Trap Door

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.

"Trap Door"

“Trap Door”

A Second Honeymoon (With Kids)

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, Grand Manan Ferry heading towards the Swallowtail Lighthouse and then onto Black Harbour

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

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

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 local in Anchorage Park

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

White Head Island just off Grand Manan

An Abandoned Lighthouse on Ross Island

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.

In Search of Silence

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"

“Silver Surf” – The Bay of Fundy

Get Lost

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.

Hidden Treasure

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.

Kennebecasis Bayou

Kennebecasis Bayou

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?

St. Andrews By-The-Sea.

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

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

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 Passamaqoddy Bay

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.

The Strait and Narrow

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.

The Strait and Narrow

When The Well Runs Dry

Most photographers have a favourite subject. For some it’s portraits, others flowers and for some it’s landscapes. Water, especially the ocean has become the magnetic attraction for me. I’m fascinated by the way the ocean shapes the coastline, the sound of the waves and how a sunrise reflects off it. There is something peaceful, yet so powerful and at the same time fragile about water.

Today, April 22nd is Earth Day. As I’ve thought about the day and what it means, I started thinking over the decisions I make everyday and what else I can do to help with the issues we are dealing with. I won’t get into the debate of whether climate change is real, however there are other challenges relating to the environment that are undeniable. Being concerned about the environment isn’t just about climate change, the trees in rain forest or wildlife it’s also about people. As important as the issues in the Amazon and the loss of wildlife habitat are, the challenges with respect to water are just as great, if not greater.

Some statistics to consider….

Over 1.5 billion people do not have access to clean, safe water.

Almost 4 million people die each year from water related diseases.

The average toilet uses 6-8 litres of clean water in a single flush.

At any one time, more than half the world’s poor are ill due to inadequate sanitation, water or hygiene.

It takes over 11,000 litres of water to produce a pound of coffee.

Half the world’s schools do not have access to clean water, nor adequate sanitation.

It takes about 300 litres of water to make the paper for just one Sunday newspaper.

Agriculture is responsible for about 70% of the world’s water usage. Industry uses a further 22%.

443 million school days are lost each year due to water related illness.

On average, women in Africa and Asia have to walk 3.7 miles to collect water.

It takes up to 5000 litres of water to produce 1kg of rice.

80% of all illness in the developing world comes from water born diseases.

Drilling a fresh water well can cost anything from a few hundred dollars to over $40,000.

Over 2.6 billion people lack access to adequate sanitation.

90% of waste-water in developing countries is discharged into rivers or streams without any treatment.

About 1.8 million child deaths a year are due to diarrhea.

An 18 litre can of water weighs 20 kilos.

About half the world’s hospital beds are occupied by someone with a water related illness.

A five minute shower in an American household will use more water than a person living in a developing world slum will use in a whole day.

A third of the people without access to clean water live on less than a dollar a day. More than two thirds live on less than two dollars a day.

Water consumption in a US household is eight times that of an Indian household.

In India alone, water born diseases cost the economy 73 million working days per year.

In sub-Saharan Africa a child’s chance of dying from diarrhea is over 500 times greater than in Europe.

Approximately 2.5 billion people lack access to appropriate sanitation facilities.

About 1.2 billion people have absolutely no access to a sanitation facility.

In a typical year in Africa 5–10 times the number of people die from diarrhea than from war.

Simply washing hands can decrease the chance of diarrhea by around 35%.

Global sales of bottled water account for over $60-$80 billion each year.

A child dies of water born diseases about every 15 seconds (that’s about 12 children just since you started reading this article). By this time tomorrow, another 2,500 will be dead.

As little as one dollar can provide clean water for a child in the developing world for an entire year.

SOURCE: http://matadornetwork.com/change/40-shocking-facts-about-water/

We have had a few boil orders recently in my town and it’s made me realize how much I take water for granted at times. It’s so easy to go the sink, turn the tap, and magically water appears. When a pipe breaks or water levels become low and we can’t drink the water from the local reservoir, we feel so inconvenienced with having to get into our cars and drive to the store to buy a bottle. My inconveniences are minuscule compared to those in the developing world.

