Iceland: Stunning Landscapes, A Very Long Run & More Stunning Landscapes

You may remember reading my first blog where I talked about finding my passion, booking a summer full of trips (with an Ultra Marathon thrown in the middle), all while truly exploring how I want to spend my time and in turn make a living. 

In short, after a full summer of travel I'm as close as I've ever been to feeling as passionate and focuseD as I did when I played as a Division 1 College Goalie.  My passion for taking photos of landscapes & people is at an all time high and basically takes up most of my every waking moment. 

More on that later... but for now, I really hope you enjoy Iceland through my eyes and lens of the faithful fujifilm XT-1 which is proving it can do almost anything when it comes to taking stunning images.  Follow along as I spend 10 days exploring Iceland at one of the most beautiful times of year: July; A time where the sun sets only for a few hours before rising again, the late and early sun gives off beautiful soft light for hours upon hours, giving a feeling of almost perpetual golden hour,  the snow is mostly melted and the temperature gets rather comfortable as long as it's dry.

When I hopped off the plane in Iceland it was 11:30PM, spitting rain, foggy and somewhat cold.  Nonetheless, optimistic I put my gear in the Chevy Spark I had rented from SIXT Car Rental which was by far the cheapest option (by hundreds of Euros!!) and a very viable one for anyone traveling alone or with someone else and little gear.  It was a small car, stick shift, great on gas and I even slept in the front seat of it for 7 of 9 nights.

The South-West:

Despite the gloomy weather, I was obviously excited to finally be in Iceland, had my two bags which had all my camera gear, camping supplies, ultra running gear and was ready to rock.  I couldn't decide whether to go east on the Ring Road towards the large waterfallswhere there was concentration of highly photographic sites or to set out west to the Snaefellsnes Peninsula and Kirkjufell Mountain.  Thanks to Rogers "Roam Like Home", for $10 per day, I was able to use my normal data for directions and more importantly weather forecasts which often dictated my next location.

A few hours into my drive, the excitement of taking photos was wearing off a bit as the weather still hadn't changed at all.  It was cold, grey, windy and rainy which made it tough to take interesting images.  The photo below was actually taken from inside my car to avoid rain drops on my lens.

As I drove around feeling a bit let down due to the grey and raining weather looking for things to shoot, these guys jumped out at me.  I found it amusing that they were huddled together under a road sign clearly providing very little shelter.

As I drove around feeling a bit let down due to the grey and raining weather looking for things to shoot, these guys jumped out at me.  I found it amusing that they were huddled together under a road sign clearly providing very little shelter.

After getting to Kirkjufell in the early morning hours, I took a nap hoping the rain would stop and I would be able to capture this iconic location, but when the rain and lighting didn't improve, I decided to keep driving further around the Snaefellsnes Peninsula and circle back around later.  It was there I found more dramatic cloud cover for interesting photos and where things turned for the better. 

First, there were beautiful Icelandic grazing ponies; second, fields of Lupine (a flower originally brought to Iceland from Alaska as a way to stop ground erosion and now considered invasive) with dramatic clouds as a backdrop.

Next,  I came to one of Iceland's many moss-covered lava fields, and as the sun came out I thought it would be fun to take a #selfie before napping with the warm sun kissing my face and tempurpedic-like moss to rest for a few.

Following my nap, I came upon a waterfall which I don't actually know the name of but which I found very beautiful and interesting due to the fact that you could slip into the crack of it's source and follow the waterfall upstream to a point where the rock got too narrow to enter.  I managed to get a few frames with one long exposure while other visitors had disappeared into the cave.

One of the many waterfalls I never found the name of in Iceland.  It's very visible from the main road and requires a short hike from the parking lot just off the road.

One of the many waterfalls I never found the name of in Iceland.  It's very visible from the main road and requires a short hike from the parking lot just off the road.

Sun was out, skies were blue and it was time for me to circle back to Kirkjufell for some pics before moving on East.  As it often does, the weather changed and turned grey again making for nice (but not extraordinary) photos, despite me sleeping in my car until golden hour.  I tried a few angles and shutter speed variations that are different than what you normally see as well as a few of the standard shots which show the waterfall and mountain nicely.

The most interesting & remarkable thing that happened towards the end of my shoot, was running into Jakob of Nordica Photo (I know this after the fact, more on this below) who was there capturing a Toronto couple getting married in Iceland.

This had a profound affect on me as it really made my dream of one day working with adventurous couples in beautiful landscapes a possibility. Looking back, it planted a seed which really made me want to start learning how to pose and work with people so that I can tell their unique story while also having the ability to travel for engagements and weddings all around the world.

Jakob of Nordica Photo doing his thing with the Holdfast Moneymaker holding his 3 camera bodies.  My goal is to be working like this in the coming years. I have lots to learn but the level or passion and enthusiasm I'm bringing to my photography is unlike anything I've felt in a long time :)

When I took these photos I really had no idea who it was. It just looked beautiful and I wanted to capture the moment in case this was a working photographer I could tag/share/connect with on Instagram plus share the images of him taking pictures which is often nice for a photographer to have, especially in such a beautiful place. To ensure I wasn't being invasive I used my 50-140mm Fuji zoom but that didn't stop me from admiring his attire, his professionalism and the way he managed this couple, posing them nicely while being incredibly comfortable behind his many cameras. 

When they were leaving, I asked him about his gear a bit as well and if he was on Instagram so I could check out his work.  Turns out he's one of two guys behind Nordica Photos which is a very popular destination wedding/engagement photography studio with an even bigger following on social media.  I shared the image that night on my social media tagging them and Holdfast Gear (which makes the multiple camera holding system pictured), both were kind enough to comment and/or share the image via their respective channels.  Call that Iceland Instagram encounter #1.

Things you see while driving in Iceland

Things you see while driving in Iceland

The South:

That night my plan was to drive a few hours before taking a short nap and getting ready for my next location: Oxararfoss falls in Þingvellir National Park.  The night-time drive into the park was beautiful as light was really soft and there was a nice amount of fog.  After a short hike into and along a valley/canyon you'd see in lord of the rings, I came to this beautiful place:

Wide Angle Perspective, safe, shows water movement, colors etc

A few steps back, something more unique which shows the beauty and texture of the landscape.  I would choose the first as it shows the falls better but this works too in my opinion.

A few steps back, something more unique which shows the beauty and texture of the landscape.  I would choose the first as it shows the falls better but this works too in my opinion.

Often when taking a good photo, there is another nearby.  In this case it was right behind me... Following a few shots I liked of the falls, this was the view from up on the rock wall where I had taken the previous shots.  Although it's nothing incredible I like how the fog was moving slowly up and across the land with the mountains in the distance.

With the sun rising in a few hours and so many things to see, it was time to move onto a place I was really excited to see: Geysir.  On my way, illuminated by first light, I saw beautiful sights which included a double headed horse ;)

The light was just over the horizon when I arrived to Geysir, a place known for it's aerial steam shooting power.  Normally extremely busy and crowded, it was around 7am and I had the whole place to myself.  Should I have planned to arrive a few hours later it would have been me and about 15 tourist buses carrying hordes of people with Selfie Sticks.

