Saturday, June 30, 2018

newfoundland 2018 — Post #1

Well here we are, about a week into the trip. I've had lots of opportunity to post to the blog but not the energy!
 My goal here is to post some highlights, both in words and pictures, and to try to include some tips if you're planning to make the trek to the Rock.

Day 1 was a really long drive, we made it all the way from Minden to Edmunston NB. About 1200 km. We hooked around Montreal to avoid the traffic: good idea. Follow the signs to "Sorel-Tracy" then stay on the '20'. If you see a car ram into the back of another one in the lane beside you, don't wait around... you can lose a lot of hours that way!

A loon in a nesting box is a mandatory stop. But we didn't stop for any other photos that day. 

Day 2 we drove from Edmunston to Peggy's Cove. We had to get there by 4 because Ryal's Wholesale's last lobster cook was at 4. I had the best lobster EVER there last year.

There was a wind farm behind the Tourist Information site on the New Brunswick/Nova Scotia border. We stopped for a few shots. 

Good spot for it: the winds were wicked! 

We arrived at Peggy's Cove, just in time. Pulled into Ryal's parking lot: they weren't allowed to cook lobster any more! (the government wanted them to put in bathrooms, proper flooring, extra ventilation, thousands of dollars they weren't prepared to invest). So... we were disappointed. Still, we went to a restaurant and had a $35 lobster dinner. Not as good.

The obligatory Lighthouse picture. 

This girl was posing for her friends. When I asked her to do it again, she of course froze like a deer in the headlights when I pointed the camera at her. I'm not much of a posed "people" photographer!

I shot this in the village. Everything seems too set up for the tourists there, so I wasn't inspired.

Next day was a driving day, to get to North Sydney for the ferry. We stopped in Halifax to have lunch with Nadia, Amin's daughter who took time out from studying for her bar exams for a short visit. Then off to Cape Breton and the ferry. Again a minor food disappointment, when we discovered that the restaurant I liked last year was shuttered up. 

If you're taking the ferry to Port aux Basques, be sure to spend the extra $20 for reserved seating. Not the most comfortable in the world (sort of like an airline seat) but it was separated from the regular decks and quieter. Also here's a hint: when you come in, tell them you don't want to park on the lower deck (smile nicely...). We were actually one of the last off the boat and manoeuvring to park was a challenge!. 

We arrived in the fog and rain (what else is new!) and our first stop for pictures was about 30 km up the road. Awesome spot!



From there we drove up to Gros Morne, but we just stayed on the south side, where the tablelands are and headed for Trout River. We'll do the north portion on the way home.


Still snow on some of the slopes! 

There really is a Trout River in Trout River! 

We stayed the next couple of nights in Coffee Cove... wait for it...

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Sunday, June 17, 2018

Be careful what you ask for...

Ontario voters affirmed that they wanted a change. 
And they got it.

Some of us said, "be careful what you ask for". I fully expect that over the course of the next few years, the words, "I told you so" will echo around the Province. If you are not straight, white, male, healthy and entitled, you will be feeling the pain.

Sadly, there was no viable choice offered this time. Hopefully, in a few years, there will be. Hopefully we still will have a place where people of all stripes will still be welcome, where we'll have clean air to breathe and water to drink instead of scorched earth and a vast gulf between rich and poor like we see in third world countries.

I have more in common with the basic PC concept than with the other parties, but could no more vote for Ford than I could for Adolf Hitler. Or Donald Trump. These three are (were) populist demagogues who imposed their own narrow, simplified visions on their parties with winning power and personal gain their only motives.

Watching Doug Ford is like watching a kindergarten kid grapple with theoretical physics. They know that if they drop an egg on the floor it's going to smash and make a mess but they have no clue why or how to prevent it or, to carry the analogy one step further, to clean it up.

Hopefully the people elected around him will manage to rein him in, but it didn't work for Hitler and it hasn't yet worked for Trump. I weep for what he's going to do to this province.

 I probably won't be around to see it. But my children and grandchildren will and I fear for them.

I'm seeing a notice from Google about privacy and the European Union, etc on my blog dashboard. I read it, but call me unsophisticated or stupid but I don't get it. Or it just doesn't apply. As far as I know, I haven't enabled any cookies, I don't have any clue who visits my blog, I don't have any advertising whatsoever on my blog.
 That said, I do have links to both BH Photo and Topaz Labs in the right column. The former is arguably the most respectable photo equipment retailer in the world, and the latter makes superb photo post-processing software that I use and enjoy. I have no idea whether either of them tracks visitors to their sites that come through those links. Full disclosure: I do participate in their affiliate programs and sporadically earn some consideration when a visitor through those links buys something from them.

Speaking of Topaz Labs...
Introducing "AI CLEAR"

Topaz has just announced a brand new adjustment for Studio called "AI Clear". This is a totally new innovative product, a whole new paradigm. It uses Artificial Intelligence to create the processing algorithm on your local computer rather than force you to the Cloud for this function.

"What function?", you ask. "AI Clear uses the insight of a custom neural network trained on millions of images to detect and reduce noise as well as enhance details in your images automatically".

This is going to be available on Tuesday, June 19th. You will be able to download a 30 day free trial and if you like it, it will cost $59.95 after that.

I admit I haven't tried it yet. No time, I'm packing for my trip: but hey, it's FREE to try, so give it a shot. Let me know how you like it!

