Newfoundland Photography and Road Trip

Here is the final post of my three part series about shooting my way through the maritime provinces of Canada.  In part one, I talked about the first leg along the south coast of Nova Scotia.  Part two discussed PEI and the eastern section of Nova Scotia. This final chapter will show my Newfoundland photography and tell of our trip across this magnificent province.  Edit: This post ended up being much longer than planned!  I have a final post about St John’s and the quick return trip back across Newfoundland.

Now we have jumped on the ferry and landed in Canada’s easternmost province – the stunning island of Newfoundland!  There aren’t a lot of roads on Newfoundland, so the route from where the ferry docked in Channel-Port-aux-Basques to St John’s was clearly laid out for us.  It was just a matter of which side trips we might take.

Newfoundland Photography

We spent the first night in Channel-Port Aux Basques and took a short walk around the area near the hotel.  We saw rugged coastline and knew more than ever that this would be a great trip.  Add in an old train and the setting sun and we ready to shoot!

Click any image below to view it larger

Newfoundland Photography Green train at Port Aux Basques
A walk along the trail took us to the water, past the old train, out to an abandoned dock and finally to the ancient rocks that made up the shoreline.

fish skeleton on coast
After a fine dinner (no, I didn’t try the cod tongue) and the discovery of the Iceberg beer, we got a good night’s sleep and made our way east in the morning.

The drive began inland and we soon noticed that almost every creek, river or brook was picturesque area with rocks along the shore, crystal clear water and of course, trees in the background.

A brook in Newfoundland

We continued our drive up the coast and then landed at the Lobster Cove Head Lighthouse (built 1898) near the entrance to Gros Morne National Park.  The grounds and buildings were well worth the stop.  I was starting to love this Newfoundland Photography tour!

Lobster Cove Head Lighthouse and Signal Flags Newfoundland Photography

There’s a short, easy trail down to a viewpoint where you can look out over the ocean.

Lobster Cove Head Lighthouse Viewpoint

From the lighthouse, you can drive 18 minutes up the Viking Trail to get to the wreck of the SS Ethie. I thought a shipwreck on the rugged coastline would be worth checking out and really didn’t know what to expect. This stop ended up being a happy surprise. Rusted metal parts were strewn about the rocky shoreline.  Read more about the wreck (and the hero dog!).  Here’s a gallery of images from the spot.

From the wreck we continued up the coast up to Cow Head (because you just have to visit a town with an odd name sometimes).  We then retraced our route back down the Viking Trail and stopped to see some of the mountain range and fjords that surround Western Brook Pond.  We tried to get a boat tour of the area, but they were sold out.

Western Brook Pond (in the background, not the small one in the front)

We found a room at Rocky Harbour and booked a boat tour that departed Norris Point. Below is a favourite shots that shows the varied landscape of Newfoundland which always seems to be around the next corner.

Norris Point Newfoundland Photography

We had dinner in Norris Point and had some time to explore the dock area.  Here’s a gallery that shows what I found.

And now it was time for the harbour cruise. A beautiful night, amazing scenery, live music, beer and really just a perfect night to relax after a few days of driving. At the end of the tour we were officially “Screeched In” with a very formal presentation.

Here’s a rough video I shot that captures the sights and sounds (live music!) of the boat tour:

And finally, a photo of Steve and me after completing our “Screech In” ceremony with our Captain – we’re now officially Newfys!

After the Screech In ceremoney - Newfoundland Photography

Driving East

After the great boat tour and more Newfoundlander hospitality back at the hotel, we headed over to the east coast.  Our first main stop was in Gander. We stopped first at the great flight museum (North Atlantic Aviation Museum) and then again for a photo op at the Gander airport where our family would have first set foot in Canada.

We left Gander and made it to Bonavista. We had hoped to stay here, but the town was booked solid. Although it rained some of the way there, and most of the way out of town, the skies were kind during our stop and we were able to get some images of the docks and lighthouse.

Bonnevista Newfoundland Docks and fishing boats

From Bonavista we drove through the only hard rain of the trip and made our way towards St John’s and stopped in Clarenville for the night.

