The Açores Archipelago was re-discovered 60 years before Columbus discovered North America. At this time, these islands were truly the end of the world as Europeans knew it. One can only imagine the thoughts of the first explorers when they saw this wild place in the middle of the harsh North Atlantic Ocean.
Despite almost 600 years of settlement, this place still feels on the edge. I feel like if there was a landscape to epitomize “end of the Earth”, this volcanic landscape would be it. However, there’s more to this than what’s visible on the surface. The reason for the Azores creation is that it literally is on the edge, of 3 tectonic plates! The Island chain sits directly on top of the spot where the European, African, and North American plates intersect. Here it is possible to sail from one island that is in “Europe” and arrive in “Africa” or “North America”. All of the pushing and pulling of these 3 massive continents is the catalyst for the volcanic activity that is still creating the islands today. Just 50 years ago, the island chain’s land area increased by 2km2 !
Panorma of the Capelinhos Volcano on the West coast of Faial.
The plateau beneath Pico Mountain looks like the savannas of Africa. Technically it is on the African tectonic plate.
Sunrise glow over the town of Magdalena on the island of Pico. The town was named after Mary Magdalene
Porto Pim Bay on the Island of Faial glows in spectacular storm lighting that is typical on the Azores in Winter
Beautiful black sand beaches are common throughout the archipelago.
The high altitude plateau of Pico is prone to frequent fog. The fog is created by the moisture laden air straight off of the ocean.
Michelle hikes around the rim of the massive volcanic caldera on the Island of Faial.
The mysterious volcano of Pico towers above Porto Bim Bay. often shrouded in clouds, I was fortunate to able to capture images of the mountain on 3 different days.
Because of this “creation”, one could argue that this isn’t the end of the Earth, but the beginning. Thanks to copious amounts of of moisture, the islands are incredibly green. In fact they are like gardens, growing citrus fruit and pineapples year round. Flowers bloom all year, and a deep shade of green pervades every hillside. The archipelago is so fertile, that most of Portugal’s milk (and excellent cheese!!) is produced here. Locals even figured out a way to cultivate grapes here and create world-class wines.
So, despite being at the “end of the world”, The Azores are a true paradise. However, little word has gotten out about this wonderful place, so you might have it all to yourself (as my wife and I did)!
The Caldera (Caldeirão) on the Island of Corvo is one of the most beautiful and enchanting places in the Atlantic Ocean
At the end of Europe is a place that is so far West that it doesn’t look like anywhere else on the continent. In fact, it’s geologically part of North America.
Poco Ribeira do Ferreio. Located on the West side of the Island of Flores, the steep cliffs here intercept copious amounts of moisture blowing off of the Atlantic. Moving water is so plentiful on this island, that locals employed numerous watermills to grind locally harvested grains.
Sunrise on the Island of Corvo.
The bountiful waters in the Azores are host to much marine life. So much so, that whale harvesting was once a common activity.
The town of Horta on the Island of Faial
The climate is warm enough and the soil is rich enough to grow pineapples!
An incredibly straight highway crosses the high-altitude plateau on the Island of Pico.
The residents of Pico devised a method of planting grape vines so unique that the area is now a UNESCO world heritage site. The vines are planted horizontally in enclosures to protect them from harsh mid-Atlantic winds. Thanks to the rich volcanic soil and cool summers, the area produces excellent wines.
Beneath Pico da Se is the lush Fazenda valley with the Island of Corvo in the distance. Every morning during the winter, this place is the first place on the North American plate to receive the sun’s rays.
Jutting out into the North Atlantic Ocean; one of the furthest reaches of North America is also one of its crown jewels. Here is a place where land meets sea in a way that is unmatched by any place southward.
Sunrise glow above the MacKenzie River Canyon
Waterfall in the Aspy Valley
Looking North across the Gulf of St. Lawrence
The most famous section of the “World Famous” Cabot Trail
Forests that are bright green in summer come ablaze in autumn before becoming cloaked in white in winter. The French were the first to settle this land, eking a living off the bountiful seas teaming with cod and lobsters. Later came Anglos, who notwd its resemblance to Scotland. This landmass is where the province Nova Scotia (New Scotland) gets it name from. And by listening to local accents, one might think that you were still on the other side of the pond. Today the island hosts the world’s largest Celtic music festival.
