Sunday, November 12, 2017

Tales from Gales


Again, the last blog was some time ago. Life has a way of getting in the way sometimes! As a retired old guy, I can't claim I've been too busy, but as age slows you down, somehow you achieve less and less every day! So what's new and exciting?

As I said last time, Subaru is being really accommodating! My new engine is going in in a few weeks, the appointment is scheduled for the first week of December. When that's done, I think I'm going to find someone to do a detail job on the interior of the car... it's showing its 200K km age and I haven't been one to get it cleaned regularly. Almost like getting a new car!

My D800 is back in the shop. Something is wrong with how it recognizes the connection with a "D" lens (you're supposed to set it to minimum aperture when mounting. It's giving me an error and won't let me shoot with it).  Sun Camera, again: they're very good and very accommodating. I should get it back next week when I come in for Ron Goodlin's Antarctica presentation in Thornhill. If you're in the area, you should come!

Boat's safely tucked away in the garage, ATV is prepped for winter (except I haven't mounted the plow yet), sump pump line is freshly repaired, firewood is stacked and ready... bring it on. For those of you hating me right now, hey! We live in Canada. If we didn't love winter we wouldn't live here. Right? Right?



You'd think this was a picture from last year... but you'd be wrong! Keep reading. 




I have a list of subscribers to this blog. Whenever I put up a new post, I send them a heads-up email via MailChimp. In that email I always include a photo that I have not posted anywhere before. So they get to see stuff nobody else sees.
You can get on this list by clicking the "Newsletter" button over on the top right of the blog. No spam, and you can unsubscribe with one click at any time.
 Here's the picture I sent them last week:



I was sitting at the computer composing the MailChimp email on October 19 when I looked up and saw this AMAZING sunset. I grabbed the only camera within reach (my iPhone) and ran out to the dock. It took me about 3 minutes to get there and the sunset had DEGRADED to this. I shot a pano, uploaded it to LR and then opened it in Topaz Studio. I applied the "van Gogh" preset in Impression, dialed back the effect a little and this was the result.

People ask me why I live up here...





The big thing is the successful conclusion of the Gales of November 2017 workshop up in Wawa. With travel and some other appointments along the way, it was a bit more than a week's trip for me. I came back with a head cold which slowed me down a bit last week, but I'm back in the swing.

I promised the group, "there will be weather". There was. Not what we expected, mind you. No wind, no waves, but we got SNOW! Interestingly, it's as if someone drew a line about halfway between the Soo and Wawa: snow to the north, none to the south. The photo above was taken on the way home on Sunday.

I can't say enough about David and the staff at Rock Island Lodge. They made it comfortable and friendly for everyone. And Judy shared her recipe for her homemade granola which I made a few days ago with some success!



Smallish batch in a big mixing bowl. I have some idea now about how to make it, so I'll play more with the next batch. More dried fruit and seeds for one thing! Someone called me "Mr. Suzy Homemaker", but hey, I like to eat!

Since we had more people than the lodge could accommodate, many of us stayed at High Falls Cabins which was a great place to stay as well. Anna and Zen really know the area too!

What I didn't talk about yet is Ben Eby. He came up and joined me as co-instructor. As ever I'm impressed by his talents and knowledge. He brought with him a set of complementary teaching skills: while I claim to be "right-brained" I realize that I'm really not, but he is! I know he spent a lot of time biting his tongue listening to me go on and on, and then he turned it around to easy learning sessions for people. And he has the energy of a younger man...

So we agreed that next year, Gales is going the be the "Ben" show, not the "Glenn" show. Hopefully health and other things will let me come up and be his assistant in 2018.  Bookmark www.photography.to/gales for a heads-up on next year's encore!




I didn't shoot a lot of pictures, my role was to facilitate the workshop not take pictures for myself. Here are a few... admittedly there are more I haven't gone through yet, watch for them here or on my Facebook page (you're my friend, right? facebook.com/faczen is where you'll find me. Oh, and a special offer for those interested in Gales if you're a subscriber to this blog.

Without further ado, some pictures, but these are just the ones before the weekend workshop! We traveled up a day early to do some scouting and for a chance to enjoy the splendour of Lake Superior's North Shore.




