At the end of 2015, I treated myself to a brand new camera – the Sony A6000. For a while, photography has been a hobby of mine. Over the past few years, I’ve learned a lot of theory on how to take great photos and decided it was time to buy a great camera. Previously, I had a Nikon D3200 which was a great starter camera, but the Sony A6000 was a camera I had to have when I first read about it. It’s a mirrorless camera rather than a DSLR camera, which comes with the benefits of being much smaller & lighter than every DSLR camera. It also has a super fast autofocus and is great for shooting fast moving objects, like a chocolate lab. The nice thing about the Sony A6000 in addition to what I already mentioned is that it’s a really affordable camera. You can buy the camera with one or two lenses between $750-$1000 CDN.
One of the reasons I wanted to upgrade my camera was because we had recently decided that we were going to full-time RV in 2016. I knew the Sony A6000 would make a great travelling camera because of its size and because of its quick autofocus. If you’re looking for a great travelling camera that will take great photos look at the Sony A6000 or the newer version – the Sony A6300.
Looking back on 2016
Last week, we looked back on our year that saw us transfer from the 9 to 5 lifestyle to a life of exploring and adventure. While I was writing that post, I was also looking through a lot of the photos that I took during 2016. This brought a smile to my face because when looking through all of the photos I could really see how much fun and adventure we had during 2016. I can also happily say that (I think) my photography skills improved in 2016.
Below are the best photos I took from each month of 2016 along with the stories behind them.
Kate & I started 2016 living in the small rural town of Burtts Corner in New Brunswick. We rented a home there that had a large 4-acre lot. Throughout the year, we would see a variety of wildlife roam through the yard. We saw plenty of deer, which even got up on our deck to eat our bird feed. There were bears around. And of course, plenty of birds. Often, while eating breakfast, we’d look out into the back yard and see osprey flying over the nearby river. From time to time, we would also see bald eagles.
One day, we woke up to a cold but beautiful morning and looked out on the backyard. At the back of the yard, high up in the trees was this gorgeous juvenile bald eagle. You can tell it’s a juvenile because it has yet to get the bald eagle’s trademarked piercing white head and tail feathers which come between the ages of 3 & 5. For almost an hour, I sat on the deck with my camera, watching & taking photos of this beautiful bird. That whole time, the eagle didn’t move. It stayed in the same location for almost the entire hour.
In February, we were lucky enough to join my family for a Caribbean cruise that included stops in the Bahamas, St. Thomas, & St. Maarten. On a previous cruise, we had also visited St. Maarten but didn’t have the opportunity of going to the world famous Maho Beach. Maho is famous for the exact reason you see in the photo. The small beach is pretty much attached to the Princess Juliana International Airport. When planes arrive into the airport, at times, they arrive no higher than 100-feet over top of the beach. It’s an incredible sight to see in person. When planes take off the jet blast has been known to blow tourists (who push the viewing limits) from the fence line right into the ocean. While we didn’t see that happen, we had a fantastic couple of hours at Maho Beach.
One of the photos I really wanted to capture this year was a shot of the milky way. To this day, I’ve yet to really nail down a great milky way shot. It takes skill, timing, & dedication to get a great milky way shot. The problem I had trying to get a milky way shot this year was that in order to do so, you have to stay up late and freeze your butt off sitting outside trying to get some great photos.
This picture was taken on a frosty night in Burtts Corner where I firmly planted myself in the snow for about 20 minutes. In this image, you can see the faint shape of the milky way amongst millions of stars. Sometimes when taking photos you get lucky. While this wasn’t a stellar milky way shot, I happened to capture a long trailing shooting star which was pretty exciting.
By the time April rolled around we were now living in Summerside, PEI. Often we would take walks on the Summerside Baywalk, a fantastic trail that spans 6.5km along the water. At low tide, however, you can extend the walk by climbing down the red sand cliffs to the ocean floor below.