In Iceland, like any popular place, you’ll be rewarded for getting up super early or staying out late when it comes to visiting top destinations. Almost all of my images in Iceland were taken between the hours of 10PM and 7AM
The warm sun back lighting the cloud of steam made for an interesting photo in my mind.  The contrast between the light colored steam and the dramatic sky makes the photo.

The warm sun back lighting the cloud of steam made for an interesting photo in my mind.  The contrast between the light colored steam and the dramatic sky makes the photo.

The Great Geysir seen on the left above is no longer active and actually just steams sulfur smelling gases into the air. The smaller Geysir found a short walk away however, shoots steam into the air every 4-5 minutes which was very cool to experience all alone.

Next on my list and a bit further east was a stunning waterfall, less common to tourists and unmotivated photographers as it's quite off the beaten path.  It's called Bruarfoss and I would say one of the most beautiful/unique falls due to the many different smaller falls and it's natural bright blue color seen below.  No excessive Vibrance or Saturation added in Lightroom here.  It's really that blue!

bruarfoss

Here I experimented with a few different angles and the duration of shutter speed using both the big and little stopper by Lee Filters to range from a few seconds to over a minute.  I personally thought the really long shutter speeds were interesting but didn't manage to show off the energy and flow of the falls well enough so if I had to choose, I'd say quicker shutter is the way to go here!

The South-East:

Next, my goal was to see and capture the famous Seljalandsfoss which is unique for it's ability to allow people to walk under and around it.  If you're there for sunset and you're lucky, you can capture the falls back-lit with the sun falling in the distance.  Plus, later towards sunset there are less people and hopefully less wind which adds a whole other dimension to trying to keep your lens clear of water drops.  I used the combination of a plastic bag (which I try to always have on me), my coat and quick bracketed exposures to get a few shots that weren't ruined by water on the lens.

Seljalandsfoss Golden Hour

Seljalandsfoss Golden Hour

Seljalandsfoss at Sunset

Seljalandsfoss at Sunset

From a different perspective

From a different perspective

The photo below is not mine but just to give you a sense of what this looks like from outside the falls, you can walk anywhere around and behind the falls.

Not my photo, just to show the falls from a different angle. It's a truly spectacular place!

Not my photo, just to show the falls from a different angle. It's a truly spectacular place!

Following getting soaked under the falls and getting a few nice frames, it was time for me to travel to the truly massive and majestic Skogafoss where I had Iceland Instagram encounter #2 with @barefootandbeared a truly awesome guy and talented photographer from Australia.  Interestingly, I had followed his work and commented on a few of my favorite photos. When we started speaking it was like "hey don't we know each other from instagram?!".  Anyways, while his girlfriend (and now fiance @barefootandbeaded (congrats you two)) was sleeping, he and I went for a walk up and behind the massive falls, had a good chat about gear, philosophy, weddings, post-processing etc.  It was a very enlightening and inspiring experience.

The massive Skogafoss from afar, I was taking this shot just before I met @barefootandbearded for the first time.

The massive Skogafoss from afar, I was taking this shot just before I met @barefootandbearded for the first time.

Photo of Joel Alston also known as BarefootandBearded admiring Iceland's beauty.

Photo of Joel Alston also known as BarefootandBearded admiring Iceland's beauty.

Following our walk and talk, I retreated to my car/sleeping bag combo for a good nights rest before heading more north-east up the coast towards Vik, a stunning place known for it's black sand beaches.

The East:

Vik Beach long exposure. Look at that black sand and those sea stacks!

Vik Beach long exposure. Look at that black sand and those sea stacks!

I didn't spend a tonne of time here as it was past morning golden hour, but I did find an awesome restaurant which served all-you-can-eat fresh bread and cream of mushroom soup.  Following all the chilly temps, it was so comforting. I must have had 3-4 bowls while I sat editing some of my recent shots and recharged my batteries.  Not ideal a few days before a big running race but hugely satisfying.

Belly and devices full, I headed further up the coast towards the glaciers and eventually Jokulsarlon (also known as the glacial lagoon)

I hiked quite a ways with gear and tripod to get this #selfie.  The wind was howling but I just couldn't help feel so energized as I stood atop looking down at this glacier along Iceland's Route 1.

I hiked quite a ways with gear and tripod to get this #selfie.  The wind was howling but I just couldn't help feel so energized as I stood atop looking down at this glacier along Iceland's Route 1.

The goal was to arrive at the Glacial Lagoon for sunset in hopes of getting some icebergs with quality light.  Things weren't looking that promising as everything was just grey, but regardless I just couldn't help picking up my camera to capture a place so unique and unlike I'd ever seen and probably will ever see in my life.  The colorful glow and shape of the ice as seen below was just simply outstanding!

Iceberg floats in Iceland's Glacial Lagoon

Iceberg floats in Iceland's Glacial Lagoon

As sunset approached, I was now at the mouth of the lagoon where it meets the ocean, poised to capture whatever potential magic happened.  Besides being fascinated by the different conglomerates of ice, I was really looking for something different than the others there.  Just as I was setting up to take a long exposure of water drifting past a lodged piece of ice, a slit in the clouds opened (insert heavenly music here) and a beam of warm light illuminated the background of the ice I was photographing.  After getting a few safe shots to make sure I got it, I put on my Little Stopper so I could capture the contrast between the stuck ice and the moving water which resulted in this magic:

Following this, I basically ran full out to each next location trying to capture as many different ice sculptures while the light was so so so... so good.

The clouds closed, the sun set and I was simply in awe with what I had witnessed and managed to capture.

For no more than 10 minutes at Jökulsárlón, the clouds had literally parted and I had been treated to heavenly light.

Feeling like I had stopped time and captured the fleeting moment was a gratifying feeling that left me greatly fulfilled.

Last of daylight, long exposure, I found the mud trapped in this piece of ice really unique.

Last of daylight, long exposure, I found the mud trapped in this piece of ice really unique.

The next few hours were spent sleeping until sunrise (approx: 3:45am) as I hoped to capture the unique pieces of ice that fall off the glacier, float down the lagoon, out into the ocean, thrown around by the waves and washed up back up onto the beach which leaves them as clear and smooth as oddly shaped diamonds.  I didn't get anything special when it comes to light in the background, but it sure didn't stop me from breaking out the tripod and capturing these natural masterpieces for 2 or so hours before heading back to bed.

Isn’t Nature Perfect?!

These were some of my last photos before I had to head back to Reykjavik to properly rest for the looming Ultra Marathon.  It took me basically a half day of relaxed driving with many quick stops to get back to the city, return my rental car, meet with Magnus (my awesome host leading up to the race), grab some groceries and get into bed early in preparation for what was going to be my longest and most extreme run ever.

On the way back, these are some of the things I found worth stopping for:

The Run (53km of it):

I could write lots about the run but prefer in this case to let a video do the talking since this post is mainly about photography.  The song Pretty Girls is by an Icelandic band called Kaleo, the images and videos were taken by me during the run on my iPhone 6 and all I will say is it was brutally challenging, yet rewarding for a guy who had trained consistently but not nearly enough long miles due to my focus being on building my photography portfolio the prior 4 months.  I had reasonable expectations and simply wanted to see this beautiful trail in a day while challenging myself in ways I had never before.

