Tuesday, May 20, 2008

(I can be reached at Glen@FocusOnNewfoundland.com)

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*NOTE* This entire journal is spread over just four pages. (you are currently on Page 3) Click on the above links to return to the previous pages. Alternatively, once you have scrolled all the way to the bottom of this last page, you will see a small link that says "Older Posts" which will take you back to the previous posts.  

May 20, 2008

Last week the annual orphan conference took place at the clinic. In the first photo you can see many of the kids posing for their picture in front of the clinic. The conference is an opportunity for adults and children alike to get together and discuss any issues related to the vulnerable children, and/or their guardians.

The all day meeting was followed by a dinner for all, which was cooked by Marjorie. In the photo, you can see Marjorie sitting outside talking to some of the children.

Moses Kasangaki, one of our supported children has some sort of an eye infection.
His mother contacted Ezra and Marjorie to say he has had it for over a month, and has gotten worse, to the point he cannot open it at all. Ezra is today taking him to an eye specialist in Fort Portal for further treatment.

The weather here has finally changed for the better. After three weeks of cold, wet and dreary days, yesterday was sunny and very warm, in the 20's, and it was an opportunity to finally get going on some much needed yard work.

Here is a photo that I took yesterday, of a huge iceberg, as seen from our place. There are many of them all around the island, with some of the largest found in Seldom, Joe Batt's Arm and Fogo. Another one that we can see from our window, which has been grounded for about a week, is on the move again, after a change in the wind direction yesterday. It is estimated that there are currently over 900 icebergs between here and Greenland, whereas last year at this time there were only about 50. This bumper crop year will make for some beautiful scenery, but the downside is that the air will be cooler than normal this summer. All of that ice keeps the water temperature colder than normal, meaning the air temperatures will also be affected.

May 29, 2008

I have been busy for this past week or so, constructing a website. As I am planning to this summer start selling some of my nature/landscape photographs to help raise funding for our ongoing charity work in Africa, I believe the website will be a good medium for getting the word out there. As you know, having posted some of my shots on this journal, I love to capture images of the things that make Newfoundland what it is, such as fishing stages, wharves, rocky coastlines and sunsets.

I recently discovered a master woodworker living in Joe Batt's Arm with 25 years experience in picture framing, and I will be taking advantage of his expertise to do all of my custom framing work.
As a trial run, I hired him to frame a large ocean sunset panorama that was taken directly in front of our home back in February. I had shown a copy of the print on this journal a while back, but in case you missed it, here it is again, this time matted and framed and hanging on our living room wall.

As we will soon be into the busy tourist season here on the island, with the "Come Home Year", the "To There and Back" punt race, and various other summer festivals, it will be a good opportunity to promote my work. The website is not finished yet, but I am hard at it, and hope to be able to post the link to it, on here very soon.

We received an email from Ezra today, and he attached this photo of our kids picking up their school supplies at the HIV/AIDS clinic for the new school term. We have not heard how Moses Kasangaki is making out with his badly infected eye.

May 31, 2008

Not too much news to report today, except to say that I saw whales this afternoon, for the first time in my life. I was in bed because my spine injury was acting up again, when Jacqueline came flying into the house breathless, to tell me to get up, grab my camera and get down to the shore, as there were whales out there! We went down, and sure enough, there they were. Every couple of minutes they would surface and loudly spray water vapour out their blow holes, then dive back down again. Our neighbor reported seeing some in front of their place few days ago, but we were not fortunate enough to see them at that time. Apparently there are schools of herring in the area, so any time you see large numbers of seagulls or gannets, they are likely feeding on herring, meaning the odds are good that the whales are close by, as they love to eat herring.

Unfortunately, I was unable to get any good shots of the whales. I think they must be one of the most difficult things to photograph, because they only surface for a second or two for breath of air, then back down they go again. By the time you get your camera up, and focused, they are back under again! However, I am sure we will have many more opportunities this summer to get some good whale pictures.

