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February 25 - March 2, 2020 (7 days, 6 nights)
Winter in Lofoten, Norway has to be seen to be believed. You'll be up close with majestic fjords, snow-covered jagged mountains, icy blue water lakes, quaint fishing villages, and beautiful rocky shoreline. To top it off, the periods of low-angled beautiful sunlight can last for hours. As if that wasn't enough, Lofoten is also known as one of the premiere places in the world for experiencing and capturing the Northern Lights.
Josh Merrill, Dusty Doddridge and I will be leading a maximum of 10 photographers to explore Lofoten's best, including the classic locations around Leknes and Reine, as well as some lesser known spots that offer excellent foreground opportunities. That's right, three instructors! The new moon happens shortly before the start of the tour, meaning we will have dark skies and some nice foreground lighting from the moon. If you haven't experienced and photographed Lofoten during the Winter, this is your opportunity for a once-in-a-lifetime photo adventure!
Day 1, February 25, 2020 (Leknes) - Our adventure will begin in Leknes. We will meet you upon your arrival at the Leknes airport (airport code LKN) and bring you straight to the hotel. This evening, we will meet in our hotel lobby at 6:00 pm for a welcome dinner and to talk about the upcoming tour. Although the plan is to get a good night's rest this evening, we will keep a close eye on the Aurora Borealis forecast and sky conditions, as we will be doing throughout the tour. If things look good for the Aurora this evening, we'll head out to capture it!
Days 2-3, February 26-27, 2020 (Leknes) - Good light in Winter can last a long time... sometimes for hours. Although we will be well-positioned at sunrise and sunset, we will also take advantage of favorable lighting conditions, even at mid-day. If the Aurora appears, we will be out photographing. Our shooting locations in Vestvågøy and Flakstadøya are relatively close by and do not require any long hiking. We will photograph the classic beaches and shorelines including Skagsanden, Haukland, Uttakleiv, and Vareid, as well as scout some lesser known places for ice patterns that can be used in the foreground. When weather becomes less interesting, we will use our time to cover a variety of basic and advanced landscape post-processing techniques.
Days 4-6, February 28 - March 2, 2020 (Hamnøy/Reine) - We will change locations after breakfast, basing ourselves 60 minutes away in Hamnøy, just outside of Reine. I've booked Superior Rooms for you in this beautiful location. One of the best Northern Lights photo opportunities is right outside your hotel. If the Aurora arrives, we can be set up and shooting in just minutes. In addition to some incredible landscape locations a short drive away, we will photograph the villages of Reine and Hamnøy with the majestic mountain peaks behind them. Although the trip is not yet over, we will enjoy a farewell dinner together on the last evening of the tour.
Day 7, March 2, 2020 (Hamnøy/Reine & Departure) - We will photograph a final sunrise near our hotel, grab breakfast, and then head back to Leknes where you can catch your afternoon outbound flight.
SKILL LEVEL AND CAMERA EQUIPMENT
This photo tour is open to photographers of all skill levels. The low instructor-to-participant ratio allows us to spend more time with each participant. At minimum, however, you should be familiar with your camera's controls and understand the basics of composition. There is no need to worry if you do not have experience with night photography, as we will be teaching these techniques early in the tour.
For night photography, you will get better results with a camera that can handle ISO's in the 1600-3200 range with relatively little noise. A wide-angle lens with an aperture of f/2.8 or wider is desirable. Contact me if you have any questions on this. You should bring lenses in the wide-angle through telephoto range to capture the myriad of photographic opportunities in this region. We will be teaching post-processing techniques in Photoshop and Lightroom, so bring your laptop. Bring enough memory cards... generally at least 100 gigs or more. Bring extra camera batteries and, as always, a tripod.
WEATHER AND CLOTHING
Lofoten is not as cold as you might think during Winter. During February 2018 & 2019, temperatures averaged around 31 degrees Fahrenheit (-0.7 Celsius), with the lowest temperature reaching 4 degrees Fahrenheit (-15.8 Celsius). So, you will likely experience temperatures slightly lower than freezing for much of the trip, with some potential cold snaps below that. Bottom line - you will want to be prepared for cold weather. When outside, we will be within a short walking distance of our vehicle at almost all times.
TRANSPORTATION AND LOGISTICS
Making your air arrangements - For those of you flying in from the U.S. or Canada, we recommend doing the following: 1) Buy a roundtrip ticket that arrives in Oslo, Norway Gardermoen airport (airport code OSL) on February 24, 2020. 2) Book a room the night of February 24th at Radisson Blu Airport Hotel, Oslo Gardermoen. You walk out the airport door and you are at the entrance to the hotel. 3) Book your flights on February 25th on a single ticket (using Expedia, for example) from OSL to LKN (Leknes), most likely connecting in Bodo on Wideroe airlines. We can advise on the specifics as flights become available. Book early as these local flights do book up!
For your return travel, book your travel back from LKN to OSL on a single ticket on March 2nd in the afternoon. Then, unless you have the option of a late flight out of OSL back home on March 2nd, you can again have a good night’s rest at the airport hotel and have your return out of OSL on March 3rd.
Important - Depending on your flight times, you may be able to avoid the need to stay in OSL the extra nights before and/or after the tour.
Upon your arrival in Leknes, we will meet you at the airport on February 25th and bring you to the hotel. As mentioned, the group will meet for a welcome dinner at 6:00 PM at the lobby of our hotel in Leknes on February 25th. Our Leknes hotel is a couple hundred meters' walk from a coffee shop and stores.
As for local transportation, we will comfortably travel in vans and be doing relatively short drives, usually about 30-40 minutes, with a maximum of 60 minutes. The roads are generally well-kept.
There will be no long hikes on this trip. Generally, we will be walking very short distances on snow and ice covered paths which are sometimes at an incline, as well as positioning ourselves on potentially slippery rocks, snow and ice. So, having good balance and the ability to walk up and down an incline (such as from a parking lot down to the shore) in snowy and icy conditions is important.
We strongly suggest you purchase emergency medical treatment and medical evacuation insurance for this trip.
Operator - Josh Merrill Photography
Instructors - Josh Merrill, Ken Koskela and Dusty Doddridge
Duration - 7 days, 6 nights
Maximum # Participant Photographers - 10
Price (Shared Room) - USD 3,975 (*See note below)
Price (Single Room) - USD 4,475
*Booking a shared room is only possible if you are booking the tour with someone that you will be sharing a room with.
Deposit - USD 1,000 and a completed registration form reserves your spot. Important - See "Tour Policies" (link below) for information on payments and refund policy.
Price Includes - Accommodations (sharing or single as noted above), welcome dinner and farewell dinner (other than alcohol), breakfasts while in Leknes, all local transportation including airport transfer, photo instruction & critiques.
Price Does Not Include - Everything not noted as included, such as airfare, passport and visa costs, breakfasts while in Hamnoy, lunches, dinners other than welcome and farewell dinner, travel insurance, alcohol.
Note: If you do not receive a response via the contact form, you can reach me at kenkoskela at hotmail. After reviewing the tour info and policies, please fill out & sign the tour registration form and then contact me via the contact form.
We reserve the right to cancel the photo tour for any reason including low enrollment in the tour. We also reserve the right to operate the workshop with only two instructors if enrollment is lower than 9 participants, and one instructor if enrollment is lower than 6 participants.