Reykjavik:

Seven hours later, it was back on the off-road bus to Reykjavik for a good and long night sleep in a warm and comfy bed thanks to my wonderful hosts (shout out to Magnus & Oliver for the warm hospitality & to Hilda + Liz Pead for setting everything up!).  I'll be forever grateful!

The next day was spent in the beautiful capital with Magnus who was kind enough to show me the key areas from a local's point of view, which is always best.  It was great for recovery, and despite being sore it kept the legs moving and the walk made for a good time to take a few city pics handheld.  I also enjoyed a latte in a beautiful coffee shop called Stofan Cafe which is a must-try.

Westfjords:

Refreshed and ready to get moving again, I had 4 days left in Iceland, so the the decision to go and see the Westfjords (or go elsewhere in Iceland) was a difficult one.  The fjords are one of the most remote and least explored parts of Iceland; it's roads, although paved or at very least groomed gravel, are extremely steep and indirect due to all the fingers of land that stretch into the sea along with all the mountains between villages.  They have built a few tunnels and things aren't as bad as they used to be, but it's truly rugged and beautiful and came highly recommended by a friend of Magnus's.  What's interesting is most native Icelanders haven't even been there despite it only being 5-6 hours away to the start of the fjords.

With some research and suggestions, I plotted my route and was off.  Along the way I saw sheep on the edge of photogenic cliffs, took a few #selfies using the shutter timer function (the XT-1 also has an iPhone app but the range wasn't good enough to use this function for these waterfall photos) and descended into a handful of cute, remote and character-filled fishing towns almost forgotten in time. 

Each time I followed the road out and over the mountains, back around & dove back towards the ocean, I was treated to similar but equally impressive views such as this:

At times, melted snow and rivers would flow down towards the ocean below, and in this particular case I was able to get on a rock between two streams of rushing water.  My hope was to give the sense of what it feels like to be surrounded by the powers of nature high above the valley and ocean below.

Next, it was on to the biggest waterfall in the Westfjords.  Dynjandi is by far the most spectacular one in the region. "Dynjandi" means "thunderous" in Icelandic. It is actually a series of waterfalls (7 in all with top 2 pictured below) with a cumulative height of 100m and 60m wide!  I spent a few hours here simply marveling at the sound and multitude of water pathways down the hillside.

DSCF6739-HDR.jpg

After getting the above shot, I moved on to different angles and some more macro/creative work such as the flowers below.

The further I proceeded through the Westfjords, the less direct the roads seemed to be; and sometimes I would spend an hour or so climbing, traversing a large plateau and plunging down again just to cover what would be 10km or so as the crow flies.  I wasn't complaining, the scenery was always interesting:

In terms of wildlife, things really got cool when I saw some seals lying off the coast.  I wasn't able to get super close, but it was incredibly sweet to watch them lying down, playing and barking among themselves.

After 2 days in these remote lands, I had the choice to either head back south to previously explored places or continue around the northern part of the island.  I chose the latter although it would be a lot of driving, but I wanted to be able to say I'd at least seen most parts of Iceland so that when I returned, I knew what I needed to explore more and recommend to friends.  The other reason I wanted to visit the north was to see Lake Myvatn and the beautiful Godagoss which means waterfall of the Gods.  Who wouldn't want to see that right!?

DSCF6889.jpg

Worth the trip?  I think so.  This was actually taken without a tripod... in a rush to capture the rainbow as direct light was disappearing behind the mountains.  It had been spitting a bit and as I was 4-5 minutes away from the falls, all I could see was a huge arching rainbow directly behind the waterfall.  As soon as I took the shot, it faded and quickly disappeared.  Not perfect, but still a cool image/memory :)

With the ambient light low, I was able to extend my shutter speeds. After the standard safe shots further below, I had a vision of a really fluffy long exposure thanks to the lee big stopper.  For this image my shutter was 180 seconds (3 minutes) long.  It really captured the movement of the water + the movement of the mist coming off the falls.  In post, I used an exposure brush to bring back a bit of detail in the nearby rock to add some contrast/pop to the image overall.

Black and white suits the image best in my opinion. With the light low, it was really a lot more about the interacting shapes and textures versus the colors present.

I now had about 36 hours until I needed to be back to Reykjavik for my flight with a good amount of driving, so besides 2 last important stops, all I did was drive and watch.

Important Stop #1 - Puffins on Kirkjufjara beach:

Kirkjufjara beach is near Vik but on the other side of the mountains that divide the two places

Kirkjufjara beach is near Vik but on the other side of the mountains that divide the two places

There were tonnes of puffins here but they were high in the cliffs, so despite my climbing as high as I could (safely) while also giving them a lot of space, I was only able to get one shot that I like;  Nonetheless this beach is amazing for it's bird life, sea stacks as well as it's caves and it's black jagged columns.  Look it up, it's awesome!

Important Stop #2 - Sólheimasandur Beach Plane Crash:

As I was driving towards Sólheimasandur Beach on my last night to shoot this eerie scene, I could tell the sky was going to be doing magical things but I wasn't sure how it would all come together with the wrecked US Navy plane found on this black beach.

I was lucky enough to experience this on my own with no one else around after walking down the rough road that I was afraid would destroy my small rental car. The 4km hike both ways was more than worth it.

DSCF6979-HDR.jpg

Iceland was more than fun and I think it saved the best for last.  It was truly fantastic to have such amazing light all to myself and on numerous occasions, despite the many tourists & photographers this time of year.  All it took was staying out late and getting up early.  The fact that I was traveling alone and sleeping in my car, allowed me to be extremely flexible and able to change plans last minute (which was often key in me experiencing good weather and quality light).  All this being said, the weather is truly a factor to consider in Iceland, and as much as you can plan ahead/check forecasts, you're truly at the mercy of the powers of nature.  All you can do is take the steps to give yourself the best shot possible.

I was extremely grateful for the way the race went and the warm hospitality I was shown wherever I went.  Despite grey periods and spurts of rain it actually wasn't bad at all.  All I can say and suggest to anyone thinking of going to Iceland is GO.  You won't be disappointed for a second as long as you're able to be positive, flexible & bring proper attire.

Bonus:

For those reading this or planning a trip to Iceland, there's a secret place only the locals know which you won't find on many blogs and literally no travel sites/books.  It's a natural hot spring up in the mountains, a few kms hike up, which gets hotter as you go higher. It's steamy hot, rays of sunshine are blasting down on you, wild flowers, it's incredible!

Top Secret

Top Secret

If you like the way this place looks and sounds shoot me an e-mail and I'll give you some hints as to how to find it.

Thanks for reading, lots more blogs to come including my first engagement shoot & my awesome Italian Adventures!

Much gratitude,

Jeremie

Evergreen Brickworks Lifestyle Shoot

Shooting Sylvie back in February on my first "official" portrait session was a total blast so when I had the chance to do a lifestyle shoot with her and her equally beautiful sister Cleo I was more than eager.

