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Tanzania Lake Eyasi

Storm brewing over Lake Eyasi, Tanzania

Nobody loves a sunny summer day more than I do. In fact, I’ve been known to get pretty pissy when it’s pissing rain on a cottage weekend that I just drove 5 hours to enjoy. (In fact, my bad luck with rain earned me the nickname Mrs. Bfstplk after L’il Abner’s rain-cloud-toting character.)

So when I travel, of course, I’m hoping for the best weather imaginable, to make the experience that much better. After all, going to a sunny destination mid-winter isn’t the same when you’re wearing your parka by the pool in Cuba. (and yes, this has happened to me – and no, I was not a happy camper).

That being said, now that photography has become a recent passion for hubby Henk (and the appreciation of it has always been a love of mine), I’ve come to realize that a bright sunny, cloudless sky often holds little interest for the photography-minded. A stormy day, on the other hand – that can be interesting.

Sunset on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River

Sunset on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River

Which is why, when we woke up to socked-in fog the day we had planned to visit the picturesque Fundy Trail in New Brunswick, I was a little disappointed. But an otherwise blah day for sun worshippers turned out to be a good one for photography, providing some surprisingly good opportunities.

Why bad weather is good for photography:

Foggy day on the Fundy Trail yielded super saturated colours

Foggy day on the Fundy Trail yielded super saturated colours

Green like you’ve never seen green before. (well, maybe in Ireland, and for the same reasons: moisture.) With the fog’s moisture creating super-saturated colours on everything from forest moss to tree trunks, the greens and even the browns couldn’t have looked brighter or more vibrant.

River stones, had they been dry, would have had half their colour (we all know this, because as kids, the stones we picked up on the beach always looked more beautiful wet, than after they had dried off on our shelves). These river stones looked like a painted still life carpeting the river shore.

River stones near Big Salmon River

River stones near Big Salmon River

Mood. Photographers know that it only takes a moment, or one shot, to make their search for the perfect photo worth it, and sometimes you get an unexpected gift because of the weather. We got one in the form of a Bald Eagle, as it literally swooped across the sky above us and found a perch on a treetop above the Big Salmon river in the Fundy Trail park. Not only did the sound-dampening fog make its piercing call more dramatic, but it provided a moody, misty backdrop for this shot.

Fog provided the perfect backdrop for this majestic Bald Eagle on the Fundy Trail.

Fog provided the perfect backdrop for this majestic Bald Eagle on the Fundy Trail.

Heavenly light. (insert choir of angelic ‘aaaaahhhhhs’ here).

Never mind the red sand bluffs, the potato fields flowing down into the miles-long beaches, or the charming fishing villages with their colourful lobster traps and buoys – there’s nothing quite like witnessing the ‘photographer’s sprint’ when after 2 days of rain on Prince Edward Island, the sun finally emerged for a brief 5-minute window ? just as Henk and I spotted an iconic lighthouse. I’m sure our friend Tom, who was acting as our local tour guide was killing himself laughing as, cameras in hand and racing before we lost the light, both Henk and I bolted towards the dunes like children hearing an ice cream truck leaving their street, all in an effort to try to capture the quintessential lighthouse photograph that embodies this island.

A break in the clouds at dusk meant brilliant lighthouse light at Covehead Bay, PEI.

A break in the clouds at dusk meant brilliant lighthouse light at Covehead Bay, PEI.

All worth it, but so much for laid-back, relaxed PEI!

Heavenly light at Covehead Bay.

Heavenly light at Covehead Bay.

The weather lesson to me is simple, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade, which in the photographer’s case, means take a photo. Your lens can often find that silver lining in every cloud.

(Oh, and the other lesson is don’t visit Cuba in January. Really.)

TIP: If you are planning a trip specifically around a particular photo opportunity, you’ll need to allow for multiple chances to get the shot, and lighting is always best at dawn and dusk. Meaning you’re going to need at least two nights and two mornings anywhere, and even then, a lot of luck. If all else fails, there’s no shame in buying a postcard – and enjoying what someone else had the talent, patience or good luck to capture.

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