Friday, November 19, 2010


After a really busy and tough couple of weeks at my volunteer job, it is time to re-visit that dream job in Cape Breton.

The morning call was early, an hour before sunrise so we could get under sail on the beautiful Bras d’Or Lake. My first career was sailing with the Canadian Navy and I welcome any opportunity to get back on water. Our Skipper, Greg, has an absolutely beautiful catboat; my vessel ... well, let’s just say it was inflatable.

I very reluctantly left the pleasure of polished oak and full sail and slithered into the 8-foot tender (zodiac dinghy) with instruction for Greg to make passing runs by keeping me on his starboard, thus the sun was always backlighting the scene. If anyone onshore was watching they must have thought the skipper was DUI. Run after run, the last having better light than the previous. From an old salt, I can also say it was a pleasure, pure delight in fact, watching a skilled hand and the helm.

Canon 5D MkII, 24-105 USM lens, Singh Ray LB Warming Polarizing filter

To top off the sailing experience we made a run through the locks of historic St. Peter’s Canal. For anyone who visits this part of the world, passage from the Atlantic and into the Bras d’Or via St. Peter’s Canal is assured to be a highlight.

After a quick lunch we settled in for a full afternoon of shooting at Highland Village. When I scouted this location a week earlier I anticipated this was going to be one fun location. Amid the squeals of hogs, the bah's of sheep and a host of other farmyard critters was another language that was foreign to me. What a treat to listen to the staff go about their daily business speaking Gaelic as the language of choice. You really should check out their website and plan a visit if in Cape Breton – you won’t be disappointed.

I was looking forward to working in the Blackhouse. Let’s just say it gets its name honestly as any light inside this reproduction stone home is by way of two very small and dusty windows. My scouting revealed a hearth in the middle of the floor, so perhaps a roaring fire would generate some ambient light. Wrong – the fuel that was being burned was peat and about all it generated that I could tell was smoke, lots of smoke.

Canon 5D MkII, 17-40 EF-L lens, Singh Ray Hi-Lux filter

One of the shots I wanted to do was to have a young visitor lead a huge Clydesdale draft horse along a pathway. Perhaps this was a bit of nostalgia for me as I fondly remembered working with my grandfather and his team as a young lad. The horse was a young four year-old that was just being harness broken, but she was really easy to work with. My young teamster walked that poor mare up and down this path numerous times as the light gradually changed from nice to really nice. Yes, a carrot seemed to increase the tolerance of the mare as well.

Canon 5D MkII, 17-40 EF-L lens, Singh Ray LB Warming Polarizing filter

This was a fabulous day and thanks are due Greg for making his beautiful vessel available, and all the cast and crew at Highland Village for their tolerance and “opening any and all doors.”