A walk along the coastline in the city of Varberg can be pure magic, no matter how the weather is. The summer of 2018 will go down in history for many reasons, not least the evening skies.

3518-squashedThe Subbe lighthouse, Varberg.

The city of Varberg sits beautifully on the south-west coast of Sweden, only about less than an hour drive south of Göteborg, or short of two hours north of Malmö. The city itself has a picturesque city centre, with great endemic shopping, restaurants, café's and spa hotels, and can really be recommended for all year around stays. In a recent Vogue article, it was called "Sweden's best-kept secret". And in many ways it is. Not that people don't know about Varberg, because they do. But they know it as a summer resort, not as an all-year round vibrant city with all the potential you can dream of.

The inner harbor, Varberg.

The summer of 2018 was unique in many ways, and the period from May to August is the warmest on record. For most people, the summer will be remembered for its invariably warm days - with temperatures between 25-32 degrees Celsius - but also the unpleasantly high night temperatures. Clear skies, almost no wind. Perfect summer weather for those relishing a vacational life style. However, it came with drastic consequences. Severe drought made for water shortage, and low agricultural produces. But the summer is also remembered for the high number of tragic drowning accidents, and not least, the severity of forest fires roaming so many areas in south-central Sweden.

Living in Varberg, the sea always has a cooling effect on the weather in the city, so temperatures varied within the 24-28 degree C interval. More noticeable was the effect the weather had on wind. The coastal climate is always quite unpredictable. Clear skies one minute, high winds with horisontal rain the next. However, during the warm spell in June to August 2018, there was almost no wind, and no rain. Unreal. For me, as a photographer who loves to spend time along the coastline to do long exposure photographs of waves hitting the rubble and rocks here, no such luck. And the skies had no dramatic cloud formations. However, the display of colors at sunrise and sunset was remarkable, and extended for hours.

The exotic look of the old outdoors public bathing house in Varberg.

So this evening, July 21, I took a stroll along the coastal promenade, starting at the inner harbor and continuing to Kusthotellet and the lighthouse at Subbe. Not a long walk, but along a stretch full of great sights and places to put down the tripod and make some photographs. Very easily approachable, yet not overexploited, so there is plenty of room to just sit down on a rock to relax and enjoy the view. To me, photography is not just about exposing with the camera, but also to take in and contemplate about the place you're approaching. Exposing with your inner mind, if you will.

Lyme grass in silhouette at the Kåsa beach in Varberg.

After spending some time by the inner harbor and Varberg's famous old bathing house, I walked along the path to Kusthotellet, and the beach at Kåsa. In this narrow little bay, the beach is perfect, with protective dunes in the back, covered at the rim with vegetation. As I put up my tripod and prepared the camera, there was hardly anyone at the beach. I took a few photos of the lyme grass in front, silhouetted against the bay with the sun setting. At exactly the right time, a lone bather walks out towards the sunset, and I take my photo. To me, this is a perfect representation of the summer of 2018, and coastal living. A photograph I cherish.

A stretch of cobbles extends all the way from Kåsa to the Fortress.

As the sun sets properly below the horizon to offer the golden hour, I approach the rocky slopes below the lighthouse at Subbe - which sets the scene for this posts profile image. But as I return back to the path on my way home, I pass a small stretch of cobbles, facing the city, with the old fortress far away in view. There are virtually no waves at all, but I try to smooth things out a bit with a slightly longer exposure. Colors in the millions, without being oversaturated, and that's it for me. I am not that keen of unnatural HDR images. When I expose my photographs, it is as much about registering the spectrum of light, as it is to register in my mind how I experienced the colors on site. And that is what I try to replicate when I do slight adjustments in post editing at my computer. As little as possible, and always with the intent of recreating that feeling I had when I pressed the trigger.

As I head back home on that warm summer night, I have bagged about 30 photos, with five or six to keep. Some would call that meagre, but that is what I usually strive for, so I feel quite pleased.

Technical notes

Camera: Fujifilm GFX 50S
Lens: Fujifilm Fujinon 32-64mm/f2.8 R LM WR
Miscellaneous: Camera placed on tripod, LEE ND soft grad filter

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