martes, 2 de julio de 2013

Photographing Newfoundland - Part III Twillingate and Gros Morne National Park

by Dr. Robert Berdan 

After leaving the Ferry in Farewell and visiting Fogo island (Photographing Newfoundland Part II), we drove to Twillingate, also referred to as Iceberg alley. We arrived several hours later and our first thoughts were about food. We stopped at a small fish and chip shop shown below and we had one of the best meals on our trip. Our next concern was finding a place to stay and use as our base while we explored the area for a few days. We found a hotel that overlooks the bay called Anchor Inn - abit expensive but it offered an efficiency unit with two separate bedrooms with a porch overlooking the bay. After unloading some of our gear we set about exploring the Twillingate area and visiting some of the boat tour operators. 


Fish and Chip restaurant near the entrance to Twillingate served the best fish and chips I had on the island. There is no name on the restaurant, but you can't miss it if you drive into Twillingate and turn left - its right across from a school and public library (JM Olds Collegiate) on main street. It's not a fancy place but the service was great and the food great. 


Owner and cook showed us some fresh caught Lobsters. While the locals recommended J & J Restaurant on main street we found this was the best restaurant in Twillingate to eat in or take out. Few places were open early in the morning for breakfast though our hotel served a continental breakfast. 

Cooked plate of Lobsters


My favorite meal was Fish (Cod) and Chips, my friend Kamal preferred fresh Lobster. An important part of visiting any new place is sampling the food and Newfoundland is known for its fresh seafood. 

Durrel's Arm near Twillingate

Houses next to French Beach near Twillingate


Abandoned Root Cellar in the side of a hill in Twillingate. For more information about root cellars in Twillingate visit this web site www.twillingate.com/toseedo/root-cellars Root cellars were used to store vegetables. 

Twillingate East side of the Bay

Cover across from French Beach near Twillingate

Iceberg Man Boat Tours in Twillingate - even though there was only two of us they were kind enough to take us out.


In the boat with Iceberg man tours my friend Kamal Varma talks with local expert "Burt" , with Captain Cecil Stockley at the helm and we learn about the history of the Twillingate area while touring the bay. On the tour we saw a bald eagle nest and a variety of seabirds. Visit their web site:www.icebergtours.ca/the-iceberg-man

Eagles nest on the cliff below the Longpoint Lighthouse



Iceberg estimated to be about 12 miles offshore that I photographed from the lighthouse. Unfortunately we could not
stay longer to see if it would come closer to town - but at least we we did see one in iceberge alley (300 mm +1.5X Teleconverter).

Staging building and dock in Hart's Cove, Twillingate

Auk island Winery and Gift Shop - you can taste a variety of Wines or pick up some souvenirs. Visit their web site here.

Durrell's Arm with French Beach on the far side - near Twillingate

Interesting Dock near French Beach

Durrel's Arm with French Beach on the far side of the picture.

We explored this hiking trail for a short distance near French Beach - a series of floats for lobster traps is just visible along the shore line. We had spectacular weather while in Twillingate.

Guillesport near Twillingate on a sunny "Postcard" type day.

Gillesport Near Twillingate - see spherical panorama below from the center dock.

Long Point Lighthouse in Twillingate in the early evening


Fishing stage in Durrell's Arm near Twillingate. A fishing stage is a wooden vernacular building, typical of the rough traditional buildings associated with the cod fishery in Newfoundland, Canada. Stages are located at the water's edge or "landwash", and consist of an elevated platform on the shore with working tables and sheds at which fish are landed and processed for salting and drying. Traditionally, they are painted with a red ochre paint, though colours other than red are sometimes seen (source Wikipedia) .

Sunset on the West Coast side near Crow Head Twillingate

Twillingate East side around sunset photographed with a 300 mm lens from the opposite side of the bay.

We spent several days in Twillingate and although our hopes of seeing an iceberg up close were not to be had it is a beautiful place. On our last night while my friend enjoyed a cigarette around 10:30 pm on our hotel deck, we say a bright red light in the sky that resembled a flame, but it moved slowly - a UFO! I ran to grab my binoculars to get a better look, but when I returned the object disappeared. I am not sure what it was, but I am guessing it was some space junk that entered the atmosphere and burn't up. We still had several days left to explore Newfoundland so the obvious thing was for us to keep driving and visit Gros Morne National park on the west side of Newfoundland.

Gros Morne National Park


At the entrance of Gros Morne National Park I purchased a season pass - I already own one but I left it at home. It was overcast and raining lightly the day we arrived and we saw no wildlife on our fist day. When we arrived in Rocky Harbour we searched for places to stay and decided to stay at Cozy Corner cottages for $119 per night. There were other waterfront cottages with prices starting at $179, but we were just a short walk from the beach and we had everything we needed. The main street and beach in Rocky Harbour seemed to cater to summer tourists. We found a nice place to eat dinner that also opened early for breakfast. After settling in we decided to start exploring the park by driving north on highway 430 along the coast to Cow Head. The ocean was on our left and tundra and a high plateau on our right. The scenery was nice but not spectacular, though we did photograph a moose and a caribou alongside the road the next day. Along the shoreline we photographed some cabins with lobster traps, rocks and seaweed and on the tundra I stopped to photograph some wildlflowers. I had wanted to photograph a skunk cabbage which I found, but at the time was more interested in photographng the caribou that was appraoching us.

Rocky Harbour Gros Morne National Park (14-24 mm lens at 14 mm) - evening light with oncoming storm clouds.

Closeup view of boats in Rocky Harbour on a calm morning


A variety of seaweeds washed up on the beach North of Rocky Harbour. I was attracted to the subtle colours and textures. Early on in my science career I did a science project on seaweed and recognized several species of Fucus sp, Ascophyllum sp and Chondrus crispus that grow in the intertidal zone. Some species like Chondrus crispus (red algae) are used commercially to produce emulsifiers in ice cream and beer. 

