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

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.

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”

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.

“Morning Glory”

Have you ever found something but hadn’t realized it was ever lost in the first place? Like finding money in the pocket of a coat that you haven’t worn in a while? Last week it happened to me while I was editing some photographs and I found this image. I captured this sunrise on an early morning trip to a place called Cape Spencer in Saint John, just on the edge of the city (literally). The area provides some incredible views of The Bay of Fundy and on a clear day the outline of the Annapolis Valley in Nova Scotia can be seen. This particular day everything cooperated so well; the clouds, a minimal amount of haze or fog and I was there at the right time to see the sun break over the clouds.

Photo was taken with a Canon 50D and an EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM lens extended to 135mm for 1/25 of a second @ f22 and ISO 100.

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

Happy New Year

I’d like to wish everyone a Happy New Year and all the best in 2013! I would also like to say thank you for all your kind words, comments and encouragement over the past 12 months.

I thought for my first blog in 2013 I would share a few images that I’ve taken over the past month and include some inspirational quotes to help get your year off to a good start.

Hope you enjoy.

"Surf and Snow" - Saints Rest Beach, Saint John, New Brunswick.

“The cure for anything is salt water – tears, sweat, or the sea.”
― Isak Dinesen

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”― Oscar Wilde

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”
― Oscar Wilde

“Although no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.” Carl Bard

Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.Charles R. Swindoll

Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.
Charles R. Swindoll

"Can you see God? You haven't seen him? I've never seen the wind. I see the effects of the wind, but I've never seen the wind. There's a mystery to it." Billy Graham
“Can you see God? You haven’t seen him? I’ve never seen the wind. I see the effects of the wind, but I’ve never seen the wind. There’s a mystery to it.” Billy Graham

Seasons Greetings

.

“And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”
― Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas

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

Seaside and Snow

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays everyone.

Look But Don’t Forget to Listen

Listen to the voice in your head. I’ll admit it, I don’t always. However I did recently and it was a good thing. I was out a few weeks ago to watch and photograph the sunrise over The Bay of Fundy at a place called Cape Spencer on the edge of town.  Shortly after the sun broke the horizon, I finished shooting, then I packed up and started to leave. I looked back one last time to make sure I had everything and I saw one other possible spot to photograph. Initially I was going to ignore the idea and just head home but I thought, I’m here so I’ll take a look and see what happens.

It was a good day to listen to that voice in my head. The area of the cape I spotted was next to the water’s edge, and it was a steep climb down along some very sharp and very large rocks. I carefully made my way down and ventured onto the small islands of rock and continued to shoot as the sun climbed higher.

As I carefully manoeuvred around the rocks I noticed the interesting flare that developed in between and around the boulders. Unfortunately the break in the rocks was also in a place that I couldn’t position myself in front of because there was also a large gap in the rocks I was standing on and below the gap was the very cold bay. The live viewfinder is not something I use very often but it came in handy as I held the camera in my left hand while balancing everything and also trying to keep the horizon straight.

“I’ve found that luck is quite predictable. If you want more luck, take more chances. Be more active. Show up more often”. – Brian Tracy.

I like the above quote because it not only applies to a photographer but to life in general. I’ve heard it said quite often by photographer friends and even me that “I was lucky to get the shot”, when in fact there is generally a certain amount of preparation required, even if it’s just being there. Sometimes it’s that voice that puts us in the right place at the right time or just tells you to get ready.

I learned a valuable lesson that day. As much as photography is an art and there are principles to be followed there are also times we need listen to that voice inside prompting us to take a chance or to just show up. Since that day at Cape Spencer I’ve had more time to review my images and I’ve also had time to reflect on what else I learned that day. It got me thinking about that voice inside my head and how I should listen to it more often; with and without my camera. That voice may lead me to more unexpected photographs or it could also lead to more unexpected memories with my wife and kids, possibly a moment to even help a stranger. As we head into the Christmas season perhaps we all could take advantage of the opportunities given to us, just by listening to that voice a little more .