A few from my shoot with Sylvie this past winter

Having started a retreat business together along with their friend Janey called Panacea Wellness they needed some fun pics in a sweet Toronto location. Despite only shooting for 1.5 hours in blasting midday sun we were able to find some soft shaded areas and ended up with lots of authentic pics thanks to their awesome souls + smiles and Toronto's rustic Evergreen Brickworks as a backdrop.

For Photographers: During this shoot I used all available light including shade and diffused light, a Fujifilm XT-1 with 56mm 1.2 and a Nikon D750 with 35mm 1.4 Sigma Art Lens.  They were both on me at all times thanks to the Holdfast Moneymaker.

Rock on,

J

Atlantic Canada by Prius, Foot & Fujifilm

The below blog chronicles my 18 day long Atlantic Canada Adventure.  From Thursday May 21st to Sunday June 7th, I put over 12,000km on my Prius, took just under 2000 images, spent 15 nights sleeping in what I like to call #CampPrius, took 6 ferries ranging form 9 hours to 3 minutes, encountered 2 bear cubs, 1 momma bear and 0 whales.  I hope you enjoy my photographs and will comment should you have any feedback or questions.

Much gratitude to you for being here. May it spark your curiosity, unleash your creativity or inspire you to get out and follow your dreams.

At 5AM the morning after my last day of work the Prius was packed and I was on my way towards Quebec City (and the rest of Eastern Canada).  I had spent quite a bit of time organizing my supplies and decided it would be interested to capture exactly what I would bring with me in terms of camping equipment, running gear and food supplies.  Thank goodness for Fujifilm's ultra-wide angle xf10-24mm lenses (one of the few lenses I don't own), my ability to almost do the splits (flexibility remnants from my NCAA D1 goalie days) and my dear uncle Paul for having lent it to my for my travels.

Camping Gear & Clothing

Camping Gear & Clothing

Trail Running Gear

Trail Running Gear

Snacks & meals for the health conscious, vegetarian living out of their car.

Snacks & meals for the health conscious, vegetarian living out of their car.

Safe to say I was well equipped and definitely wouldn't starve!

What was interesting to notice as I packed, was that besides my camera equipment which I've spent a lot of money on as of late, the rest of what I was bringing were the other items that In the past I had spent what money I had on or at very least valued most.  As my journey (and exit from day job) were nearing over the past year or so, it's almost as though all my purchases were coming together to assist me on this and future grand adventures.  Besides the above, a car, a bike, rock climbing gear, hockey equipment which are the "things" I own and need to stay fit and make a living, I've been making a move towards simplifying my life by giving away or throwing out items which no longer serve me.  I've implemented a 6 month rule for clothes and shoes, anything that hasn't been worn in that time gets donated or tossed.  It's a liberating feeling (I challenge you to try it even for things not worn or used for 12 months) and traveling with the bare essentials only reinforced how little we really need when we're doing what we love and not trying to fill a void with unnecessary material goods or retail therapy.  My buying philosophy is simple... Do I really need it?  Is it excellent quality?  Was it produced locally or sustainably?  Will it last?  Do I love it?  Will it assist me in experiencing the world or add to my adventures?  If so great, it's considered and research heavily before I dive in.

Have Less. Do More. Be More

Quebec City, Quebec

When I arrived in Quebec city, after a 7.5 hour drive my goal was to shake off the car legs with a good run and explore possible shooting locations for that night.  After 13km of exploring the Plaines d'Abraham, the quaint streets of the vieux Quebec, la Citadel, the Chateau Frontenac and the waterfront, I felt energized and had good visions of what I wanted to shoot when the light fell after dinner.  I must say there’s something magical about exploring a city on foot... the smells, the changes in elevation, the stairs and the people are all the more vivid and tactile.

After grabbing a quick Falafel at la Galette Libanaise (a place known for making extremely unique and delicious pita and falafels which are instead of being friend, baked fresh together at the same time) as post workout snack, I headed down into the le vieux Quebec for some street photography opportunities and more location scouting.  Although none of the shots before golden hour or dark are worth sharing, it really gave me an idea of where I had to come back that night.

The Charming Streets of Old Quebec after the sun sets

The Charming Streets of Old Quebec after the sun sets

Part of what made Quebec really special was having dinner with my god parents and cousins at their beautiful house just outside of downtown.  It just worked out that everyone was able to make it for that time and we quickly caught up over a nice dinner before everyone went their separate ways for previous commitments.  I really appreciate how supportive/totally understanding they were to the fact that the light was becoming perfect and I had to jet for a few hours.

The first thing I did was head across the Fleuve St-Laurent for a the perfect skyline shot from Levis.  The memorable part about this was setting up and just waiting for the right light to happen.  Keep in mind I was coming for 3 years of 2 jobs which made for 10 hour days 7 days per week and before that 4 years of university as D1 student-athlete and before that high school condensed into 3 years along with Jr A hockey, I was used to the GO GO GO, relaxing wasn't something I was used to or had experienced...ever.  There was something new yet comforting about sitting on the bench watching the sunset (not fantastic for photography that night due to limited clouds and angle of view) and letting blue hour/night unfold as it may.

The view from across the Fleuve St-Laurent in Levis, I found the changes in texture of the water interesting.

The view from across the Fleuve St-Laurent in Levis, I found the changes in texture of the water interesting.

The reflection of the lights over the moving St-Laurent along with the towering city and green space as a divider made for a few satisfying nighttime shots of the Quebec city skyline.

Next I headed back to old Quebec for some night street photography and different views around the chateau Frontenac which turned out nicely for various reasons including the limited number of people at that time and the cherry blossoms in full bloom.

Cherry Blossoms at the Chateau Frontenac, gotta love spring!

Cherry Blossoms at the Chateau Frontenac, gotta love spring!

Le Chateau towers above the docks

Le Chateau towers above the docks

Get up and out before sunrise and stay past sunset to ensure those rare and magical moments

Park National Forillon and Gaspe (aka Wildlife Central):

I left Quebec city early that morning (loaded up with a bag of my aunt Suzie's famous cookies) for the possibility of fantastic sunrise, to miss any traffic and get to my next destination well before sunset, giving myself plenty of time to stop as wanted along the way.  The drive along the south coast of the St-Laurence was a special one as it really showed just how massive and mighty this body of water is.  It was made evident by all the towns and farms along the way just how much it sustains the people who live and settled there years ago.

