A fellow photographer friend of mine once described me as a "run and gun" shooter. He meant that when I photograph landscapes, I capture them as they happen. I didn't take offence to this, as many careers were spawned from this style of photography. Photo journalists, sports photographers, and everyday citizens who were lucky enough to capture historic events would all be classified as "run and gun". Think about the most memorable photographs in modern human history - almost every one of those photographers just happened to be at the right place at the right time.
His labelling of my style got me thinking, I'm more than that. It made me feel like a lazy photographer. I began seeking out situations and landscapes that were planned ahead of time. Instead of capturing the then and now, I was aiming to create the scene. I recalled what I learned but had long forgotten because I had just stopped doing it. I went with the purpose of adding artificial lighting, using a neutral density filter, and slowing my shutter speed way down. I sought out waterfalls, raging oceans, and moving objects in order to engage my fine art abilities. My tripod goes with me more often than it does not, as I am now planning the outcome of how the finished product will look in the end.
In a way, I take the moniker of "run and gun" as a compliment. Often times, I find the most interesting photograph doesn't really have a subject matter. Sometimes it's what's going on behind the scenes that draws me in because nothing was planned. Having a good eye to know when to document what's transpiring right now is an art form in itself. It may not be as technically challenging, but you have to be quick, you have to be ready as events unfold.
I would classify my friend as a fine art photographer. His work is beautiful. HDR shooting at it's finest. His shots are well thought out and well executed. His subject matter is spot on. But with this style, comes patience and skill, especially in the final edit. Unfortunately, I sometimes don't have the time, nor the patience to sit and wait for that perfect shot. Full respect for the effort though.
If I find myself going out in nature without much of a plan, I will sometimes set my camera to Aperture Priority. Why? Because I need to be ready quickly. I can still adjust my ISO and exposure based on the ambient lighting, but the camera has to prioritize a fine depth of field and a fast shutter for those times when I see an animal, for example. In these situations, AP is a baseline mode to get me to the finish line in a hurry. A starting point if you will. If I know that I have to be quick in getting an image of a startled bear or an eagle flying overhead, then my aperture is usually locked down and my shutter speed is high.
After all, it's the finished product that truly matters, not how you got there.
Fogo Island is unique unto itself. When you arrive, you know you're in Newfoundland, but there is something different. Call it a vibe, call it a sense of pride. Whatever it is, Fogo Islanders are distinctly proud. They each own a piece of this beautiful bit of the World and you can tell. Unlike some places (that will go unnamed), folk here welcome tourists. Tourism dollars are well spent on the island, with numerous accommodations and eateries that range from modest to luxurious. I suppose the fact that there's a lengthy drive to get to Fogo, combined with a ferry ride, residents of this tiny island probably appreciate the effort. The people of Fogo are, unsurprisingly, some of the nicest you'll meet anywhere. Fortunately for visitors, this cliche holds truer than almost anywhere else on the planet.
This pride of ownership is evident in Fogo's extensive trail systems. For the novice to the expert, there is something for everyone. One such trail that really stood out to us was the Lion's Den trail. This 4.2 kilometer jaunt wasn't particularly difficult, but where it goes is what makes it special.
The trail is named after one of four of it's resettled communities along the shoreline. Each of the four were formed because of the bountiful fishing grounds just offshore. Many communities in out port Newfoundland like these were relocated in the early 1900's, as sustaining life proved to be too difficult to justify. Homes were abandoned, others were towed by boat to neighbouring towns. Lock's Cove, Eastern Tickle, Shoal Tickle, and of course, Lion's Den were all deserted in favour of an easier life elsewhere.
The start of the trail features the Marconi Interpretation Station, where wireless transmissions were sent all over the province in order to aide fisherman and communities. It was the second site to receive a distress call from the Titanic.
Eastern Tickle, pictured above, was the largest of the four towns. This was a bustling community from the mid 1800's until the last house was floated to Fogo a hundred years later. There was a school, a fish plant, and at it's height, a population totaling about 107. Embedded rock pathways are still evident, as well as dugouts where houses once sat.