From our window we can see an advancing line of pack ice. At first I didn't even recognize it for what it is; just a vague white line in the distance. But it appears to be a solid mass of ice right across the horizon, for which there was no sign of it as recently as last night. I shudder to think that our scenic little bay of sparkling blue water could possibly soon be filled up with ice again!

Today ended up being a perfect summer day, sunny and warm, even though the weather forecast was calling for rain. It's maddening though, that on such a great day as this, I have to be flat on my back. It would have been terrific to be able to barbeque the New York strip steaks that Linda picked up today. Oh well, tomorrow is another day!

Here are a couple of shots that I took last night, just as it was starting to getting dark. The first one shows the old fishing stage and wharf in front of our house. I particularly liked the way the evening light was reflecting off the water, as well as how it brought the grain out of the old logs. The second photo shows our community of Island Harbour from a distance. To the right you can see the island (with the two hills) that lies directly in front of our place. I have always said that it is clouds that make a good picture. I cannot imagine a more scenic place to live!

June 6, 2008

As I mentioned a few days ago, I will soon be selling some of my photographs taken all around Fogo Island. Many people have suggested that there would be a lot of interest in purchasing prints of this nature, as so many have relocated to other parts of Canada, and would love to have one of my photographs framed on their wall, as a reminder of their roots here in Newfoundland. My new website is almost completed, and can soon be viewed online. I will post the link to it on here shortly.

I have had a love of capturing the grand and intimate landscapes of Canada for over 30 years. With a special interest in nature and landscape photography, and of recent, panoramic images of Fogo Island, I am forever in awe of scenes that by themselves, speak with feeling, and engage more of your senses than just casual sight can.

Every day nature provides something beautiful to witness. The key is having our eyes and souls open enough to see it. I have had several neighbors tell me that they are so used to seeing this scenery on a daily basis, they just take it all for granted and do not really notice it anymore; the sunsets, icebergs, whales, rugged coastlines, all the natural beauty, yet when they see my pictures they are in awe of how truly beautiful this island really is. As a photographer, it is my purpose to capture these moments that are sometimes just taken for granted. I capture what I see, but more importantly, what I feel. I want you to feel them too, to experience them, and not merely look at them.

As you will have no doubt already noticed, if you are a regular follower of this blog, one of my favorite things to photograph are sunsets. The fact that every single one is so unique from the next, never ceases to amaze me. I have seen many spectacular sunsets in many regions of Canada, but nothing compares to the amazingly colourful evening skies here on Fogo Island. To date, all of the sunsets and panoramas shown on this journal were taken right here in Island Harbour, and most, directly in front of our home. What a privilege it is, to be able to look out my front window, or sit on the deck, and witness these unbelievable, natural masterpieces.

Every corner of this island offers views that are every bit as spectacular, and over the coming weeks, I will be taking hundreds of photos in every community, and posting some of my favorites onto the new website. I will be at all of the summer festivals selling these prints, both framed and unframed, and if you have any requests, for example, a particular scene, stage, church, home, etc. that you would like a photograph of, I would be happy to accommodate you. Just get in touch with me at fogoislanders@hotmail.com and I will get back to you right away.

We will also be continuing with our Treasures of Africa Foundation fundraising efforts by selling our hand-made African crafts and art at these summer events. We have a wide range of hand-crafted jewelry, soapstone and wood carvings, weaved baskets, etc. It will be a great opportunity for you to own a one-of-a-kind work of art, and help support AIDS orphaned children at the same time, as 100% of the profits go back into our projects in Africa.

June 14, 2008

A couple of weeks ago, our eldest daughter Allyssia developed a persistent cough. It got progressively worse each day, and she finally went to see a doctor this week, to learn that she has a serious infection in one of her lungs. (pneumonia) She has been bedridden since last Monday and taking antibiotics, but so far there has been no change in her symptoms; if anything, the condition has worsened. If there is no sign of improvement by tomorrow, she will have to go back to the doctor for further tests, and likely be hospitalized.