Ben and Dave and Amin and I were convoying up on Wednesday and we all had to stop for this shot. Do you wonder why I like to spend the better part of a day getting from the Soo to Wawa? 


another stop at a little beach just North of Agawa. I like to add a sketch texture to these rock pictures but this is really how they looked to my mental eye. 



Pretty well the only waves we saw the whole weekend. Also at that little rocky beach



Same spot. Ben, Amin and Dave, from near to far. 



If you stop at Katherine Cove and take the little trail through the woods to the next cove south, you might see this...

We stopped at a few other places, like the Sand River and Chippewa Falls, but I don't want to take the fun out of finding these views yourself and discouraging people from coming up to the Algoma District.




During the weekend itself we modified the schedule to try to take advantage of the weather and lighting conditions. For instance, we headed over to the badlands a day early because of the heavy snowfall, figuring it would lead to some interesting textures and landscapes.



A winter wonderland? I think if I posted this a few weeks from now (or you're reading it and it's getting closer to Christmas), this picture wouldn't have the appeal it does now. Later, I expect people to think, "I hate winter"! But since this was the first snowfall of the year... this was taken on the way out of the Badlands.



Pretty well everyone took pictures of these snow-covered berries. The only spot of colour anywhere
 

Faced with a monochromatic landscape, what do you shoot? Karen Young contemplating that very question!



Here's what I shot. Not distant mountains, snow-covered piles of rock with trees in the background, not sky. I liked it enough to use it as the header on this blog. 

The next day we headed out to High Falls. They had turned off the water (closed the dam) but there were still some spectacular cascades down the rock face.



 
Later in the day we found a bald eagle but he was quite distant (I saw eagles three times during this trip. I got pictures but nothing worth sharing). Later, we went up to White Sand beach on the First Nations Reserve. 



I did a high resolution pano of this island then decided to paint it with an impressionist vision. 



The sun peeked out at sunset but I used Topaz to enhance the colours and add the star effect on the light. (PS: I had to include this photo of "The most photographed Michipicoten River Light in the world"!)



In the evening, we shot burning steel wool. This image by Amin Shivji was so different from the usual 'ring of fire' shot that I asked his permission to reproduce it here.  

Unexpectedly, the stars came out for a short visit later. I did a short seminar on how to shoot it, then a number of us went outside to try our luck. Ben Eby was particularly good at coaching people and from what I saw on the backs of cameras and on our dedicated Facebook page, many had considerable success. 



Here's my view of the lodge from the beach down below. At least two other people had similar shots (Dave and Ben) because we were all standing in the same spot! 



On the way home I stopped in the Agawa Bay area and found this image of leaves frozen in a puddle skimmed with ice. 


Gales this year was challenging. We were hoping for wind and waves and got none of that, but each and every one of our participants told us that they succeeded in finding ways to express their creativity and find quality images. A dozen people in a sharing and learning and catered environment. That's what it was all about. For some, it was their first exposure to Lake Superior's North Shore and several echoed the same sentiment: "we'll be back"!

As I said above, if you're interested in perhaps joining us, bookmark the web page or email me or Ben and we'll give you more information when the dates are firmed up for 2018.


— 30 —

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Under the weather

I hate being sick.
Then again, who doesn't?

I've had the flu, bordering on pneumonia, for the past 4 weeks or so. It went to my lungs early on, then a few days ago popped up to my sinuses and nose, now I'm finally finished coughing stuff up and it feels like I'm getting out of it. I had nightly fevers – not a huge amount, peaking at 38.5°C once (101°F) – but difficulty breathing and hugely congested. A chest Xray was not conclusive about pneumonia.  Totally out of energy, sleeping 12 hours instead of 6, no appetite.

That's unusual for me. I've always lived by "Feed a cold, Feed a fever". This time I've lost 10 lbs!

This flu is a bit of a mystery. If you know me, you know I'm a big-time hermit. I haven't been out of Minden more than twice since coming back from Newfoundland and the few people I've actually been with, haven't been sick. So where did this come from? A number of my Facebook friends and fellow photographers have had this too... what's the vector?

Oh, my God. Could it be that you CAN catch a computer virus? But I have a Mac. They're supposed to be immune. 

The bad news is that I've been so lethargic I couldn't even concentrate on my photo editing. And Topaz Labs has come out with some great new stuff I haven't been able to spend any time on.  Well, I'm back and I want to clue my readers in on what's going on.