When I arrived to Park National Forillon the first thing I did was find out what the hike to the highest point in the park was so I could get a view of the area and get some good elevation training in.  Due good amounts of snow still on the trail and the park actually not being officially open yet, I was the only one of the trail which culminated in a beautiful panoramic of the area from a 3 story wooden structure at the top of the Appalachian mountains, which provided beautiful views of the ocean and never ending forests.  I took a few shots from the top as the clouds were interesting and the outstretching cape gaspe was fantastic.  This was my favorite shot from the top:

Cape Gaspe is also known as "Le Bout Du Monde" or "edge/end of the world"

Cape Gaspe is also known as "Le Bout Du Monde" or "edge/end of the world"

Next it was time to head down the mountain before dark, as the park is known for moose and bears, which I was somewhat hesitant to run into all alone in the mountains.  Sure enough on my way down I saw a bunch of moose droppings and footprints, which seemed to be getting fresher and fresher, my intuition was telling me I should have my camera around my neck (usually kept in my f-stop loka bag while hiking) in case I saw any wildlife.  Sure enough as I rounded a bend in the trail, I froze in my steps when I saw this teenage moose holding his ground on the single track.  My first reaction was to step behind the tree to give him his space, I then pulled up my camera to get a few shots and then to be safe backed a way further, giving myself time to google what to do if you see a moose.  Advice included give them their space, look for warning signs such as ears back, hair up and lip smacking (none of which I experienced), be closer to a tree then them so that if they charge you can use as a barrier etc.  The last piece of advice was if they do charge don’t hold your ground… RUN!

Moose number ONE, "Hey buddy, don't charge at me please"

Moose number ONE, "Hey buddy, don't charge at me please"

Thankfully, none of that ended up being necessary but this first meeting did leave a lasting impression partly because I was so close, a bit scared in case the mom was around and ended up getting one of my first good wildlife picture thanks to the Fujifilm xf55-140 2.8 WR lens I was forced to buy instead of rent when Henry's entire computer system was down the day before I left.

Less than 5 minutes after I stopped to listen, I heard ruffling in the bushes where I saw 2 porcupines minding their business and climbing a tree, they were sweet and just looked at me intently.

Porcupine, Forillon National Park

Porcupine, Forillon National Park

20 minutes after that I was done hiking, driving to explore the rest of the park when suddenly when coming over a hill, I had to break quickly in order to avoid disturbing this momma and her cubs.  Mom was literally 6 feet away from my car at times, I had to put my car in reverse a few times in order to use my zoom lens.

Mother Black Bear after a long winter, Forillon National Park

Mother Black Bear after a long winter, Forillon National Park

Brace yourself...

Why did the cubs cross the road?  To follow momma bear of course! - Young Bear Cubs Forillon National Park

Why did the cubs cross the road?  To follow momma bear of course! - Young Bear Cubs Forillon National Park

Talk about a successful succession of wildlife sightings sure to get anyone’s heart pumping

After all these exciting encounters, it was time to watch the sunset over the Atlantic, I was feeling calm yet alert and decided to capture a calm sky and water to contrast the rough and interesting shore/trees on the left.

Blue Hour in Forillon National Park using Lee Filters Big Stopper for the soft water

Blue Hour in Forillon National Park using Lee Filters Big Stopper for the soft water

Perce Rock:

I was feeling energized by such a good day of shooting and couldn't really find the right spot to sleep in the park so decided to drive to Perce so that I could catch sunrise in the AM without having to get up at 3AM and make the drive.

It paid off!  After a cold night in the Prius, I awoke early to drive around the new place looking for ways to capture this iconic Quebecois site.  The first was on a beach again using a long exposure to make the early morning water even more still.  Quite serene is it not?!  I chose this as I really wanted the rock's structure and strength to be the star of the shot.

Unique perspective on the rock they call Perce (pierced in English), don't think I have to explain that one ;)

Unique perspective on the rock they call Perce (pierced in English), don't think I have to explain that one ;)

Looking behind me for news ways to represent this scene, I saw some tall mountain and cliffs, as I had got used to doing, I pulled out google maps and found out there was a trail that went to the top!  Amazing, good photo opp and some elevation training as a bonus!  It wasn't a huge climb but took a good 45 minutes to get to the top of Mont St-Anne (not to be confused with THE Mont St-Anne) and it's various look out points.  As I was hiking up, the clouds were starting to become very interesting and the sun was doing it's best to pierce the pierced rock by casting beautiful and interesting shadows over the water further complimented by their reflections.  That resulted in nonsense like this:

One of my favorite shots from the trip, I love the way the clouds are casting shadows over the ocean and the way the horizon is blends into the sky, it's a unique take on this highly photographed scene.

One of my favorite shots from the trip, I love the way the clouds are casting shadows over the ocean and the way the horizon is blends into the sky, it's a unique take on this highly photographed scene.

While on the cliffs overlooking Perce, I was being   serenaded by this little guy, the sun was shining, I was all alone, it was magical.

While on the cliffs overlooking Perce, I was being serenaded by this little guy, the sun was shining, I was all alone, it was magical.

Another shot which I enjoy from this day shows the importance of perspective and reference in photos.  Without this small house in the bottom left hand corner its tough to tell just how big this mass of rock is.

Not a bad view for whoever lives in this house (bottom left).

Not a bad view for whoever lives in this house (bottom left).

I spend the next part of that morning recharging batteries, sipping coffee and having a warm breakfast at the only place open in town.  It was an opportunity to touch base with family and do a little instagramming  of course ;)

In photography more than anything:

Early Bird Gets the Worm

Prince Edward Island:

Having been to PEI as a kid with my mom and sister, I had fond memories of the dunes and red sand.  My goal going there was to explore the island over a day and get an amazing sunset with a lighthouse in the scene.  That was my vision and my fingers were crossed!  As I was crossing the confederation bridge, I spotted a lighthouse on the west part of the island and knew my best chance of catching a magical sunset would be there.

Envision it happening, believe it will happen and before you know it will have happened.
Sunset at West Point Lighthouse, PEI

Sunset at West Point Lighthouse, PEI

After a long day of driving (Perce to PEI) and a satisfying picture, I jumped into my back seat/trunk, snuggled in to my marmot sleeping bag and went to bed with the goal of exploring the rest of the island the next day namely Prince Edward Island National Park.

Blue skies, reddish dunes and ocean.  #PerfectlyPEI

Blue skies, reddish dunes and ocean.  #PerfectlyPEI

I enjoyed a long run along the water and dunes before heading to Charlottetown for a bite to eat and onwards to New Brunswick's Fundy National Park.

The harder you work... and visualize something, the luckier you get.
— Seal

Fundy National Park:

Fundy is another place I'd visited as a child which brought back fond memories, I was feeling a waterfall shot and with a bit of research found Third Vault Falls close to my campsite.

Third Vault Falls in Fundy National Park

Third Vault Falls in Fundy National Park

The hike in was beautiful and the pictures turned out.  I decided that with all the running I had been doing, it would be a good idea to jump into the frozen water and give myself a cold tub for an interesting #selfie which regrettably took 3 tries due to my inability to hold still enough to actually make a decent photo of it.

The ultimate recovery cold tub.  I'm blurry because I couldn't hold 100% still while freezing my legs off ;)

The ultimate recovery cold tub.  I'm blurry because I couldn't hold 100% still while freezing my legs off ;)

Train, Refuel, RECOVER, Perform
— Gary Roberts

Following these satisfying waterfall long exposures, it was time for a long hike back to the car and sleep for this guy.

In hopes of capturing more early morning magic, I got up with the sun again and as I was descending on the Bay of Fundy witnessed the magic of fog rolling over the water and between layers of trees.

