Fisher of Men – An Easter Art Project

Bay of Fundy, Deer Island New Brunswick

Bay of Fundy, Deer Island New Brunswick

About 2 months ago I received an invitation by my pastor to take part in an Easter art project at our church. I felt extremely honoured to be asked, and jumped at the opportunity to work with such a diverse group artist. Those involved displayed talents in woodworking, pencil sketches, paintings, poetry, music and pottery. All of our work was incorporated into an annual event our church host on Good Friday called “Journey to the Cross”, as well as the Good Friday Service.

The idea was to share a piece of art that depicted the events Good Friday. After a short time searching images on my laptop I came across this image from the fall of 2010 I entitled “Fisher of Men”. Normally it is the colours and light that I’m drawn to when creating a photograph, but for this scene in Deer Island it was the cross. I’m not sure if it has a specific purpose for the local fishermen but the cross represented so much more to me and my faith and why I placed it in the center of everything.

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.

Memories of 2012

Before I close out 2012 I thought I would share some of my favourite images from the past year. A couple of you might recognize some of them from previous post, but a few images might be new to you as well. It was fun reminiscing about road trips and the great times I had with my family while putting this post together. Hard to believe the year is over, but I guess as they say, time flies when you are having fun.

Hope you enjoy.

Evening Tide - Duck Cove, Brunswick

Evening Tide – Duck Cove, New Brunswick

Bladder Wrack - Saint John, New Brunswick

Bladder Wrack – Saint John, New Brunswick

East Quoddy Lighthouse on Campobello Island. Photograph taken from Deer Island.

East Quoddy Lighthouse on Campobello Island. Photograph taken from Deer Island, New Brunswick.

Sunset and Fishing Weirs - Campobello Island, New Brunswick

Sunset and Fishing Weirs – Campobello Island, New Brunswick

Weir and Seaweed - At high tide this shot wouldn't be possible. Knowing when to go made this image possible.

Weir and Seaweed – Mclaren’s Beach, New Brunswick

Sunset and Seagull - Campobello Island, New Brunswick

Sunset and Seagull – Campobello Island, New Brunswick

Passamaquoddy Bay and Sunset

Sunset, Seagulls and Sandstone – St. Andrews, New Brunswick

Seagull and Sunset

Seagull at Sunrise – St. Andrews, New Brunswick

Lookout - Passamaquoddy Bay, New Brunswick

The Lookout – Passamaquoddy Bay, New Brunswick

Piping Plover on The Passamaquoddy

Piping Plover on The Passamaquoddy – St. Andrews, New Brunswick

Harbour and Grey Seals on the rocks

Harbour and Grey Seals on the rocks – Passamaquoddy Bay, New Brunswick

Fall Breeze – Saint John, New Brunswick

Morning Flare – Red Head, New Brunswick

Angel on the Ocean – Red Head, New Brunswick

Cold and Turning Blue - Seaside Park, New Brunswick

Cold and Turning Blue – Seaside Park, New Brunswick

Seaside Park in the snow

Quaco Head Light House – St. Martins, New Brunswick

Seaside and snow - Seaside Park, Saint John, New Brunswick

Seaside and Snow – Seaside Park, New Brunswick

Haggertys Cove

Haggertys Cove – New River, New Brunswick

Radiance - Saint John, New Brunswick

Radiance – Black Beach, New Brunswick

Glen Falls - Saint John, New Brunswick

Glen Falls – Saint John, New Brunswick

Little Girls First Paddle - Long Reach, New Brunswick

Little Girls First Paddle – Long Reach, New Brunswick

The Bay of Fundy in Action - Saint John, New Brunswick

The Bay of Fundy in Action – Duck Cove, New Brunswick

Happy New Year! - Saint John, New Brunswick

Happy New Year! – Saint John Harbour, New Brunswick

Great Expectaions?

.