Topaz has come out with what seems to be a new concept but they're plagued with a haphazard strategy. It's confusing (to me anyway) but I'll try to lay out the concept here.


Bottom line: it's got a very effective FREE component to it and if you have a computer that can handle it, you should take advantage of that, if nothing else. 

Here's a link to where you should go to get the free Topaz Studio platform. Or you can use the box at right. Go there, check that it'll work on your machine and download it. Don't buy anything yet, I'll explain.


Topaz Studio works as a standalone program (although you can also call it from within Lightroom or Photoshop, etc). You don't need to have those programs, or Paint or Gimp, or Aperture, or Affinity or.... it works by itself if you want it to.


Topaz Studio has a set of free tools and some premium ones. The premium ones have a bunch of presets you can use, but you can't unlock the control sliders unless you buy the "Pro" version. For many people, especially those who don't do a lot of post-processing, the free version is more than enough.


Update: Topaz has put their paid adjustments on sale until the end of October. Use this link and enter "Fall25" as the coupon code at checkout to claim your discount. 
Another update: yesterday, Adobe announced the new upgrades to LR/PS — now there's a computer-based LR (called Lightroom Classic CC) and a cloud-based version (Lightroom CC). the "Classic" works like the LR we know and love. The other one stores your images in the cloud so you can access them from other devices as well.  That doesn't work for people with slow internet connections like me.

The price is still the same, but you can buy 1Tb of cloud storage for $10/month more. You can also get a version with LR CC and 1Tb of storage but no PS for the same price.

I'm not installing it until I come back from Wawa.  Just in case...


Sometimes the Gods smile on you

I just got off the phone with Minden Subaru. I drive a 2011 Subaru Forester and it has 202,000 km on it. I got a letter from corporate Subaru a while ago saying that some vehicles with the Boxer engine exhibit excessive oil consumption. Their standard is 1 L per 10,000 km max.


In Newfoundland this summer. I used to drive as far as I could before I ran out of road in order to get the best pictures. I think this was on a hiking trail outside Brookfield, NL 

I've been complaining since day 1. When I got the letter, I went to Minden Subaru and they started an oil consumption study. Today, after 4,000 km, I had consumed almost 1.5 L.

So they called corporate: then they called me.
SUBARU IS REPLACING MY ENGINE (the short block).
For Free.
New Engine = (almost) New Car.

Now THAT is a good car company. My next car will be a... Subaru.

(PS: they said they'll inspect and re-machine the cylinder heads and upgrade any necessary parts. Too bad I don't get a new air conditioning compressor out of it (not complaining, not complaining!).



...musings...

Here's an interesting stat (OK, interesting is subjective...)!
 ■ I have about 80,000 clicks on my D800.
 ■ I kept 14,000 of the RAW files for possible post-processing (mind you that also included bracketed files for compositing and a few star sequences... so let's round it down to about 12,000
■ I've edited 3000 of them
■ of those 3000, I've rated 500 of them with "4 stars"
■ of those 3000, I've rated 77 images with 5 stars That's in 3½ years so that exceed's Ansel's 12/year. I need to get more selective.

PS, I just looked at those 77 images and there are about 23 duplicates or variations from the same frame (purposes) so the net is really 54 images in 3½ years.


Gales of November

It's here! I'm typing this on Thursday morning, and in a couple of days I'm on the road for Lake Superior! I still have a ton of things to do before I leave (one of which is putting the snow tires on!) but I'm really getting excited. I'm looking forward to meeting some new people and sharing some fantastic experiences. There's still one space available if you're a last-minute type person. Visit www.photography.to/gales to get on board.



So being sick for almost a month has put a crimp in my photo time. I did get out a few times, including a day outing with the Haliburton Highlands Camera Club, so here are some pictures.


Out in my boat "loon hunting" on 12-Mile Lake. These guys are so much fun to shoot. BTW my boat's going to sleep for the winter after one more trip out before I leave. 

A quick trip to Algonquin Park (coughing as I drove!) for some fall scenes. Sadly, no moose spotted but the colours were starting to pop.



Topaz to the rescue. The colours are not as brilliant as previous years but still it's a grand place. 


This picture got a TON of hits on Facebook. I'm really not sure why... 