Early morning fog rolls in on the Bay of Fundy, I love the layers and textures in this pic

Early morning fog rolls in on the Bay of Fundy, I love the layers and textures in this pic

One of the touristy things to do in the bay is to see Hopewell Rocks, the only thing I wasn't keen on is getting pics of others in the shot therefore got to the park before it opened as the tide was going out to get these somewhat unique shots of this iconic place:

Black and white Hopewell rocks with ZERO tourist walking on the ocean floor.

Black and white Hopewell rocks with ZERO tourist walking on the ocean floor.

The fact that the tide changes 40+ feet here makes for a very unique experience walking among the flower pot shaped rocks and ocean floor.  In the picture below, I used 6 exposures to capture the detail in the sky while also showing the texture and layers of the soft sandstone pillars.

Standing on the ocean floor among 50 foot flower pot rocks and ocean caves

Standing on the ocean floor among 50 foot flower pot rocks and ocean caves

Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia:

From Fundy National Park (New Brunswick side) it was on to the equally beautiful Annapolis Valley (hello Nova Scotia) on the other side of the bay where I stayed with a friends sister (shout out Sylvie and Cleo, you rock!).  Cleo gave me a bed to sleep in and we shared two delicious meals together between her showing me all the awesome spots to see in the area.  That afternoon, I managed to get an epic hike in at Cape Spear which is a good 2-3 hour (supposed to take up to 5 hours) hike each way through forest known for coyotes especially around sunset which is when I wanted to capture this stunning place.  When I got to the end the wind and cliffs were definitely intimidating and I found it a bit challenging to capture the height and immensity of the cliffs but played with various angles and got some pics as good as any I've seen from the cliffs.

The best shots of this place are from boats or planes which show just how massive and epic this place is:

NOT MY IMAGE, just showing how high and beautiful Cape Split from air or boat.

NOT MY IMAGE, just showing how high and beautiful Cape Split from air or boat.

Now for what it looked like from my perspective:

Cape Split, Nova Scotia before sunset.

Cape Split, Nova Scotia before sunset.

Cape Split, Nova Scotia.  Love the orange detail on the cliffs.

Cape Split, Nova Scotia.  Love the orange detail on the cliffs.

The next morning when I got up to shoot, it was unfortunately a very grey/rainy day and thus I didn't get anything interesting enough to share of the valley but I will always remember seeing the area from a local's perspective and plan to revisit the area another time.  To give you an idea of the driving in less than 6 days, I've showed the direct routes of from places to place not including all the location scouting, food missions and exploring.  Lots of driving but well worth the fun!

Approximate driving to this point.  Toronto, ON to Annapolis Valley, NS

Approximate driving to this point.  Toronto, ON to Annapolis Valley, NS

Nova Scotia's South Shore:

From Annapolis Valley, it was across Nova Scotia inland, to it's south coast where the plan was to hit up Lunenberg (historic port town with original/colorful buildings + home of the Bluenose ship), Peggy's Cove and Halifax before getting to the Cape Breton and Highlands National Park.

Peggy's Cove on a rainy and foggy day.

Peggy's Cove on a rainy and foggy day.

This place is so much more than this typical scene, all around are Scottish or Irish feeling grass pastures with rocky shores.  I could have spent all day here in the fog watching the waves crash in.

A foggy afternoon on the coast of Peggy's Cove

A foggy afternoon on the coast of Peggy's Cove

When I arrived to Halifax I met up with my friend Bill's daughter Sara who was awesome enough to walk me around downtown, the port and take me to the best, darkest basement pub in town where I enjoyed a veggie burger and a flight of local brew. Delicious food, awesome conversation, I was ready to make a push for Cape Breton.  After a long walk back to my car, a short nap, I was good to go for a 3 hour drive to Cape Breton Island.

When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.
— Ansel Adams

Cape Breton Highlands National Park + Cabot Trail:

As soon as I got onto Cape Breton it was time for bed and in true #CampPrius fashion, I found a small dirt road leading to the shore and pulled off for my standard slide into the backseat night sleep.

I awoke early the next morning eager to get into the park and on the Cabot Trail for all the wildlife and views I hoped to see.

Upon looking at the provided map it became apparent that one of the must do hikes along the Cabot Trail is Skyline which is a fairly easy hike through moose dense woods, followed by a ridge which extends out over the Atlantic and the Cabot Trail far below, best of both worlds I thought!

My Fujifilm XT-1 and 50-140mm 2.8 WR lens were drawn and ready, as I walked quietly, my level of presence was a perfect balance between calm and awake.  A few kilometers in, my eyes zones in on this beauty grazing across a field on the edge of the woods.  I crouched, fired off some shots and couldn't help but grin as I signaled other hikers who were into their conversation and would have easily missed the majestic Mr and Mrs Moose in the distance.

Moose Sighting #2, way less nervous this time :)

Moose Sighting #2, way less nervous this time :)

After walking through the woods for almost another hour the trail narrowed into to the ridge where you're able to see the Cabot trail below to your left and ocean on your right.

Cabot Trail (actually a road) is one of the most beautiful roads in the world as per National Geographic.

Cabot Trail (actually a road) is one of the most beautiful roads in the world as per National Geographic.

Which way does the wind blow?

Which way does the wind blow?

The boardwalk pictured which winds along the spine of the ridge was built to stop loss of precious plants and top soil which were being destroyed by foot traffic.  It was built mindfully so that when looking from the Cabot Trail you're unable to see it, therefore not altering the natural look of this beautiful place.

The boardwalk pictured which winds along the spine of the ridge was built to stop loss of precious plants and top soil which were being destroyed by foot traffic.  It was built mindfully so that when looking from the Cabot Trail you're unable to see it, therefore not altering the natural look of this beautiful place.

After this amazing hike, I continued on along the road stopping at hikes which interested me one of which was a little known waterfall called Beulach Ban Falls

Beulach Ban Falls, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.

Beulach Ban Falls, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.

A different take on the falls from the side, black and white style.

A different take on the falls from the side, black and white style.

After a full day of driving and hiking various trails along the Cabot Trail it was time for a rest.  The next morning my goal was to wake up early and get up close and personal with a moose.  I was drawn to seeing them and for some reason I wanted to get closer and more personal without disrespecting their space or it being dangerous.  With a bit of research, keeping in mind it was raining, I wanted a short hike known for moose and wildlife sightings.  I settled on Benjie's Lake which was actually part closed due to flooding (snow melt) but of course I hoped that would mean I would be the only one on the trail and my chances of connecting with my soon to be spirit animal were as good as I could get.  Rain jacket on, I ventured through forest, over lots of moose droppings, through old forest and closer to the lake ever more determined and ready to see a moose.  I hoped that as I neared the lake I may catch a moose swimming or drinking but before I could finish that thought, just as I came around the corner, I found the guy below resting under some trees out of the rain.  I was as surprised as him, as I had been walking very quietly, but neither of us panicked, he got up slowly and I gave him plenty of space, so much that he felt comfortable enough again to lay back down a minute or two later knowing I was less than 25 feet away.  Unfortunately I was unable to get a clear shot of him from that far as there was just to much brush and forest between us.  With courage and hoping that he was now use to my presence I decided the only way to get the shot is to get as close as you did on the boardwalk.  I prepared my camera, checked my settings, actually zoomed out as I was so close and without sneaking or being too quiet I walked around the corner with the thought "Just let me get a few good shots of you and I'll leave you to your peaceful nap buddy", sure enough he sat there (with me 10 feet away max) let me get a few frames in and before anything could manifest, I backed off leaving him to his slumber.  The 30 or so minutes in his presence trying to get his picture from afar and finally having the courage to get close to him were very special and are vivid in my memory.  Here he is:

Moose Lying Down in Rain at Benjie's Lake taken from 10 feet after much patience and wishing for a peaceful resolution.