“Twelve significant photographs in any one year is a good crop”. – Ansel Adams

When I first read this quote by Ansel Adams I’d have to admit, it was a bit of a “wow” moment for me. Ansel Adams who is likely one of the greatest and most influential photographers of all time, had a goal of 12 great images a year. Since reading this it has got me thinking and wondering if my expectations are too high, or perhaps not high enough, depending on how you look at it.

When I first took up photography 20 years ago I asked a friend who became a bit of a mentor to me what his standard was. He said that his goal was to record one great shot per roll of film. Just one keeper per 36 images. Right or wrong I liked this idea and have kept is as an unofficial standard for myself. Like all things in life, there will be good days and there will be bad days when it comes to photography.

Ansel used several different formats for his photography, anything from 35mm, panorama, medium format to an 8×10 view camera. He certainly didn’t have the benefit or digital where you can shoot 400 images and hope one or two were keepers or edit and fix an image after the fact. I’m assuming there would have been a lot more thought put into the process; hence it may have been less about quantity and more about quality.

Sunset and Fishing Weirs – Campobello Island, New Brunswick

On a recent trip to Deer Island and Campobello I shot over 2oo images in one day and in reviewing so far I have found 2 that I would say are my “keepers” or “significant”. Not sure how I feel over all about all of the images as of yet but the two I’ve worked with so far I am very pleased with. Coincidentally they were taken in the same place about 30 minutes before we left. Sometimes is pays to take just one more shot.

Sunset and Seagull – Campobello Island, New Brunswick

On occasion I feel like I’m my own worst critic with expectations that are too great, and other times I feel as though I like an image more because I have an emotional attachment and not necessarily because it is great technically or aesthetically.  If Ansel wanted 12 significant shots per year, are my standards off? I’d be curious to know what yours are, or if you even think about it. Take a minute and let me know. I would appreciate your comments and feedback.

Night-Light

The majority of my photography is of nature, but when I’m looking for a change or visiting a new city, I really do enjoy taking photographs in the evenings and of the city lights. I’ve been lucky to be able to travel a little and even though it is not always to the big city I still always try to take advantage of the opportunity.

Even a small place like my hometown of Saint John or the surrounding villages can still provide some opportunities to capture a great image at night. Saint John isn’t very big by some standards, but the city center is very well lit at night and can create some nice reflections off the harbor such as this one of The Saint John Harbor Bridge framing the downtown area.

Along with looking for reflections on bodies of water I usually look for the chance to get a bird’s eye view for a different perspective of a city at night. Experimenting with longer exposures of 15 – 30 seconds allows me to record light-trails from the cars on city roads which adds a little life to night scenes like this one of my hometown.

The world-famous Reversing Falls in Saint John attracts many tourists during the day but the view at night is just as impressive. This image of the falls and bridge was recorded with a small aperture to create the star effect with the lights and a long exposure to create milky looking water.

Even a small place in the middle of the Bay of Fundy like Deer Island can create a beautiful night-scape. Technically this is a morning-scape of these fishermen getting ready for work at 5am. Sometimes it pays to have insomnia.

One of my favorite nighttime shots is from a trip to New York in 2005. While traveling home from Brooklyn I stopped for a few shots in Manhattan and the N.Y.F.D. were gracious enough to help me out. Fortunately I had packed my tripod and cable release on this trip and the sirens allowed me enough time to set up the shot.

Although the travel arrangements don’t always allow for a full size tripod, a Gorilla Pod is the next best thing. This shot of South Beach Miami was taken by wrapping a Gorilla Pod around a fence railing and using a 2 second timer to record the image.

Sometimes when I travel photography isn’t the main purpose but my camera gear is still part of my luggage, so getting creative helps with night shots. A little Image Stabilization and the metal gate that locked me out of this Chicago yacht club was used for support and helped me capture this image of the illuminated boardwalk that separated these boats.

When it comes to taking picture of cities at night, there is likely no place like Las Vegas. Xcalibur is just one small part of what seems like an unlimited amount of neon in “Sin City”.

