One of two lighthouses at Cape Spear Lighthouse National Historic Site in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada #79487

Photographing in Newfoundland and Labrador/ Cape Spear

Photographing in Newfoundland and Labrador/Cape Spear

One of two lighthouses at Cape Spear Lighthouse National Historic Site in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada #79487 Cape Spear Newfoundland #79487  Purchase

This post is the first of several detailing and giving tips for photographing in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Canada’s Atlantic Province of Newfoundland and Labrador is a destination that will thrill any photographer. It has many characteristics of more popular North Atlantic destinations, such as Scotland and Iceland, including miles of beautiful rugged coastline, colonies of seabirds, and quaint towns with a rich cultural history. It also has very friendly locals with delightfully unique accents. But unfortunately Newfoundland doesn’t have active volcanoes or haggis.

Newfoundland and Labrador also have one other big attraction that the aforementioned destinations don’t: Icebergs. Throughout the year, the Labrador Current reliably transports icebergs from Greenland and the Arctic down Iceberg Alley, to the coast of Newfoundland. The ever-changing shapes and sizes of the bergs provide an additional element of drama to photo compositions. And considering the exorbitant cost of travel to the high Arctic or Antarctica, photographing icebergs in Newfoundland is a hard-to-pass-up bargain!

Iceberg and Pack Ice near Twillingate, Newfoundland and Labrador Canada #79746Iceberg and Pack Ice Newfoundland  #79746 Purchase

This spring, I was able to plan my first extended trip to Newfoundland and Labrador. I began by compiling a list of subject matter I wanted to photograph. Topping the list were icebergs, rugged coastlines, seabird colonies, lighthouses, and finally, fishing villages. After countless hours of poring over maps, tourism websites, and extensive Google searches, I came up with a rough itinerary. As always, I built in lots of flexibility to work around bad weather and other unforeseen circumstances.

I had 24 days allotted for photographing in Newfoundland, and the plan was to fly to St. John’s and then drive to my main destinations of Bonavista Peninsula, Twillingate, and Fogo Island. If time allows, I would take a ferry to Labrador, then return to photograph L’anse Aux Meadows and surrounding areas. Lastly came several locations on the Avalon Peninsula south of St. John’s. In the end, I photographed nearly every location and subject on my list.

One of two lighthouses at Cape Spear Lighthouse National Historic Site in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada #79534Cape Spear Lighthouse Newfoundland #79534  Purchase

Cape Spear Lighthouse National Historic Site

Since I was flying into St. John’s I wanted my first destination to be nearby so I could get my bearings after a long travel day.  Cape Spear Lighthouse National Historic Site was the logical choice, as it was just outside of the city and very photogenic. It turned out to be a great choice and also a harsh introduction to Newfoundland weather.

My home in Bellingham, Washington, and St. John’s are nearly the same latitude. But while at home, there was beautiful spring weather, Newfoundland was still gripped in late winter conditions. Temperatures were in the low 40s, vegetation was still winter brown, and the wind was nonstop and piercing cold. I was glad all my winter clothing came with me!

Cape Spear is a headland on the eastern edge of the Avalon Peninsula. It is also the easternmost point of land in Canada and the North American continent, excluding Greenland. It is so far east that you can almost imagine seeing Ireland on the horizon. There is a lot to see at Cape Spear Lighthouse National Historic Site. It sports two picturesque but distinctly different historic lighthouses. The site also has a WWII gun battery and radar station. You can also start for a hike on the East Coast Trail or just sit and watch for whales.

Cape Spear also has a visitor center with guided tours of the lighthouses. However, these amenities, and every other throughout Newfoundland and Labrador, as I was to find out, were still closed for the season.

Stairway below Cape Spear Lighthouse. Cape Spear Lighthouse National Historic Site in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada #79521Cape Spear Lighthouse Newfoundland #79521  Purchase

Photographing at Cape Spear

Cape Spear Lighthouse National Historic Site and the immediate surrounding area can be explored in a few hours. The lighthouses, of course, are the main attractions for photographers. But hiking a mile or so north or south from the parking lot on the East Coast Trail is also rewarding with additional photo opportunities.

