Sunday, 30 August 2015

Cape Spear, Part 'X'

2013_NL_F24_0151_0155The end of our tour put us back in St. John's right at the height of the Perseid meteor shower. I wanted to shoot them, so it was up and out around midnight to see what we could see.


I wanted to get a nice composition of the meteors over the city, and thought that Signal Hill would give me the best vantage point to do so. I quickly realized that the lights of the city were drowning out the starlight and the light from the meteors.

Note: click on a photo to view it full-scale in Flickr.

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The only place close to the city where I thought it might be dark enough was Cape Spear, one of my all-time favourite places to photograph. It's such a favourite of mine that I cannot remember how many times I have been there to take photos, hence the "X" in this post's title!

I took a quick test shot from the parking lot and was pleased to see that the stars could stand out on their own.

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I wasn't worried about the orange glow from the street light in the parking lot, as I was going to be much further up the hill and pointed away from it. So I took another quick test shot of the Old Light at the top of the hill, and realized that the light from the New Light was going to be a BIG problem because its light is mostly green in colour.

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That "white" light is hardly ever white is not something most people think about because our brain automatically converts what our eyes are seeing in order to make sense of it. In the above photo, you can see the green light from the lighthouse, the white light from the visitor centre, and the yellow light from the city streetlights!

With my test shots done, I settled in for some long exposures hoping to catch a Perseid or two. I did manage to get one, but it was quite faint. If you click on the photo to see it full size, you should be able to see a faint trail. Start with the gap between the fence and the Old Light and move your eye upward.

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I decided to move up the hill to the Old Light and try a different composition, letting the light from the New Light play a bigger role.

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Walking around the building, I made an alternate composition by mixing the lighthouse light and my own light from my flashlight, for the most unusual photo I have ever made of the Old Light.

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I played with that theme for quite a while. Time sort of slipped past me. A couple of hours in fact. Suddenly, I noticed that the sky was starting to lighten up and I was not capturing as many stars.

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I tried pointing away from the rising sun, and while I managed to capture a couple more meteors (above the Old Light in this image), it was getting harder and harder to do so.

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When the sky became blue and orange, I knew it was time to give up on the Perseids. On to more traditional compositions...

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By this point I realized that the light from the sunrise was much more orange than I had ever seen at Cape Spear. I did not ponder long on the mystery of why, but rather set about to record it because, in a rather spectacular way, the New Light and its green-hued light complemented the orange light from the rising sun and the blue ambient light.

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The light persisted long enough for me to capture it in my parting shot on the road back to Town.

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While I did not get as many shots of the Perseids as I had hoped, I walked away from the long night's shoot with several additions for my Cape Spear Folio, and I will update my Facebook page when this is complete.


Here is a list of links to all of the blog posts from my 2013 tour around Newfoundland:

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
Trout River and Gros Morne National Park
St. Anthony: Grenfell House and Big Boats
St. Anthony: A Whale of a Tale!
St. Anthony: Ice, Ice, Baby!
Red Bay: A World Heritage Site
Mary's Harbour
Battle Harbour
Point Armour and Gros Morne
Winterset in Summer
Cape Spear


Read more...

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Winterset in Summer

2013_NL_F22_027_028bHaving over-nighted in Deer Lake, we left to return to St. John's early the next morning. I called Mom to let her know we were on our way, only to find out that she was in Eastport at the Winterset in Summer writer's festival. She and Ron tried to convince us to come down for a visit, as there were going to be some great writers attending. We declined, as by this time we were a bit road-weary. Plus, all accommodation in the area is typically sold out months in advance and we didn't relish the idea of sleeping in the truck. A couple of hours later we were passing through Gander where Gil Swain, an old friend from my high school days, lives. I gave him a call thinking a coffee stop at his place would be great, but he was also in Eastport for the festival. He, too, suggested we come for a visit. He had a extra space for us to stay, so we made a snap decision to pop down for a visit.

We headed straight to the opening event, and no sooner had we sat down (ashamedly arriving a bit late), when the person behind us tapped us on the shoulder - it was Anne Enright, a classmate of ours from Pearson College. She was one of the speakers at the festival!

Sadly, I have no photos from this part of our trip, but as we were leaving, we made a short side trip to Salvage. Salvage was home to another old friend of mine, Alice Heffern, and I remembered it as more rural than Eastport (where I once lived) and a lot more like Musgrave Harbour (where I also once lived). I thought I might get more fisheries-oriented photos and I was not disappointed. Click on any photo and you will be magically transported to Flickr, where I keep a high-resolution version of the image.