Our short stay on the island was focused around the dramatic Western side of the Cape Breton Highlands National park. Here, the mountains jut 500m out of the sea. Along with the differing elevations are differences in climate. Mixed hardwood and spruce Acadian forests cling to the hillsides, while Boreal spruce forests dominate the headlands. In some places, Taiga dominates, mimicking landscapes found in Labrador and Northern Quebec.
A cloud bank rolling oin off of the Gulf of St. Lawrence creates a surreal fog atop the highlands
The Boreal forest floor begins to show the colors of autumn
the Skyline Trail is cape breton Highlands national Park most popular trail for good reason
Bountiful ocean harvest
Sunset glow on the headlands
late afternoon sun on the Trans Canada Highway
A waterfall cascades into the Atlantic Ocean
Sunrise over Sydney Harbour from the Newfoundland Ferry
Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site over looking Lake Bras D’ Or
Porpoises in the strait separating Cape Breton Island from the mainland
Fishing boats in Cheticamp Harbour beign stored for the winter season
Long exposure sunset along the shore of the Gulf of St. lawrence
After you visit somewhere, you’re supposed to check it off of your bucket list. However, every once in a while you find somewhere with so much depth and so much to see that you feel that in order to truly experience it you have to spend at least a month there, seeing numerous sights and getting to know the people who call it home. That’s how I feel about Newfoundland.
To be honest, it’s a place that I knew very little about. But, everything that I did know said that the place was incredible. As a result, when the fall foliage was being stubborn (due to the drought and a warm fall), I rearranged what was supposed to be a Maine vacation to a trip to Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. We couldn’t have been more pleased with the results.
Arriving off of the ferry in Newfoundland, we were greeted to some of the island’s famous weather of 50km/hr winds, 4 deg. C temps, and rain squalls. However, the skies began to clear and the island soon revealed it’s glory. Autumn color had begun to arrive, turning the tundra like “barrens” red and the boreal forests a mix of bright colors. By the end of the week, bright blue skies abounded and an “Indian summer” was in full swing, helping to usher in even more brilliant autumn foliage.
To an American who’s never seen the island, the best way to describe it is to cross what Maine was in the 1950s with the scenery (and wilderness) of Alaska. Between the small fishing villages that dot the coast (and produce incredibly delicious seafood!) and the boreal/sub arctic landscapes, this land is a landscape photographer’s dream. However, there’s more: Newfoundlanders are a wonderfully friendly people with a distinct culture all their own. While most are proud Canadians, there is a strong sense of independence here, born out of the island’s isolation and the self sufficiency that it requires.
While we spent 5 days on the “rock”, most of it within the confines of the massive sized Gros Morne National Park, there is so much more to see. Everyday we were out from sunrise to sunset and only saw a small fraction of the island. And based upon that fraction, I can only imagine what the rest of the island looks like. For that reason, Newfoundland will remain on my bucket list. That and I want to come back and see the island in spring/summer when whales, wildflowers, and icebergs (melting off of glaciers in Greenland) abound!
Early morning lighting on the Tablelands and the South Arm of Bonne Bay in Gros Morne National Park
Coastal boreal forest at Green Point, Gros Morne National Park
Welcome to Canada (Natiaonal Parks)!
Credit goes to my wife who snapped this image while I was charging across this mountain pass.
Humber River in full autumn glory
A local tipped me off to Steve’s Trail at Green Point. We went out 2 nights in a row to catch sunset and were the only ones enjoying this view
The Southern edn of Bonne Bay, which is actually a fjord that (due to its depth) houses subfreezing water that supports arctic marine species
UN, Canadian, and Newfoundland & Labrador flags flying outside of the Gros Morne National Park Visitor’s Center
Bonne Bay at Norris Point.
Trout River Pond
The Tablelands are equally as stunning at sunrise as they are beautiful
The mars like appearance of the Tablelands is due to the mineral rich rocks. The rocks, which are from the earht’s mantle are the only place on the Earth’s surface where the mantle is exposed.
