Looking for Meaningful Landscape Photography in the Arctic

Creative pursuits are inherently two-headed beasts. We are all too familiar with being passionate about photography, so much so that we can sink all of our spare time and a good portion of our money in it. Especially when you travel with photography in mind, landscape photography can start to become a trophy hunt. And I can’t blame you. Travel is expensive enough, so you want to make your shots count, right? In this article, I want to present a new way of looking for meaningful shots that may be more interesting to you in the long run.

During my last photography tour in the Norwegian Lofoten, I wasn’t that interested in pointing the wide-angle lens towards the beautiful, sweeping vistas that usually captivate me. Instead, I’ve found myself to be attaching the telephoto lens a whole lot more often than previously was the case. This Arctic archipelago is home to the some of the world’s most awe-inspiring natural landscapes. With a fresh coat of white, the Lofoten Islands come alive as they are host to jagged mountain peaks and quaint red villages by the sea.

The Lofoten have had a cold spill because of a so-called polar split last February. The air mass that’s situated above the arctic normally omits almost the entirety of Norway. This is why this gorgeous archipelago is blessed with relatively mild winters and cool summers. But that air mass split into two last month, with one part drifting down toward Siberia. That opened up the door for a chilling easterly wind blowing into Europe from deep within Russia. In the Netherlands, the country which I call home, the Siberian cold had people gathering to skate on the Amsterdam canals. To be honest, we haven’t had such a freeze in a very long time. Nor has Norway.

In Arctic Norway, temperatures plummeted to -15 °C during the coldest nights, even freezing up the heated piping that’s quite common there. It wasn’t just the piping (and consequently our tap water) that froze, though. Such a flash freeze does crazy things to the natural landscape too. Among frozen waterfalls, strange patterns in the ice, and sapling trees that struggled to survive in the knee-deep snow, I found myself more inspired by the intimate scenes than the stuff that just about everyone seems to be pointing their cameras at.

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