Living in the Arctic

Ian Robins is living in the Arctic. This is his story:

I would first like to introduce my self. I am from Cornwall where I spent the first 16 years of my life after which I left for military life. 17 years old I was in Germany where I stayed for 22 years 12 as a soldier and 10 as a truck driver. After living most of my life in big Germany cities I decided to get back to nature. That was my aim 7 years ago when I moved to north Norway to do something completely different. Since then I have been dunning a small “camp” with my Norwegian girl friend. Here we offer accommodation fishing, boat hire, photography course, kayaking courses and hire among other things.

The whole point of this little report is to hopefully show the world how wonderful the Arctic can be in the five different seasons we have up here. Yes I said five seasons because the “dark time” where we do not see the sun for 2 months counts as a fifth season up here. Thats is just coming to an end here as the sun pops above the horizon on the 15 jan. That is the best time to be here because of the fantastic light that we get here all day long. Just because the sun does not come above the horizon it does not mean it is dark 24hrs a day. The fact is we are not so far north so we get sunset colors in the sky 5-7 hours a day.

aurora5ianrobinsaurora3ianrobins AUrora1ianrobins aurora
The longer it is dark the more chance you have to see the aurora too. That is something special but I will not go on about that as it has been in the press so much in the last couple of years because of solar max.

spermwhaleianrobins orcasianrobins eagle4ianrobins eagle3ianrobins Eagle2ianrobins Eagle1ianrobins
The wild life is pretty special too as I believe it is the only place where you can see whales in Europe. Humpback, sperm, and Orcas are very regular visitors here. Right now there is a feeding orgy going on as the herring swarms are coming down the Norwegian coast. The whales are following them. It is possible to paddle out in a kayak and watch the whales feed around you. That is a moving experience. We have otters, mink, various bird life and not least my favorite the white tailed eagles too. We have several pairs right on our door step and sometimes it is possible to feed them right from our terrace.

The colour of the North
I must admit I have a bit of a passion for this area, the light and animal world is just so special and it would be a shame if more people did not get to know it. Just check out our Facebook page and I am sure you see what I mean.

If you must do one thing in your life I think it is to visit the arctic in the “dark time”. Yes it could be bad weather and storm but even that is an experience to behold with the waves crashing over the rocks and the wind in your face. It could also be so beautiful and clear air like it has been for the last week. I live 300 kms North of the Arctic Circle in the Vesteralen islands. North of the Lofoten islands.

I can only recommend that you take a look at this corner of the world. You will be surprised.

aurora4ianrobins Earthshadowianrobins otterianrobins
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  • borealis?

    wow, beautiful red homes!!

    but in this forum, many will wait to go there with a d400

    • AM

      Nope. They’re just waiting for the D400, keep it in the closet, and wait for the D400s or whatever.

  • Alaa

    Beautiful! Now I’m intrigued … Perhaps I should plan for something in December …

    • Ian Robins

      I would recommend the 15 of nov or jan when the sun is going down for the last time or comming back for the first time. Last year Nov was bad news as it was mostly bad weather but so far we have had 3 weeks of the best weather here in jan.

      • brrr

        what is the best weather like? minus 20 but sunny?

        • Ian Robins

          Well actually this year is special like it is all over the world. We normally have an average temp of -4 here. It will get down to -25 at times but it only feels that way when there is a wind blowing. It is very often wind still when the sky is clear but the golf stream keeps us warm, it can be -10 to 15 lower temp just 3 kms from us. This Jan has been exceptional in that we have had a very long period of -15.
          The clear sky does tend to lower the temp and that is what gives rise to the rumour that Aurora only appears when it is cold. today has been very beautiful -4 and clear sky. You never know what is coming in the Arctic and that is the beauty of it.

  • Anonymous

    Are they D600 spots in photo 2? 😛 Great light aurora and eagles!

    • Andrea

      Hey that could be a whole style to itself. “Well, I do some landscape, street, but mostly D600 spots these days”
      Anyway, exif says Ian is using a D300.
      Very nice photos indeed!

      • Ian Robins

        Yes it would seem I did not clean that image as I should have. I am not a professional that is perfect in every way just a human that makes mistakes like everyone else sorry.

        • Guest

          Well you really shouldn’t have to do that. That’s really Nikon letting down their customers. Still, great pics.

          • AM

            WTF does Nikon have to do with spots on his D300? Those minor spots are pretty normal on every single DSLR in this planet…..
            Unless you’re coming from lala land.

          • Ian Robins

            It is only the d600 that had a problem with in camera generated spots and even then only some of them so the spots on my photos are my fault for not cleaning them.

  • Ian Robins

    All these images are taken with my old and battered D300 but it is still going strong.

    • Marcel Speta

      Greetings from Czech republic. Doesn’t matter what camera are you using, for me the result is important and i have to admit i am bit envy 🙂
      Very ncie auroras and the main thing is that you were able to find the Freeeeeedom! That’s my dream. Go back to the nature, find the connection, peace and freedeom, not be slave of current economical terorism. Personally i would preffer some warmer area 🙂
      Ian thumb up!

    • BluePlanet

      Great pictures Ian. Love the colourful horizon ones! Thanks for sharing

      • Ian Robins

        The colourful horizons are taken midday during the dark time here when the sun does not come above the horizon. It is the Earths own shadow in our atmosphere.

    • Kynikos

      What a wonderful set of exciting images. Thank you so much for sharing them with us.