First there was a small boat sticking its nose out between two stages.

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Walking around to take a closer look at the boat, I noticed that the stages were packed to the gills with lobster gear.

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Sure enough, there were plenty of lobster pots stacked along the wharf, ready to go.

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Besides lobster pots, there were plenty of boats in the water, also ready to go.

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I noticed that there was a floating wharf, something uncommon in Newfoundland. I do not ever recall seeing them growing up, nor do I recall seeing one before this one in Salvage.

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Here is a list of links to all of the blog posts from my 2013 tour around Newfoundland:

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
Trout River and Gros Morne National Park
St. Anthony: Grenfell House and Big Boats
St. Anthony: A Whale of a Tale!
St. Anthony: Ice, Ice, Baby!
Red Bay: A World Heritage Site
Mary's Harbour
Battle Harbour
Point Armour and Gros Morne
Winterset in Summer


Read more...

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Point Amour and Gros Morne

2013_NL_F22_059Battle Harbour was the apex of our tour, and from there it was time to retrace our steps back to the island and to St. John's. "Retrace" is not quite accurate, as we planned to stop and see many places we didn't see on the way up to Battle Harbour, such as the lighthouse at Point Amour.

I didn't write much about the Trans-Labrador Highway in the posts about our trip northward, but the road was pretty bad. Or at least the gravel section from Red Bay to Mary's Harbour was. I am tempted not to call it a road at all, but a cow-path. I was glad we were driving an SUV because the potholes were deep and frequent, and the extra axle clearance of the SUV was required. Certainly no low-slung sports car would make it through. This particular stretch of the road wasn't too bad, though.

Note: Click on any image to see a full-resolution version on Flickr.

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There is not much in the way of scenery, as the landscape is pretty barren, so your mind can wander as you drive.

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The monotony is broken when you come over a hill and see a small outport, which can be quite picturesque. In this case we found ourselves back at Red Bay, which marked the end of the gravel road.

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One of the things that is hard to explain to city people is what it is like to live in a place where people do not live on top of one another, but I think this photo will help. Going to the neighbours to borrow some sugar can be a bit of a trek, especially if you live out on an island in the middle of a harbour!

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One of the places we wanted to stop in and see on the return half of the tour was the lighthouse at Point Amour. The lighthouse is a Provincial Heritage site, which I find funny, since it was a foreign government (Canada) that built it. The Canadians were interested in putting a lighthouse here because so much of their sea traffic came through the Strait of Belle Isle. The Strait has notoriously strong currents, and there is usually plenty of ice to deal with, so I can see the need for them to chip in to have the structure built. The light house is the highest in Atlantic Canada, and the second highest in the country.

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Normally you can see the other side of the Strait, which would be the Island of Newfoundland, but on this day, there was bad weather on the other side and nothing could be seen except nice, puffy clouds.

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Built in 1857, they had no fancy building materials and to get the strength they needed, the walls had to be very, very thick. Here you can see the passage from the lighthouse back into the house. The open door does not span the thickness of the wall at the base of the lighthouse!

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From Point Amour, it was a very short trip to the ferry terminal in Blanc Sablon. We were early and with a couple of hours to kill, I grabbed my camera. An oil-tank farm caught my eye, as I have been photographing them since I was 16. I love their lines and shapes.

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As I was shooting these gulls sitting on a roof, I noticed how strange the sky was in the background.

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The sky was an odd combination of dense overcast, with a gap on the horizon, and a layer of surface fog. I saw the same thing all the way up and down the Strait. It made for an interesting background for these two fishers and the gulls watching over them.

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A small fishing boat in the offing also caught my eye.

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There was quite a bit of small, inshore boat traffic, as fishers came in from their morning's work. I guess that's why everyone was hanging around at the wharf - they were looking to catch up on how everyone fared that morning.

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After making the crossing back to the island, we headed to The Arches, a natural rock formation at the sea's edge.

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The rocks are pretty big, as you can see by the size of these people standing on them.

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Wave action has eroded the rock into the arch pattern.

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It does get very, very windy in Newfoundland. In some places, like The Wreckhouse, the wind is strong enough to blow a locomotive off the tracks. Not surprisingly, the locals have had to adapt their construction to suit the environment. Who would want to use an outhouse prone to blowing over?

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As we were driving away from The Arches, I saw a colony of Purple Loosestrife, a weed native to Europe, Asia, Africa, and oddly, southeastern Australia. It was somehow introduced into Newfoundland in the 80's and found the environment very inviting. While I didn't see any as I grew up on the island, the plant is now everywhere.

