Recently I went on a cruise to Norway for my brothers wedding. If you’re gonna get married, that’s a pretty decent way to do it. Naturally my camera came with me. We visited four ports, Stavanger, Olden, Andalsnes and Bergen, and each one had a very unique feel and a different photographic challenge.
Port 1 – Stavanger
The first port we stopped at was Stavanger, a large town famed for its streets of original wooden houses and known as the ‘oil capital of Norway’. Having done some prior research I’d found a specific shot that I wanted to get, so jumped ship as soon as I could and got walking. After initially walking in completely the wrong direction I eventually got back on track and started what I thought would be a decent but not overly long walk. I was wrong. It’s amazing how short a route looks on Google Maps when sat at home. After about a 2 hour walk in surprisingly hot weather, taking in some of the sights such as the main park and the Sverd i fjell monument to the battle of Hafrsfjord I made it to my destination.
What it was I’m still not sure of, some sort of boat shelter maybe? Either way it’s quite pretty, and the rocks leading up to it create a lovely leading line. The sky was playing ball and, being nearly the middle of the day, the sea was also nicely lit. The only issue was the shadow put over the front of the boathouse, but this was just a compromise on the time I could be there. That’s the main issue with trying to mix cruising and photography, you are very restricted on times, no sunsets or sunrises as you are generally at sea at those times.
The beauty of the shot was slightly offset by the fact that I knew I had another 2 hour walk back to the ship with all my kit, but all in all, a worthwhile trek.
Port 2 – Olden
Our second port of call was Olden. I got up at 4 o’clock in the morning to watch the sunrise as we floated through the small fjords leading to Olden. It was freezing cold with the wind but a stunning sight, seeing the sky slowly light up the mountains around us. This was a definite advantage of being on a cruise ship, you could get a unique perspective. Being on a boat means I didn’t really bother trying to get any proper photos, but I did take a quick and dirty panorama just to remember it by.
Once we arrived I made a beeline for Olden Church, a red, wooden church built in 1934 that is a popular attraction. In an attempt to get the whole thing and show off the mountains behind I decided to get quite close and use my 14-24mm wide angle and take 3 exposures, which I later merged in Nik HDR Efex Pro.
The clouds were just building as I grabbed the shot, and somehow I managed to avoid getting anyone in the shot and having to blend them out.
Port 3 – Åndalsnes
Our third port, and the most northerly on this trip, was Åndalsnes. The plan for this trip was to climb to the top of Nesaksla, 715m above sea level, and maybe get some shots along the way. It’s a great walk initially through woodland then up the side of the rocky mountain, before a few final scrambles to the top. At 550m there is a relatively new platform that juts out of the side of the mountain and gives you a spectacular view over Åndalsnes, although if you’re not a fan of heights I wouldn’t recommend looking down.
After another 45 minutes or so we made it to the top and were treated with views of every angle.
Port 4 – Bergen
Our final port was Bergen, the second largest city in Norway and a far cry from the much quieter ports we had visited so far. I’m very much a country person so trying to photograph in a pretty big city proved to be quite a challenge for me. I wandered through the main centre and was getting slightly disappointed by the lack of photo opportunities, thinking maybe I should have gone on an excursion rather than freewheeling it. I eventually came across this red brick, gothic style church with steps leading up to it.
This shot was all about the vibrant colours, hence it was created from 3 bracketed shots combined together to balance the exposure and really make the red pop.
After walking a bit further I came across a lovely little park with a large lake and some beautiful blossoming trees. There were a large number of people around feeding the many birds on edge of the lake, but a ten second exposure blurred them away and smoothed the water out.
I quite like the effect of the blurry birds and people on the edge offset with the stillness of the trees and the lake. I did have to Photoshop out a crane in the top right of the shot, but thanks to content aware fill and a bit of manual cloning it was gone in no time.
So that was the last port and the end of an interesting photographic adventure. Trying to photograph on a cruise holiday comes with challenges, specifically being tied to a ship and its docking/departure times. It does have the advantage of seeing many different places and having a very comfortable base to come back to, so swings and roundabouts, but all in all I came away with more photos than I thought I would and the weather was very kind, so no complaints.
Oh and the wedding was nice as well. Guess I’d better add that bit.