Shoal Tickle, being the smallest of the four communities, was first to be abandoned. The last residents here left in the 1930's. To me, this is nicest area along the route to live, if it were now a choice to make. You can see the Fogo Island Inn in the background.
The walk to the Lion's Den, where the most remote community bearing the same name was located.
Remnants of the past can still be found if you look hard enough.
The trail is very well built and maintained. It features a lot of boardwalks, steps, and clear pathways. Look out for foxes, as there was a lot of evidence of them being there (poop!).
Summiting Lane's Lookout is a worthwhile side track for 360 degree views.
Looking down at the town of Fogo in all its autumn glory.
Enjoying a bottle of red after an afternoon of exploring and taking a hundred photos.
The hike back down from the look out.
The last stretch of the loop as the light was fading
It isn't a long hike, but it does tax the legs a little. Take water if its hot, red wine if it's any other temperature.
The last time I visited Bell Island was a distant memory - over thirty years ago. It was long
enough that I can not specifically recall what I did nor where I went. Whatever it was, the
memory didn’t stick with me. I was far too young to appreciate what it had to offer. For my wife Johanna, a British Columbian born and raised, exploring most parts of Newfoundland is a new and exciting experience.
I knew the beauty that the bay island possessed. I grew up across the water in Conception Bay South. Seldom trips in my father’s twenty-foot skiff to the Belle’s shoreline left me in awe and wonderment. One hundred meter sheer shale cliffs with an abundance of secret coves and the occasional cave was not seen on the docile shores of Manuels.
Johanna and I jumped at the opportunity to explore Bell Island on the last day of summer.
Coinciding with our island hike was the decision to bring along food and make the experience more memorable.
We opted to participate in My Food Hike, a promotion by Roots, Rants and Roars that encourages people to share their hiking experience along with a trail side picnic. Fortunately, there are fifteen restaurants who are on board supplying packed lunches for us wandering souls. We chose the nice people at Rocket Bakery to fuel us on our hike. They offer a choice of kale & toasted almond salad, or, pasta & veggie salad with ranch dressing as a starter. The main consists of a chicken club with charred red onions and bacon, or, homemade hummus & veggie sandwich. Homemade lemonade and a ginger molasses cookie completes the meal. Everything is packaged nicely into a Roots, Rants and Roars insulated backpack - yours to keep! In addition, RRR has generously supplied a hiking playlist and is available for download on Spotify.
Getting to the ferry terminal from almost anywhere is an easy task. In our case, twenty minutes from downtown St. John’s was all it took. Get on Portugal Cove Road from the city core and within minutes, you’re at the port. Taking the ferry is a painless excursion as well. We departed Portugal Cove on the ferry, Beaumont Hamel, and a twenty-minute sailing (and several photos) later, arrived at our island destination.
While on Bell Island, you can easily explore the area on it’s two main routes - Lance Cove Road and Middleton Avenue. Both run most of the length of the island. We chose to go along the southern shore from Memorial street, which turns into Nish Jackman drive, which then turns into Lance Cove Road. We came to the end of the route at a short dirt road called Bell Road. There we found two gated dirt paths which allowed us to reach the feature that gives the island its name - The Bell.
Johanna and I chose the grassy trail that runs parallel to the cliff’s edge. On this approximately one kilometer path, you will think you’re on a different part of the planet. We didn’t get too close to the edge, but the views here are unrivaled almost anywhere. The drop is a straight down, one hundred meter fall to the rocky shore, so we kept safely back from the precipice.
We can see part of the upside down bell in the distance. After meandering our way through tall grass and moist ground, we arrive at our picnic site overlooking the almost surreal looking rocky outcropping.
Rocket Bakery’s trail side meal offerings are refreshing and light, perfect for destination hiking.
How fortunate are we to have these views?
Good views and good food goes best with good company.