Nordic Islands seen in their ‘surreal light’

Stefan Forster has made more than 80 trips to Greenland, Iceland, Norway and the Faroe Islands, capturing some of the beauty of the Nordic landscapes.

A view of cliffs on the Faroe IslandsImage copyrightSTEFAN FORSTER
Image captionThe Faroe Islands

The Swiss photographer has walked hundreds of kilometres and has seen a range of wildlife, including young polar foxes, musk ox families, sea eagles and puffins.

An Arctic fox looking at the cameraImage copyrightSTEFAN FORSTER
Image captionAn Arctic fox in Greenland. “I encountered this cute little guy near Ilulissat. After about half an hour we got comfortable with each other, and he finally came so close that he bit the lens hood of my camera out of curiosity. The video of this incident got worldwide media coverage.”

After earning enough money from his first published photo of rare ball lightning, Forster bought his first professional camera.

At the age of 18, he then hiked alone in Iceland, covering 189km (118 miles), and discovered his love of nature and photography.

A landscape showing many lakes at sunriseImage copyrightSTEFAN FORSTER
Image captionIceland: “There are upwards of a thousand lakes in the highlands. Many of them have no name. When the summer sun rises at 3am and the weather co-operates, you can see their silhouettes glow for a brief interval.”
A sunrise over a number of icebergsImage copyrightSTEFAN FORSTER
Image caption“This sunrise in Scoresbysund, Greenland, photographed from an inflatable boat, came as a complete surprise. While taking a quick stroll on the sailboat’s deck, I noticed that the cloud layer was turning slightly pink, so I woke the crew and we motored out to the icebergs and saw the most beautiful sunrise of the entire trip.”

“Most people’s brains—mine included—are not set up to retain a beautiful experience or a fascinating landscape, no matter how impressive, in the form of a palpable memory,” says Forster.

“My first camera changed this for me. Its images let me transport myself back to moments I want to be able to recall for as long as I live.”

The northern lights seen above icebergsImage copyrightSTEFAN FORSTER
Image captionGreenland: “Many factors have to come together for this photo to be possible. First, you need clear skies and a lot of solar activity so that the northern lights are visible. Second, the water must be at low tide so that the icebergs rest on the bottom of the sea and cannot move around. Finally, the air must be completely still without the slightest wind so that the reflection is sharp. After four years of visiting this spot, all three of these conditions were met, allowing this shot to become a reality.”
A view of iceberg that resembles the shape of a seahorseImage copyrightSTEFAN FORSTER
Image captionGreenland: “When I saw this seahorse made of ice on my first trip to Greenland in 2012, I couldn’t believe my eyes. If the eye were just a little bit higher, it would look like something carved by humans.”

Now 32, Forster has shot more than 600,000 images in recent years, and- together with his wife – delivers guided photography tours in the Nordic Islands and beyond.

In his new book Nordic Islands, Forster presents 160 of his best shots.

An expanse of icy water with an iceberg and a shipImage copyrightSTEFAN FORSTER
Image captionGreenland: “What looks like open seas is actually the world’s largest fjord, the Scoresbysund, or Kangertittivaq in Greenlandic. The main channel extends more than 110km (68 miles) into the island’s interior.”
A landscape of green hills with dark clouds and sun breaking throughImage copyrightSTEFAN FORSTER
Image captionIceland: “A shift in the weather makes the most exciting kind of backdrop for me, a hunter of that certain, special light. When a storm approaches and the first rain showers descend upon the land, Earth reveals itself at its rawest.”

“The true heroine of all the images in this book is nature itself, not the photographer,” Forster says.

“My task is merely to demonstrate, to any observer, how beautiful our planet is and what it is that needs protection.”

A landscape view over a lake with some buildings and mountains in the backgroundImage copyrightSTEFAN FORSTER
Image captionNorway: “The glacier-scoured mountains around the Vorfjord in Lofoten seem almost unreal. A person lucky enough to have been here in such good weather will probably never forget the sight.”

Forster doesn’t use image manipulation techniques on his photos.

“Though I process my photographs, I decidedly reject all forms of image manipulation (HDR, blending, composing etc.).

“Unfortunately, this is a statement that repeatedly gets me into hot water with some readers. And yet I stand by it. My profession is about finding the light.

“The world such as it is already treats us to surreal light and colours.”

A wind-swept sandy ground with mountains in the backgroundImage copyrightSTEFAN FORSTER
Image captionIceland: “I had to visit this magical place near the Vestrahorn in south-eastern Iceland dozens of times before I caught it in this unique light. Like so many locations in Iceland, this one looks different every time you go.”

Nordic Islands by Stefan Forster is published by teNeues.

source: bbc.com

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