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On Assignment: The Faroe Islands

by Coole Photography on July 18, 2011 Leave a comment

I was fortunate enough to be chosen by VisitFaroeIslands to photograph the Faroe Islands, with the brief being simply to show how stunningly beautiful the islands are. Natural beauty surrounds you from the moment you land in the Faroes however the weather has a mind of its own and can change within the space of 5 minutes; this was to be the biggest challenge of my trip.

As we circled over the Islands the pilot announced that it was too foggy to land in the Faroes, we were going to have to turn around and land in the Scottish Highlands and spend the night waiting for a new weather system to clear away the heavy fog. This is not too unusual for the Faroes so everybody took it in their stride and tried to make light of the situation, learning about each other’s proposed trips and business meetings that would now be missed! The weather had still not improved the following morning and so to keep the passengers entertained Atlantic Airways took us all on a small road trip to John O’Groats for a few hours. Upon our return we heard the news we had all been waiting for, that it may just be possible to land in the Faroes, and with this news everyone re-boarded the plane and kept their fingers very tightly crossed! Thankfully the weather had decided to be kind to us and we landed in the Faroes, more than 24 hours after departing from London.

My first couple of days were spent driving around Vagar Island, a small island which is often missed out by tourists as they head for the bigger and more well-known islands of Streymoy and Eysturoy. There are some magnificent sights around Vagar Island, such as Gasadalur and its famous waterfall which cascades directly into the Atlantic, Bour with its traditional houses and black sand beach; and Vestmannasund with its amazing views over both Vagar and Streymoy Island, to name just a few. Needless to say I was kept very busy as it seemed whichever way I faced a beautiful photograph was waiting to be taken.

Since the troublesome weather at the beginning of the assignment seemed to have stopped I thought I’d try my luck and take the ferry out to Mykines Island. Only accessible by boat during the summer months, the weather plays a huge part in deciding who can and cannot either get to the island or return from it. Thankfully on the day of my trip the winds died down and the sun shone meaning it was a trouble free sail across to the harbour. The islands most famous resident would have to be the Puffins and this is the main reason tourists visit this small and isolated place, and from the moment you set foot on land you are surrounded by these small birds. Another wonderful attraction here is the Mykinesholmur, this is a freestanding rock which is home to the much photographed lighthouse and is only connected to Mykines by a small steel bridge, which hangs over a 35m deep gorge. Walking around Mykines was a wonderful yet surreal experience, with Puffins flying past you at high speed, the views out across the seemingly endless Atlantic and the steep cliff which drop sharply into the ocean creating some of the most spectacular scenery I have ever seen.

For the next few days the weather took a turn for the worse and the rain was constant, which is quite unusual in the Faroes and many people commented on how they hadn’t seen rain this bad for many years! I was based in Gjogv, which is located on the North of Eysturoy Island, for these rainy days and had to simply watch the time pass by and hope for a small break in what seemed to be an endless downpour. Thankfully, on my last day in Gjogv the weather improved and I was finally able to capture some of the beautiful shots I had been seeing over the last few days. Gjogv itself is a wonderful little village with many traditionally built houses and a fantastic view over the Djupini Sound looking towards Kalsoy Island. Not too far away was the picturesque village of Funningur which has a traditional turf or grass roofed church located next to a fast flowing stream which empties into the vast Funningsfjordur.

My last couple of days were quickly approaching and the weather was forecast to be perfect, and although the islanders had said not to rely too much on the forecasts as the weather was so changeable I clung to the idea that my last 2 days would be rain free – and thankfully they were! My plan was packed full of new destinations and as the days are so long at this time of year I felt I had a good chance to shoot everything on my list.

I had been hoping to get to the small village of Kirkjubour and with blue skies above me I set off very early to capture the traditional houses surrounded by long, vibrant green grass. Sadly I had no time to sit back and marvel at the scenery once my shots were taken and it was back into my car for my next destination, the village of Velbastadur and its lighthouse surrounded by stunning coastal scenery and a fabulous view of Koltur Island. My last stop on Streymoy Island before returning to Vagar Island was a little visited village called Sydradalur, the view over the Vagafjordur was simply breathtaking and the large rocks along the shoreline framed the view perfectly.

My last day had arrived and as I had done so much the day before I had a couple of hours spare to revisit my favourite location, Gasadalur. I had noticed on my first visit that there were some very steep steps down to what was once presumably a harbour, although the rocks had taken back much of what had been added and getting to good viewpoints involved some daring jumps and a lot of rock climbing! The struggle paid off and I was able to get some amazing shots of the waterfall cascading into the ocean with the volcanic rock framing the shot perfectly, and as I scrambled around the corner I was rewarded with an unexpected view of Tindholmur Island across the Sorvagsfjorour.

My final destination in the Faroe Islands was to be the Bosdalafossur waterfall which flows from the Sorvagsvatn, also known as Leitisvatn Lake, directly into the Atlantic Ocean below. It would be better to have taken aerial shots of this waterfall but this wasn’t an option and so I did what I could to try and show this spectacular sight from ground level. It was 7pm by the time I reached the edge of the cliff and the light was soft and very beautiful, it seemed to be the perfect place to end my journey, there were no people in sight, birds were flying overhead and the crashing waterfall was the only sound to be heard. As I sat there watching the flowing water pass me by and staring out into the endless ocean, the weather combined with the staggering scenery left me with a true sense of experiencing majesty, a perfect end to a fabulous trip that I will never forget.

To see the full gallery of images from Faroe Islands please click here

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