Monday, September 3, 2012

Edge of the Wild
Travels in Western Newfoundland, Part 3

Summer evenings in Newfoundland are long, and get noticeably longer the further north one goes.  Even in the southernmost area the sky is still light well after 10:00 pm in July.  Our first night was in a beautiful area called the Codroy Valley, about 30 miles (55km) from Port aux Basques. It is a verdant landscape with taller, fuller trees than is unusual in much of Newfoundland.  We arrived at the aptly named "Majestic View Cabins" at the northwestern end of the valley at twilight.  Although we were bone tired from a long day and the excitement of the ferry ride, we settled in on the porch of our nicely-appointed cabin and watched the moon rise across the Codroy River, over the Mountains.  It was a mystical time and place. 

Moonrise over the Codroy River and the Long Range Mountains
 The next morning was no less mystical, as we arose to a crystal clear day, but across the water the mountains lay shrouded in a spectacular, undulating bank of fog that alternately hid and revealed the scene as we watched. I finally got a chance to try a few panorama shots with the new Nodal Ninja pan head that I'd gotten in time for this trip, but the mist was changing so quickly that stitching later proved to be tricky.

Morning mist on the mountains across the Codroy River
 Take heed prospective travelers to Newfoundland: ten days is not nearly enough time to explore even just the western side of the province.  Starting that morning a new theme of the journey began to appear.  We did not have enough time to linger long in any one place.

With only half a day for sightseeing here we headed for the village of Codroy itself, and the Cape Anguille lighthouse, the picturesque westernmost lighthouse in Newfoundland. It lies nestled on a flat area between the base of a high, steep, treeless hill and the sea, a traditional sight in this area - a tall white tower topped with a red-roofed enclosure for the rotating light.
Cape Anguille Lighthouse
 There seems to be a brilliance to the air in northern climes that is seldom seen further south, and traveling photographers in the Canadian Maritimes should try to take advantage of this phenomenon. Although sunrises and sunsets still provide ideal conditions for many situations here, mid-day shooting has its own rewards. The combination of the crystal clear air on a sunny day and a polarizer to enhance color and contrast bring out the deep blues and greens of sea, sky and vegetation.  I also find a graduated neutral density filter to be invaluable when trying to keep both dark water and bright sky under control.  Even in situations where the filter isn't practical, I am often amazed at the detail that I can salvage from bright areas using Adobe Lightroom's highlight slider.  Note that this technique only works when shooting in raw mode as opposed to shooting jpegs.

The strong mid-day contrasts on a sunny day, along with the famously bright painted colors of boats and buildings, makes for interesting black and white photography as well.  For some reason I was drawn to the idea of capturing the semi-abandoned fishing boats at the Codroy marina in black and white. I shoot everything in color even when I intend the final product to be black and white, and then convert it using Lightroom, which allows individual colors to be manipulated as tones in black and white.  This scene struck me as especially poignant, as the boats are a remnant of the once proud and now very limited Newfoundland fishing industry.

Fishing boats in the town of Codroy
From here we headed back to the main highway and turned north again.  Next up: the amazingly beautiful and largely "undiscovered" Humber Arm and the Bay of Islands.

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