2015 in Pictures

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Where did 2015 go?

I’ve heard it said that the older you get the quicker time goes. Now the older I get, the more I think it’s true. It was about seven months ago the last time I wrote but it doesn’t feel like it was that long. I had good intentions but a bit of writers block along with other commitments seemed to prevent me from sitting down and sharing my thoughts and images. So here I am at the end of December with some of my favorite photographs and memories from the year that came and went so quickly.

The winter of 2015 was record-breaking in terms of snow. The driving and shoveling were awful but the photography was spectacular and the best I’ve experienced in recent years other than perhaps the ice storm of 2014.

"Shadow of the Twilight" - Rothesay NB

“Shadow of the Twilight” – Kennebecasis River, Rothesay, NB

 

"Everwhites" - Saint John, NB

“Everwhites” – Saint John, NB

 

"Blowing Smoke" - Saint John, NB

“Blowing Smoke” – Bay of Fundy, Saint John, NB

 

"Fallen Snowmen" - Kingston Peninsula, NB

“Fallen Snowmen” – Kingston Peninsula, NB

 

Once the snow finally melted and spring arrived I began exploring the province and found some beautiful gardens, waterfalls and fun wildlife. If it wasn’t for my wife’s keen eye I wouldn’t have captured the painted turtles or had the opportunity to show my kids a beaver if I hadn’t taken a friend from India on a trip to a local park.

"Shell Game" - Painted Turtles, Hampstead, NB

“Shell Game” – Painted Turtles, Hampstead, NB –

How many turtles you see?

 

"Spring Fever" - King Square, Saint John NB“Spring Fever” – King Square, Saint John NB

 

"Forest For The Trees" - Cambridge-Narrows, NB

“Forest For The Trees” – Cambridge-Narrows, NB

 

 "Nature's Carpenter" - Little River Reservoir Park, Saint John, NB

“Nature’s Carpenter” – Little River Reservoir Park, Saint John, NB

 

"Utopia" - Welsford Falls, NB

“Utopia” – Welsford Falls, NB

 

"Simplicity" - Public Gardens, Saint John, NB

“Simplicity” – Public Gardens, Saint John, NB

 

The summer was likely the highlight of the year as I was able to take a whale watching tour off Brier Island, Nova Scotia where the Bay of Fundy meets the Gulf of Maine. Unfortunately the weather didn’t cooperate as much as I’d hoped for, but seeing humpback whales within 50 feet of our boat was an absolutely amazing experience and brought a new appreciation for God’s creation.

"Waiting to Exhale" - Humpback, Bay of Fundy, N.S.

“Waiting to Exhale” – Humpback, Bay of Fundy, N.S.

 

"Leviathan" - Humpback Whale. Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia

“Leviathan” – Humpback Whale. Bay of Fundy, NS

 

"Peek-a-boo" - Humpback Whale. Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia

“Peek-a-boo” – Humpback Whale. Bay of Fundy, NS

 

Autumn was all about the color this year. In the sky, trees, on the water as the sun was setting and with the added bonus of the blood moon. Of course those who know me it is also always about spending time by the amazing Bay of Fundy.

"The Golden Hour" - Cold Stream Pond, Enfield, Maine

“The Golden Hour” – Cold Stream Pond, Enfield, Maine

 

"La Lune Rouge"

“La Lune Rouge”

 

"Season of Change" - Hampton, New Brunswick

“Season of Change” – Hampton, NB

 

"Rising Tide" - Bay of Fundy, Saint John, NB

“Rising Tide” – Bay of Fundy, Saint John, NB

 

Ansel Adams once said “Sometimes I do get to places just when God’s ready to have somebody click the shutter.”  – For me it definitely applies~ Most often I feel that God is the real artist not me, I just happen to be there to record it.  It’s a privilege.

So what did I learn? I can drive 5 minutes or 5 hours and always find something that is remarkable and I just need to slow down to see it. When I’m exploring I’m trying to find the extraordinary and create images that people haven’t seen before, but I truly believe it is also about finding the common uncommon again and looking at the things we see every day in a new way and appreciating them.

Here’s to 2016. I hope you are able to take some time this year to get out and experience some of God’s handiwork and appreciate it for yourself.

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.

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

Sunrise with Grace

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My daughter Grace and I started a new tradition earlier this year; getting up to watch the sunrise. I’ll admit, I’m not in my prime at 4:30 in the morning but if your daughter is into it and wants to hang out with her Dad, you go with it. So, one or two Saturdays a month we get up and head out looking for a place to watch the sunrise. Our first excursion was a bit of a flop due the fog along the coast. I also chose the wrong spot. The foghorn on a lighthouse is really loud when you get up close. They are really spooky in the dark too… but that is for a different post.

Last weekend we left the house at 5:30am and headed down the coast along The Bay of Fundy. We finally decided to stop at a small inlet called Haggertys Cove. If you are driving through and blink you are likely to miss it. Driving west on Route 1 from Saint John you arrive just before a popular provincial park called New River Beach. I wasn’t necessarily looking for this exact spot, it was more by chance. The sun was coming up and we needed a place to stop quick. It provided a beautiful view of the water and it turned out to be ideal.