Bog Orchids in one of the many small ponds along the highway in Gros Morne National Park.

Lilly pads in a pond on the tundra next to highway 430.

Berry Head on the Gulf of the St. Lawrence River Gros Morne National Park. The coast line is covered in small stunted everygreen trees called Tucamores.


Tour boats take visitors to the end of Western Brook Pond. To get to the boats there is a short 3 km easy hike to the boat dock. The steep fiord is famous for the picture of hikers on the top edge looking down the valley - unfortunately getting access to that location requires a special permit, a guide and involves some overnight camping. It was very windy on the day we took our boat ride.

3 km pathway from the highway to Western Brook Pond and the boat dock where the tours operate from.

Cliffs form a deep fiord on Western Brook Pond a fresh water lake in Gros Morne National Park.

Boat passengers returning from Western Brook Pond (Newfoundland term for lake). The trip takes about one hour tour and costs $60. Due to strong cold winds coming off the water everyone is dressed in warm hats and coats. .

Moose spotted next to highway 430 near Sally's Cove Gros Morne National Park. We saw a total of 5 moose on our visit to Newfoundland. I also noticed two locations along the highway where they had moose detectors set up.


Caribou spotted in field next to the highway near Sally's Cove. this Caribou got up and walked toward us to within
4 meters (20 feet) before veering off. We were standing in the field watching and photographing him as he approached us, probably curious to see what we were. The animal was shedding its fur for the oncoming summer weather. 

Pine Grosbeak (Pinicola enucleator) photographed along the road to Berry Hill in Gros Morne National Park.


Above is snowshoe hare (Lepus americanus), an introduced species in Newfoundland that I found next to our cabin in Rocky Harbour. Arctic hare (Lepus arcticus) can be seen on the Long Range traverse and on Gros Morne Mountain. Arctic hares in Newfoundland are the southernmost in the world, and have the lowest reproductive potential of any hare or rabbit in the world- one litter per year with an average of three young! Because of their low numbers, restricted habitat, and low reproduction rate, the park monitors these animals closely (source http://www.pc.gc.ca/pn-np/nl/grosmorne/natcul/natcul3.aspx#a5). 

Norris Point in evening light.

Norris Point next to the Boone Bay Marine Station - the marine station is worth a visit to learn more about the aquatic life.

Norris Point evening with oncoming storm clouds (70-200 mm lens)

Birchy Head photographed from Norris Point with 300 mm lens - you can see the Tablelands in the background. We saw Minke whales in the bay while enjoying lunch one afternoon in Birchy Head.


Highway 431 from Wittondale to Trout River passes through sheltered forests of the Lomond River valley. The terrain on the left is referred to as the Tablelands. The Tablelands are a slice of ancient ocean floor and is one of the best examples of exposed mantle material in the world. Near the top we could see snow patches. The Tablelands are made up of Peridotite which lacks the usual nutrients required to sustain plant life, hence its barren appearance. The rock is low in calcium, high in magnesium, and has toxic amounts of heavy metals. Peridotite is also high in iron, which accounts for its brownish colour (source http://www.heritage.nf.ca/environment/table.html). 

Socks and gloves for sale in Trout River, Gros Morne National Park


Photographer (Kamal Varma) stands in front of Rocky Harbour Gros Morne National Park to take a picture of the sunset. We watched and photographed this spectacular sunset from about 9 pm to about 9:40 pm - I was hoping to see and photograph the rare green flash that is sometimes seen when the sun dips below the horizon - but it wasn't to be. Learn more about the Green flash on Wikipedia ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_flash).

In conclusion, visiting Newfoundland was something I really looked forward to for some time and it exceeded my expectations. Sure I would have like to some icebergs close to shore at sunrise or sunset, but icebergs are unpredicatable and variable from year to year. My favorite locations were Cape St. Mary's, Elliston, Spillers Cove, Fogo island and the Twillingate region. I loved the small towns, colourful houses and fishing villages and the friendly people. Watching the tourism videos only makes me want to go back for more though I am satisfied that I was able to see and photograph a pretty good cross section of Newfoundland. There is no doubt that Newfoundland tourism will grow as others learn about its spectacular scenery and I am thankful that I was able to spend two weeks there. RB

Basic Sugestions for Travel Photography

1. Collect and keep the brochures from the various places you visit.
2. Photograph people and the insides of restaurants and other interesting places you visit
3. Photograph the signs of towns, rivers, bridges and other landmarks to help your remember where you were
4. Bring a wide angle and telephoto lens to take closeups and wide establishing views
5. If you want the best quality images and the ability to shoot in low light bring a portable tripod
6. Talk to locals and ask them for suggestions on interesting places to visit and photograph
7. Take advantage of all kinds of weather shoot in the rain, fog and during the sweetlight of sunrise and sunset
8. Don't forget to get close and look at the some of the smaller things like wildflowers, or textures
9. Use leading lines from roads, fences and pathways to simulate depth and invite viewers into your pictures
10. While shooting think about creative and different ways you can frame your pictures
11. Vary the angle and height from which you take your pictures don't take all of them from your shoulder height

Map showing region we drove From Farewell to Twillingate and then Gros Morne




We drove over 3400 Km (marked in yellow) in 2 weeks exploring Newfoundland - most of the time we hugged the coastline. The red line indicates the route we took in the third part of our journey through Newfoundland. On the map I have also marked some of my favorite towns and locations. To view a google interactive map of Newfoundland click here.

LInks to Additional Resources


Credits: The Canadian Nature Photographer
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