This is one of those photos that took time & patience – mainly on Kate & Bella’s part. They often have to wait, sometimes in freezing conditions, while I try and capture some great photos. This is another photo that utilized long exposure to help make the water appear silky smooth while also bringing out the vibrant colours of the setting sun.
At the beginning of May, we officially became full-time RVers when we moved into our fifth wheel in Borden-Carleton at Jellystone PEI. Part of the reason Kate & I decided to full-time RV was to have more free time to do adventurous things. One of the very adventurous things we did this past year was go on two lighthouse tours of Prince Edward Island. It was our goal to see as many of the Island’s 63 lighthouses as possible. Throughout our two tours, we saw over 50 different lighthouses from tip-to-tip on PEI.
This is one of my favourite photos of 2016. In fact, it’s my wallpaper on my computer. The funny thing is, we almost never made it to this lighthouse. The Seacow Head Lighthouse was supposed to be our first lighthouse of the day but I accidently forgot about it. 12 hours and many lighthouses later, the sun was setting. We were tired after a long day of driving all over the Island and just wanted to go home for a rest. Yet, I convinced Kate that we still had some daylight left so we should try to cross another lighthouse off of our list. Boy – was I glad that we fought through our fatigue to make it to the Seacow Head Lighthouse. As we arrived, there was a small amount of daylight remaining which allowed me to capture this photo. There are many reasons this is one my favourite photos of the year, but I especially love it because you can see the vivid green lantern atop the lighthouse.
With no natural predators, foxes roam wild in Prince Edward Island. It’s not uncommon to see them running through the streets of the province’s largest city – Charlottetown. To me, the fox is one of the most beautiful animals we have in Canada. I really love their big, bushy tails and their spry attitudes.
We spotted this fox in a farmer’s field near St. Peter’s Harbour. We were on our second lighthouse tour of Prince Edward Island and looking for the St. Peter’s Harbour lighthouse. The hunt for the lighthouse took us a down a red dirt road when all of a sudden this gorgeous fox crossed our path before running through the farmer’s field. I quickly hopped out of the car while keeping my distance and managed to capture this staredown between the two of us. At one point, the fox started jogging towards me as if it wanted to share its meal. This picture was selected from many photos as an honourable mention for Tourism PEI’s yearly photo contest and will appear in travel publications & marketing materials which is pretty cool.
Canada Day is a popular holiday all across our country, but Charlottetown often goes the extra mile with their yearly celebrations. That’s because Charlottetown is known as the Birthplace of Confederation. It’s called that based on the 1864 meeting that took place in Charlottetown that eventually led to the creation of Canada as a country.
After a hot but gorgeous day exploring around Charlottetown and partaking in the festivities, I was excited about the fireworks. Much like capturing the milky way, I wanted to take some great photos of fireworks this year. Unlike my attempts at capturing the milky way, I was successful in taking some great photos of the Canada Day fireworks over Victoria Park in Charlottetown.
This is again one of those photos I never intended to capture. In mid-August, our friends from Jellystone PEI, Eric & Rosie, joined me in trying to view the Perseid Meteor Shower. This meant we had to stay up late while also trying to find some clear, dark sky above Prince Edward Island. After looking at the radar, we determined that Cavendish Beach should be a perfect spot to view the Perseid Meteor Shower. Once we arrived, however, we were disappointed to see mostly clouds in the area which obstructed our viewing of the meteors.
While we weren’t able to see any meteors in Cavendish, the night was warm and beautiful so we stayed for a bit before leaving. The main goal of the trip was to capture some photos of meteors but in the end, I came out with this fun shot of Cavendish Beach. Using long exposure, I was able to bring out some light onto the beach while also capturing the twinkle of some stars.
September was a hard month to pick just one photo. Around mid-September, we left Prince Edward Island and began our 36-day journey across Canada to Tofino. This meant that we spent a lot of time exploring some beautiful places like Quebec City, Montreal, Northern Ontario, & more.