Moose Lying Down in Rain at Benjie's Lake taken from 10 feet after much patience and wishing for a peaceful resolution.

The rest of that afternoon was spent running up Franey Mountain a trail which gives you panoramic views of the area, 5km up and 5km down it was a fun and fast run especially on the way down! #quadburner

The next morning my plan was to be in Meat Cove (suggested by a wonderful family I met at work on my last day) which is a remote area of Cape Breton that faces East.  As per previous shots I wished/hoped/visualized getting the perfect sunrise and this place did not disappoint.  Just before arriving to the cove I got this shot before the sun came up.  The fishing boat makes it even more interesting.

I called this: "Fishing for Sunrise".

I called this: "Fishing for Sunrise".

My timing was good as I pulled into this small remote village (the road actually ends there) the sun was just emerging from the ocean as I explored the beach looking for the most interesting composure I could in limited time I had.  The result:

Meat Cove, Sunrise.

Meat Cove, Sunrise.

As I hope you can see Cabot Trail and Cape Breton Highlands National Park are world class spots which I would happily recommend to anyone and everyone.  I spent the rest of that day traveling to Sydney, Nova Scotia where I found an amazing mostly vegetarian restaurant (my body was screaming for a huge salad and tons of fresh veggies) which hit the spot.  And lastly while waiting for to catch the 9 hour overnight fairy ride to Newfoundland, I threw a Frisbee around with a few locals dudes cool enough to let me join.

Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland:

Getting on a ferry that has hundreds of cars and room for multiple 18 wheel transport trucks is a really interesting experience that involves booking days to weeks in advance, arriving 2 hours before scheduled departure and parking your car in the base of a massive ship before adventuring to find a quiet and comfortable spot for a good nights rest.  After a somewhat good night sleep, I woke up to the ship being docked in Channel-Port aux Basques where disembarked, fueled up, checked my tires air pressure and headed into another place I had heard tremendous things about.  The feeling of getting onto Newfoundland is hard to explain but it feels like a totally different country.

My first destination was Gros Morne National Park which is a UNESCO World Heritage SIte for many reasons but mainly due to the Tablelands there where the earth's crust is exposed.  I was there at a unique time as some snow still remained which was causing rivers of snow melt down many parts of this vast barren landscape.

Snow melts on top of Tablelands in Gros Morne National Park.

Snow melts on top of Tablelands in Gros Morne National Park.

Tablelands, Gros Morne National Park. #selfie

Tablelands, Gros Morne National Park. #selfie

The normal hike in the tablelands follows the base and gives you a good view looking up of this area.  I had seen photos from above in the Parks brochure and thus was willing to do what it took to get there.  The area was huge and terrain very technical (loose rocks, snow, melting snow, ice etc) and although I gave myself 3 hours before sunset I got out just before dark.

My favorite photo of this unique terrain was made even more unique by the melting water.

Tablelands, Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland

Tablelands, Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland

After finding my campsite for the night, I knew my body would be happier without having to wake up at 4:30am another morning so I just let myself sleep in without any alarm.  I didn't really have an agenda besides hoping to see Caribou and a planned boat tour of Western Brook Pond (only accessible with guide or tour company) at 1pm.  With a bit of time to kill, I ventured further down the highway where there had been sightings of caribou, sure enough they were grazing along the road with beautiful mountains as a backdrop... serendipitous.

Caribou Herd, Gros Morne National Park.

Caribou Herd, Gros Morne National Park.

Western Brook Pond is not so much a pond as a 16-kilometre land-locked fjord lake! Massive, awe-inspiring, billion-year-old cliffs make this one of Gros Morne National Park’s, and eastern Canada’s, most spectacular landscapes. After the glaciers that carved its steep 600-metre rock walls melted, the land rebounded and the fjord was cut off from the sea. The fresh water that now fills the fjord-lake is among the purest in the world. Ponds atop the plateau feed some of highest waterfalls (top right) in eastern North America that cascade into the deep waters below. Western Brook Pond is one of the geological marvels contributing to the national park being recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Western Brook Pond from a boat. Check out the massive waterfall top right.

Western Brook Pond from a boat. Check out the massive waterfall top right.

The sides of this Fjord are apparently taller than the CN Tower!

The sides of this Fjord are apparently taller than the CN Tower!

The next morning, it was pouring and thus I decided if I was going to be spending 6 hours in the car that day, there was no better thing to do than to run 18km on a super technical trail called Green Gardens.

It started off easy, went down to shores formed by volcanic rock, involved a thigh raging river crossing, pouring cold rain, a bear sighting, getting lost, fallen tree jumping, sheep grazing, puddles of water/moose shit concoction etc. It was great mental toughness training for Iceland.
Awesome singletrack trail shot on iPhone 6, this run was a battle but so fun!

Awesome singletrack trail shot on iPhone 6, this run was a battle but so fun!

My next destinations were east starting with Twillingate follow by Fogo Island.

Twillingate, Newfoundland (Part of Iceberg Alley)

I went to Twillingate hoping to capture a fishing village scene but quickly realized this place was all about it's rugged coasts and stunning trails.

Iceberg off the coast of Twillingate, Newfoundland.

Iceberg off the coast of Twillingate, Newfoundland.

After a long drive, the first thing I captured was a large iceberg far in the distance which I enjoyed naming: Ice, Water & Vapor. By that time the day was basically gone and it was time for rest before hopefully seeing more icebergs and rugged coastline the next morning.

Frothy Water off the coast of Twillingate

Frothy Water off the coast of Twillingate

After exploring some trails, I was driving when I saw a large chunk of ice in the distance and decided to go try and get closer on foot.  Conveniently there was another set of trails which took me to high cliffs overlooking this bay where I was up close and personal with this iceberg who's progress had slowed due to more shallow waters. 

I sat in fluffy moss, the sun was shining, waves were crashing it was surreal.
Icebergs settle into a bay near Twillingate, Newfoundland.

Icebergs settle into a bay near Twillingate, Newfoundland.

After sitting in the moss peacefully enjoying the scene, my camera lens managed to find the only jagged rock sticking out from the moss when my tripod was sent flying to the ground.  It looks awful and it was but thankfully it was only the lens protector which had taken the impact and only a "thing" after all.

My first lens protector (B + W, MRC) casualty, lessons learned on how to ensure your tripod doesn't get blow over by wind.

