I have friends who think photos of sunset are overdone, but for me there is something majestic about a photograph of a sunset or sunrise. A new beginning, or a perfect ending to the day. The anticipation of shooting the sun breaking the horizon or falling behind it never gets old. In that short window of time I’m continually awestruck by the awesomeness in one of God’s miraculous wonders. That giant ball of fire reflecting off the clouds in the sky can’t help but can capture the attention of all; young, old, photographer and non photographer alike.
A few weeks ago I spent the day driving and walking along the coastline of the Bay of Fundy. My journey began in Garnett Settlement and my day concluded in St. Martins, New Brunswick. This 30km stretch of back-roads and highway is one of the most scenic areas that I’ve driven and one of my favourite places to visit every year. I’m continually drawn to the magnificent beaches along with the rugged and rocky coastlines. Each visit brings me back to a familiar area but I’m always introduced to something new that I’ve missed before.
“Half-Light” – The sun setting behind the coastline in St. Martins, New Brunswick
After spending six to eight hours chasing light and shadows it seems only appropriate to finish the day by making images of the setting sun. I love the intensity, texture and shapes created by the light and once it’s gone the only thing left for me is the excitement of seeing the images I recorded. It’s the end to a perfect day.
The artist’s world is limitless. It can be found anywhere, far from where he lives or a few feet away. It is always on his doorstep. – Paul Strand
The Kingston Peninsula is located in Southern New Brunswick between the Saint John and Kennebecasis Rivers and home to one of Canada’s most famous photographers, Freeman Patterson
. The Kingston Peninsula is accessible by several ferries from either Saint John, Grand Bay-Westfield or Quispamsis. You can also drive to the peninsula directly from the town of Hampton; however, part of the unique charm of this rural community is crossing over by one of the ferries.
The Upper Moss Glen Falls are well-known in the area and a popular spot for photographers or those who just enjoy nature. The 10 meter waterfalls are near the end of the Puddington Lake Brook just before it exits into the Kennebecasis River. My Wife and I moved to this area a few years after we married and lived there for a few years in the mid 90′s before we moved to our current home in Saint John. We revisited the area about a month ago and walked along the shore of the brook back toward the falls. The waterfalls are usually a bit wider, but due to a drier summer it was a narrow cascade over the rocky cliff. I was quite fortunate to arrive when I did because the narrow stream of water created a perfect bow-shaped reflection in the calm pool below.
The Archer’s Bow
I’ve been involved with an organization called the Atlantic Coastal Action Program (ACAP) for about five years. ACAP has spearheaded a project for several years called the Marsh Creek Restoration Initiative. Marsh Creek is an estuary which starts in the suburbs of Saint John and cuts through the heart of the city. The project was initiated by ACAP because the creek has been contaminated by raw sewage and abused by industry in a small section of the marsh for several decades. Thanks to the attention ACAP has brought to Marsh Creek a plan has recently been put in place to finally fix the problem.
If it wasn’t for the work ACAP is doing I would have continued to associate Marsh Creek with the polluted parts, like most people. When I got involved with ACAP I began to learn that there is so much more to the creek and started to realize how many beautiful parts there are besides the small part that’s been polluted. I like the shot above because it’s not what most people think. You tell them it’s part of Marsh Creek and they are so surprised; just like I was the first time someone told me.
Every year in September, the Atlantic Balloon Fiesta arrives in Sussex New Brunswick. Known as the Dairy Capital of the Maritimes, the small town of Sussex, with its population of approximately 4500 people, welcomes some 40,000 visitors for this event during the first weekend after Labour Day.
Launch times are twice daily. The first starts around 6:30 am and the second at 5:30 pm, with balloon glows happening at dusk (balloons are tethered to the ground for this launch). The Balloon Fiesta is a fabulous family event. The waking of kids at 5 am is a little iffy, but necessary to make sure that you arrive on time to see the pilots inflate and take off in their balloons. The launch times really provide perfect conditions for taking photographs because you are avoiding the harsh midday light.
If acrophobia is not a problem for you and you have a couple of hundred dollars to spare, riding on a balloon will give you a very unique perspective of the Balloon Fiesta, and the surrounding area.
A tripod and two lenses should be enough for equipment. A wide angle telephoto for pre-launch and a medium telephoto for balloons in flight will allow you to capture just about anything you see.
Even though the balloons and pilots from all over the world are the main attraction, there is a lot more to see and photograph. The car shows, craft and artisan shows along with the rides at the fair, make it an all day family (or photographic) event.
My wife and I rented a cottage in Seal Cove on Grand Manan in April of 1994, but the weather prevented us from exploring the area. Earlier this month the weather was much better and my family was able to get out and see the area and to meet some of the locals. Seal Cove provides one of the nicest beaches on the whole island, but for me it was the colourful architecture of this old fishing community that I enjoyed the most.
Fishing plays a large part in the lives of those who live on Grand Manan. Herring Fishing along with Lobster fishing and harvesting dulse have been a way of life for many generations. These buildings were built in the late 1800′s and early 1900′s and their design, creative use of color provided an abundance of photographic subjects. I love the way the builders incorporated the sides of the lobster traps next to the red door. This might be my favourite photograph from the trip.
In April of 1994 my wife and I took our first trip to Grand Manan, the largest of the Fundy Isles. This past week we returned for the first time since our honeymoon but now as a family of five. We rented a cottage in North Head along the beach in Flaggs Cove. Being almost 20 years since our last visit we spent most of our time touring the Island’s coastline, visiting lighthouses and beaches with our kids.
Flaggs Cove- The Grand Manan Ferry heading towards the Swallowtail Lighthouse and then onto Blacks Harbour on the main land of New Brunswick
The first evening we arrived we headed to Pettes Cove and the Swallowtail Lighthouse before heading back to the cottage and to bed.
