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.

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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.

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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).

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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....

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

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Here is a view from the trail above the wharf.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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!

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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.

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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!


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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.






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