  • Jlx

    Beautiful photos! A proof that an amazing camera means little compared to the photographer 🙂

    • Groosome

      While that may be true, where does it say he didn’t use an amazing camera?

      • Jlx

        You are right! What I ment is a new generation device like the D800E

        • Groosome

          Actually you are right, I only just noticed author’s comment saying D300 and didn’t think there would be exif data but yes, still a very good camera 🙂

        • Ian Robins

          Yes a new generation device is ideal for this place as you are very often using high iso up here. I have been waiting for the replacement d400 like everyone else but I am going to stretch to the d4s as soon as I can as it is perfect for what I do here ( I hope)

  • Jlx

    Which lenses did you use?

    • Groosome

      Now that I’m aware of the exif I’m guessing Nikon 12-24mm, Rokinon 14 2.8, maybe 24-70 and Sigma 120-300 f/2.8 …I hope I get a prize if I’m right 😛

      • Kartken

        Nikon 16-35mm f4

        • Ian Robins

          Yes I have the nikon 16-35 f4 samyang 14 f2.8 sigma 120-300 f2.8 mkII nikon 70-200 f2.8 which I use very often for landscapes here.

  • Floyd Davidson

    You can’t “see the Arctic” in one or even two short trips. The months without a sunrise are indeed wonderful, and so are the months without a sunset. Quite literally every three to four weeks is significantly different, and every two months it transforms to a totally different place.

    The Arctic is adventure! An all day, every day, adventure.

    • Ian Robins

      Thank you Floyd you have obviously been here and appreciate what it is I was trying to tell everyone. Your comments are so true and it changes every hour of every day of every season.

      • Floyd Davidson

        I live in Barrow… 🙂

  • Guy With-camera

    A: Live in an exotic place.
    B: Wait like a ninja early in the morning before sunrise or wait patiently till the sun sets.
    C : take pretty pictures

    • David G.

      What if I told you…
      The area in which you currently live, wherever that is, could be considered “exotic” in the eyes of a lot of people ?
      (I know what you meant though; we don’t all live somewhere with interesting scenery)

  • peter marshall

    beautiful photos!! thank you for sharing!!

    • Ian Robins

      Thank you for looking.

  • Spy Black

    So many places in the world to see…

  • csmith

    norway is not the only place in europe where you can see whales. it is the only place in europe that still KILLS whales.

    • knutmsa

      Paradox, huh? We eat one species (the very sustainable minke whale) and arrange safaris to watch the other bigger and more spectacular whales. A win,win situation 🙂

    • Esteban Colberto

      Read this:

      Or even better, watch it:

    • Floyd Davidson

      Yeah, around here everyone believes we should save a whale… for dinner. (We like Bowhead whales best though.)

  • Mansgame

    The eagle pictures are perfect.

    • Ian Robins

      Thanks for your comment and appreciation. They are magnificent birds.

  • I visited Lofoten and Vesteralen several years ago, and it was an experience I still remember vividly. I only regret it was just a couple of days, and film days at that. I like to think I may be able to have a longish stay with my camera one of these Days. I cannot recommend the place enthusiastically enough to those who haven’t been there yet. Even if Vesteralen are by no means the only place in europe to see whales…

  • Richard Hart

    I have been in the arctic several times in summer, never in winter. I never appreciated there being 5-7hrs of dusk/twilight. I have some beautiful shots in Norway of those colours over the sea in Summer so I can appreciate how wonderful it is. Here in California, we regularly have great sunsets – because of the pollution that hangs in the air like a dirty smear. Florida has wonderful sunsets because there are lots of sand particles form the Sahara in the air. Complete contrasts to your world! Many thanks for the post Ian, I enjoyed it…

  • gr8fan

    Thank you, Ian! You are a ‘pro’! Beautiful pictures.

  • MRomine

    Awesome images Ian! Makes me want to come there even though we have had an especially cold winter this year in the middle U.S. This planet home never ceases to amaze me. Just gorgeous! A real testament to the creator.

  • miyaker

    Vesteralen Islands are the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen. Your photos are gorgeous.
    Wish it was a little more affordable there so I could see them again, but your photos were much appreciated. Thanks for sharing!

  • Sundra Tanakoh

    Beautiful photos!!

    • Ian Robins

      Thanks everyone for all your kind comments and support.

  • SiliconVoid

    Wonderful post and imagery!
    The images were very enjoyable, brought back many memories of places I visited and lived before college. The wildlife you have there reminds me of many areas of Alaska where I lived for about a year. What I also enjoyed, and not taking anything away from your imagery, was your focus on the beauty of your environment and the art of expressing it through photography without the need/desire to mention equipment – especially as that component really doesn’t matter.

    • Ian Robins

      Hi yes I run a lot of photo courses up here and equipment does matter but I find that after a little knowledge injection most people can get images like these with whatever they have. There is always restrictions though. Compacts have limited focus capabilities in general but are getting better all the time so it is possible to get a shot of a fast moving eagle even with a compact. The thing is if you do not try you will never get the image! I started out in the b and w days with a Zenith E borrowed from my school. You had to work slowly but it worked. You had to pre focus for action but it worked. Just fit your style to your kit and work around the problems if you have any.

      I have also had “professional photographers” who new it all and did not want any advice on an eagle safari, guess how many good images they got! I like to help people get what they are after with what ever kit they have.

  • Marc Petzold

    Very lovely shots, i’m envy you, ian. these pictures are simply stunning,
    love especially the aurora borealis shots. cornwall is also a place that
    i’d love to meet someday into my life, i’m the same age as you.

    best wishes, and always have good light.

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