Pure moments
July 2024

July 2024 - Evening atmosphere in the Norwegian fells

What exactly does the word fell actually mean? Where can you find fells in Scandinavia? In our Pure Moments article for July 2024, we shed some light on this topic and lose ourselves in the vast landscapes of Norwegian fells.

July 2024 - Evening atmosphere in the Norwegian fells
Scandinavian high mountain landscapes with surprisingly diverse vegetation for the rugged surroundings: a typical fjell landscape in Norway.

What is a fjell in Norway?

The Norwegian word fjell primarily corresponds to the German term for mountains. However, due to the unique and different topography in the Norwegian mountains compared to the "classic" mountains such as the Alps, it is also often used colloquially to describe the typical barren and treeless highlands in Norway or Sweden (Fjäll).

The vegetation often consists of only a few trees such as a few birches or conifers. The landscape is primarily characterized by plants close to the ground, mosses and grasses as well as heath landscapes. The rounded landscape of the fells, which has only a small difference in altitude compared to the rugged shapes of the Alps, is characterized by ice-age glacier movements and, depending on the region, is interspersed with many smaller and larger lakes.

In Norway and Sweden, fell landscapes often have little infrastructure. Characteristic are the sometimes dead-straight roads that run through the area as if drawn with a ruler. Extensive fells such as the Hardangervidda in Norway are a popular hiking and trekking area. However, due to the long distances and the exposed altitude, these areas must be visited with the appropriate equipment and preparation, as there is hardly a comparable and dense hut infrastructure as in the Alps.

Where can you find fells?

The typical landscapes are not necessarily only found in Norway, where this landscape photo was taken. Sweden and the northern part of the British Isles with Scotland also have very similar landscapes. And even in the Alps there are some smaller regions that I would personally describe as fells, although this is not necessarily correct from a geological point of view.

As this photo is from Norway, I would like to limit myself here to this vast country. In Norway, you can find fells in quite a few regions, and I would list the Jotunheimen National Park and the Hardangervidda in the southern third of Norway as two characteristic examples. Both regions lie at altitudes of between 800-1200 meters, with some mountains clearly exceeding this mark. Jotunheimen is home to the two highest mountains in Norway, Glittertinden and Galdhøppigen, both of which are over 2,400 meters high.

But there are also many regions in northern Norway and Sweden that fall into the fell category. It has often happened to us that during a stage of our journey through Norway, the road has suddenly led us, just a few bends later, into barren high landscapes that we would never have expected.

About this picture

Landscape photography thrives on the effect of depth in the picture. An important element in achieving this depth effect is the sky - ideally when it is covered with interesting cloud shapes. Unfortunately, we have no control over whether and when clouds appear in the sky - and that's certainly a good thing.

During our overnight stay in the Norwegian Fjell by van in the Nore og Uvdal region, we encounter the best weather, a cloudless sky and colorful vegetation. Due to the elongated, flat mountain ranges in the landscape, I was looking for a suitable motif on this evening in September and lacked elements for the composition: a rugged mountain, a gnarled tree or imposing cloud shapes in the sky. After some wandering around with my camera in my hand, I finally have to settle for a few colorful mosses and the glowing evening sky.

I try to create my composition in such a way that a certain depth effect is created by the course of the lichen and bushes with the mountain ranges on the horizon. The deep blue to orange sky plays its part in ensuring that the light component is not neglected. The purple moss at both edges of the picture provides a splash of color and although purple, orange and blue are not directly complementary colors, I am quite satisfied with the result. Now if only there were a few light streaks of cloud in the sky... But I don't need to pursue this idea any further, there isn't a cloud to be seen, no matter how small, and in a few minutes the darkness will take over anyway.

Apart from nightfall, there's another reason why I'm glad to be finished with my shot of a Norwegian fjell landscape: Mosquitoes. From my point of view, this is another rather superfluous invention. How do the Norwegian trolls put up with these creatures, I think to myself as I pack up my tripod and camera and make my way back to the van. But they probably just don't behave like me.

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