Essential Tip:  This is a location that is good for both morning/sunrise and evening/sunset light. If the weather is poor and you have time, like I did, it’s worth trying to stick around an extra day or two for good light.

One of two lighthouses at Cape Spear Lighthouse National Historic Site in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada #79526Cape Spear Lighthouse Newfoundland #79526  Purchase

Essential Tip: There are many elements here that you can utilize for excellent compositions. Most notably, the stairs on the trail to and below the lighthouses and the white picket fence along the original upper lighthouse. The bedrock along the bluff, which glows reddish brown in evening and morning light, is also worth including.

Essential Tip: You’re nearly guaranteed to have windy conditions here, so make sure to bring a sturdy tripod. And don’t forget to bring a warm, windproof jacket or coat. Leave your hat in the car because it’ll easily be blown away. In fact, use utmost caution along the top of the bluffs as the winds can easily be strong enough to blow you and or your gear over the cliffs! There are a few compositions here that can tempt photographers to inch dangerously close to the edge.

Cape Bay near St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada #79492Cape Bay Newfoundland #79492 Purchase

Back down at Cape Bay, it’s worth hiking a short way to Cantwells Cove. The slanted rock formations here and the finger-like inlets are great in the right light, especially for sunrise.

Aside from a steady tripod, lenses from ultra-wide to telephoto will come in handy. Seabirds aren’t plentiful at Cape Spear, but if whales are present, a long telephoto could be useful.

White fence at Cape Spear Lighthouse National Historic Site in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada #79461Cape Spear Lighthouse Newfoundland #79461  Purchase

Practicalities for Photographing in Newfoundland

Since this was my first photo tour of Newfoundland and Labrador, I don’t profess to be an expert on the location. However, as you might expect, I did come away with some very useful information to pass on.

Weather:  Newfoundland and Labrador weather has a temperate marine climate. Summer temperatures are generally cooler and rarely hot and humid. During my trip in May, the wind, sometimes very strong and sustained, was a nearly constant companion. Temperatures reached into the low 60s on only a few rare days and were mostly in the 40s to low 50s. One morning in Twillingate I even woke up to an inch of snow!

Warm wind and rainproof clothing are essential. Boggy, marshy terrain is present nearly everywhere in the province, so good waterproof footwear is also a must.

Sea ice in Sleepy Cove Newfoundland and Labrador Canada #79988Pack Ice Twillingate Island Newfoundland #79988  Purchase

Icebergs: Research advised me that May through June was the best time for viewing icebergs. That appears to be true, but I could add a bit to that. In addition to icebergs, there was quite a lot of pack ice present in some locations, which added another dramatic element to my images. Pack ice is most likely an early-season phenomenon and not present during summer. It also moves around quite a bit, especially when the wind changes direction. One day a cove can be choked with ice, and the next day it can be completely free of it.

Coastal areas of central Newfoundland, such as Twillingate, appear to receive the lion’s share of icebergs. There are many iceberg boat tour companies in the area, and I highly advise booking a tour on one. You’ll safely get much closer to bergs this way, and it’s fascinating to see one up close.

Iceberg Finder is an excellent source to keep track of where iceberg are located before, during, and after a Newfoundland visit.

Cape Race Road Newfoundland #80608Cape Race Road Newfoundland #80608 Purchase

Traveling while Photographing in Newfoundland

Seasonal Closures: After the weather, seasonal closures were my next introduction to Newfoundland. The official summer/tourist season doesn’t begin here until June 1.

Nearly every provincial park, historic site, visitor’s center, campground, restroom, gift shop, etc., is shut tight until then. Of course, there are exceptions, but they are far and few between. On the other hand, all of this pretty much guarantees that you’ll escape the summer crowds and have most places all to yourself!

Lodging: Since I nearly always car camp on my photo tours, I can’t say much about lodging. However, there are only a few large towns/cities in the province, so you’ll most likely be looking for lodging in very small towns with limited accommodations. Book very early!

Camping: I didn’t find many campgrounds anywhere, aside from provincial and national parks, which were closed. However, free camping is available just about anywhere that isn’t private property. This mainly consists of gravel roads on Crown Land and trailheads.

