ice has formed especially on the beach.

Silverfallet the day before the freeze

Silverfallet day it froze

Then we had a frozen lake and amazing shapes in the ice smile

Frozen cliff

It's not all about the big ice though and this ice crystal was also growing out of the lake. This was only about 4 or 5 mm high and required extension tubes and stacking to produce the image.

Ice crystal

That night I'd gone to bed and then got a text off Ludvig one of the drivers saying aurora. I didn't get chance to get very far but I got a good shot of the land we live on and some nice green stuff smile


There was good aurora the following night and I'd taken clients to the Aurora Sky Station. There's a famous mountain toilet there and I'd always wanted to do a shot where it looked like I was running to the toilet under a geomagnetic storm. So that's what I did!


With the lake now frozen you have a limited window to do two things; one is landscape with the dark ice...

Frozen lake

And the other is ice skating! Had a great morning out with Cecilia, Jörgen and Gunilla. You only have a limited window as after the ice forms soon it will snow, covering the ice. But at this stage the ice is not so thick. So when ice skating you do have to be prepared. Both in testing the ice to check the thickness and also wear spikes round you neck so if you do go through (and someone did this year) you can pull yourself out.

Ice skating I

The visibility under the ice is very good and even when the lake is around 10 meters deep you can still see the rocks which gives you a vague feeling of flying through the air whilst skating above it.

Ice skating II

It's not just the humans that use the ice to get from A to B and we saw these reindeer crossing too.

Reindeer on ice

Eva then flew other and I had a week off from guiding so we headed over to Norway. 1st stop was Andenes to see if we could see any whales. It didn't disappoint and we got great views of orcas, fin whales and humpback whales smile

Below are two orcas with a great mountain backdrops.



Also managed to get a shot of a humpback whale descending into the ocean.

Humpbacked Whale

We then spent the rest of the day driving to Lofoten where we stayed at Eric's great rental house. Highly recommend this place as it's right at the middle of the islands and great views and wildlife in the garden (otters, fox, eagles and snow weasels!).

This is the beautiful Haukland Beach in perfect winter conditions. A truly beautiful place. Often this beach can be very busy but we had the place to ourselves.

Haukland Beach

Haukland Beach II

The following day the weather conditions looked good so we drove to the end of the island chain and soaked in the fantastic views.

Lofoten Cliffs

Lofoten Cliffs

This is Å which is the very last village you can drive no further.


This view is Hamnøy village another fantastic spot.


On the drive back we saw a number of white tailed eagles and here one was being hassled by two crows. It always amazes my that the crows are willing to hassle the eagles who are so much bigger!

White Tailed Sea Eagle

Another beautiful view on the way back this time by moonlight.

Lofoten Cliff in moonlight

I saw this view last time I visited the islands but this time with better light. This was taken with the 500mm.

Lost world

This was my first view of the sun after 2.5 months. You never feel that not seeing the sun affects you until you see it again!

First sun

The next beach is one that Chad showed me. One shot from the day and one during the night. You could have surfed there during the day!

Beach wave

Beach aurora

On the way back I used the tilt shift to get a shot of this famous bridge between two of the islands. There's a little aurora but I'd have like more..

The bridge

A classic Lofoten view of mountains and reflections.

Lofoten reflections

Then it was time to come back to Abisko. We decided to take a detour and go to the famous Polar Park in Norway. It's still classed as a zoo but the animals have huge enclosures and there habitats are as the would be in the wild. I was a bit worried we would' see anything as the amount of light was very limited but we got to see a number of the animals.

Below was the female lynx with one of here kits.


We paid extra to go inside the arctic fox enclosure and I was able to get this shot of the two foxes which I'm rally happy with. Taken with the 5DS and a macro lens. There can't be many 50 megapixel images of arctic foxes around!

Arctic Fox

The wold enclosure is also huge this wolf seemed very interested in us!


If anyone has any questions or feedback feel free to ask. Happy snapping, Oliver

  • Oliver,
    Your photography is absolutely mesmerizing. It was such an honor and pleasure to spend the week with you in Abisko. What an incredible place!
    Thank you!

    Linda Pearson - 08 February, 2016
  • The frozen landscape in portrait orientation is superb! The textures on the ice and snow is very cool! Cheers, Oliver!

    Fabio - 08 February, 2016
  • Another fantastic blog Ol, the pictures are incredible.

    Phil Wrigley - 08 February, 2016
  • Fabulous thank you for sharing.

    jacqui Twine - 09 February, 2016
  • Oliver - these are incredible pictures, and they really capture the magic of Lapland. It was great to meet you briefly in Abisko, and we will definitely be back. Looking forward to the next instalment of your blog!

    Paul Williams - 09 February, 2016
  • What a fantastic blog to reed and suds a beautiful pictures to see. Special those ice pictures are amazing smile

    Marjo Slingerland-Boks - 09 February, 2016
  • Superb journal of an amazing few months out in the Nordic landscape Oliver we are very excited about your visit to Holmes Chapel. Keep posting Chris

    Christopher Davies - 10 February, 2016
  • Dear Oliver,
    Thank you for sharing your absolutely wonderful and gorgeous photographs on your website! I just can’t stop looking at them again and again (especially those rare and totally beautiful ones of the lynx, polar fox and wolf). For sure, I will regularly have a look on your website from now on! Wishing you all the best, always joy in your work and many more such great motifs…

    Ann - 11 February, 2016
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