Exploring Nova Scotia - Cape Split

The trail into Cape Split is well maintained, groomed and subjected to heavy traffic all summer long.  It's also challenging, largely uphill (heading in) and about 6km one way which makes it a great challenge while toting a camera bag full of gear.  The big question: is it worth it? 

In a word: Yes.

The views at the end are other-worldly, a phrase I've been using more and more often to describe Nova Scotia's incredible scenery.  Situated on the Bay of Fundy, Cape Split is subjected to tides that rise and fall as much as 10m every 6 hours.  Combined with the landscape, this has led to erosion and striking rocky formations that beg to be photographed.  My weapons of choice for this trip were all film - a Nikon 35TI loaded with some Fuji 400H and the Hasselblad (Which I saved for the end) loaded with Tri-X. 

It's worth mentioning that our excursion started just in time for us to catch the sunset at the end of the trail, so our walk back to the car was even trickier as we picked our way along the trail in near-complete darkness (with the help of a few flashlights).  I do not recommend this but unfortunately as photographers we often find ourselves in challenging situations in the pursuit of great lighting.....

Photos below, thanks to Scott Blackburn (@Scottophoto) and Jerry Lynds (@realtygeek)

Exploring Sambro Island

Sambro Island is a pretty remarkable place.  Home of North America's oldest operational lighthouse, an entire flock of territorial seagulls and several run-down and abandoned buildings, it has stood guard at the very tip of the Halifax harbour since before the American Revolutionary War.   

While tours are normally not conducted, once a year the Nova Scotia Lighthouse Preservation Society organizes an open-house day run by volunteers and semi-retired fisherman out of Sambro Head.  I happened to have some time to go explore the island with some friends (Shout out to @Scottophoto and @realtygeek on Instagram!). 

 

The photo below shows a view of the island (in the bottom left quadrant of the image, you'll have to squint) as it can be seen from Crystal Crescent on a clear day. 

Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) Event in Nova Scotia

Sometimes when I find myself in a bit of a rut creatively, I get out and shoot something that I normally leave to more capable photographers.  A lot of the time that's street photography since it helps me exercise my eye looking for shapes, lines, patterns etc.  Last night however, I decided to try to capture the unique weather event we had, the Aurora Borealis.  

My wife and I packed into the car and took a drive to the northern side of Nova Scotia to increase our chances (so we thought).  We met up with Chris Briand, a fellow Sackville photo club member at Burncoat Head, a little park with a lighthouse and a vast beach on the Bay of Fundy, home to the world's highest tides.   The sky was very dark and you could clearly see the milky way.  It made for some interesting shots like this one:

But we were here for the borealis.  The northern lights.  We headed to the beach to get a different vantage point.  We were fortunate that the tide was on its way out until about 2am, so the  beach, while muddy and a bit wet, was still safe to explore.  We started to spot the lights streaking upward into the sky, seeming to originate from a halo on the horizon.  To the naked eye it was almost a mirage.  To the camera, there was something special going on.

I'm glad that I had a lens wider than my 35mm, but even more glad for the prime lenses with a focus scale.  as long as I was over 2 meters away from my point of interest I could set the lens to infinity and the whole show was in focus.  And boy, what a show.

We had two major waves of the lights, they seemed to die out a bit and then came back.  After about 11pm they were finished, and the moon was coming up.  I still had a few more photos that I wanted to get, including some more milky way shots.  The last time I was out I had a great deal of difficulty getting good focus on this kind of shot, so I'm pleased with the results. 

Once the moon was up the whole beach lit up.  I took the opportunity to make use of the fill light and capture the "island" on the beach. 

And of course, once I had a couple good borealis shots, and checked my focus, I turned the camera around and got a picture or two of my fellow photographer Chris, working away on his photos. 

It was well worth the hour and fifteen minute drive to get out of the city and experience the magic of a clear night sky.  I recommend it whether you're a photographer or not; it's very very cool.  

More portraits are coming soon!  Cheers!

*EDIT:  WOW.  I have been overwhelmed with the incredible response from people liking, sharing and commenting on my photos.  Please feel free to contact me if you want a print!