Atlantic Bubble


Covid 19 has really thrown a wrench into many vacation plans, if not much more. Personally I didn't have any trips planned for the year, maybe just a short road trip here and there. Nova Scotia and the Atlantic provinces did a good job of reducing the spread of the virus. As travel restrictions were slowly lifted, it expanded into the whole Atlantic provinces in the creation of the "Atlantic Bubble". There was now free travel between the Atlantic provinces, once registered and criteria were met. This still didn't have a bearing, on my plans until offered the use of a cabin on Prince Edward Island, a gesture from extended family. The offer was quickly accepted on and a trip was planned in short order.

I only have memories of going to PEI once before, in fact I proposed on that trip! I do remember being on the New Brunswick coast and seeing the the Confederation bridge under construction,  somewhere between 1993 and 1997. That said, not being near PEI for sometime I always knew it wasn't far, especially compared to some of the distances traveled up north at about 3 hours.

I had a few photos I wanted to capture;

-The Confederation Bridge with a long exposure shot in the blue hour √
-a long exposure of Sand Dunes with blurred water and clouds of a sunset √
-A long exposure of Teacup Rock a sea stack on the north shore X

My first shot on the trip was of the Confederation Bridge. It was just past noon so the sun was high in the sky, it was bright and washing out the clouds. I started shooting from the Marine Rail Park just on the PEI side. After shooting a panoramic I moved to try and get my long exposure shot despite lacking the colours of a sunset. With the use of a neutral density filter I let the shutter go for a shot over 5 minutes. There was a decent amount of wind, creating enough movement in both the clouds and the water. After examining the image on the back of the camera I could tell it was blurry. I was disappointed as I was using my 85mm prime and shouldn't have had any issues in with the wind. Now if it was my 600mm, it would make more sense. There wasn't very much colour in the image and when moving it to black and white I still liked it, even if it was not sharp. It gave it an eerie feel, albeit a sharpe image would have been better.

I looked for another place to shoot the bridge from, it appeared the tide was low. I navigated down the embankment of large rocks and made my way to the closest pier column that evidence would suggest is cut off by the water at a higher tide. Positioned next to one of the massive supports I shot down the length of the bridge, just off alignment enough to see part of each column before it turns back into the frame. I dropped the shutter speed to 15 seconds, to avoid any blurry issues like I had before, but still able to blur the motion of the water somewhat.

A feature of PEI I always remembered were the sand dunes, but it had been awhile since I had seen them in person. The dunes themselves are off limits to protect the sensitive ecosystem, knowing this, but forgetting how far away from the water they actually were. It was going to be harder to find what I had envisioned. I also tried another longer exposure and again it was blurry. Knowing that I wasn't going to get what I was going for, I moved to another subject; Covehead Harbour Lighthouse. A nice lighthouse minutes from where we were staying nestled in the sand dunes and grass blowing in the wind made for a nice scene. It took a bit to find the right location where I could eliminate other human elements from the frame, such as all the signage and ropes to keep people off the dunes. I found a spot on the beach just behind the lighthouse and with the use of my telephoto lens I was able to isolate the lighthouse with the elements I was looking for. The sun had set behind me and in the blue hour was able to capture the colours against the only clouds in the sky, luckily enough for me they were in my scene. The slightly longer exposure of two and a half seconds blurred the grass blowing in the breeze for a nice calming effect to the image.

I was able to shoot this location again with the only night with clouds (at sunset). I tucked close to the sand dunes outside of the restricted areas, to protect from the wind and I was able to get a nice long exposure. The panorama I tried although I like, is overexposed.