A black-and-white rendering to bring out the contrast of this stand of birch trees at Costello Lake. I added some Topaz techniques to give it a more ethereal look. 
The Club outing. Here's a selection of a few of the shots from that day. A dozen of us toured some waterfalls and moving water, and generally just hung out and had a great day!



The day started at dawn, on Horseshoe Lake 


Roots at Ritchie Falls.  



then breakfast in Kinmount. Now THAT's a phone! 


Across the river at Three Brothers Falls. I might print this one... 


At the Minden Wild Water Preserve 


Again at the Wild Water Preserve. Has anyone noticed, no waterfalls, no moving water in any of my pictures that day? Hmmm... 

Last weekend I was in Montreal and came across this scene on the way home, just west of Renfrew, Ontario. It was on-and-off pouring rain but it held off long enough to grab a shot or two. 



Trouble was, I didn't have the right lens on the camera. This was as wide a shot as I could do with the 105mm. Enhanced with Topaz Studio and Impression (free, remember! Scroll up for the link). 


In order to make this image, I shot 12 separate frames with the 105mm and stitched them together within Lightroom. The resulting file was HUGE, over 150Mp. Handled by Topaz with ease. I will print this one as a large canvas.
See you in a couple of weeks with pictures from the Rock Island Lodge in Wawa on Lake Gitchigumi (also known as "Lake Superior"!).

— 30 —

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Playing "Catch-up"!

Since getting back from Newfoundland a month ago, I've been playing "catch-up". Not so much on things, more on my 'headspace'. My month on the Rock was about photography, mostly. I didn't go anywhere without the cameras. For the record, I took 9,700 pictures and I kept almost 7,000 of them — a very high percentage for me. I also drove 10,600 km, spent about $1300 on gas alone. Add ferries, accommodations and food and it wasn't a cheap trip.

I had to do it, though. I had to get away. People ask me, "Why? You're retired, you live on a lake in God's Country, you have a nice house, a bunch of toys (ATV, boat...). What are you getting away FROM?".

I know a lot of people who are of retirement age or getting there. You have to understand, I need a purpose in my life. People envy me, that I can choose to go up to Algonquin Park on the spur of the moment, because I heard that there might be aurora borealis tonight, or friends have spotted bears gorging on blueberries at Mew Lake airfield. That I can stay up until 4 am or sleep in until noon (no I can't, but that's another story!).

I remember my dad used to say the same thing before he died. He and mom lived in a senior's home and he used to spend his time working on his financial "bible" because he had nothing else to do. I used to think that would never happen to me, I have too many hobbies and interests, but you know what? It did.

I took up painting. That's frustrating when you don't have built-in talent. I gave up trying to play music, except sporadically when the mood hits, because although I appreciate hearing great music, I really suck at playing. I took a week-long creative writing course at Fleming College in order to re-awaken the desire to write fiction: I've always wanted to and have started dozens of books and stories over the years, and never finished one! More on that later. I have my cameras and computers, they take a lot of my time and are vehicles for expressing myself.

Family and friends? I'm really bad at keeping up relationships. It's easy to say that's something to work on and get better at, a lot harder to do. The bulk of my guilty conscience is related to this but it's hard for me.

As I write this, I'm on the eve of my 71st birthday. I've been living with cancer for 14 years. Who knows how much longer? I have an overwhelming desire to make a mark but I haven't figured out how. Writing this down and especially sharing it, is cathartic, and maybe, just maybe it will spur me into action.




I was doing a DSLR course this week and we were at the Minden Wild Water Preserve yesterday. This guy landed 10' behind us and wouldn't leave, even though I had only arranged for him to be there for a short visit (when I do a camera workshop, you get more than you expected! LOL ). We got tired of shooting him after close to an hour! We left before he did.

This is straight out of camera with a minor crop for composition. Spot metering and exposure compensation, class!  Great Blue Heron, if you didn't know.





Did you know that TopazLab's "Studio" is free? 
Do you know what it is?

Topaz Studio is a Photographer's editing toolbox. It works independently of other platforms — you don't need to have Photoshop or Lightroom or... (although it does operate as a plugin within those programs if you want it to).

Studio contains a whole lot of adjustment tools that you can use for free. But Topaz also offers extra full-detailed control of some of those adjustment tools if you want, at nominal cost. You can get some or all of them but you don't need to.

