Friday, 30 May 2014

Cuckold's Cove To Carbonear

2013_NL_F1_91-2Early in my trip home last summer, I did a loop over the Cuckold's Cove Trail to see a nesting eagle.

Since I am an itinerant person when I am there, or as they say on the news "a person of no fixed address", I was staying at my sister's place. She had a nesting robin under her back porch and I was able to get a quick shot of the mother feeding her young before a noise frightened her away.


I drove up to Signal Hill to start on the trail from the Cabot Tower parking lot. Not a great plan, as doing a loop meant the last part was all uphill! A much better idea would have been to start at Quidi Vidi, something I would recommend to anyone else looking to do this great inner-city hike.


As I walked down the trail to where the nest was, I saw a couple of boats practicing search and rescue measures in Cuckold's Cove.


The eagle's nest was down the hill and impossible to reach, which was probably a good thing - no one could get to it to disturb it.


After a few minutes of watching the eagle just sit there, I continued on down to Quidi Vidi, where crews were practicing for the Royal St. John's Regatta.



That evening I took in a gala opening at The Rooms and my parents came out from Carbonear for it. My son Blair also stopped by to show off his new motorcycle.



I decided to drive out to my parent's place in Carbonear. Along the way, I stopped in Harbour Grace to photograph two fishing boats tied up in the harbour. As pretty as it is, a scene like this is a cliche in Newfoundland, except for one highly unusual factor that you may not notice: the boats are pointed in different directions! In my first image (not shown), they are both pointed the same way, but the wind changed, and the far boat had just turned into the change. It took a few more minutes before the wind change reached the near boat (and me).


While in Carbonear, I decided to continue my photo study of Carbonear Island. I got up at sunrise to shoot the sun coming up over the island. This means shooting from Mosquito Point, an unusual angle. This is what I saw.


At precisely the time of this photo, my SunSeeker app is telling me that the sun is directly over the navigation beacon that is on the island, but I could not see it at all. There was a terrible forest fire in Labrador at the time, and the smoke from the fire was quite heavy, even all the way down to Conception Bay. Looking across Carbonear harbour to Freshwater, you can see the smoke is fog-like.


I decided that since I was up and out on Mosquito Point anyway, I would take a photo of the whole island, because it is a view of the island that hardly any of Carbonear's residents ever see.


After a nice stay with the 'rents, I made my way back to my sister's. By then, a weather system had settled in, and the sky was dreary. I don't usually photograph Harbour Grace Island, what with Carbonear Island being my island of choice, but on this day it provided a better illustration of the fog, the heavy clouds, and the wind on the water.


Heavy smoke can really screw up a photo, as you can see. It can turn a nice image into a very flat and ugly one. But on the upside, it can also make a photo. Later that week, as the fog started to dissipate, I went out to Burnt Head to shoot Carbonear Island as the sun went down.


The smoke helped intensify the oranges, and I expected the reds (which follow the oranges) to really pop. I was not disappointed.


After the sun went down, the colours faded and the sky darkened. I saw an eerie sight straight out of a Hollywood sci-fi film. It was as if a time-space vortex was about to open up and swallow Carbonear Island


When I left to return to Town, my folks admonished me to "Watch out for the moose!" This statement is rapidly approaching replacing "So long", "Thanks for coming", and "Glad you stopped by" in Newfoundland, as moose are a constant safety threat - the provincial government has an interesting graphic here that shows the number of collisions with moose by month.

Oddly, I have rarely seen one outside of St. John's. In Town I see them fairly often and in the summer of 2013, I saw three different moose in St. John's, but none outside. This moose I saw while driving up Thorburn Road (and captured on my iPhone). You can see the safety issue. Imagine hitting this moose at 100 km/h and having all that moose hit your windshield!


Here is a list of links to all of the blog posts from my 2013 tour around Newfoundland:
Trout River and Gros Morne National Park
Cuckolds Cove to Carbonear
Signal Hill
Boat Tour!
Bird Watching!
Whale Watching!
Fogo Part 1: Getting There
Fogo Part 2: Walking Around
Fogo Part 3: The Fishery
Fogo Part 4: The Fogo Island Inn
Twillingate Part 1: Getting There
Twillingate Part 2: Wine, Music, and Whine
Twillingate Part 3: An Iceberg and a Lighthouse
Twillingate Part 4: Down to the Sea in Boats

I recently selected my best photographs of Newfoundland and Labrador and hand-made them as fine art prints, which I sell from my website here.


Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Ice Cube in Torbay

2014_NL_F1_0197We are well into iceberg season here in Iceberg Alley. There has been one berg out in Torbay harbour that I have been taking a few snaps of. Zoey refers to it as an "ice cube", and has been watching it with me.

I first saw this berg while I was out for my morning run. It was a cold, snowy day (yes, still some snow here in Newfoundland. It is, after all, only May!). I only had my iPhone, but I just had to stop and take a photo of the sun trying to break through the clouds to melt the berg.


Note: all of the images can be viewed in much better resolution on Flickr. Just click on an image and you will automatically be whisked over there for your own private viewing.