Here's the link:

Newfoundland: 5 more sleeps!

I'm writing this on Sunday afternoon and departure is scheduled for Friday. I'm getting excited about the trip but not frantic yet about getting prepared! That will probably happen on Thursday night!

Amin and I are driving out, our first tourist destination is Peggy's Cove, NS. We've both been there before but it breaks up the long drive, the photo ops should be awesome, and besides I had the best lobster ever there last summer!

We'll be travelling in my 2011 Subaru Forester, all ready to go with the new (to me) cargo carrier on the roof. I have to be careful not to use underground parking!

Amin is driving out with me, spending a couple of weeks, then flying home and coming back again for a couple of weeks and the drive home at the end of August.

Here's a map summarizing the NL part of my itinerary:

Some notes:

Here's the big one: From July 12 through August 25th I will be in accommodations too big for just me and if anyone wants to come visit, let me know! Especially August, where I have a 4-bedroom home all to myself.
  • On arrival, we're driving pretty well straight up to Coffee Cove where we'll spend 2 nights. Likely we'll drive back to Gros Morne for a day. 
  • One little glitch (don't ask...) I was SURE the place we rented for June 27-July 1 was on Change Islands. Turns out it is not. It's in Twillingate. Where we're also booked until July 23rd. Oh well, day trips to Fogo and Change..., up and down the coast.
  • July 23 I'm going back to Coffee Cove or to Trinity, depending how much we liked the place on the way out. TBD...
  • Bonavista is the destination for the end of July. Puffins, whales... I plan to spend a lot of time seeking out these critters.
  • The spectacular house in Torbay (just North of St. John's) will serve as a base for day trips as far away as Cape St. Mary's, down the Avalon peninsula and up past Bay Roberts, etc. 
  • On the way home, a couple of nights in Stephenville, exploring The Port au Port/Cape St. George loop. We'll hit Codroy on the way back to the ferry.
  • Back on the mainland, the plan is to head up to PercĂ© in the GaspĂ©. There's a huge gannet colony there, hopefully the birds will still be there at the end of the summer.

My basic plan is to get up early, shoot sunrise/morning golden hour, come back and chill during the day, then go out for the sunset/golden hour/blue hour shoots in the evenings. I hope for nights when I can do some stars and maybe aurora. Rinse and Repeat. And there will be days when I'll put my feet up, pull out my sketchbook or my oil paints and do my thing. Maybe spend some time on my "Great Canadian Novel".

I plan to post here as often as I can. I'll put some stuff up on Facebook, but this blog will be the main medium for photos and the trip log, so stay tuned. If you are not subscribed to this blog, please click the "Newsletter" link at top right: no spam will come your way but you'll get a quick email telling you about a new post here. And a photo that will not appear anywhere else, each time. One click to unsubscribe if you must.

PS: I'm bringing two camera bodies, half a dozen lenses, two tripods, my macro gear, warm, cold and wet weather clothes, my Macbook Pro, two external drives, Wacom tablet, external keyboard and lots of connecting stuff. Even a wifi extender, three sherpas and a kangaroo. I stopped short of throwing my 27" monitor in as well!


What's a blog from me without pictures?

First up are some guest photos by Leah Torres Springer. If you don't know, she's my 8 years old granddaughter, and with some minimal coaching (and a few "please don't drop my camera!" pleas), she took these shots. She was barely able to lift the D800 with the 105mm macro on board, let alone reach the buttons for back button focusing!

This is Leah 

Leah's sister Amalia.  

Her aunt Lori (my daughter!) 

Her father Jamie (my son!). I have the same dimples, nose and forehead. But I also have 30 years, 3 surguries and 60 or more pounds on him! 

So this is what you're going to look like in 2048 if you're not careful, Jamie! 

and this is my photo of Amalia. Love that sparkling smile! 

More Pictures!

I have a dilemma. I have so many pictures that I like since the last blog, almost all of them from Carden Plain. I tried eliminating some, I took out most of the more mundane birds and so on, but I'm left with WAY too many. So at the risk of boring you to death, and the promise that I'm done with Carden (Newfoundland next!), here they are. I hope you enjoy them.

They're more or less in chronological order.

American Robin in the rain. Not a happy camper!

Bobolink on a stick. 

A patch of Prairie Smoke, the same rainy morning. 

Blue-winged warbler, warbling

Another shot of the blue-winged warbler. I just liked the pose. 

Chestnut-sided warbler dining on tent caterpillars 

Virginia Rail. This was actually on Prospect Road, about 10 km from Carden Plain. 

Common Yellowthroat. He was being shy but came out for a second! 

Swamp Sparrow. I chose to show him in his milieu. 

Eastern Bluebird male with lunch. Also wet from the rain.

Female Red-winged Blackbird. Love the colours. 

Prairie Smoke bud about to sprout. 

Indian Paintbrush 

An impression of what the alvar looks like with the prairie smoke and the indian paintbrush in full bloom. 

Lilies just outside the viewing blind at Carden. 

I dunno. Some kind of flower-to-be 

Wild Rose impression.  

Parting Shot

I saved the best for last. This is a pair of Wilson's Snipe exhibiting courtship behaviour. One of the best Nature stories I've been able to capture. I cropped the male only (the bird on the right) and printed a big canvas, proudly displayed on my living room wall. 

OK. Next time in the Maritimes! On the road on Friday,

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