It’s been a few weeks since I returned from Norway and I’ve still barely gone through all of the photos. But I wanted to get a post up with some of my favorite shots so far.
I Love Norway!
Norway is, hands-down, so far the most beautiful place that I’ve been. All I can say is WOW! The weather was great (yes, we got really lucky, as I hear it’s not always that way), the people were great, and the scenery was stunning. I already want to go back.
One of the things I liked the most about photographing Norway, was there weren’t many crowds at the places I was at. Here in the US, so many of the great places often have a lot of people taking photos at the same time/place. But I was alone in just about every location I went to. Most of the time, it was simply pulling off the side of the road and hiking up or down to a spot that looked interesting.
The Sunrise/Sunset Times Are A Killer For A Landscape Photographer
I have to admit, the sunrise and sunset times were an absolute killer this time of year. This is an iPhone photo of what it looked like around 2am. It just never got dark. For the most part, after sunset (around 11pm), it stayed twilight-ish until sunrise (around 4am). And since I love shooting during the twilight hour, it was hard for me to every actually stop 🙂
The other thing that was awesome about this time of year, is that the magical light stayed with you for so long. If sunset was close to 11pm, it started getting good around 8pm. And since the sun set so slowly and stayed so low in the sky, you could really shoot for about 3 hours. Throw some dramatic clouds in there, combined with the low sun and it made for some wonderful photography.
Starting Out In Oslo and Traveling to Flåm
I started out in Oslo, which is where I taught at the IGM conference for a day. That’s actually the reason I went to Norway, but I added on some time to tour the rest of the country afterwards. After Oslo, my wife and I hopped a train to Flåm, which is a small town right along the water. This was probably one of the most picturesque train rides I’ve ever been on and can really ever imagine. It ascends into snowy mountains for a few hours and then eventually descends into one of the most quaint and post-card like valleys you’ve ever seen. You’re greeted by waterfall after waterfall and some incredible lush green landscape along the way. The photos below were taken out of the train window. We weren’t moving really fast, but it was still hard to get a sharp photo (especially of waterfalls) while you’re moving.
(NOTE: Make Sure you click on the photo to see it larger)
I enjoyed it so much that I begged and pleaded with the rental car agent in Flåm (the only one that’s there) to rent me a car that wasn’t even ready to rent yet, so I could drive back along the countryside to take some photos. The first thing I learned is that the roads are really narrow. Luckily, they weren’t traveled much, but I kept fearing that I’d come across another car at some point because there was literally no way to pass each other. You’d have to back up to a turn-out if it ever happened (luckily it didn’t). What’s really interesting is that everything looked totally different from down low. The train passes along the top of the valley, but once you got way down into it, it wasn’t quite as picture-worthy as I’d hoped. Once I realized it wasn’t working, I turned around and headed for one of the fjords that’s well known in the area.
Sunset in Aurlandsvangen Along The Aurlandsfjord
As we drove along the water, this was my first treat to the Fjords that I’d seen only on websites at this point. FYI… a fjord is basically a long, narrow, deep inlet of the sea between high cliffs, typically formed by submergence of a glaciated valley. And Norway is known for them. It was like one postcard photo after another. Driving up the mountain in Aurlandsvangen, gave me some great high vantage points for the hills and water. As the sun started going down lower, some God beams even showed through. After I had photographed up high, I wanted to get down low for another view. I found this nice dock with a boat tied to it and photographed the last light of the day from there. These were taken around 10pm. Crazy huh?
An Unintended Sunrise Shoot
Since we were only in Flåm for one day, I decided I was getting up for sunrise no matter what. And since sunrise was at 4am, and I knew where I wanted to go was about a 30 minute drive, I woke up at 2:30am (after going to bed at midnight) to get there. Well, as fate would have it, the gate in the lot where I had parked the rental car was closed. I had no idea it would be, and it wasn’t going to reopen until 7am. So I set out on foot to shoot along the water in Flam. And I’m so glad I did. See, I would have ended up going to where I’d gone the night before to shoot sunrise. I had planned on finding some different vantage points, but in the end, I think the photos would have been similar. This is one of funny little times in life where fate knows a little better what you need than you do. As I set out on foot, about a half mile down the road I came to a little beach area and captured these photos. They ended up being some of my favorites from the trip.
(NOTE: Make Sure you click on the photo to see it larger)
This was of course pre-sunrise, so I set out further down the road to see what I’d find. There were a few more spots to shoot from, and I was able to catch some beautiful color and clouds in the sky.