Since icebergs can change by the hour if they are melting fast enough, I thought I would take some shots of this berg over a few days and see what kind of different moods that it would go through. The day after I took the above shot, it had come in the harbour far enough to ground itself. I went down to the beach to have a look to see what kind of a shot I could get, but the weather was so dreary, I could only get a photo which tells you the berg's shape, but not its size.


I decided to walk along Father Troy's Trail (part of the East Coast Trail) and see if I could get a shot using the side of the harbour to reference the iceberg's size. As I turned away from the water to head out on the trail, I was immediately struck by the damage done to the hillside by the local quads (ATV's).


This hillside should be all pristine grassland, ready for goats, sheep, or even cows. But with the damage done by these tools-turned-boys'-toys, and with the amount of rain we get here, erosion will make short work of this hillside.

The day after I shot this photo, I heard the mayor of Torbay on the radio saying that he was going to work with council to enact a bylaw banning ATV's from town property. Hopefully this will not be a case of "too little, too late".

Walking along the trail, I was constantly distracted by other things. Like a little bird house someone built on their fence....


And this tree, perched on the hill above my head like a lighthouse...


And by the wharf in Trapper's Cove...


From across the way, I spied something quite funny. Dangerous, but funny.


Okay, so maybe you cannot spot it from this far away. I didn't think anyone would, so I walked over to get a close-up.


Yes, the empty life saving ring holder and the appropriately closely placed "Use At Your Own Risk" sign! Of course I thought it would have been simpler just to replace the life saving ring than put up a sign.

There were other bits that caught my eye. Bergy bits. Small pieces of ice that had broken off the iceberg and floated in with the tide.


Only 1/7 of an iceberg is above water, so most of it is underwater where you normally cannot see it, but this bergy bit is small enough and I could get close enough, so that you can see it entirely.


Here is a view from the trail above the wharf.


Further along the trail, I spied a composition that would give you an idea of how big the main berg was, by comparing it to a trail sign next to me.


I decided to try and get closer, since the berg was still a ways off. However, as I got closer, I lost the sense of proportion again, because there were no size references to use.


But I did spot another berg off in the distance, shrouded by the morning fog.


And with that, I turned around and headed back to the car.

After a few days of fog and rain, the weather finally lifted, and I noticed that the berg had rolled at some point (probably just after I took the above shots), exposing a very different set of features to look at. With a clear view of the offing, I could also see several more icebergs.


On another day, I noticed that the tradition of iceberg watching is not lost on today's generation of Newfoundlanders. Cups of coffee in hand, these folks sat chatting and watching the berg. The wind was a very crisp on-shore wind, and I suspect the hot coffee was thoroughly enjoyed!


Later that week I managed to get up before sunrise and go shoot the sun coming up over the berg. Before this, the last sunrise I shot was a dance photo of Oda at the Opera in Oslo. With no big city surrounding me, I had only gulls for company, the sound of the surf in my ears, and the signature smell of Newfoundland in my nose.


I waited patiently, thankful I had brought winter layers with me, because the wind from the North was still very, very fresh.


Finally, the sun was well and truly clear of the berg.


As I was packing up to return to the car, I noticed there was enough light to capture both the berg and the little tidal pool next to my feet. So I took one more snap before heading back.


Early this week I noticed that the iceberg was finally starting to break up. It had split into two main pieces which had grounded on the bottom again. One of the pieces had turtled and you can see it in the photo below as the piece with the really smooth surface. You may need to click on the image and view it in Flickr to see it well enough, though.


You can also see a few little bits that also broke off and are now jammed onto the shore. Even though the weather is still cold, I suspect that there will not be many days left to photograph this berg, so this may be the final entry on the Ice Cube in Torbay!

I recently selected my best photographs of Newfoundland and Labrador and hand-made them as fine art prints, which I sell from my website here.


Sunday, 18 May 2014

Up Close

2013_NLD_F4_1960My final post about my trip to the Netherlands last spring is about a KLM/Air France aircraft that I was able to photograph at Schiphol airport (AMS) as I was leaving Amsterdam. Despite having flown on jets for over 40 years, and despite having worked on the ramp at CFB Goose Bay one summer, I had never before had the opportunity to get up close and personal to a plane with my camera.

The airplane was a small commuter jet, something that is now quite common on short-haul routes. I started my exploration with a more traditional composition; a view that you can see from the bottom of the stairs as you board.


I continued with another shot of a view you see just as you are about to enter a plane.


Ready to have a look at the plane from a different perspective, I then walked underneath the plane.


I could get close enough to read the instructions to ground crew that are painted on the side of the aircraft.



I thought this was too close to be very interesting, so I backed off a bit, and concentrated on what the plane's Captain might see during a pre-flight visual inspection of the aircraft's underside.








This concludes my blogs posts about my Dutch trip from 2013. Here are links to all the posts in this series.

House of Oranje
Postcards from Kuekenhof
Train Stations
More Museums
Dutch (S)Treat
Up Close