Rest Areas: There are none! I have to include this since it was such a shock to me. Even driving from St. John’s on the Trans-Canada Highway to the other end of the province there was not one rest area or port-a-potty. Secondary and backroads? Forget about it! Keep that in mind when starting out in the morning after drinking a big mug of coffee, or that breakfast burrito!

To see more images check out these galleries:
Newfoundland and Labrador 1
Newfoundland and Labrador 2

Check out our new Newfoundland Sea, Sky Land, Ice Fine Art Folio

Also, check out the next post in this series:
Photographing Bonavista Peninsula Newfoundland

Sunset at the rocky and rugged coast of Cape Bonavista Newfoundland #79565Cape Bonavista Sunset Newfoundland #79565 Purchase

All photos appearing in Photographing in Newfoundland and Labrador/ Cape Spear are available for Commercial Licensing and Fine Art Prints. Click on any image to purchase, or contact me for more info!

Photographing in Newfoundland

Air Canada Sunrise

Newfoundland Photo Tour

Air Canada Sunrise Newfoundland Photo TourSunrise on the way to Newfoundland

Update: Check out the first post about my recent Newfoundland and Labrador trip!

Announcing even more exciting news for this spring. From May 7 through May 30 I will be photographing in an entirely new and long-anticipated location, Newfoundland Canada! It’s been several years since my last trip to one of Canada’s Atlantic Provinces, Nova Scotia, and I’m beyond thrilled to explore some new territory!

This timing of this tour coincides with the annual arrival of icebergs drifting down from Greenland and the Arctic. Coastal Newfoundland is known as Iceberg Alley and is one of the best places on Earth to see icebergs outside the Arctic and Antarctica.

Of course, there is much more to see and photograph besides icebergs. Other subject matter will include, lighthouses, colorful fishing villages, important cultural and historic sites, sea birds, and possibly even whales.

Below are some of the main locations on my shoot list. Newfoundland is a big province so all locations are tentative

Cape Spear and Avalon Peninsula
Bonavista Peninsula
Fogo Island
L’Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site

Any other locations or subject matter you would like me to include?
Contact me and I’ll do my best to include them!

Peggy's Cove Lighthouse Nova Scotia

New England Atlantic Canada Images

New England Atlantic Canada Images

Peggy's Cove Lighthouse Nova ScotiaPeggy’s Cove Lighthouse, Nova Scotia #58903    Purchase

Wow, what a busy week since our return home after six weeks and over 10,000 miles on the road! Aside from catching up on household chores, filling client orders, and general business tasks, I have a mountain of new images to get to. I’ve just begun the lengthy task of editing and processing all the files, but have made an initial pass and found some photos that stand out. I’m getting a bit ahead of myself by doing this. I usually wait until I have completed the full editing and image processing is complete, but since this project will take several weeks to complete I’m anxious to share with you some of the highlights so far.  We’ll also be sending out regular email progress updates in the coming weeks.

Bennington Battle Monument VermontBennington Battle Monument, Vermont  #59477    Purchase

Within the next several days I’ll be posting a full gallery of new images from the first couple of locations covered on the trip, Medicine Rocks Montana, and Watkins Glen New York. Make sure to check back often, here and on my Facebook page. And don’t forget, all of the images are immediately available for commercial licensing and as fine art prints!

Locations and subject matter covered during this trip:

Nova Scotia: Cape Breton Highlands, Cabot Trail, Lunenburg, Peggy’s Cove, Blue Rocks
New Brunswick: Bay of Fundy, Fundy National Park
Maine: Acadia National Park, Grafton Notch
New Hampshire: White Mountains, Kancamagus Byway, Franconia Notch
Vermont: Stowe, Peacham, Groton Woods, Woodstock, Bennington, Newfane, and more
New York: Watkins Glen State Park
Pennsylvania: Ricketts Glen State Park
Fall foliage, covered bridges, barns, farms, towns, fall festivals, fishing, villages, waterfalls, historic sites, coastal scenes, seasonal farm stands

Blue Rocks Nova ScotiaBlue Rocks, Nova Scotia #58824    Purchase

Vermont fall foliage reflection Lake PaulineFall foliage, Pauline Lake Vermont #59457    Purchase