by Paul Gallagher Published 01/10/2013
Having been to Iceland the other location that was on my radar and, not too far away, was Lofoten which is an archipelago off the north-west coast of Norway. There is only one main road, the E10 that extends the full length of this land mass which consists of 1,227 square kilometres and it shares the same latitude as Alaska and Greenland, so it can get cold in the winter but the summer months are surprisingly mild due to the Gulf Stream.
We decided to travel in March as I wanted to see the place in its full winter glory and challenge myself to photographing in such tricky weather. The purpose of the journey was a reconnaissance trip so I could later return with Aspect2i workshop groups and teach photography out there. The journey there was not an easy one as we had to travel on very specific dates, there and back. No matter which way you approach travelling to Lofoten there is actually no easy route to choose from - after all it is a peninsula in the Arctic Circle! We flew from Heathrow to Oslo, changed planes and flew to Bodo, and took our last flight from there to Leknes. Yes that's six flights to get there and back!
We arrived rather tired in Leknes and collected our hire car from the airport. This was the first time I realised that the Nordic people are so well equipped for their winter conditions. We only needed a small car and when we were checking it over before I signed the documents I noticed that the tyres where steel studded. I was informed that this little run-around would not leave the road in a hurry and I soon found that out. It is worth pointing out at this stage that during my stay in Lofoten I only actually saw a tarmac road surface for approximately two miles of road travelled. The road surfaces are literally ice roads that are constantly snow-ploughed and marked with tall red poles so you don't wander off into the drifts.
Our base was Ballstad, which is a small fishing harbour on the northeastern coast. I checked into my room, freshened up, then I was on my way with camera in hand. Firstly, all I can say is that this environment is stunning and also full of surprises because, as you travel round, the road mostly follows the coast and every turn of a corner shows a new view and amazing fjords. Although the main road is the E10 there are lots of other little side roads that lead to fishing harbours and remote fjords where you often find fish racks of cod drying ready for export which is a tradition which has been carried out on this peninsular for over 1,000 years. These fish racks alone became a great source of photography as they can cover acres of land in the middle of nowhere with their complex criss-cross of wooden poles.
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