I will update on here as we learn anything new.

UPDATE: (Sunday, June 15)
Allyssia's coughing worsened (and difficulty breathing) throughout the night, so we called the hospital this morning to advise them of her deteriorating symptoms, and they said to bring her in right away. After running some tests and taking chest x-rays, it was discovered that one of her lungs is completely filled with infection. The doctor assigned her a room immediately, hooked her up to an oxygen mask and started an intravenous drip. She didn't want a TV in her room; just wants to sleep.

That's all we know at this time, but hopefully will learn more tomorrow.

June 24, 2008

After several days in hospital, Allyssia has improved enough to come back home. The latest x-rays show that both of her lungs are almost clear of infection. Today, we got her out of the house for a short drive, and ended up at a remote area of our coastline called Black Head Cove, where we took lots of pictures, including the above panorama. If you look closely, you can see an iceberg on the horizon. (click these pictures to enlarge) The second photo was taken from the same spot, and shows the same interestingly shaped iceberg that was sitting offshore. You can see a large hole that goes right through to the other side.

Today Ezra emailed us to say that our sponsored child Moses Kasangaki's eye infection has finally cleared up. Also, Hadadi's (another of our supported children) baby sister, who was born HIV positive and has been quite sick recently as a result of her disease, has improved somewhat. Ezra and Marjorie are continuing to closely monitor both children.

Today was a beautiful day, sunny and in the 20's. It was quite welcome, after several weeks of cool, wet weather. Now, if we could just make the black flies disappear!

June 28, 2008

The new website to promote the sale of my Newfoundland photographs is now up and running at www.focusonnewfoundland.com. I have developed the site to be best viewed using the Firefox browser, and a wide-screen high resolution monitor. It also seems to be working fairly well with Internet Explorer, however I have yet to view it on a regular 1024 X 768 monitor, so please email me if there are any alignment issues at that resolution. Unfortunately, I have had to keep the images quite small to load faster, for those who do not have the luxury of high-speed Internet (ie: not yet available on Fogo Island)

I am very interested to hear your suggestions/comments regarding the new website, or answer any questions or requests you may have. Just email me and I will promptly reply.

Allyssia has made a full recovery from her bout with pneumonia.

July 3, 2008

I purchased another new camera last week, and have been putting it through its paces lately. I have been wandering down to the shore in front of our house to take many shots, including these two. The sunset photo is from Tuesday evening.

Tuesday's craft show at the Iceberg Arena was a huge success for all involved, and particularly so for the sale of our African crafts, with much money raised for our Treasures of Africa orphan projects and clinic partnership in Uganda. A special thank-you to everyone who came out and supported our cause!

There was a lot of interest in our friend Marjorie's (Ezra's wife) colourful, hand-made beaded necklaces at the craft show, and we sold the remaining 30 in no time at all. Yesterday I asked her if she could make at least 100 more of these beautiful necklaces for us to sell at the upcoming festivals in Fogo and Joe Batt's Arm next month, and she said she will get together with some of the other women to complete this rush order. If you are interested in buying one, (only $6) it may be a good idea to preorder, as they will not last long. I can put some aside for you; just email me. We have another shipment of 100 more hand-carved bone pendants (also just $6) that should be here in time for the festivals.

July 8, 2008

Allyssia and I went exploring yesterday, and discovered a goldmine of marine life right in front of our house. We saw our first ever starfish, (lots of them!) crabs, urchins, various strange fish, and even a mink, right from the wharf.
Now, I suppose long time residents of Fogo Island will likely wonder how we could find this the least bit exciting, but keep in mind that we have never seen these things before, other than in pictures. I suppose it is like a Newfoundlander seeing the Rocky Mountains for the first time, or spotting a grizzly bear, cougar, or even a monkey or 20 foot crocodile in the wild. (as we had the privilege to witness this past winter in Uganda)

I am still putting my new camera through its paces, testing and comparing it to my original Sony. Last night was hot and muggy, and the evening sky was a brilliant orange, so off I went with camera in hand and swatting bugs all the way. Here are a few of my favorites, all from Island Harbour.