I’m likely in the minority but a week of the Vegas culture was long enough. I did enjoy the evenings and early morning photo shoots, and there was no shortage of night-scape subjects. Once again a railing and Image Stabilization saved me for this early morning shot of The Strip in Las Vegas.

Back closer to home still offers opportunities for some fantastic night shots. One of my favorite locations in Nova Scotia is Mahone Bay, but on your way there why not stop in Halifax. For something different how about a monochromatic Halifax at night

Even the small town of Mahone Bay Nova Scotia with a population of 900 has possibilities. The south shore of Nova Scotia is one of my favorite places to take photographs and the 3 churches of Mahone Bay are often the centerpiece for me.

Growing up I remember being afraid of the dark and I always needed a light on in the hall or my room. I’m older now and not so afraid of the dark, but I’ll admit it, I still like a little nightlight.

Beacons of Light

“We are told to let our light shine, and if it does, we won’t need to tell anybody it does. Lighthouses don’t fire cannons to call attention to their shining- they just shine.”

Dwight L. Moody

After awhile you can start to take things for granted living in the same place your whole life. I’ve said it before that I really haven’t appreciated where I’ve lived until I was in my 20’s. In looking through my photographs I’ve come to realize how truly fortunate I am to live on the east coast in the Maritimes. The scenery and the weather are generally perfect for someone like me who isn’t a fan of extreme heat or cold. For the most part the only extreme weather that we get here is extreme fog and very strong winds that blow off The Bay of Fundy.

So with lots of fog comes lots of lighthouses. All along the coast of the Atlantic are 100’s of iconic lighthouses, protecting the sailors and the commercial ships during their voyages through the heavy fog of the summer and the hidden underwater islands and coastlines. As I vacation along the coastal communities, a lighthouse is always an attraction for me and my family. These towers of lights and sounds that protect the shorelines and waters are magnetic for a photographer.

As I’ve traveled the roads and highways of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia that run along the Bay of Fundy I’ve been fortunate to see many of these lighthouses and some dramatic weather that makes the Maritimes famous. Three of my favourite lighthouses are all associated with Islands: Partridge Island and Campobello Island in New Brunswick and The Five Islands of Nova Scotia.

Partridge Island at sunrise and the breakwater that connects it to the mainland of Saint John, New Brunswick

Partridge Island is located in the Bay of Fundy off the coast of Saint John New Brunswick. The island is famous for being a quarantine station in the 1800’s for Irish immigrants coming from Ireland during the Great Famine also known as the Irish Potato Famine. Over a 1000 immigrants died from the typhus epidemic. The remnants of quarantine buildings, a Celtic cross and other memorials remain today on Partridge Island. Its location provides a nice foreground to the sunrise and colorful skies of sunset.

The Five Island Lighthouse at dusk.

The Five Islands lighthouse isn’t actually an operational lighthouse anymore. It was built in 1914, but eventually moved in 2008 due to the eroding coastline. It was the beacon that looked out for the ships passing by Moose, Diamond, Long, Egg, and Pinnacle; AKA… The Five Islands.  The Bay of Fundy is famous for having the highest tides in the world and this is the perfect place to experience it. Normally the tide is measured in feet or meters. Here I’m guessing you can measure it in miles or kilometers. I’ve never seen anything like the tides around here.

East Quoddy Lighthouse on Campobello Island. Photograph taken from Deer Island.

Campobello Island is one of the 3 Fundy Isles and quickly becoming one of my favorite places to vacation and photograph. The East Quoddy or Head Harbour Lighthouse is likely one of the most famous landmarks for this island community. It is one of the oldest lighthouses in Canada, and also known as one of the most photographed. Again its location is wonderful in terms of the rising and setting sun, and its position allows it to be photographed from the neighboring Deer Island.

As a photographers I’m always looking for the best light. So it only seems appropriate that I look for the lighthouse.

