Atle Rønningen is an amateur photographer from Oslo, Norway who tries to explore the country’s abundant nature as frequently as possible (with his wife and daughter in tow). In this photo essay, Atle highlights the isolated beauty of the Norwegian wilderness, focusing specifically on the Utladalen Valley. All photos were taken with a Samsung mobile and processed using the apps Snapseed and VSCO Cam. To see more of Atle’s photography, check out his website and blog. You can follow him on Instagram @atler and on Twitter @aronningen.
What first drew you to explore Utladalen Valley?
I spend a lot of my free time exploring nature in Norway. On my way to a mountaintop in Hurrungane one day, I drove through Øvre Årdal and noticed a road sign to Utladalen Valley and Vettisfossen, one of Norway’s tallest waterfalls. Utladalen, located in Sogn go Fjordane, is Norway’s deepest valley and is surrounded by multiple mountain peaks that are more than 2,000 meters high. After visiting the valley a couple of times this fall, I could not wait to get back. My goal this time around was to reach Avdalen, an old mountain farm dating back to 1598.
Why do you think this part of the country is still hidden or under-visited?
To be honest I do not think this part of the country has been marketed well enough. There are many other hikes and places to explore in Norway that get a lot of attention and are well visited by tourists. I hope this photo essay will inspire more people to visit Øvre Årdal and Utladalen.
Describe the sounds and smells you experienced during your hike.
Utladalen is Norway at its wildest and most beautiful; to get there, you cross three bridges and pass a number of waterfalls – the atmosphere is amazing. Imagine the rumbling sounds of the water combined with the smell of fresh air.
What drives you to document and share these adventures?
I like to go on adventures because they make me feel like I have achieved something, whether that be reaching a mountaintop and gazing down from the edge, crossing a wobbling bridge successfully, or simply spending quality time with family or friends. I enjoy documenting and sharing each journey, particularly through Instagram and Twitter, as it allows me to connect to people around the world. I have built extraordinary relationships through social media and they continually inspire me to explore new places. I hope that my photos do the same for others.
What do you feel looking back on these images?
The ability to look back is another reason why I document my adventures with photography. I really enjoy getting the photos on my roll, browsing through them when I’m back home and then post-processing them with VSCO Cam on my phone or in Adobe Lightroom on my PC. Looking at the photos brings me back in time. It makes me feel like I’m dreaming.
Where do you hope to travel next?
My hiking buddy promised to go on a new adventure with me in January but we have not yet decided where to go. I will not be surprised if we end up in Utladalen again; there are still places in the valley that I have not yet explored. I also look very forward to a weekend trip to Rome with my wife in March.
Photos and text: Atle Rønningen