As I mentioned before, the nice part about the low angle of the sun is that your sunrises and sunsets last forever. So even after I shot the photos you just saw, I was able to make my way back to town (30+ minutes) and get some of that great early light. When it was all done, I drove that same path with the car later in the day and realized I ended up walking almost 4 miles out of town which meant another 4 miles back. But the scenery just kept changing so much that I couldn’t stop 🙂
The Fjord Cruise To Gudvangen
After getting back to my room around 7am and sleeping for a few hours, we boarded a boat for a cruise through the Fjord to Gudvangen. From there we’d get on a bus, followed by a train to Bergen (along the western coast of Norway). Unfortunately, when I woke up, the weather had changed dramatically. It was now cloudy, overcast, rainy and cold. My wife kept telling me how bad she felt for me since she thought the cruise photos would be awesome, but I have to tell you, I kinda like the ones I came away with. The area looks totally different under cloudy skies and I love the atmosphere, clouds and fog that we saw along the way. So, while it’s not the sunny view of the fjords that you see a lot, I actually like the mood of these photos a lot.
Arriving in Bergen
We arrived in Bergen, which was one of the highlights of the trip. Not just because it’s this great little city along the sea, but because we were treated to the chance to pay nearly 3-4 times the cost of everything for a few days 😉 Seriously, Norway (and Bergen) had to be the most expensive place I’ve ever been to in my life. Burgers were $25-30. A beer was $15. Next time you feel like you’re getting screwed by paying extra for something in a movie theater, don’t feel so bad 😉 One evening we went for a late snack because we got in so late. We got a salad, an order of cheese nachos and 6 beers (3 each). Our bill came to around $200. Crazy huh? Anyway, Bergen definitely was one of the highlights of the trip. We saw the sites for the next day, and even went up the tram to the top of the nearby mountain to see the sun set.
Driving To Balestrand
As I did my research of Norway, I found that the Songefjord was considered one of the most largest and most beautiful fjords in Norway. I also found a small town called Balestrand, right along the water. I realized that it was about a 4-hour drive from Bergen, so we rented a car and took one of the most beautiful drives I’ve ever taken to Balestrand. There was a ferry trip along the way, and it was one of those drives where you pull over every 5 minutes to take photos even though it wasn’t the best light to shoot in. One of the things I found is that because of the northern latitude and the time of year, the skies tend to have a much more crisp blue to them in Norway and even harsh mid-day sun didn’t look so harsh.
Sunset and Sunrise in Balestrand
We stayed at the Kviknes Hotel in Balestrand and it was awesome! It’s an older hotel with incredible art and decor and a perfect view of the fjord right from the balcony in your room. I set out to hike what was considered the most demanding hike in the area, to the top of a mountain to see sunset. After realizing about 3/4 of the way up, that it was actually going to be too high to really get the type of photos I like (the kind with a foreground that leads into something), I stopped and shot for a while from an overlook, and hiked back down without getting all the way to the top. I had enough time to get in the car and drive to some other spots to shoot the last light of the day.
(you can see the hotel I stayed at along the water’s edge in the bottom right of the photo)
(NOTE: Make Sure you click on the photo to see it larger)
The next morning (again, around 2:30am), I woke up to shoot sunrise. The night before, on my way back from shooting, I had driven to scout a few areas and found some good spots I wanted to hit this morning so I had a good plan (and a car that wasn’t gated in) 😉
Overal A Great Trip
Overall I had a great trip. It was extremely tiring since I wanted to shoot so much, but well worth it. The weather (from what I’m told) was perfect. So many people told me to expect 7 days of rain and I think we only had 1 day of overcast and cloudy weather, so I got really lucky there. And the people of Norway could not have been nicer. The next time I go back I want to get up north to the Lofoten Islands and hopefully even come at the right time of year to see the northern lights Aurora Borealis. That was probably the most frustrating part about only having 7 days there. I saw so many places that I’d love to travel to but only had a limited amount of time. Oh well… next time right 😉
Thanks for stopping by today. Have a good one!
I am leaving for Norway in 2 weeks. Just bought a Nikon 20 mm f1.8 and will be taking my 35 and a telephoto. I’m going to order my ND filters today! We will be touring the Fjords and National Parks with a car and I am bringing some groceries from the US as we eat a plant-based diet and will have a kitchen everywhere we go! Glad to hear that there will be a large window for shooting. We are early morning people but I am prepared for a grueling schedule if I want to shoot sunrise! Gonna try to practice with the filters before I go. Can’t wait!!
Stunning set of images Matt!
Hi Matt – great photos from Norway. Next time you will need to visit us here in the Shetland Islands. Shetland used to be under Norwegian control until 1469, but we’re now part of Scotland although geographically closer to Norway than the UK mainland. In Shetland you’ll experience stunning landscapes, northern lights Aurora Borealis, abundance of wildlife (killer whales, puffins, otters…) and much more. Like Norway, the people are very friendly and you would have a great time.