The Fundy Isles – Campobello Island

Campobello Island is one of the other Fundy Isles that provides many interesting photographic possibilities.  This 70 square mile island is part of New Brunswick and accessible by ferry from Deer Island or directly by bridge from the town of Lubec Maine. The Bridge is called the Roosevelt International Bridge, after the late President Roosevelt. The President had a summer home on Campobello Island and it’s now a historical park. http://www.fdr.net/home

The Famous Fishing Boats of Campobello Island New Brunswick

I’ve visited the park on a couple of occasions and the President’s summer home is beautiful and interesting for those who appreciate history. I spent most of my last visit with my family walking the trails inside the park. All are beautiful and offer some fantastic views of the Island and the Bay of Fundy.  The must see part of the park is the beach, and especially the Friars Head.  This rock sculpture hugs the coast and shore line of the water.  I was fortunate to arrive at the golden hour on a clear evening so I was able to capture a few wonderful images before the sun had set.

Sunset behind Friar's Head

The Friar's Head looking over his bay

One of the most photographed lighthouses in the world, the East Quoddy Lighthouse, or also known as the Head Harbour Lighthouse is another famous tourist destination once you are on Campobello. Build in 1829, this is one of the oldest light houses in Canada. This lighthouse is set in an area that offers wonderful opportunities at sunrise and sunset as well as low and high tide. Unfortunately, the lighthouse is also famous for the individuals who risk traveling to the lighthouse too close to high tide and have been caught in the current.

East Quoddy Lighthouse

From fishing boats, to beaches and wildlife Campobello Island offers so much. Its charm is captivating and a refreshing break from busy city life. Getting there from bridge or boat just adds to its appeal.  The benefit of taking pictures on a small island like Campobello is being able to plan your day around where the sun and light is best. I also appreciate knowing that wherever I am on the island there is something beautiful to capture with my camera. It is island hopping at its best.

The Fundy Isles – Deer Island

There are several unique qualities that the Bay of Fundy offers for photographers. Of course, the ocean and coastline are top of the list, but something that I don’t hear mentioned enough are the islands that make up such a large part of the beauty of this area.  There are three in particular that are a must on my list of places to visit at least once a year. Known as the Fundy Isles, Deer Island, Campobello Island and Grand Manan are a photographer’s paradise.

Capturing photographs of wildlife from shore is one of many reasons to visit Deer Island Point Park.

The island that my family and I visit most often is Deer Island. The ferry ride from the mainland of L’Etete, which is just outside St. George New Brunswick, is about 20 minutes. Once on the island, there is no shortage of subjects to photograph even with the island only being 12 kilometers long. The twisting roads that run through this rural fishing community provide incredible imagery of a beautiful coastal community. There are several wharfs, and weirs to go along with the colorful fishing boats. Once you drive in closer to the wharves and boats, the fishermen with their tackle such as nets and traps are great subjects to capture in detailed shots.

Fishing Boats docked

The centerpiece of the island, for me, is Deer Island Point Park. This area of the island offers a campground and some of the best opportunities to photograph everything from sunrise to sunset along with whales, seals, porpoises, bald eagles, and osprey all in one day. It is truly a photographer or outdoor enthusiast’s paradise. Some of my favorite images from the island have been captured here, not to mention some of our best family vacations.

Some things look like they haven't changed in a 100 years

The other part of Deer Island that I consider a photographer’s delight is the area between Chocolate Cove and Lord’s Cove. It is here that the fishing community comes to life. The area starts to stir at 5:00 am and is constant motion all day with fishing and whale watching boats coming and going. The boats along with their traps and nets offer unlimited chances for creating the perfect image.

The Fisherman's day starts early, so mine had to as well

Deer Island may be small in land mass but it is enormous when it comes to photographic inspiration and opportunities.  The other benefit to visiting Deer Island is that taking a cruise to this island is free.