Landscape Photography Guide to the Faroe Islands - Part 1
Landscape photography in the Faroe Islands is simply put amazing and it has exploded within the last years. In addition, so has the tourism. The untamed, unexplored and raw northern nature stands strong in this collection of islands within the harsh Atlantic Ocean. In this series of blogs, I will present some of the most amazing landscape photography locations the Faroes has to offer and throw in a few I found myself. I will do that by taking one island at a time divided on the four islands we focused on while visiting the Pearl of the Atlantic. None of these blogs fully explore what each of these four islands has to offer – far from it! The first island on the list is Vagar and I am super excited to get started, so without further ado let us get going.
Where Iceland is very well known for all the waterfalls I will say it is the seashore and fjords, which are the defining features of the Faroes. With cliffs rising hundreds of meters vertically out of the ocean, the Faroes are both immensely impressive and deadly dangerous.
Our first location is just such a feature and it is called The Witches Finger. Coming from south with the airplane the Witches Finger is one of the first features you will see. It is a tall single cliff standing along the shore of Vagar close to the town of Sandavagur. It is very easy to find from the town since you just have to follow the signs showing towards “Trøllkonufingur”, which translated to The Witches Finger. Following the road at some point, you will find a small parking lot where you cannot drive further. You have to walk the last part but it is only a few hundred meters – of cause dependent on how close you want to get. I decided to find myself a good spot, where I could have some foreground and use the “shore line” as a leading line towards the cliff. I wanted the sun to rise just above the island in the background, but the weather in the Faroes is extremely local and completely unpredictable. It can snow on one side of a tunnel and be clear sky on the other side. Even though my three different weather apps predicted clear sky, we still were hit by a cloud of rain. However, as they say in the Faroes. If you are not satisfied with the weather, wait five minutes. So with that in mind we waited and I did get enough light to get the effect I wanted.
Trælanipa is probably one of the most famous locations in the Faroes at least according to the social media. The cliffs at this location along with the big lake Leitisvatn makes an interesting perspective where it looks like the lake is flying.
To get to Trælanipa you will have to get to the town of Midvagur. Along the main road, there is a sign towards Bøsdalafossur. Following the signs, you will end up on a small gravel road, where there are a small parking lot and an entrance to a trail towards Bøsdalafossur. The trail is approximately two kilometers long and is fairly easy to walk although big parts of it were pretty muddy when we were there in March.
The entire place is absolutely awe-inspiring and standing at the edge of these cliffs, which have a vertical drop of hundreds of meters makes you feel so insignificant in this big world, which is a very humbling experience. Trælanipa is also very impressive from the lower perspective, where the cliffs look like the front of a ship.
The location can be extremely slippery so step with care. I will recommend a good wide-angle lens here, 16mm should be sufficient, but be sure to bring some kind of zoom lens too. There is also a good opportunity for photographing some wildlife here too since the curious seagulls often come rather close.
Close to Trælanipa, you can find the waterfall Bøsdalafossur. The waterfall happens to be where the water from Leitisvatn runs into the ocean. It’s a another impressive location, but the biggest flow of water isn’t visible from the southern viewpoint. To enhance the flow of water I used the massive waves that came crashing in to the cliffs and sprayed water 50 meters into the air. When the water returned to the sea I could catch the beautiful streaks of water with some long exposures. When we visited this location clouds were forming all along the rugged coastline which just enhanced this dramatic and otherworldly view.
As of 2018, you will have to pay a local guide to get to this location. You cannot go alone. You will have to bring a guide. Drangarnir is an island or a rock formation formed as a huge arch located between Vagar and the island Tindholmur. From Vagar you can get rather close to Drangarnir and it has become a rather popular location to visit during 2017. Be aware though the hike out there and back can be rather demanding it is very beautiful though! You might want to climb the third mountaintop on your way out there it has an insanely impressive view.
All along the coastline, when you have passed the last mountainside there is plenty of opportunity for amazing compositions with strong focal points and leading lines – I actually got one of my favorite pictures from the entire trip here, which I caught on our way back, when we suddenly were hit by a cloud of rain and hail.
Up close Drangarnir is an impressive rock formation and you can get beautiful pictures from different perspectives since there is an entire ridge you can follow, which increases in height. On top of the ridge, you will get a majestic view towards the southeast, where the hundreds of meters tall mountain walls rises out of the sea to create a giant pot.
Bring as large a spectrum of focal lengths as you can, bring plenty of food, proper clothes and footwear. You will have to walk for long on steep and inclined paths - if there is a path at all - so you will need a good amount of support for your ankles. We spend around eight hours on this hike and I must say it was one of the hardest, if not the hardest hike I have ever been on.
The last location I will present from Vagar is probably also the most famous landscape photography location in all of the Faroe Islands. Gasadalur or Goose Valley is located in the westernmost part of Vagar. The small village located within the valley is surrounded by 400-meter tall mountains and was not connected to the rest of the islands before 2004 where a tunnel was blasted through the mountains.
The panoramic view over the ocean with the waterfall Mulafossur and the town above it is as taken out of a fairytale. There is a small gravel road along the ridge of the southern side of the valley, which you can follow to get to the best viewpoints. You will probably have to go a bit back and forth to find the optimal composition. There are even stairs down to another viewpoint, but the stairs are rather terrifying, so that is your own call to go down there, we decided not to. This location is probably also incredibly slippery! It was when we were there and slipping on the grassy hillsides will probably kill you. After a slide down the steep hill, there is a vertical drop straight down into the ocean. Oh… and do not forget the wind. This location gets the full force of the northwestern wind from the Atlantic Ocean! During the summer half of the year, you will shoot into the sun at this location. Lens wise you will be good with a 16-35mm.
Thank you so much for reading. I hope you enjoyed this blog and found some inspiration. Vagar is way bigger than these five locations, so I can only recommend you to go explore some more. In the next blog, we’re going to Streymoy, which is the largest island in the Faroes. Be sure to check out the above video to see the epic video footage I got from these locations!