When the well's dry, we know the worth of water. - Benjamin Franklin

When the well’s dry, we know the worth of water. – Benjamin Franklin

If you are interested in helping or learning more about water issues, below is a list of organizations you might want to consider. For those who are not in a place financially to sponsor or give right now that’s OK, because as much as we need people to be reactive to the situations around the world, more of us (including me) need to be proactive in preventing some of the issues in the first place. Hopefully as you read through the list above you’ve thought of a few ways to share the water we have with those who really need it.

http://www.one.org/international/

http://www.worldvision.org/

http://www.samaritanspurse.org/

http://www.charitywater.org/

http://thewaterproject.org/

Time Well Spent.

What’s that saying about March? In like a lion, out like a lamb…. The lion carried over into parts of April I think. Life’s been a little hectic here lately, I’ve missed several weeks of blogging and reading my favourite blogs. Our kids have had my wife and I hopping. Gymnastics, hockey and fencing tournaments  put us on the road a lot the past month. The sports are now done for the summer and there a few more trophies on the mantle, so it’s all been time well spent with the family.

Here on the East Coast of Canada the snow is melting and what’s left is pretty dirty, the grass is brown and the potholes in the road are swallowing cars. The drive the grocery store is now an Olympic event; The Slalom pothole road race. Spring has sprung. With all of this going on I’ve stayed pretty close to home, but that’s been a good thing. I’ve found a few new areas to explore while I’ve revisited some familiar places.

I was out yesterday morning for a walk on the beach by my house and although it was misty and grey I came home really inspired because I found a new part of the coastline with a tremendous view of a two small islands that I’m anxious to revisit when the weather cooperates. Even though I haven’t been able to get away on a road trip for a while, the last few weeks have been good for me and my photography. It’s forced me to slow down, get creative and think outside the box. I feel re-energized with a new sense of excitement.

I’m looking forward to the rest of spring and summer and a few day trips in the coming months but for the next few weeks I’ll continue enjoy the sights close to home. Sometimes a stay-cation can be just as beneficial as a vacation.

Torrent

“Torrent”

Finding The Common Uncommon

In the early the days of my photography I had a long list of places that I wanted to visit with the hopes of creating a famous iconic image. As I studied and read the books of my favourite photographers like Galen Rowell, Frans Lanting and Freeman Patterson I marvelled at the photographs they took in places like Nepal, the Amazon and all over Africa. As the novelty of my home town started to wear off I found myself making a list of places where I wanted to go to create a “one of a kind” masterpiece. I envisioned photos of the Rain Forest, Icebergs, or maybe the Spirit Bear of the Pacific Coast. These places are still on my to-do list, but in recent years I’ve come to realize that there is still so much more to see in my own backyard.

Sleep With One Eye Open

Sleep With One Eye Open

Last Saturday I went out for an early morning trek but I just couldn’t seem to find a subject that inspired me. I was looking for something extraordinary, but the weather wasn’t cooperating and I just couldn’t get focused on exactly what it was I was looking for. Eventually, I decided to drive to a local park called Rockwood Park in the city. I stopped at a lake and spent close to an hour watching and taking photographs of the ducks that live around the pond and the park. The lake that they usually swim in was mostly frozen except for one tiny area. I opened up the hatch of my car and stood under it to protect me from the rain and with my camera on my tripod I took somewhere in the range of a 100 shots of the mallards as they huddled together on the ice and occasionally visited the open water in the lake.

Like Water Off A Ducks Back

Like Water Off A Ducks Back

I’ve likely taken several hundred photographs of ducks over the past 20 years since I bought my first camera. If I were to count my slides and the images on my computer I’m pretty confident that the mallard would be the most popular subject in my portfolio of wildlife. A couple of years ago I took a photograph of two ducks in the Kennebecasis River swimming and bobbing up and down while looking for food. I was fortunate to get a shot while these two birds put their tails in the air and heads in the water. If the Olympic synchronized swimming judges were watching they would have given them a perfect 10. It’s become one of my favourite images of all time. While I took the photographs of the ducks on the lake a few days ago I quickly realized that the common things we see everyday can offer many opportunities for uncommon images.