Beautiful shots, Matt! Love this one https://mattk.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/MJK_6401-620×413.jpg
Thanks man! Long time no talk. Hope all is well!
glad to see you enjoy Norway.. it is a great place to do landscape photography, but the weather is not to stabile. 🙂
send me a note next time you are going to norway 🙂
Matt: check this out:
Some crazy roads through some insane landscapes…I wish you could go there next…
Matt, a fantastic gallery and blog post mate! Thoroughly enjoyed it as it brought back memories from my trip there back in ’07. I agree, at the time, it was the most beautiful place I had been. Last year, I backpacked and photographed Switzerland for 3 weeks and it maybe JUST pipped Norway at the post. Switzerland and Norway are hands down my favourite places on the planet. Did you manage to get any Big Stopper shots in there? Thanks again for an awesome post. If you get a chance, check out my blog of my climb up Mt. Rainier with some of my shots at http://imagetramp.com/blog/2013/6/8/the-rugged-tramper-climbing-the-king-of-the-cascades. I wish I could’ve joined your WA workshop. Cheers buddy!
Wow Ben! I just read your story about Mt. Rainier. That looks like an awesome adventure and a great accomplishment. Congrats!!! Makes me want to try one day 🙂
I’ll have to make it to Switzerland. I’ve heard great things about it as well, and now that you’ve told me you like it better than Norway I’ll definitely put it on my list. Thanks 🙂
Beautiful pictures of a beautiful
country! (I should know, I live here…) Please do a workshop in Bergen
sometime! You can work with e.g. Japan Photo for publicity and
organizing it, they already organize events such as annual local photo
walks all over the country. (I’m not affiliated with them in any way.)
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Great stuff Matt! Not sure I’m ready for those long days again, but you certainly squeezed wonderful stuff out of long days, congrats my friend!
Matt – Thanks so much for sharing the shots from the Norway trip. Definitely a place I want to get to. Also, really enjoyed the instruction on the Palouse trip. It was extremely helpful and I am employing your dodge and burn technique on my shots now. It really makes the Palouse shots pop! Thanks again; it’s always a pleasure.
“We arrived in Bergen, which was one of the highlights of the trip. Not just because it’s this great little city along the sea”.
Little city? I’ve been there once, it’s not so little after norwegian standards. It’s our second largest city with almost 270.000 people living there.
Excellent post and pictures Matt.
Wow, what a collection of stunning images Matt! I can see why you were exhausted.
Beautiful pictures of a beautiful country! (I should know, I live here…) Please do a workshop in Bergen sometime! You can work with e.g. Japan Photo for publicity and organizing it, they already organize events such as annual local photo walks all over the country. (I’m not affiliated with them in any way.)
Holy crap, Matt. Those photos are insane! Beautiful job and I’m glad your trip was enjoyable and safe.
Fantastic pictures, what an amazing place. Would love to know what your gear carrying strategy was for travelling internationally with all your gear.
Wow, b-e-a-u-tiful!! now i wanna go to Norway to…. damn… Thnx for sharing.
Beautiful Photos Matt!
The third one down (2nd under the waterfall) screams “make me a miniature”…reminds me of that mini town at Epcot. Didn’t you totally love those little towns! I love it when you go to Europe (I am from Europe), so its nice to see it your photos.
They look like doll towns! So pretty and colorful.
You should go to Romania next, and then through the Swiss & French Alps. You will This is a good list to start with:
You won’t believe the landscapes. We used to travel by bus through some really insane winding roads! Like I said, you won’t believe the landscapes, and peace and quiet to shoot.
What a great post Matt! Glad you enjoyed Norway! Your post makes me want to take the drive myself. And yes. Everything is expensive here. Norway has been crowned the most expensive country in the world unfortunately.
That was an epic posts with lots of gorgeous photos.
I got engaged on precisely those rocks (MJK_6401-620×413.jpg) in Flåm with my lovely wife some years ago. Thanks for bringing great memories back to me!
Norway is indeed one of the most beatiful places on the planet.
We stayed in Bergen and I can agree on your comment that it could be one of the most expensive places on earth as well 😉
Beautiful images! Have always wanted to go and now even more so. 15$ beer! That would be rough on me!
Matt, just some Outstanding Photographs! How luck you were to make this Trip! Next time you go … I’ll carry your bags!:-) Quite the Adventure … thanks for sharing with us!
Again, just spectacular photos!
“Next time you go … I’ll carry your bags!”
Me first! hahahaha
Great photo!! Seems like you had a blast!!
I am heading out to England this Saturday for 10 days.. I hope I will get some good weather and good shots!!
Again, great photos!
Great post! You got some really nice shots on your trip. Being used to seeing this landscape pictured in sunlight, I really appreciated your foggy (and sharp) shot from the ferry!