A trip to Basin Head Beach was part of our adventure to the east side of the island. After seeing a shot from a friend who had recently ventured there themselves, it was added to the beaches to explore. I should have done some research ahead of time as the image I hoped to shoot was impossible as it was only visible with the tide out. Vibrant green seaweed on rocks with a PEI red cliff above it. I could see the green seaweed moving in the waves below the surface. After hauling all the equipment down, looked for another subject to shoot on the white sand beach. I played around with capturing the waves receding down the sand and back into the water after a wave rolled up the beach. Using a ND filter and a cable shutter release, I opened the shutter for half a second just as the wave reached it's highest point on the beach. This is where shooting a lot will help catch that one nice image and throw away all of the ones where the movement isn't captured perfectly. In this case there were 17 throwaways to capture the keeper and what I was looking for in the shot. After packing up the camera, the rest of the afternoon was spent in the water on a nice beach. When the tide going out, there was a tiny lazy river feature with the water flowing out of an inlet between the beaches.

The trip out to see the Teacup Rock was a misadventure for two reasons. We weren't able to get to see it. Any roadway that would have got you close, were private. The public approach would have been from Thunder Cove Beach and shy of a kilometre walk along the beach. Sounds like a nice time, but the kids were not having any of it, and the fact that it was epically hot in the middle of a heat wave didn't help matters. Next time I guess.

After returning on a biking trip one evening that was uneventful from a photography perspective. I wanted to venture into Brackley further then we did on our first beach day there. I went with my son and the headwind proved too difficult for him and we turned back. A few 100 feet away from being back at the cabin was a fox coming down a driveway. We stopped as did the fox. I slowly got my camera out, but the fox wasn't going to stick around. I was only able to shoot it as it was walking away. Over the years I have gathered quite the collection of animal behinds! I slowly followed hoping the mostly black fox would allow me to get closer. That wasn't the case. I had ventured some distance from where we stopped, I returned to find my son carrying my gear bag and walking the two bikes. I shouldn't have got a picture of that, but decided to relive him of the heavy weight. It wasn't until seeing the images on the computer I realized that the fox had supper in his mouth, a mouse or mole of some kind.

It turns out the following day I saw the same fox who must have a den in the area. Going up the same path, following again and focusing on him in the distance I was caught off guard as another red fox came out from under a shed not far from me and the two played together for a bit before running off. I was even able to capture a unique 8 legged creature. Do you know what it is? It must have a hell of a time getting places!

I'm pretty picky when it comes to seafood, but fish is chips is one of my go tos for fast food meals if I'm not getting fried chicken or a burger. Very close to the Covehead Harbour lighthouse was Richard's, a seafood place that was highly recommend and close to where we were staying. Reached with a bike trip it for an early supper it was worth the trek. Although not a dine in place there is seating around. Later passing the place on a weekend we realized how lucky we were with the much shorter lineup we had on a weekday.

We also ventured into Charlottetown for some seafood. The Chinese restaurant the proposal was made at was no longer in business or else supper would have been had there. The Water Prince Corner Shop was were we ended up, a small dine in spot that you wouldn't think had a large menu kitchen from the outside. Again haddock fish and chips was my meal of choice and some of the best I have had to date.

Most of the sunset were cloudless, those rolled in later when I considered shooting the Milky Way of course. On my general to do list of shots is to catch a rolling waves with some cooler toned colours of a sunset, I may need to go to Hawaii to get that one with much bigger waves. Instead I played with a little intentional camera movement (ICM). Using a slightly longer exposure, in this case just under a second, the camera ins panned while the shutter is open. It created a neat texture in in the less than rolling waves.

Soon the short trip came to a close and we were once again crossing the Confederation Bridge this time it was nearing the sunset. Without an Allen key to fix my tripod as I learned my ball head attachment was slightly loose. I was now limited in my shutter length, what helped in reducing the disappointment of not being able to capture my shot was there again there were no clouds. Shoot from a trail on the NB side that heads to the Cape Jourimain Lighthouse. Not heading out all the way there was a boardwalk down to the beach, but first I needed to shoot the bunny that was in the path before shooting a panoramic of the Confederation Bridge. The sun was already not well below the horizon.

Next Adventure, Cape Breton Island with the fall colours?