Studio also supports the Topaz plug-ins and they're gradually being ported over to the Studio platform. Topaz Clarity was offered on sale last week and this week, it's my FAVOURITE plugin, Topaz Impression. So you can call up Impression from inside Studio and it will knock your socks off. The Puffin sketch was done in Impression.





Click the image to go to full-screen. Look at the eye. I painted the keylights on the eye using techniques that Hilarie McNeil-Smith taught me many years ago. They were also sketched over but I decided I wanted to see the eye in all its glory so I masked the sketch out (also a little of the blue and yellow areas). All in Impression, called from within Topaz Studio.


If you already own Topaz plug-ins, they'll appear in Studio. Or you can purchase them individually and as I said, Impression is on sale at 40% off through September 29th.


Here are some links for you.
For all the details, answers to pretty well any questions you have, and to download the FREE Topaz Studio platform, go here: https://web.topazlabs.com/ref/32/
For the Topaz Impression plugin (which will also work with your existing platform) at 40% discount, go here: http://web.topazlabs.com/impression/ref/32/




From the "Sporadic Musings" file. A Rant...


This was prompted by the backlash from a story about how an order issued by a McDonald's manager in Yellowknife forbidding the employees to speak their native language while on the job was rescinded by the franchise owner.



Imagine you lived in a place where you were not allowed to speak English.

I grew up in Montreal. I left there in 1983 (would have been earlier if I could have) because the Quebec government legislated that it was illegal for me to speak my native language — English — in the workplace and indeed that it was only because they were doing a special favour for those who were educated as Anglophones in Quebec, that they allowed my children to be educated in English.

So you can see that I have a strong aversion to any government (or other group) interfering in how I live my private life. I should be able to speak whatever language I wish, I should be able to practice whatever religion I prefer and I should be able to express my sexual orientation any way I want to. It's nobody's business as long as it doesn't hurt anyone else..

A similar policy was put in place at the Senior's home where my mother lived before she died: workers had to speak only English on the job. There was no practical possibility of moving her elsewhere but I would have had one presented itself.

We live in a country that runs under free enterprise. Sure, we lean a lot more left than we did when I was growing up, and we have a lot more socialist services than we had in the past (Medicare and Education come to mind first) but I'll tell you this: consumers in our system are free to choose where they do business. If you don't like the fact that people speak other languages or have other cultural, religious or gender orientations in the restaurant or shop or home where you live, then you are totally free to eat or shop or live elsewhere. Or start your own enterprise. If you own a business and customers start staying away in droves, you may want to rethink your policies, but it's your business, it's your call.

And by the way, you should think about that next time you go out for dinner and eat "har gow" or "maki" or "calamari" or "pad Thai" or "souvlaki" or "schnitzel" or "hummus" or "boeuf Bourgignon"... these are all non-English dishes with non-English names. Think about it.

I'm proud of the fact that I live in a country that celebrates diversity and makes it work in a non-confrontational environment. What's happening on the other side of the border, where the racist right is persecuting everyone who is not a white, straight, Anglo-Saxon male, echoing Germany in the 1930's is downright scary. We should build a wall...
{/rant}




RECOMMENDATION: 

600A Peak 15000mAh Portable Car Jump Starter


I put a business card in the picture to give you a sense of scale. The unit is 6" x 3" x 1", and weighs about a pound. The battery inside is Li-Ion.

I bought one of these things for $65CDN on Amazon. I have both a boat and an ATV with potential battery issues and although I didn't really believe that something this small (and inexpensive) would do the job, I figured I could always return it if it didn't live up to expectations.
I went down to the boat yesterday after several days absence and some on-and-off rain through the week. My bilge pump runs automatically if water gets in the bilge (my boat doesn't have a cover) and it can drain the battery. That's what I discovered. Trying to start the engine resulted in a resounding "click" and silence.
Long story short, I hooked this thing up to the battery and the engine started right away, as if I had a full charge in the 50lb marine battery. And the old 85hp 2-stroke Evinrude doesn't fire on the first crank, it takes several seconds of cranking with full choke, then close the choke and crank again to start it.
I was shocked it worked so well. The charge on the unit dropped to about 3/4, so it still had lots more juice. I plugged it into the USB in the car and it was charged up full in half an hour.
It looks like this particular one is out of stock at Amazon but there are lots more like it listed. I looked for high cranking amps and reasonably large storage, so 600 amps/15000mAh was what I chose.
Worked for me. It goes wherever I go (car, boat, ATV) from now on. PS, it can also power my iPhone forever, when I use it to drive my timelapse photos for hours.


