As a writer and photographer I travel between my life in Toronto, my life in Antigua, and anywhere else my wanderings may take me ... writing my books and enjoying local arts and adventures along the way.

Fishing in Antigua

My dad and I used to love to go fishing. We would both get so excited when we would catch a fish that the rare times we hooked into the “big one” we would invariably pull too hard from the urge to bring it in quickly lest it escape. From the strain of pulling too hard the line would break and from our eagerness to prevent the fish getting away we would bring on the heartbreaking escape that we were trying to avoid. How cruel is it that the only certain way you can enjoy the excitement of catching a big fish is to momentarily suppress that very same excitement and calmly reel it in!

Fishing in Ontario in the spring.

Fishing in Ontario in the spring.

“]Fishing in Ontario as the weather gets warmer.]

Fishing in Ontario as the weather gets warmer.

When my dad returned from Antigua this week, right before my upcoming trip, there was definitely a little excitement in his voice when he mentioned that he saw people fishing from the shore in Antigua. I didn’t need any encouragement from there. Being an independent soul and not owning a boat (though I do plan on taking advantage of one of Antigua’s excellent charter fishing boats at some point), surf casting is one of my favourite ways to fish. I love the big heavy rod, I love the two handed cast, and I love the wide open expectation of catching whatever is in the big blue Caribbean sea. My kids have always loved fishing too. Undoubtedly my enthusiasm is contagious. I hope to bring back some photos of us fishing. Maybe if we’re lucky, we’ll even bring back some photos of fish.

Turtles in Antigua

As causes go, saving sea turtles is a pretty easy sell amongst most North Americans, who would never stop to wonder what turtle meat might taste like stewed. During our stay in Antigua some sea turtles are expected to come to shore to lay eggs. My kids love the idea of watching them so that will definitely be part of our agenda.

Planned Beach picnics in Antigua

Some creativity will be required here. Kids these days (at least my kids) are more finicky than I remember myself being. I would always eat what was put in front of me. Or … wait a second … was I a finicky eater too? I guess the question isn’t important, what IS important is finding delicious, fun, and nutritious meals that maximize beach fun time by eliminating whining about hunger while, not being fussy or difficult to prepare. Fresh unpeeled fruits are a natural choice. Unpeeled because they stay fresher longer. Raisins, nuts and seeds are another great choice as they stand up to the sun. Bread, and certain cheeses are great too. The difficulty is with the choice of meat or poultry. Crispy bacon on sandwiches is always good. Cured meats on the other hand are best when they are the drier varieties such as pepperoni. Others that are not so dry can become a little unpleasant if they become warm. Lettuce, tomatoes and other fresh garnishes have to stay cool unless you want to test out your gag reflexes. We generally like to move around and so don’t like to bring big coolers. One trick we have that allows us to keep vegetables cool without having a big cooler is to use refrigerated lunch bags that can be slung over the shoulder. In these bags we put the fresh garnishes into one of the new Tupperware containers that come with an ice pack in them. We’ll see how this works out.

Carnival in Antigua

Carnival will be going on while we are in Antigua. My kids will be able to experience an Antiguan carnival for the first time this summer. Toronto has a very big West Indian community and celebrates its own version of carnival called Caribana. I know of few West Indian people who have not at some point visited the Caribana celebrations in Toronto. Carnival in Antigua should be an experience.

Lake Ontario Beaches vs Antigua’s Beaches

It may seem ridiculous to some to compare Antigua’s warm coral sand beaches to the freshwater beaches in Toronto that are fed by cold Canadian streams. Even in June the kids only put their feet in the water at this Canadian beach for a couple minutes before they run out squealing from the cold.

Lake Ontario beaches are conveniently close for people in Toronto, but you can only find Antiguan beaches in Antigua.

Lake Ontario beaches are conveniently close for people in Toronto, but you can only find Antiguan beaches in Antigua.

The Scarborough Bluffs make a great backdrop for its beaches.

The Scarborough Bluffs make a great backdrop for its beaches.

The water is not completely unclean. In fact there is still a lively sport fishing industry in Lake Ontario, but there are guidelines as to how much fish can be safely consumed because of pollution. It seems that water pollution affects destinations everywhere. I have never been to a big or even medium sized North American city where industrialization hadn’t killed off most or all of the more interesting ecology of its waterways, leaving only the hardiest species like catfish and carp behind. Even unspoiled Key West Florida I’m told has experienced a decided decline in water quality. It is still a great spot, but when vacationing there a couple of years ago I heard about the increasing frequency of red tides, decreasing fish stocks, the odour of what some people thought was raw sewage that was sometimes faintly detectable, and the bleaching of coral reefs. It’s always been inexplicable to me that there is so much emphasis placed on the uncertain effects of global warming when the certain and well-known impacts of degraded water quality go unaddressed. In any case, I’m fascinated to talk to Antigua’s fisherman and others who keep an eye on the water. Perhaps what I learn will jog some memories about my grandfather, who was a fisherman on the island.

Purchase of Nikon D3

By this time in the blog the reader will have correctly discerned that I caved in and bought a Nikon digital SLR, the Nikon D3. The low light performance of this camera was a big factor in me choosing to purchase it over the D700. I’m still amazed at how rarely I use a flash and still I get tack-sharp photos free of the noise one would expect at low light levels. I love this because avoiding the use of flashes and using natural light is the Holy Grail for me in terms of taking a photograph that tells the story of the time, place, or event. We don’t see the world in the shock that flash bulbs induce. When a flash goes off, for that fraction of a second the world around us is bathed in an unnaturally narrow spectrum of light from an unnaturally narrow point of origin. The world is transformed by the flash into a stroboscopic ghost of what was there moments before and that we saw with our naked eyes. Instead of the peaceful fisherman amid the shadows of the sunset beach, with the flash we see the old man shocked by the glare of the flash. The miracle of technology allows us to compensate somewhat for the deficiencies of lighting from flashes. We can adjust the white balance of the photo for example so that what the camera captures is more like what the eye sees. But with all of our softboxes, umbrellas, and other tools for guiding and shaping unnatural light, when it is possible to do so my preferences lie strongly with tools for shaping the light that the scene has already provided. Reflectors for example can be used to tease the sun into creases and folds of skin where direct sunlight may cause harsh shadows. The sun itself can be diffused into a much softer light with transparent screens known as skylights. Product shots, some modeling photography and other situations demand that artificial lighting be used in order to create a “high key” image. My goal is less packaging such high key images for public consumption, and more depicting the truth of a story with photographs. In either case, the Nikon is a capable and efficient tool that always seems to make the shot I want attainable. I can’t say the same for some of the other cameras (such as the Kiev 88) that I’m still trying to justify my deep affections for.

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