Revisiting the Faroe Islands

I have been to the Faroe Islands twice before. Both times sent out as a reporter to write articles about Faroese shipping companies, the first time I also had the opportunity to visit the newly built SMYRIL to write a major article about the ship.

Since then, I have dreamed of returning to the Faroe Islands with one goal of photography. It was challenging the first two times with a packed calendar and only a few days on the islands, not made easier by the often-difficult weather conditions that require you to be flexible as a photographer.

The pandemic, however, meant that last summer I had to look at my to-do list what opportunities there were to travel. And since the Faroe Islands is part of the Danish kingdom, I could easily travel there if I just could show a negative Corona test.

These pictures are a selection from all three trips to the Faroe Islands. The islands’ infrastructure is constantly being improved with new tunnels replacing ferry routes, so revisiting the Faroe Islands was for me as a maritime photographer also a battle against time. Fog both times I was in the Klaksvik area meant that I have not yet succeeded in photographing the ferries at the northern end of the Faroe Islands.

2005, November 23: Scene form Torshavn with RITAN and the back then brand new SMYRIL.
The following day: SMYRIL arrives in Torshavn from Tvøroyri.
And now alongside together with NORRÖNA.
2006, June 19: I visited Faroe Island again the following summer. Here another shot of SMYRIL arriving in Torshavn.
Later that day: The 1980-built TERNAN in Gamlarætt Harbour. Back then, the ferry was servicing the routes to the islands Hestur and Sandoy. Nowadays TERNAN is sailing between Torshavn and the island Nólsoy.
SMYRIL photographed southbound off Glyvursnes on its two and a half hours crossing to Tvøroyri on the island Suðuroy.
2006, June 21: The 1969-built DÚGVAN laid-up in Vestmanna.
DÚGVAN was made redundant after the opening of the Leirvik-Klaksvik tunnel just two months earlier. Later that summer she was sold to a Cap Verde company, STM Transportes Maritimos, changed name to SAL REI and left Faroe Island via Rotterdam to Cap Verde.
A scene from the Skansin fort in Torshavn.
NORRÖNA and SMYRIL together in Torshavn seen for Skansin.
And now NORRÖNA heads out of Torshavn Harbour on the long North Atlantic crossing to Hanstholm in Denmark.
2006, June 22: The very well-proportioned SMYRIL manoeuvres in Torshavn. In my opinion SMYRIL and the Greek BLUE STAR DELOS, both designed by Knud E. Hansen, are the most beautiful modern conventional ferries of today, at least exterior-wise.
2020, June 29: 14 years later SMYRIL is still a beautiful ship to watch. Unfortunately, her onboard condition appears today rather worn out, both in the accommodation and outside on the decks, considered the ship is only 15 years old. I do not think that the built quality delivered from the shipyard was the best. I also visited the ferry back in 2005 as a reporter for a Danish maritime trade media after she finally had arrived in Torshavn after a problematic construction process in Spain.
2020, June 30: The 2001-built TEISTIN halfway between Gamlarætt and Hestur.
TEISTIN was built on Faroe Island at P/F Skipasmidjan in Skala, today a part of the MEST Shipyard Group.
Photographed from the cliffs east of Skopun.
2020, June 30: The purpose of my visit on Sandoy was to photograph SMYRIL passing Skálavik where she is rather close to the coast halfway on the crossing between Torshavn and Tvøroyri.
I arrived one and half hour in advance as I had planned to hike to the top of the cliff and photograph SMYRIL form there. However, I fell into conversation with a locale who advised not to do that due to the risk of extraordinarily strong winds building up.
I followed her advise and found a spot by the end of a gravel road partly in shelter of the rapidly increasing easterly gale.
I had to use my car as cover for the wind and press the camera and tripod down with one hand and alternately operate the camera and wipe the filter clean for saltwater sprays. It could have been a dream photo session if the gale had occurred a couple of hours earlier so the swells would have had more time to build up.
2020, July 1: A few more shots of the beautiful designed SMYRIL. This time shot during a much calmer weather situation from the Argir area south of Torshavn.
And from the aft and with Nólsoy in the background.
I returned to Argir four hours later that day to photograph NORRÖNA’s short stop-over call in Torshavn on her way from Hirtshals to Seydisfjordur in Iceland.
An hour later NORRÖNA is ready to continue the long journey to Iceland.
When the sun appears, during the constantly changing weather, Faroe Islands offers plenty of fine light to photograph in. Here the anchored reefer GREEN ITALIA in the fjord outside Torshavn, Nósoyarfjørdur, also shot from Argir that evening.
It was a bit of a race to drive back to my hotel in the northern part of Torshavn where I knew NORRÖNA would pass about 20 minutes later, but I managed. These two photos are shot from the hotels parking lot with the island Nólsoy as a background and lit up for a few seconds by the evening sun.
A few minutes later and still from the parking lot a rainbow emerges, and the light has total changed again. NORRÖNA now heads up to the Leirviksfjørdur where she will do a shortcut and cross between the eastern island Eysturoy and the northern group of islands towards Iceland a further 18 hours journey away. I had originally planned to drive direct from Argir to Leirvik to photograph NORRÖNA in the Leirviksfjørdur. But from my high point on Argir I could see that the northern part of the isles where total covered in fog, so I initiated my plan B with the parking lot at my hotel.
2020, July 2: I used my final day to do a return-crossing on SMYRIL before returning to Hirtshals on NORRÖNA the following night. I only went on shore to photograph SMYRIL at the Tvøroyri terminal.
Here some footage from the trip. This is my first attempt as a videographer. Still a lot to learn, but I will practise and try to improve my skills the coming years. Please be aware that some of the dates in the video are not correct – I will re-upload a edited version later.

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