There Is No Such Thing As Bad Weather

“There is no such thing as bad weather, there is only bad gear”.

This was some of the best advice I have ever received with respect to being a photographer. I met BBC and National Geographic photographer Ian Kellett while assisting with Alexandra Cousteau’s Expedition Blue Planet in 2010 on their visit to New Brunswick. Ian wanted to visit Deer Island in October on a very cold and damp day and I don’t remember exactly what I said when he asked about going but obviously it had something to do with the weather conditions based on his response.

I was reminded again this week how good Ian’s advice was. The Maritimes have been experiencing a week-long cold snap. It’s been so cold that schools have kept kids in for lunch and some schools have cancelled classes all together. The temperatures have been near or below -20 Celsius (-30 with the wind chill) which has been a similar temperature to places like Iqaluit in Nunavut. It was actually warmer this week in Whitehorse in the Yukon than here in New Brunswick.

Fortunately the cold weather has brought an upside. The mornings on The Bay of Fundy have produced a week of some of the most spectacular sunrises I’ve ever seen. As the cold air moved across the normally colder water, it has created a lot of very heavy sea fog or sea smoke as it is sometimes called. I decided that I would venture out on a few mornings to see what I could record with my camera. Of the two days of shooting, the image below of Partridge Island is my favourite. To provide some scale, Partridge Island is approximately 24 acres in size and the lighthouse stands about four storeys tall. In some places the fog reached close the height of the base of the lighthouse.

The Cold And The Beautiful

“The Cold And The Beautiful”

It was likely one of the coldest weeks in recent years that I’ve gone shooting. The two days I went out to try and get a shot of Partridge Island it was so cold that even with a hat and two hoods it was only tolerable to be out of about ten to fifteen minutes at a time. I found that I was short of breath after climbing a couple of flights of stairs to shoot this image.

During my twenty years of photography winter has likely presented the most challenges and the temperatures have been some of the most difficult situations to shoot in. Ian was right; your gear and clothing can make all the difference between getting the shot or not.

Time of Reflection

“God’s miracles are to be found in nature itself; the wind and waves, the wood that becomes a tree – all of these are explained biologically, but behind them is the hand of God.”   Ronald Reagan

Fall is a bitter sweet time for me. It means the end of hot summer nights, the end of beach combing days and late evening sunsets.  It means that winter is soon to arrive with snow and ice and minus 20 degree (minus 40 with the wind-chill) days.  But it also brings spectacular colors and frosty designs that come with the change of temperature.  It means I need to get out as much as possible with my family to enjoy a cool hike and all the sights and wildlife that summer foliage conceals. I’ll admit that with the onset of colder weather I become a little bear-like and take the odd photographic hibernation.

Park Point Reflection, Deer Island, New Brunswick

Through out the year I love to look for images of water or create images from reflections in the water. This is especially true in the fall with the change of season bringing bright colours, leafless trees and newly formed ice. The addition of fog coming off the local rivers and the Bay of Fundy add to the drama of the scene.  There is something magnetic about the water to me.  Maybe I feel this way because we humans have such a dependence on it.

Heron - Lunnenburg, Nova Scotia

The reflections in a body of water seem to not only enhance the image but also emphasize the fragility of the places we live.  It seems ironic sometimes as I read the news there are so many in the world who are in dire need of rain and others who wish it would just stop.   As I’ve said before, when I create an image it’s with the hope that the viewer has a greater appreciation of the gift that God has given us.  This is especially true for our water.

Fall Reflections - Musquash Marsh, Musquash, New Brunswick

Last fall I had the opportunity to spend several days working with an organization called Blue Legacy that was started by Alexandra Cousteau.  During the few days I spent with Alexandra and her group I heard several amazing stories about water issues around the world.  Some are still sad while others have the potential for a happy ending, but we’ll have to wait and see.  In one of her speeches, Alexandra gave a suggestion that I made the point to do with my family this past summer.  If you want to show your family that water is not an inexhaustible resource take them to the lake or watershed that fills your tap.  It was a great object lesson for my kids.  When they looked at the lake it may have seemed enormous but when I explained that 50,000 people all need to share it, it started to look a whole lot smaller.

Sunset Reflection - Mud Lake Bog, Quispamsis, New Brunswick

The process for taking a photograph is no longer only about depth of field, focal length, or shutter speed; they have become secondary. For me it is about the time of reflection and appreciating the gift we have been given.