Picture Time!

I put this picture up online as kind of an experiment:


I shot this in Trinity one foggy morning. Then in post-processing, I enhanced all the colourful buildings — colour saturation, clarity, sharpness... to my eye, there's something wrong here. The buildings don't blend properly with their surroundings. I put it up anyway.

 Here's my premise: most people don't care about the technical details. They like a picture or they don't. It's only other photographers (or retouchers) who care. And I was right. I got tons of "Likes" and "Hearts" and positive comments both in the Newfoundland FB group and on my own general timeline and nobody commented on the processing.


I took my boat out and went Loon hunting on 12-Mile Lake. Found one!

I went up to Algonquin Park, didn't see any moose and only one bear (no photo). But I did take the macro lens out, and I discovered that I could mount it on my teleconverter for a net 210mm. Less bending down!


Dewdrops on a spider web, Mew Lake Airfield, Algonquin Park


Hoverfly on a wildflower 


Wild blueberries at the Airfield 

I went back up to the Park a few nights later because I was hoping for Aurora. Nope, but I did take these...


At the Lake of Two Rivers beach. A little light painting with a flashlight, a little Topaz Simplify... 


...and this is at Opeongo. There's a hint of Northern Lights on the horizon, but nothing to speak of. This is a 162-image StarStax composite. 



As I mentioned at the top of the blog, I did a DSLR course last week and I invited a Great Blue Heron to join us at the white water. I'll close with a few more shots from the workshop.


Illustrating lighting, focusing, point-of-view and composition (centre is OK when you've got symmetry).  


North-facing window lighting, focus, spot metering 


And this is our group, at the white water, with our invited guest! The lighting was challenging, Lightroom to the rescue! 

Parting Shot:


Topaz Clarity, called under Topaz Studio. Minor crop in Lightroom. 



OK. I'm caught up. Back soon!

PS: Gales of November is full! Yahoo!

— 30 —

Monday, September 04, 2017

Newfoundland Wrapup (#7)

It's taken me longer than I thought to get to this post, my apologies, loyal readers! And I probably should have split this into two posts, but as long as I was writing...

I spent 3 days in the Cape St. Mary area in the vain hope that the fog would dissipate and I'd be able to return to the Gannet rock. The port in St. Brides, which I could have seen from my motel had it not been foggy was quiet but a few boats came in to unload their catch of cod, guided by the plaintive call of the foghorn every 30 seconds. It is a small port, boats ganged up 2 by 2 on the pier, manned by hard men and brash teenage lads, some of whom captained their own boats. All of whom took the time to share a friendly moment with a photographer "from away", in typical Newfoundlander fashion.




The young lad in the blue shirt captains the black boat in the previous picture. It must be a family thing because a lot of boats had "Dohey's" in the name 



Crowded port. These boats docked with inches to spare. 



Room for 3 more boats on this side of the pier 



Cod fishing is still a "thing" in Newfoundland but quotas are restrictive for commercial boats, and strictly enforced. The Ministry of Fisheries is present when the catch is weighed in 

I shot a couple of abstracts while waiting for the weather to clear





With the winds in Newfoundland, drying clothes is a breeze. I'll bet very few houses boast a clothes dryer! 





In the afternoon, I took a drive. For groceries, if nothing else: there's nothing in St. Brides. You swoop along pothole-strewn Route 100 up hills above the clouds and back down in the fog to isolated sea-level coves, each with an name like "Ship Cove" or "Great Barasway", some of them boasting several houses but most with just one or two. Topping a last rise you come into the surprisingly large town of Placentia.



The newly renovated Sir Ambrose Shea lift bridge is raised about 2400 times per year to allow boats access through the "Gut" to the safe Northeast Arm. There's lots of signage and stories about the cable and mechanically drawn ferries that used to be the only way to cross this dangerous channel. Colourful buildings dot the landscape as usual. 



 The whole lower side of that town is built at sea level and back half a century ago, there was a huge storm that caused a huge amount of flooding. Afterward, the city built a large walkway cum seawall, probably several kilometers long. People told me they're going to get inundated one day anyway, and they couldn't understand how major companies like Canadian Tire and Loblaws would build facilities on a flood plain!