Haggertys Cove

As the sun came above the horizon the shape of the surrounding coastline began to form and created a wonderful contrast against the bright orange sky. I spent most of my time trying to find the perfect angle to bring out the texture of the hills but balance it against the saturated skyline. I like the resulting abstract image with the cool blue water and silhouetted landscape.

As the daylight continued to increase the shorebirds came to life and several Great Blue Herons joined us. I didn’t have the option to get closer to shore because the coastline is eroding and to dangerous to maneuver down. Fortunately, I had my 400mm lens and was able to zoom in for another silhouetted image. Before we left that morning we saw four more Herons. It isn’t unusual to see them along the bay, but I don’t usually see that many in one spot.

The Great Blue Heron, times 2

Before heading home we took in the community of Maces Bay. This small village offers a very scenic coastline to drive. With the tide out a vast beach was exposed, along with the seaweed covered rocks. The low tide also allowed two people stroll the beach to harvest a seasonal crustacean of some sort I assume.

The tide is out! To show some scale there are 2 people in this photo. Hint – Middle right side of the photo.

I enjoy the one on one with my kids. It is a special time and important to get updates on what is going on in their lives. It is also fun to just get out and enjoy nature and perhaps mentor in some photography too. I’ll have to say though my favorite image from the day was the one I couldn’t take on our drive home. My daughter asleep in the seat next to me. I’ll admit something again…I was jealous. I’m not meant for mornings.

Give and Take (Nothing)

For many photographers the concept is fairly simple. Give me money and I’ll take your photograph or sell you one that I’ve taken. The idea of getting paid to take a photograph is not a new concept and quite often becomes the desire of many aspiring photographers, myself included. For some of you who follow my blog on a regular basis, you might recall some of my recent posts when I have talked about wanting to do more with my photography and use it for a greater purpose. Over the last few weeks I’ve been doing some research on organizations and individuals who are using their talents to take a photograph and get nothing in return. I thought I would pass along a list of organizations that have really impressed me. If you know of another concept or organization that I haven’t mentioned here please feel free to share back with me.

The Maple Leaf Mission is an organization based out of Edmonton Alberta whose mission is to provide portrait photography to families of individuals who are: facing a terminal illness, living with a debilitating illness yet demonstrates a life lived to the fullest, military families celebrating homecomings or deployment, soldiers returning injured from a tour. For more information on The Maple Leaf Mission visit http://themapleleafmission.ca/.

Help Portrait was started by celebrity photographer Jeremy Cowart. The concept is simple. Find families or groups who would like a portrait but can’t afford to have one taken. Single parents, underprivileged families, families affected by illness, army veterans, or just a neighbor. Go to http://help-portrait.com/ to learn more.

According to their website “Outside the Lens™ (OTL) is a San Diego-based youth media literacy program dedicated to celebrating the vision and voices of children around the world and across cultures. Students (K-12) tell their unique personal stories using photography, writing and other digital media forms while under the guidance of writers, poets, journalists, photographers, filmmakers, artists, and teachers.” I like this concept a lot. The idea of giving a young person a camera should help us see the world in a new perspective. Right now they are participating in a global photography project called Water in Focus which documents the use, waste, conservation and pollution of the world’s water supply. If you are interested in learning more about Outside the Lens visit them at http://www.outsidethelens.org/.

Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep is an organization that has really captured my attention for personal reasons. The mandate of NILMDTS is to help parents recover from the loss of a baby. This might seem like a morbid type of charity but for parents going through a very difficult situation it might be an important part of the healing process. For parents of stillborn babies, and babies that die shortly after birth a photograph might be the only thing they bring home from the hospital. Right now they have over 12000 volunteers in 40 different countries.

Photo Philanthropy is an organization that is all about social change. They connect photographers with non-profit organizations around the world. Projects may include environmental causes, social and economic situations in places like third world countries, or education on a variety of topics. If you are thinking about donating your talents to a cause this might be a good place to start.  You can connect with them at http://photophilanthropy.org/.

If you are interested in learning about more organizations to partner with you may want to look at the website http://shuttermission.org/ or do your own search on philanthropy and photography.

“From what we get, we can make a living;
what we give, however, makes a life.” –
Arthur Ashe

The Fundy Isles – Grand Manan

The goal is not to change your subjects, but for the subject to change the photographer.  ~Author Unknown

It was April 1994, the day after my wedding that my wife and I left for our honeymoon on Grand Manan. This was my first visit to any of the Fundy Isles. It was also on this trip that my infatuation for photography began.  I had lived next to the Bay of Fundy my entire life, but I had never left the mainland. Sometimes, I look back and regret that I didn’t spend more time traveling around the area I grew up in.  I was unaware of where I lived and what magnificent wonders were so close to home for me.

With my very first camera, a Minolta X370 and Magnicon 70-200 4.5-5.6 lens, I was set to go.  With little knowledge of photography or Grand Manan we set off from Blacks Harbour, New Brunswick for our week long adventure. The ferry ride in itself is part of the adventure.  The Bay can be merciless to those with weak stomachs, as one poor young fellow demonstrated for us in the cafeteria.

