Today, we are going to take a look at perhaps, one of the world’s most photogenic countries – Norway. From modern and thriving cities, to pretty timber house villages and onto the majestic Fjords, Norway is a photographers playground, a veritable smorgasbord of visual possibilities.
Practicalities – For most people, flying into the country will be via Oslo, the country’s main hub. Getting around is best done by the excellent domestic air services. Driving is possible but because of the terrain, journey times and distances will be long. Another excellent way to see the country is by ship, this can be either on a cruise ship sailing the Norwegian coast or by using the excellent Norwegian coastal ferries, a sort of long distance maritime bus service for the Fjords.
Oslo: Norway’s compact yet pretty capital provides a surprising amount of photographic opportunities from the Neo-Classical buildings of the University and National Theatre to the modern offices and Trafikanten tower. The center is full of parks and sculptures, often with great backgrounds, for a great view over the city and its bustling port, take a walk to Akerhus park near the cruise ship port. For pomp and pageantry, try the changing of the guard at the Royal Palace, itself a photogenic and interesting building. Because of its compact size, much of Oslo can be covered in 1-2 days allowing another day or two to shoot in the surrounding suburbs.
The Fjords: Norway’s defining landscape feature is of course it’s Fjords and the best way to see them is by ship. In the south west of the country the Fjords are perhaps the most impressive, the impossibly steep sides, gushing waterfalls, and snow capped mountains make for wonderful images. Care with exposure is needed, the deep cuts of the Fjords can cast dark shadows and the dark green of the foliage can throw off meters. Spring is the best time to visit – the weather although never entirely predictable may spawn more days of sunshine and the melt water from the mountains makes the waterfalls immensely impressive.
Perhaps the most well known and most beautiful Fjord is Geirangerfjord, one arm of the huge Storfjord. A walk up the hill from the pretty village of Geiranger, brings you to a pretty timber framed church and a viewpoint with stunning vistas. Enter the Fjord by ship and the big shot is that of the Seven Sisters, a series of waterfalls that plummets down an impossibly steep cliff and which on sunny days can reveal beautiful rainbows.
Norwegian Villages: The villages of the Fjords are wonderfully photogenic, white timber framed houses with spectacular mountain scenery. In most villages the local churches make for great photographic opportunities, both outside and in. The hills around the villages are often home to colorful barns and other agricultural architecture.
The Arctic North: To the north of Norway, the Fjords become softer, and lower but the scenery is still spectacular. The Lofoten Islands feature stunning fishing villages set on rugged coastlines with unusual high yet rounded mountains as a backdrop.
Here wildlife photographers will encounter Arctic Terns, Buzzards and White Tailed Eagles. Arriving by sea, you could encounter Sperm Whales, Orca and White-beaked dolphins. The two things you will need are a good telephoto lens and lots of patience. A pair of binoculars will help with the initial spotting. When the weather plays ball here, the light can be nothing short of spectacular with a clarity rarely seen in lower latitudes.
North Cape: The northern tip of Norway and indeed Europe is marked at the North Cape on the island of Mageroya, deep inside the arctic circle. Perched atop a 1000ft cliff looking toward the Arctic, a large monument in the shape of a globe marks the spot. Here, in the summer, the sun never sets, and you can take photographs in bright sunshine at one o’clock in the morning. The monument makes for a great silhouette to the midnight sun.
Further back , you can get great shots of the steep cliffs and the monument on top. If you get lucky you will be able to get shots of the clouds below the tops of the cliffs, creating an entirely mystical look.
The Norwegian summer is a short and fickle thing. It is impossible to know if you will get good weather or not but if you adapt your shooting style to the weather, it’s virtually impossible not to get good shots in this stunning country.
Jason Row is a British born travel photographer now living in Ukraine. You can follow him on Facebook or visit his site, The Odessa Files. He also maintains a blog chronicling his exploits as an Expat in the former Soviet Union