The Story Behind the Photo: Flåm Reflections in Norway


It’s funny how things work out. On my recent trip to Norway, I stayed in a little town called Flåm. It was this picturesque town right along the water. You could walk through it in about 5-10 minutes. In fact, here’s a photo of Flåm while I was looking back at it from an early morning sunrise shoot.

(click to see the photo larger)

The Photo That Almost Didn’t Happen
What’s interesting about this photo story is that it probably wouldn’t have happened if things worked out the way I planned. See, I rented a car for a day while in town. I went out one evening and photographed an absolutely spectacular sunset. I was psyched. BUt I didn’t know the area that well, so I figured I’d sleep for a couple of hours (the sun set at 11pm and rose around 4am) and then head back to the general area since I already knew what to expect. When I got back to the hotel, I parked the car and never looked at the sign that was in the parking lot that said the lot would be gated closed until 7am. Ooops.

So I woke up around 2:30am, grabbed my gear and walked to the car. Got in and drove toward the front of the lot only to find a gate there was closed and locked. So plan B needed to come in to effect. I wasn’t quite sure what plan B was at the time, but I was pretty sure at 2:30am the only thing it could involve was me walking.

Luckily, as you can see from the photo above, I happened to be staying in an extremely small town, located in an extremely beautiful location. Since the town was right on the edge of the water, I decided to walk down there to see what I could find.

My main goal as I walked around was to find something to put in the foreground. I knew that there were large mountains and lots of water that would look great in the distance. But I wanted something up close to give the viewer an idea of what it looked like from my viewpoint. I got pretty lucky and found some nice rocks and even a dock to put in the foreground.



Finding A Different Photo And A Tip To Help You Do It
I was just about to pack up my gear and looked to my right. I saw these small red houses right along the water in the distance. I tried to see what it would look like with my wide lens on but I wasn’t feelin’ it. So before I switched to my zoom lens, I used a great little tip I learned years back. I zoomed in on the photo in Playback view on the back of my camera to see if I liked the composition. I did! So I decided to walk a little closer. As soon as I got there I was like “Wow!!!”. The wind died down. The water was perfectly still and the contrast of the red houses and dark green trees behind them was perfect. I framed the photo a few different ways, zooming in on the houses, moving them around in the frame but this photo was the one I was happiest with.

(click to see the photo larger)

Photo Details
Camera: Nikon D800
Lens: Nikon 70-200mm
Aperture: f/8 (I had nothing in the foreground so I knew everything would be in focus at f/8)
Shutter Speed: 2 seconds
ISO: 100
Tripod: Really Right Stuff TVC-33 with BH-55 Ballhead

Thank God For A Closed Gate
Who knew? I cursed the fact that the gate was closed a couple of hours earlier, and it ended up being the best thing that happened to me. When it was all said and done, I walked 3 miles outside of town (which meant 3 miles back) to photograph the constantly changing scenery and light at every turn. I probably shot at least 10 photos from that morning that I was extremely happy with. Had the gate been open, I would have probably driven back to the place I was at the night before, and photographed pretty much the same thing I did the night before – just because it was familiar. But as fate would have it, I was forced to set out and foot and it turned out to be one of the most memorable and peaceful times I had while in Norway – just me and the quiet town at 2:30am.

Thanks for stopping by today. Have a good one!

  • Mark Adams

    Lovely story! Noone around, dawn doing its thing, quiet and still. I remember Flam, but there’s something slightly antiseptic about that part of Norway for me. Maybe it’s too perfect.

  • Dennis Zito

    Great story, Matt! Love your photos of Flam! What a beautiful town and scenery! It’s funny how certain situations open doors to other adventures! :-) I’m curious about your tip of zooming in using the playback. Of course, I’ve never thought about that. :-) So, do you set it up in the viewfinder and then switch to playback and zoom in? Always the teacher, Matt! :-)


    • Matt Kloskowski

      Hey Dennis – yep. I just take the photo. Go into Playback view and zoom in on the back of the camera, just like I normally would to check sharpness.

  • wgchinn

    There is an old sports saying, but I’m not sure it applies to photography: ” I’d rather be lucky than good.”

  • Bill Bentley

    Nice pics Matt. I love these types of stories. God is not interested in seeing us speed up our lives. Quite to the contrary actually. I will venture to say that “luck” had nothing to do with this.

  • David Latour

    What a cool set of circumstances. As photographers we often miss shots on the way to get the grand shot. A neat way to stop and look around.

  • Sabine Konhaeuser

    That’s a great story. The photo of the four houses is really nice.

  • Marc

    Hi, great story. I plan to photograph Norway in june or september this year, don’t know which is best. Flam looks like a great location, where did you stay ?

    • Matt Kloskowski

      I can’t speak to September. June was great for photography – the days and the golden hour lasted so long it was awesome. Tiring too though :)
      We stayed in the Flam lodge I believe. There’s not many places to stay in town so the decision should be easy :)

      • Marc

        Thanks for this quick reply! We both know that winter in the Lofoten
        islands would be a great time also with a possible aurora borealis
        overhead as a bonus :) ..and warmer than some parts of the U.S
        :D. I’ll go for June, 2-3 weeks if I can, rent a car in Oslo, drive up to Tromso and drop-off there, then 2 flights back home. Have a great day.

      • Bart Fay


        Sure enjoyed the story on Flaam…was there in September on a cruise and took a very similar photograph from an almost identical vantage point…Not as good as yours perhaps…use Lightroom 5 here…see my shot here.

  • Pingback: Day 12 of “Lightroom Only” Month (travel photography in Norway) | Lightroom Killer Tips

  • Odd

    watch this… Most famous Tourist attraction at Flom

    You might also consider Rallarvegen

    It’s possible to rent at bike from Flom ( I think ) and cycle the Rallarveg
    (rallar road). It’s the most popular cycle road in Norway and probably the most beautiful
    also. The Rallar Road was build to support the construction of Flomsbanen… (Railway)

  • gabetaviano

    Great story, Matt. Thanks for sharing it and the pics!

  • Aino Shperber

    Great story and beautiful photos!! Being from Norway, it truly spoke to me. I will get up at 2:30 am too next time I there to visit and walk around. :) With a camera of course.

  • Matt Crace

    Seeing the results, I’m glad you were locked in ;)
    First, these images are stunning! Second, with season two of the Vikings kicking off in just a few days on the History channel, the scenery is very reminiscent and has me on the edge of my seat.