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On the way through Gros Morne National Park, I saw a couple of Parks Canada's red chairs, so we stopped to add them to our growing collection of Red Chair photographs.

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The view from the chairs was remarkably relaxing.

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Here is a list of links to all of the blog posts from my 2013 tour around Newfoundland:

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
Trout River and Gros Morne National Park
St. Anthony: Grenfell House and Big Boats
St. Anthony: A Whale of a Tale!
St. Anthony: Ice, Ice, Baby!
Red Bay: A World Heritage Site
Mary's Harbour
Battle Harbour
Point Armour and Gros Morne


Read more...

Monday, 10 August 2015

Battle Harbour

2013_NL_F21_002Battle Harbour holds deep historic and cultural significance for Newfoundlanders. Settlement on Battle Island, where Battle Harbour is located, dates from the late 1700's. Due to its harbour and proximity to the rich cod fishing grounds, it was the economic hub of south-eastern Labrador for about two hundred years.

My knowledge of Battle Harbour was limited to knowing that my friend Jan Hardy and her family would pack up each summer and leave Carbonear for Battle Harbour. While I had long been curious about the place, I never had an opportunity to visit until the summer of 2013, when I was going to be in Labrador, and heard that Jan would be in Battle Harbour at the same time.

When I was planning our trip to Battle Harbour, I discovered that it is now largely managed by the Battle Harbour Trust, which was granted a number of buildings on the island. They have attempted to turn the place into a tourist destination with exhibits, tours, accommodations, and meals. Note the key word accommodation, because unless you already have a cabin on the island, you will need to reserve one of their rooms if you are not going back to Mary's Harbour on the return ferry.

Entering the harbour, I was not surprised to see a similar view as on entering almost any other outport: small homes located close to the water, abandoned structures collapsing back into the land, and barren, windswept vistas.

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As in many isolated places, the arrival of visitors is a highlight that breaks up the day. In this case, there is nothing quite like your morning cup of tea after hanging out the laundry, and having a gawk at the incoming visitors.

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A small welcoming committee was on hand to see us in as we tied up.

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We didn't tie up at the Government wharf, as that was in a considerable state of disrepair due to ice damage from a few seasons prior.

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From the boat, I got my first close-up look at the place: a decent slipway (in use), typical outport grass (unmowed), and the RCMP barracks in the background. I happened to mention to my Dad that I was thinking of visiting Battle Harbour and discovered that he had spent time there as a young Mounted Policeman. The small house with the Canadian flag in front of it served as the barracks, the office, and the jail.

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There was a lot of work being done on the island, as workers continue to improve the dilapidated buildings.

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This stage is a great example of how Newfoundlanders were able to build their structures so close to the water - they put them on stilts.

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As I mentioned, the grass was typical for an outport - goat length!

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There are no trees on the island. I doubt there ever were any, and if there were, they would have been long cut down to either burn for heat, or to make something. All wood has to be brought in from the mainland.

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Trees in Newfoundland and Labrador do not grow that big, but they are very handy for making a fish flake. Small enough to easily handle, yet strong enough to support your weight as you lay out (or take in) fish. In the case of this flake, I doubt anyone has stood on it in a long time, as most of the wood appeared rotten.

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Just as they built right at water's edge, the ever practical Newfoundlander did not hesitate to build into the side of a hill.

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The main building hosts the store, the kitchen, and the dining room. As with other parts of the site, there was a lot of "Labrador-inspired" decorations, such as these window coverings. While I can appreciate the regionalism which many people who live in Labrador feel, Battle Harbour was inhabited by transients from the island and not by locals. But as with most things related to tourism in Newfoundland and Labrador, realism plays only a small part.

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One thing that was genuine and authentic were the buns served with the food. While the food was very good, the buns were as tasty as any bun made by my Aunt Meta, my Aunt Blanche, or my Nan.

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While small, and somewhat inaccurate in its historical portrayal, I would highly recommend a visit to the Battle Habour site to anyone wanting to get a feel for what most outports in Newfoundland and Labrador were like.


Here is a list of links to all of the blog posts from my 2013 tour around Newfoundland:

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
Trout River and Gros Morne National Park
St. Anthony: Grenfell House and Big Boats
St. Anthony: A Whale of a Tale!
St. Anthony: Ice, Ice, Baby!
Red Bay: A World Heritage Site
Mary's Harbour
Battle Harbour
Point Armour and Gros Morne


Read more...