Whale Watching in Bulls Bay Newfoundland

The only “must do” item on this trip for me was whale watching. Today was the day. We left Clarenville early to make it out to Bulls Bay for our afternoon whale watching tour with Captain Wayne.  We arrived early and explored the area a little before meeting up and getting aboard.

One of the great things about wildlife photography is the unpredictability of the animals. One of the worst things about wildlife photography is the unpredictability of the animals. How does this apply to whale watching?  I had all summer to think about camera settings and which lenses to use.  I had ample opportunity to look at the classic images of whales breaching and exposing their tail flukes.  In other words, I had built up an experience which reality could never have matched (especially with my luck!). 

We were in Newfoundland during a perfect time for whale watching, which is usually the opposite when I travel.  We had seen some whales while touring, but now we would see them up close.  Captain Wayne had scouted the area and knew where we would find some humpback whales. There were some feeding in a nearby bay.  It was unlikely that we would see any in the open water (where they have room to breach and dive), but they were being very active while feeding near the shore.

Still, there was always a chance as the tour went on that some might be spotted out in deeper water and off we went.  We were able to see several whales up close and witnesses an amazing spectacle of humpback whales feeding.  It was truly a magical time.

A final thought about whale watching tours: Do your research.  After reading countless reviews and researching online, I went with a smaller company and it really paid off.  We were on a small boat with a total of 10 people.  Our captain was knowledgeable and respectful regarding the animals.  While we were out, we saw a larger tour boat come back with three different groups.  The whale tour took us past some magnificent rock formations as well as an island full of puffins. Due to the windy conditions, the water was very choppy and we agreed with the captain’s decision not to risk death trying to get too close to the birds.  We saw a lot of birds, but the water was too rough for good photos this time out.

After the tour, we drove to St John’s, where we would be staying for a few days and spend more time walking than driving. What we noticed in Newfoundland is that you can’t drive very far without seeing something scenic worth stopping for.  Between Bay Bulls and St John’s is the small village of Petty Harbour.

On the Road to St John’s

Petty Harbour is a great example of a small maritime fishing village.  Photo opportunities abound. Here’s a few images from Petty Harbour. A nice thing about shooting a fishing village is that they are usually small, flat and easy to walk around – but you need to be aware of local traffic that don’t always look for photographers.

From Petty Harbour, we headed to St John’s – but again found a new spot to photograph.   We’ll make it to St John’s one day!  This stop was at Cape Spear, the most easterly point in North America. More rugged coastline, a lighthouse and just your typically amazing Newfoundland photography stop! We spent a lot of time here and again saw some whales out in the distant waters.

Newfoundland Photography - Red chairs and a lighthouse

Cape Spear is also home to the remnants of a World War 2 Battery which gave me some more options when composing scenes.

Cape Spear Newfoundland Lighthouse - Newfoundland Photography

Now that I’ve written this post about Newfoundland Photography and I still haven’t arrived in St John’s, I think that I might need one more post.  I’ll start a new post about St John’s and then I should be done for this epic trip. Stay tuned!

Thank you for reading and viewing my photos.  If you have any comments about the photos or the trip, please leave them below or email me at Art@ArtWhitton.com

  • Art


7 responses to “Newfoundland Photography and Road Trip”

  1. Cindy says:

    I want to go now!!!

  2. Leah says:

    I think visiting the Maritimes is on every Canadian’s must see list. You’ve captured it’s essence beautifully … I can’t wait to see it in person.

  3. Steve says:

    And you wanted to go to the desert……..

    No whales in the desert.

  4. […] in August 2016. I’ve previously written about Nova Scotia, PEI and eastern Nova Scotia, traveling through Newfoundland and now complete the journey with this look at St John’s Newfoundland and a quick look at the […]

  5. Sally says:

    Beautiful photos! Cool whale shots.

  6. Bill Robbins says:

    lovely, beautiful, breathtaking photos Mr Whitton; thank you for sharing your vision with me

  7. […] posts for this trip to break things up a little.  See Part 2 (Nova Scotia & PEI) – Part 3 (Newfoundland) – Part 4 (St John’s […]

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