Hole In The Wall – Whale Cove
Day two took us to Northern Head and the famous Hole-in-the-Wall.
Southern Head Cliffs – It was foggy but you could tell it was a long way down
On day three of our trip we travelled down route 776 to the Southern Head, Seal Cove and Anchorage Park. It was quite foggy in the morning so the view wasn’t what we hoped for but you could still make the outline of the 100- 200 foot cliffs to the bay in several places.
One of the locals in Anchorage Park
White Head and Grand Harbour was the destination on day four before heading home again on the ferry.
White Head Island just off Grand Manan
An Abandoned Lighthouse on Ross Island
I was anxiously awaiting the trip back to Grand Manan, and it didn’t disappoint. If you are planning a trip to the East Coast I’d suggest you add Grand Manan to your must see list of things to do.
I was with some friends recently listening to a Pastor by the name of Rob Bell talk about how difficult it is to do nothing and just sit and be quiet. We are surrounded by noise, sometimes by choice, but sometimes it’s not. We are a society that is always “on”; homes with multiple TVs, radios that are on in the house, at work, and in the car. We have cell phones with different ring tones for each app that cause us to react instantaneously at the sound or vibration of the phone in our hand. I will admit that I am a fan of all these things, however there are days when it’s nice to get away from it all.
Early Saturday morning is my favourite time to explore and take photographs. The attached shot was taken about 2 minutes from my house. I had the entire beach to myself and took advantage of it. It was quite refreshing to take a little time to sit and be in a quiet place with only the sound of the wind and waves.
Exploring outdoors with my camera and my backpack is not only about trying to create an image. There are times when it is about getting away from the busyness and noise of life. Bringing home a photograph that is worthy of a frame is just an added bonus.
“Silver Surf” – The Bay of Fundy
There are times when getting lost is just not fun. I can recall a lot of different times I’ve been lost or lost someone. I once lost my youngest daughter for a few minutes at a large outdoor event. I’d have to say it was likely one of the scariest moments of my life. I’ve been lost while driving on several occasions. The worst time I remember was on a trip to New York City when took the wrong exit and ended up in Harlem. I was aiming for Brooklyn. Missed that target just a little.
Intentionally getting lost is another thing all together. When my wife and I were first married we would get in the car or on our bikes and explore as much as possible. No agenda and to no place in particular. Just pick a direction and drive. I have so many great memories from different places, and some of those place we found have become favourite spots for me 15 years later.
A few years after we married my wife and I moved to the Kennebecasis Valley in New Brunswick, to a place called the Kingston Peninsula. The main road for people who chose to drive was through the town of Hampton, but most would cross over the Saint John and Kennebecasis Rivers by one of the several ferries that surround the peninsula. A little history lesson just for fun. William Pitt who invented the cable ferry, installed the first ferry across the Kennebecasis River in 1903 to the Kingston Peninsula.
Shortly after moving to Kingston we decided to take a drive and investigate one of back roads to Hampton which runs along the Kennebecasis River. The narrow dirt road was an amazing discovery, despite the potholes. It has recently become a favourite drive for me again. Small waterfalls, scenic coves, and lush marsh areas offer many photographic opportunities. The attached photos are from a drive my wife and I took last week.
Some of my best photograph have been taken in places discovered by chance, and mostly by getting in the car and seeing where a road leads. Sometimes with my camera and other times with only my family. Many of these places are not very well-known and not likely to be mentioned at the tourist office if you were to ask for recommended places to visit. If you are looking to add a little creative spark or something new to your photography portfolio, I might suggest that you get in the car and explore. At least get on Google Maps and see where some of the roads around you go. You might be pleasantly surprised.
Being a guy and not liking to ask for directions means that I do get lost more often than I would like to admit, but there are those occasions when that’s a good thing. Right?
It’s a long weekend here in Canada. Victoria Day is tomorrow and a holiday for most, which means that it is the unofficial start of summer. My family tends to be spontaneous with vacation plans, so I’m not sure what our plans are for tomorrow or the rest of summer, but most likely at some point between tomorrow and Labour Day we will make a visit to St. Andrews.
St. Andrews by-the-sea
Known as St. Andrews by the sea, it’s a small community sitting on the shores of the Passamaquoddy Bay which is an inlet of the Bay of Fundy. With a population of less than 2000 this small town offers an abundance of subjects to photograph. The shops on Water Street have local art, handcrafts and maritime souvenirs. The beaches can be clay, sand, small rocks or sandstone. Most of the beaches also have a wide variety of shore birds.
Sea Anemone – Huntsman Marine Aquarium
St. Andrews is located on a peninsula so you can shoot along the water throughout the entire day. My family camped last year and loved that I could shoot sunrise and sunset over the water all in one day and in the same area. Along with the coastline and shops some of the other sites I would recommend are; Ministers Island, which you can only access by driving across the ocean floor during low tide, whale watching, Kingsbrae Garden and the Huntsman Aquarium.
Old weirs on the Passamaquoddy Bay
For a small town that is only about a mile long and half mile wide there is plenty to see for just about any age. If you’ve never been to the Maritimes and are looking for an introduction, St. Andrews might be the place to start.
Parlee Beach is located along the Northumberland Strait and sits on the eastern shore of New Brunswick. It is one of the big attractions in the town of Shediac for the locals and tourist. They say it’s the warmest saltwater for swimming north of Virginia, but I’m sure it’s all relative. No matter what anyone says, I wasn’t going swimming with a wind-chill of minus 3 when I visited a few weeks ago. Despite the cold temperatures it was an impressive view of the Northumberland Strait and the incredible beach. If you are going to swim in the Atlantic Ocean this is likely one of the best locations in New Brunswick, but July or August might make it a little more enjoyable.