Synchronized Swimming

Synchronized Swimming

Parents, if you have taken you children to the beach, you have no doubt come home with a pocket (or pockets) full of rocks. It doesn’t seem to matter how many times I take my kids down to walk on the beach along the ocean we still come home every time with a pocket full of rocks. Every visit gives them the chance to get down and dirty on hands and knees to study the rocks and sometimes creatures on the ocean floor and beach. To them each visit is unique and provides a new opportunity to find that unique (or uncommon) “treasure”. With each of the new rocks I’m handed I’ll admit, my first thought is “it’s just like all the others.” It’s round AND HEAVY; but not to them, each one is special because they took the time to find it. So just because I visit the same place over again it doesn’t mean that there isn’t some unique to see on each trip. When I look at the collection of rocks on my deck I’m reminded that I need to pay more attention to the details and look a little closer at things like my children do. Perhaps I’ll bring home more treasures like the ones they find.

One Man’s Trash…

I was in middle school in the mid 80’s when one day I threw a wrapper on the floor in a hallway. Unfortunately for me, I did it in front of a teacher without realizing it. That day I spent my lunch-hour picking up garbage around the yard with much embarrassment. It wasn’t until many years later that I realized just how valuable of a lesson it was. In my early days of learning photography I spotted this beautiful lake with an early morning fog lifting during sunrise. When I got back the prints I quickly realized that the horizon was not straight and the sky washed out; however that’s not what bothered me the most about this photo. If you look in the lower left corner you’ll see the cup from a fast food restaurant that likely got thrown out a car window and blew into the grass. That’s what ruined the picture for me. Suddenly I had a flashback to that day in middle school and I realized how important the lesson was my that teacher taught me about putting garbage in its place.

The Inconvenience of a Coffee Cup

This past week I received an email from a friend introducing me to a new movie called Midway which is schedule to premier later this year. (Please take the four minutes to watch the trailer, it’s worth it). I have watched it several times now and still can’t believe the stark contrast in the images and video that Chris Jordan has captured. Some of the photos are so beautiful, yet many of them very disturbing and demonstrate the horrific damage that garbage is having on the wildlife in our oceans. I’ve seen trash many times during my walks along The Bay of Fundy and Atlantic Ocean. It’s quite common to see coffee cups, broken glass, plastic bottles, fishing buoys and other trash lining the beach. I’ve also seen the images and videos of animals and fish injured or killed by trash that is in our coast waters. I’ve watched the documentaries where they empty the contents of a shark’s stomach and then display the trash from it. So the movie by Chris Jordan just adds to the visual evidence which demonstrates the man-made catastrophe we’ve created in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. In addition to the Pacific we also have the garbage patches in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. We now have a real mess on our hands. (Visit Howstuffworks.com to learn more about The Great Pacific Garbage Patch).

"Seaview"

This past Saturday morning I left the house early to go and watch the sunrise in a small community on the west side of the city. Although I didn’t come home with as many keepers as I hoped for I did discover a few beautiful locations to keep in mind for future reference. After about 20 minutes of shooting the sunrise I wandered around a fishing dock and waited for the sun to rise through the clouds in hopes some God-Beams would appear. It turned out that there were no God-Beams on this day but I did see a few seabirds and what I think were red necked grebes swimming around the area. As I walked around I noticed that the dock was covered with lobster elastics and they were collecting along the cracks in the ties and other pieces of garbage littered the beach. Suddenly I had visions from Chris Jordan’s documentary and little bird bellies full of plastic and other trash.

Tiny Perils

Over the past 5 or 6 years I’ve been involved with an organization called ACAP (Atlantic Coastal Action Program) in Saint John. The purpose of ACAP is to help restore damaged coastal areas while focusing on water quality, air, land, and wildlife issues. My primary involvement has been with assisting and organizing beach cleanups. The last few years I’ve participated in 2 annual cleanups, one in May and one in September. It’s been encouraging to see the change from one year to the next, and we are noticing that there is less garbage with each year of the cleanup. While all of this is positive I’ve been reminded in recent weeks that there is still lots of work to do and we need to continue to educate on the problem of the trash in and around our waterways. I know most of you reading this are nature photographers and I’m sure you have seen areas filled with litter near your hometowns while out shooting. This is likely as frustrating for you as it is for me. As April approaches and we prepare for Earth Week events please consider donating your time to a beach or park cleanup in your town. If you are looking for a cleanup to take part in you might want to visit http://www.oceanconservancy.org/ or contact a local environmental organization like Ducks Unlimited for information on any events in your area, or you can organize your own. Bringing home the perfect image from a beach or a park is a great feeling but there is something uniquely special about helping to cleanup the environment so others can appreciate it as well. By picking up another man’s trash you might just save some wildlife too.