July 25, 2008

                                    Fred Kabuleeta with us near the Congo border

Today a good friend passed on. You may remember our mention of Fred Kabuleeta in past postings on this journal. He was Ugandan, a founding member of our sister organization KIDA, and an active member of the board of directors. Being a clinical officer by profession, Fred had been a great resource on the board whenever medical issues emerged. He died at Mulago Hospital in the capital city of Kampala, after a short (undisclosed) illness. Burial is set for Sunday at their home.

We attended Fred's wedding on December 15, 2007 at St. John's Cathedral in Fort Portal, where he married his fiance Beatrice after living together for seventeen years and raising three children. The wedding was attended by over 1,600 guests, and is a day that we will never forget. Our friend Ezra performed the ceremony, and later a huge reception was held at Fred's parent's home outside of Fort Portal, consisting of a traditional Ugandan feast, a well known singer and even a brass band. For a wedding gift, we gave Fred and Beatrice a prime heifer.

A week after the wedding, we hired Fred to be our driver for our trip to Queen Elizabeth National Park in Southwestern Uganda, where we stayed at Mweya Safari Lodge for a couple of days. He drove us in Ezra's truck, and dined with us at the resort. Fred was one of the nicest and warmest people that we have ever had the privilege of knowing, and he will be missed by all who knew him.

The top photo was taken at the entrance to Queen Elizabeth National Park, showing Fred standing with Linda and the girls. The middle photo shows the wedding party outside the cathedral; Fred and Beatrice asked us to get into the shot. And the bottom photo, as you can see, was taken right on the equator, close to the Uganda/Congo border. We had just jumped out of the truck long enough to get the shot, then away we went, as it was terribly hot, likely well over 45 degrees! Fred was 38 years old. Our thoughts are with his family.

August 12, 2008

Our friend and neighbor invited us out for an excursion around Fogo Island on his fishing boat today, and what a time we had! We have seen whales in front of our place on occasion, but had yet to get any photos of them, or see them from the water. I cannot begin to describe the excitement that my youngest daughter and I experienced, out for a leisurely boat ride, and quickly discovering that we were completely surrounded by these enormous creatures. It didn't matter in what direction we were facing; everywhere we looked, we saw whales. And I mean up close... real close! So close were getting wet from the spray from their blow holes! And they were really making a racket.

Without a bit of exaggeration, we must have seen a hundred of them in the 4 hours we were out. We saw many that would come almost entirely out of the water, as if they were dancing on their tails. I could only imagine the strength it must take to lift so many tons of mass right out of the water. I feared that one would decide to surface from right underneath the boat!

Once we got away from the protective islands in our bay and headed out into the open ocean, the water became quite rough, and as the boat is only 32 feet long, we were really getting tossed around, and it was becoming difficult to stay sitting on the bench without getting launched overboard; we were bouncing around like a cork. Well, you could not begin to believe how difficult is was to try to get photos of these monsters. Even though we were very much up close and personal, it was next to impossible to even hold the camera, let alone take any shots, and still stay in the boat! But even so, we managed to get some nice pictures, even though it was a very dreary, overcast and drizzly day. I must say, I have never had to work so hard to take a photograph before!

Four hours later, we were back tied up at the wharf again, with 400 pics under my belt (my daughter had 200) and a couple of cod to fillet for supper. All in all, a terrific day that we will never forget! Mind you the constant pounding of the waves caused my spinal injury to take a beating, but it was absolutely worth it! I wish you all could have come with us!

These are a few of the shots that I managed to snap while trying to keep my butt planted in the boat. I don't know what type of whales they are, but from some close-ups of their bellies, fins, heads, etc., I should be able to do a bit of research on the net tomorrow to determine the species. All I know is that they are huge, and made the boat look like a little toy!