Tools of the trade
Certainly one of the prettier settings for a cemetery…
Tablelands and fall foliage
Woody Point lighthouse overlooking Bonne Bay
Bakers Brook Falls, Gros Morne
Sunrise on the Tablelands from Norris Point
The Arches Provincial Park on the Gulf of St. lawrence
The prettiest picnic table in all of Canada…
Norris Point, NL
The sun’s last rays filtering through the Spruces along Steve’s Trail in Gros Morne
Sunset in Norris Point
Rose Blanche Lighthouse on the Southwestern coast
Blowmidown Falls. There was barely a sign off the highway to the “tree clearing” of a parking lot. I guess this is just “normal” everyday scenery in these parts
It’s a place that I’ve always heard people talk about visiting, but I’ve never made it a priority to do so. Partially because of the stifling heat and partially because of other people’s accounts of seeing “someone not able to handle their liquor on Bourbon Street.” Added to that were the terrible images that saturated the newscast after the disaster that was Katrina. I never gave the state a fair chance, and I’m here to make things right. Not because I’m sorry; I’m entitled to my own opinions afterall. Instead, it’s because Louisiana is truly a special place. It’s not often that you find a place that has such an incredibly rich culture and such beautiful spaces.
“Sportsmans paradise”, the state motto emblazoned on license plates, is absolutely the truth. The wealth of wildlife in this state is incredible. I can’t recall seeing a place so rich in so many different species of birds (of all sizes colors and varieties!). The state even has it’s own subspecies of black bear, which I didn’t happen to see. Additionally, the wetlands in this state are a true national treasure. Spanish moss draped oaks, cypresses, and tupelos line the waterways creating a natural “cathedral”. What the area may lack in hills/mountains, it more than makes up for in beautiful trees and plants. The area has it’s own iris that adorns the banks of many bayous. -If you have a camera, find someone with a boat – you will be impressed!
Early morning sunlight shinging through the oaks in New Orleans City Park
Sunset at Lake Martin
Louisiana Irises in the Bayou
Louisianans are proud people in part due to their incredibly rich culture. Many people came from incredibly difficult situations with very few materials possessions and made a living for themselves. The state is incredibly prosperous due to its vast energy resources, productive agriculture, and strategic trading location at the mouth of the Mississippi. The state’s vast pride and wealth shines through in it’s numerous structures.
“Born Free” – Many cajuns are fiercely independent…through their struggles they’ve earned it.
Old Louisiana State Capitol
Old buildings in the French Quarter
Typical French Quarter balcony
Oak Alley Plantation
A crescent moon sets over Oak Alley Plantation
The flags that have flown above Louisiana fly above the main hall in the state capitol
“Gotham City” – Refineries line the Mississippi above New Orleans
Oil refineries and other “industrial plantations” have replaced traditional plantations as the main “cash cows” in the area. Louisianans are fortunate to have well paying job opportunities that don’t require a college education.
Speaking of structures, it’s impossible to ignore the area’s numerous churches and cemeteries. Some of the prettiest churches that I’ve seen anywhere are housed here, having been built years ago. The strong faith of the locals is visible to this day…we arrived in Lafayette the day before their new bishop was to be installed. There were local TV news crews and enough flowers to fill a small floral distribution center.
New Orleans’ Jewish Cemetery: one of the more unique cemeteries that I’ve been to
Old Catholic Cemetery surrounded by a Union Carbide chemical plant
In addition to having a strong culture, the people are truly a kind and sociable people. One of the best experiences that I enjoyed while here was shooting alongside a very talented local photographer, Andy Crawford. Two months before visiting Louisiana, I contracted Andy to ask him where I could find some places to shoot some local wetlands. To my surprise, Andy was so happy to help that he volunteered to take a day off of work and take me in his truck/boat all over Southern LA. I was able to experience several areas through the eyes of a local, who shared the same passion for creating great images as me. In addition to picking up new photography skills, I picked up a new friend…That’s something that doesn’t happen everyday and a better takeaway than the great images that I created.
Andy pulling up the anchor after shootign in lake Maurepas
Early morning skyglow above lake maurepas
Moss dangling from oak branches above Bayou Portage