My first lens protector (B + W, MRC) casualty, lessons learned on how to ensure your tripod doesn't get blow over by wind.

Fogo Island, Newfoundland

One of the places I was really interested in seeing was Fogo Island mainly due to the world class Fogo Island Inn (really a small hotel with a tone of local charm, world class cuisine and stunning backdrop) and art studios which attract many resident artists to the island.  The ferry ride over was nice, I got some intel from a local who gave me the places to see (not overly hard on an island of 5-6 small communities) but nonetheless very helpful.

As I drove around the Island waiting for the right light to capture the inn I came upon the furthest place on the island which was the small town of Tilting.  The below scene caught my eye. As I usually do, I parked, pulled out my camera, tripod etc and started shooting different compositions even before setting up my tripod, then once I got it, with and without filters. This is what I came up with and am happy with the look. It was interesting to find out later (when looking for other ideas or views of the town) that this is the famous: "Keefe’s Fishing Stage", one of the most photographed & painted scenes by artists of different genres over the years. Not very unique, I guess, (except for the fact that a bird flew and landed on the top of the hut for the entire length of my 35 second exposure!) but at least, perhaps, I was starting to see as an artist ;)

Keefe's Fishing Stage

Keefe's Fishing Stage

Next I wanted to see one of these famous art studios (which are off the grid, self sustainable and only accessible by foot).  I hiked (not accessible by car) to the Long Studio and although the light wasn't spectacular due to it being late afternoon, I still managed to capture it's essence in black and white.  Cool Eh?!

Long Studio, Fogo Island Inn.

Long Studio, Fogo Island Inn.

As the sun was beginning to fall, it was time to head over to the Todd Saunders Masterpiece.  I was fortunate that the sunset cooperated and I managed to get 2 very different feeling images of the often photographed Fogo Island Inn.  Which one do you like more?

Fogo Island Inn at Sunset

Fogo Island Inn at Sunset

10 minute exposure of Fogo Island Inn using Lee Filters Big Stopper.  The direction of the wind and light streaks made for a fun image.  Only thing better would have been if more lights were on in the Inn... but c'est la vie.

10 minute exposure of Fogo Island Inn using Lee Filters Big Stopper.  The direction of the wind and light streaks made for a fun image.  Only thing better would have been if more lights were on in the Inn... but c'est la vie.

To follow up these 2 shots which I really love, I literally woke up to this the next morning!  It was 15 minute minutes before sunrise and right before me was not only a FULL but PINK moon illuminating the waters of Joe Batt's Arm as fishermen left for sea.  Post card worthy? Perhaps but definitely a good way to end my time on this charming island.

Full and Pink Moon over Joe Batt's Arm Fogo Island

Full and Pink Moon over Joe Batt's Arm Fogo Island

Driving Update:

Annapolis Valley to Fogo Island another 30 hours + of beautiful driving.

Annapolis Valley to Fogo Island another 30 hours + of beautiful driving.

Bonavista, Newfoundland

Further east, I visited Bonavista known for it's icebergs, awesome coastline (Dungeon Provincial Park) and delicious places to eat such as the Bonavista Social Club (unfortunately closed when I was there) and Neil's Yard (MUST VISIT for awesome crepes, teas, lattes and awesome/kind/ worldly owners).

I spent a few hours there simply chatting with the owners and sampling their entire delicious and healthy menu, followed by the rest of my time taking pictures of the coast as sunset approached.

How's your view? Dungeon Provincial Park,

How's your view? Dungeon Provincial Park,

Killer Coast

Killer Coast

And finally why they call it Dungeon Provincial Park:

The Dungeon, Dungeon Provincial Park

Random Snippets of Nearly Abandoned Towns in Northern Newfoundland on the way to St John's:

St John's, Newfoundland

St John's was an amazing city which I just didn't get to see enough of due to timing.  I did the major things such as Signal hill, Cape Spear and Battery District but that's about it as I still had a tone of driving left to do in order to get all the way back west around the Avalon Peninsula, through Gros Morne again and up to L'Anse Aux Meadows (where the vikings originally landed in North America) followed by St Anthony where the Ferry would leave for Labrador the next morning..  I may not have got many pictures due to lighting and weather there but I'm certainly happy with the way the below turned out, although I'll admit I didn't have to do much, point my camera, play with composure.  Let the colorful scene do the rest.

The Battery, St John's

The Battery, St John's

If you want to be a better photographer, stand in front of more interesting stuff.
— Jim Richardson

Labrador, Canada (into the wild)

The only real nature picture I truly felt inclined to shoot (and not just take snapshots) in Labrador was the one below as I didn't have a tone of time during prime light (golden hour, blue hour, 45 mins before or after sunset and sunrise etc) due to my trip nearing it's end and many hours spent in the car.  My focus in Labrador was divided between admiring the wild/rugged landscape but mostly on staying inflated on the many many many kilometers of dirt/gravel roads.  I drove slowly, did my best to avoid the massive pot holes formed over the winter and stopped at every chance I could for gas which was often 300-400 kms apart.  Reception was sparse to none but thankfully a local suggested the free wifi located in road maintenance stations every couple hundred kilometers between towns.

The next time I felt inclined to pull out my camera was for a portrait of these 2 wonderful German travelers in their decked out Land Rover which had everything from a roof top fold away tent, bike rack, cabinets, a bed in the back, auxiliary heater etc.  I know them much better now that they've stayed with me a few days while passing through Toronto, but at the time I was totally inspired and drawn to pulling over into a lookout (which they had made their camp for the night) to interrupt their breakfast and chat for a good hour before exchanging e-mails and continuing on our ways.  Before I left I felt very inclined to invite them to our house for a few nights and to my and Jessica's joy they visied over father's day weekend, where we share tons of wonderful conversation, delicious food and a good relaxation.  They're journey to travel the world together in this vehicle is an inspiring one and I'd suggest you check out their blog.

We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us
— Anonymous

The drive home from Labrador went rather quickly and it gave me lots of time to reflect on how fortunate I had been throughout the trip.  I had beautiful weather 95% of the time, met awesome people, had world class national parks to myself, saw a handful of truly wild beings (although I was just a bit too early for whale season), never felt rushed, tried unique foods and got plenty of good photos to add to my portfolio along with plenty of practice for Iceland in a few weeks. 

The drive home along the northern shore of the St Lawrence in Quebec is stunning and I need to return one day to explore it's forests, farms, parks and wildlife in more depth along with an expedition to the Torngat Mountains (which are a whole other world in themselves) in Labrador for some serious mountaineering.  Overall the trip flew by and I really got into the flow of waking early, capturing moments, driving and running throughout the day, shooting more around sunset and getting to bed early which had been my intention all along.  I feel blessed to have this opportunity and have recharged just in time for my 10 days of photography and ultra marathoning in Iceland.

As I finish this ultra-marathon of a blog on my amazing past experiences, it's only fitting that I'm about to head out the door on 30km run!

Thanks for reading friends :)

Jeremie

Laugavegur  Ultra Marathon  is 55km ultra-marathon on beautiful terrain like this

Laugavegur Ultra Marathon is 55km ultra-marathon on beautiful terrain like this