The ferry as is looked arriving to Grand Manan in 1994.

Our ocean front cottage provided an incredible view and beach access. The beach also presented an unusual introduction to one of our fisherman neighbors while we were there.  Apparently, April is a slow fishing month so golf (while wearing hip waders) is a favorite pastime on the island. The beach looked like it had been invaded by sea turtles that left their eggs. My wife and I introduced ourselves and played caddy for a while, collecting golf balls and then returning them to our mariner friend.

One of the sand traps the local golfers play through on Grand Manan

The real reason to go to Grand Manan, besides April golf, is the scenery and wildlife. Oh, and of course the famous Grand Manan dulse.  There is no shortage of subjects on this tiny island; the whales, birds, lighthouses, wildflowers, beaches or the famous Hole in the Wall.  Grand Manan is also the gateway to Machias Seal Island, the southernmost breeding site for the North Atlantic Puffin. (Seal Island is next on my bucket list). This island of approximately 2500 people is only 24 km long by 11 km wide but like the other two Fundy Isles there is no shortage of subjects, and beauty abounds everywhere.

It is a magnificent view for many of the residents.

I know that the photographs included here don’t do justice for what Grand Manan has to offer, but as I looked through my portfolio, it was an intriguing time of reflection on my first visit to the island.  I found it interesting to see what inspired me 18 years ago and how my photography has changed. I would encourage you to do the same and look back over your photographs from 10, 20, or maybe 30 years ago, if you are old enough. How has your photography changed? How you have changed? Perhaps, like I did when viewing my photographs of Grand Manan, you’ll desire to go back somewhere familiar again, or feel encouraged by how far you have come.

Go On A Safari At Home

Animals make for interesting subjects and I love to photograph the exotic as much as I enjoy the common neighborhood ones.  There is something intriguing about watching animal behavior, be it the intelligence they display or their instinctive behaviors.  While some seem shy in front of the camera others seem to know when the “camera is rolling” and it’s time to perform.  This unknown in the animal kingdom is what makes it entertaining and what makes for some of the challenge and reward when it comes to creating great animal photographs.

It’s unlikely that I’ll have many opportunities to travel and go on safaris or explore the wild places of polar bears or penguins. My opportunities for travel are limited because it’s expensive and also because I have a wife and three children and leaving them for long periods of time isn’t conducive to my wife’s sanity.  Since I don’t really travel, the best places I’ve found to get great animal shots are local zoos and aquariums. Now, these are not without controversy and the concerns about animal well-being are thoroughly documented and sometimes justified. I would much rather see a wild animal in the wild but not if it means there is a risk of poaching or danger due to habitat loss.  While zoos are not the ideal home for animals they do provide a place for rehabilitation and education and some zoos do participate in captive breeding and reintroduction back into the wild.

One of the horses used for wagon rides at Rockwood Park

You don’t need to live in Florida, California or cities like Vancouver to take advantage of the animals in your hometown.  Rockwood Park is a great urban park where I live and as an added benefit it’s free. Inside of Rockwood are several lakes and ponds that are home to multiple species of ducks such as Mallards and Wigeons.  Besides the waterfowl, there is ample opportunity to see deer, squirrels and chipmunks. Spotting a hawk, eagle or turkey vulture is not unusual either.  Almost every town or city has a park like this. Take some time to get out and enjoy the one near you.

A two hour car ride from the city where I live is Moncton’s Magnetic Hill Zoo .  This zoo is a terrific park with everything from exotic birds and primates to the massive mammals like lions and buffalo. The park is 40 acres so it takes a long, long time to cover the whole place with 3 small kids. I’m not sure what I enjoy more the animals themselves or the reactions from my kids as they travel from each area to the next with anticipation of what they will see next.  Seeing wildlife on a show like Planet Earth or Life is great but nothing compares to seeing animals like a ring-tailed lemur in person.  The visit also makes for great family memories and still creates excitement in the stories my children tell.

Ring-Tailed Lemur - Magnetic Hill Zoo, Moncton, NB

One of the best zoo trips I’ve ever taken, almost twenty years ago, was to the Toronto Metropolitan Zoo and its 710 acres of exhibit area and 10 km of walking trails.  While I was attending college in Peterborough my wife and I took a trip to the “big city” and spent the day walking the trails around this incredible park.  You can literally spend the whole day on the grounds and still not see all of it.  I was also lucky that a friend and co-worker lent me his Nikon F4 and a Nikon 70-200 2.8 for the trip.  This was a huge step up from my first fully manual camera, a Minolta x370.  It was like a going from a Hyundai Accent to a Porsche 911.

Elephants at the Toronto Zoo

Zoos have provided a lot of fun for our family to get outside and enjoy nature and a few amazing creatures that we don’t have the opportunity to see in our own little world.  It’s also a little ironic that my wife and I met at the zoo and now three children later it feels a little like … well let’s just say some days I wish we met at the library.