While it was hard to pick just one photo for September this shot from the top of the CN Tower overlooking Toronto is my favourite. After a long day touring around Toronto with Eric & Rosie, we finished our day by ascending to the top of the CN Tower. Unlike some photos that were happy accidents, this photo was one I had planned for a long time. I knew that when I was going to be showing Eric & Rosie around Toronto that I wanted to visit the CN Tower at night. Not only would the crowds be smaller, but I knew I should be able to capture a great image of the Toronto skyline at night.
It turned out to be a little more difficult than I imagined because there is steel fencing all around the exterior deck of the tower. It’s also slanted. In the end, I had to attach the camera to the tripod and lean the camera face down on the slanted fencing, adjusting the aperture of the camera as to not capture any of the fencing. It was one of the trickier photos I took this year, but I was happy with the result.
You know how sometimes you think to yourself, “if I could go back in time I would do (insert dream here).” Well, if I were to go back-in-time in my Delorean while singing Huey Lewis & the News, I would have liked to have gone to school to be a wildlife photographer. I absolutely love watching wildlife in their natural surroundings.
During our three days in Jasper National Park, we saw a lot of wildlife including plenty of elk but & big horned sheep. This moose was a surprise, though. We had heard that there aren’t a lot of moose in Jasper National Park and that sightings are somewhat rare. While driving back from Maligne Canyon we saw a handful of cars pulled over on the side of the road. Of course, this usually signifies some sort of viewing opportunity – which it was. There in the grass, grazing during the snow storm was a large female moose who didn’t seem to care about her onlookers.
Again, this was a tricky shot to get. The snow was falling heavily making it tough for the camera to focus on the moose rather than the snow. I quickly tweaked with the settings of the camera and managed to get this image which shows both the moose and the quantity of snow.
In mid-October, we concluded our 36-day cross-country journey by arriving in the popular surfing town of Tofino, British Columbia. One day, Kate & I decided that we would go for a walk and watch the surfers catching some waves. I brought my camera along to take some photos but my favourite picture from that walk was this one.
While I was shooting the surfers, I noticed this man peddling his bike through the water which I had never seen before. The gentleman also happened to look right at me as I took the candid picture almost making it look like it was posed. This picture is quintessential Tofino with gloomy skies, big waves, and a few surfers combined with the cyclist, which is why I love it so much.
This is another one of those happy accident photos. I was set up with my tripod attempting to capture a time-lapse video of the sun setting over MacKenzie Beach in Tofino. Before setting up to take the time-lapse video, I was taking some test shots trying to get the right settings for lighting. I took a short long exposure and as the lens opened three surfers walked right in front of the camera which ended up catching their motion as they walked towards the waves.
Ok – so it was a tough job sorting through this year’s batch of photos. Because of our adventures, I was able to take a lot of photos in a lot of great places. One of the reasons that I got the Sony A6000 was because of its quick autofocus which meant I could take great action shot photos of Bella including these two.
Bella isn’t the fastest dog in the world but when she’s chasing down her ball or water toy she exerts A LOT of energy. This photo was taken at Noonan’s Shore in Prince Edward Island. This photo turned out really sharp and has a lot of detail from the water splashing to the focused look in Bella’s eye. I also really enjoy how you can see where Bella is missing a tooth, too. Can you see it?
In July, we were able to take a morning cruise with DogBoat Adventures along PEI’s North Shore. The cruise included a stop along a giant sand dune that is only accessible by boat or a two-hour walk. It was here that Bella ran around with a little extra hop in her step. She just looks so incredibly happy in this photo as she runs about.
Not to be forgotten, Paris Frances is an excellent kitty model. One nice day, we decided to get brave and take Paris with us to the beach. Because she’s older now she mostly wandered about slowly while hiding in the grass. She would have stayed all day. Of course, she brought back half the beach with her in her long fur.
2016 turned out to be a great year for taking photos and we ended up with a lot of great memories captured which is the main goal. 2017 should be another great year for capturing memories as we hang out in a beautiful corner of the world in Tofino before heading somewhere new later in the year.