September 13, 2008

It's been a month since I last posted on here, so I guess it's high time that I did! There's not a whole lot to report, other than that all of our supported kids in Uganda have been on break, but are set to return for the new school term on Monday. Today they will all gather at the clinic to receive their new school supplies, for which we wired the funding last week. Ezra told us the other day that all of the kids are writing letters to us, so we are excited to learn how they have spent their summer break.

I have been keeping busy with the landscape photography, and my work shown on the Focus On Newfoundland website has generated much interest from all around the globe. To date, I have received letters and positive comments from thirty-eight countries.

Both of my daughters have shown a keen interest in photography, so I have been teaching them some tricks of the trade.
To demonstrate how even something quite mundane can still be very pleasing to the eye, even become a work of art, I showed them that even a basic row boat ("punt" here on the Rock) can make for an interesting image, if colour, reflection, contrast, saturation and composition are used in proper balance. Below is an example of how a simple subject, in this case the boat, can become a frameable piece of art.

The second photograph was taken at the same time as the first one, yet they become very different images, simply by changing the angle of the shot. Notice how the lighting, even the colour, looks totally different. In both cases, the boat's reflection in the water helps to make the picture more visually appealing.

The past few days have been quite windy, so I ventured down to the shoreline with camera in tow, to get some shots of the large waves hitting the rocks.

September 21, 2008

Here's a couple of quick snapshots of our Shih Tzu Chrissy, taken yesterday. She has sure grown quickly, and it's hard to believe that when we brought her home in April she was only two pounds and able to fit comfortably in the palm of your hand! Now she weighs in at almost nine pounds, and has quickly become a very important part of our family. She is so intelligent and playful, with not a mean bone in her body. Chrissy likes to be the centre of attention, loves to wrestle, and share her toys with everyone. (her collection of plush toys would be the envy of any child!)

This week Chrissy went for her first haircut, (though you would never know it by these shots taken in the wind!) and was not overly impressed with the whole process. She was glad to get that over and done with and back home to be spoiled again.

The person we got her from told us last week that he has bred his dog again and is due next month; we have been tossing around the idea of getting a sister for Chrissy. Not sure how it fits into our budget, or how we could handle TWO of them pouncing on us all the time, but it's something to think about.

September 25, 2008

Ezra emailed these photos to us yesterday. They were taken last weekend, when the school/personal supplies were handed out to each AIDS orphan for the new school term.

                                         supported children receiving school supplies

                                         positive living seminar for HIV/AIDS patients

                                         orphans playing with donated toys

October 16, 2008

This first photo was taken last week from the hill directly behind our house. Another stunning sunset that illustrates the natural beauty of Fogo Island, made even nicer by the crescent moon.
Today we were fortunate enough to witness a large school of white-sided dolphins swimming right past the island in front of our home. I managed to take some quick snaps, though were not well exposed.
But here is one that will at least give you an idea of what they looked like, as they were leaping together. This type of dolphin measures about 8-10 feet in length and weighs approximately 400 pounds. They are apparently quite common, though this was our first time seeing them here. There were likely about fifty in this group.

I recently got out on the water with friends to catch some cod, and here is a photo of Ron holding up a small one for the camera. We caught fifteen of them that afternoon, and had a delicious feast the next day. I hope to get out again on Saturday for the last day of the season, with the hope of adding a few more to our freezer.

The next picture (below) is taken from a friend's boat, looking towards our shoreline. Our house is in the upper centre of the photo. The wharf and stages in the foreground are the same ones seen in many of my images on the Focus On Newfoundland website.

And finally, the last picture was taken today from our livingroom, just a bluejay who discovered that we have set up a new feeder for the winter. This summer was the first time in fourteen years that we have seen these beautiful birds, as they are not found anywhere west of Ontario.