...and of course they love their churches on the Rock. This is actually a Roman Catholic one. Probably because although Placentia was probably founded by Basque fishermen in the 16th century, the French took it over in the mid-17th century and the remnants of their culture is still strong.

This too, by the way, would be under water on occasion if it wasn't for the extensive seawall. 





Nearing the end of my Newfoundland trip I started to feel a little burned out. But I had planned the last days so I could go back and revisit the Cape St. George peninsula, since when I saw it originally on Day 1 I had rushed around it in order to get to Twillingate for the night.

My plan was to drive from Cape St. Mary to Stephenville where I had booked a couple of nights at the interesting-sounding "Dreamcatcher Motel". Although it was a long drive, I allowed myself a couple of stops on the way.





The Heritage Warplane Museum in Gander had some nice flowers planted around it.  Some interesting planes too but nothing I haven't shot before.


I took the time to stop in a town called King's Point just to see what was there. It was another picturesque fishing town. They promised whales but they lied!




Just before the thunderstorms I had been playing tag with all day caught up to me.  


Stephenville is an interesting larger town right on the ocean. There's a long, flat beach along the Western edge where people camp – in Newfoundland you can basically camp anywhere you want – so there were a number of motorhomes and RV's set up.





Gathering firewood at dusk, then at the fire an hour later. These folks toasted me, "may ye be in Heaven before the Devil knows yer dead". There's a lot of Irish heritage here. 


If you looked at a map you would see that the "Port au Port" peninsula extends from Stephenville into the Gulf of the St. Lawrence. The edges of the peninsula are rugged eroded cliff faces until you reach the western end where it's really just flats dotted with small fishing villages.



Most of the beaches consist of rocks polished smooth by the endless tumbling action of the North Atlantic waters 



On the very tip of the Port au Port peninsula is Cape St. George. From the park high on the point you look down on the crashing waters. Seabirds are ever-present, from murrs to cormorants, all varieties of gulls, terns and Northern Gannets that nest further up the coast. 


There were some sandy areas as well, in protected coves 




I wanted to stick with it but it was time to go home. I was heading for the ferry at Port aux Basques but I had some hours to kill, so I took a random turnoff from the TCH and ended up in an area called "Codroy". Little did I know it is a well-known birding area!



Here's a Willet getting quite vocal! 



Spotted Sandpiper posing for his portrait 


I walked out on a flat at low tide. I discovered that the terns were nesting in an embankment there, and they REALLY didn't want me there. I came under attack! Fortunately I had chosen to wear my Tilley hat and a Cabela's jacket because they attack with a vengeance! High speed assaults to within a few inches of you and they are extremely accurate with their primary weapon, bird poop! First things to hit the laundry when I got home!





This guy actually threw that fish at me. Hit me right in the hat! 

Across the road was a sand beach and it was marked as a protected Piping Plover nesting area



 
With my 600mm lens and cropped sensor body, I didn't need to get close to get good pictures. I tried not to disturb them much but you could tell that papa plover was trying to lure me away from the nesting area.



With good reason. These chicks couldn't have been more than a couple of days old! I watched one of them running around, constantly stumbling and falling down!



 

This has to be the definition of "cute"! 


Closing shot of the day. My regular followers would also know that I did an oil painting on canvas based on this shot.  I'll post it in the next edition of the blog so if you want to be sure to see it, click on the newsletter link in the upper right corner of this blog. No spam will come your way.






With that, I boarded the ferry and left my island paradise in the North Atlantic. I really hope to get back there and maybe even acquire a property there for summer use (I was going to say something about winter, but no offence to my Newfoundland friends, you have to be mad to spend winters there!).

After a month on the Rock, the seascapes of Cape Breton and the Cabot trail held little attraction for me. After a cursory look at the Inverness beach and a stop at the Glen Breton Scotch Whisky distillery (they now have a 25-year old. It's only $750 for a bottle!), I turned West and headed for home. 


Inverness, Nova Scotia.
That was the last shot before home. One other notable thing was the best chocolate milkshake I've had in 50 years, at a truck stop restaurant attached to an Irving gas station near the airport in Fredericton, NB. Almost worth driving 1000 miles back there!

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