October 24, 2008

One thing that has been lacking on our little island paradise is broadband Internet service. We had it for years in BC, and after such lightning speed for so long, we get very discouraged at being unable to upload or download large files, especially when I have to send very large photo files (at least 35 megabytes each!) off to the printing company. Downloading music, movies or games is right out of the question with dial-up, not to mention having to tie up our phone line to use the service. So you can imagine our excitement when yesterday an ISP representative showed up at our door asking if we may be interested in the new broadband service that will be 80 times faster than our present speed! So, to make a long story short, the installer should be here in a couple of weeks, then we will be off to the races!

Yesterday we received letters from many of our sponsored kids in Uganda. Most of the letters were plastered with the stickers we took over and handed out to everyone last winter. It is always exciting to receive correspondence from them, especially now that we have met them all in person. However, a couple of the kids signed their letters using their Rutooro tribal names, so we are unsure who wrote them. I will have to write to Ezra to find out who is who!

I got outside with my camera a few days ago, after being stuck in bed for several days with this annoying spinal trouble, and went for a walk down our road.

                                         (taken at 3:00 PM)

I took this photo and was quite happy with the result, but as you know, I am partial to sunsets, or at least to much less harsh evening light and contrast, so I decided to return to the same location a few hours later and try again, and as you can see, the time of day has such an impact on the outcome of the photograph.

                                         (taken at 6:00 PM)

I think the sunset shot brings the image to life, and I can hardly wait to see it printed out and custom framed.

November 15, 2008

This week we finally got connected to the new broadband Internet network here on the island. Our lightning-speed connection is now about 80 times faster than the old dial-up, meaning no more waiting for pages to load, and no more missed phone calls!

We will be selling our hand-made African crafts and art at the Christmas Craft Sale at Iceberg Arena on November 29th from 10AM to 5PM. There will be a wide assortment of unique African items, such as soapstone carvings from Kenya, Ugandan baskets weaved with banana fibre, beaded necklaces, wood carvings, greeting cards, keychains, and hundreds of other one-of-a-kind items, all made by hand, and using no power tools. 100% of the proceeds of the sale of these items will go directly toward our many ongoing charity projects in Africa to help children who are orphaned by HIV/AIDS.

I will also have a display of my Fogo Island landscape prints and panoramas at this show. I look forward to seeing you on the 29th.

November 29, 2008

Today was the day of the Fogo Island Christmas craft show, and we sold a lot of our African crafts and art, with much money raised for our many ongoing projects in Uganda to help orphaned children.

I also displayed my photographic landscapes and panoramas of Fogo Island, and the response was overwhelming to say the least. So many people showed a strong interest in my work, and sales were far beyond what I had hoped for, as prints and panoramas were getting scooped up as fast as we could put them out on display. There were also many custom requests from people wanting a print showing their own home or neighborhood. A special thank-you to everyone who came out; your patronage is very much appreciated, as always.

I will keep you posted of all upcoming events where I will be showing my work, including all the summer festivals. In the meantime, anyone wishing to view or purchase my images can just stop by the house; someone is usually home. And remember, you can order online from my website at www.focusonnewfoundland.com and pay for your print(s) instantly using PayPal. I plan to have a permanent venue on Fogo Island to display my photographs in time for the summer tourist season. Email us with any questions/requests/comments, and I will promptly reply.

I am pleasantly surprised; humbled in fact, that my photography has resulted in such a positive response from the public. It makes me happy that although I am no longer able to work again as a result of my spinal injury from four years ago, I am able to do something that I love doing, and the extra revenue that it creates really helps us continue our work in Uganda to help those less fortunate than ourselves. Thanks again!

December 13, 2008

The new Focus On Newfoundland site is now live on the Web for your viewing. The new website offers more (and larger) images, a sleek interface, slideshow, and online shopping with instant purchases using your credit card or bank debit through the PayPal payment system. Unfortunately I will not be shipping any custom framing jobs, just the prints. I will however continue to take custom framing orders for pick-up.

Some news on the Africa front: We have just sent the support funding for the months of December and January, and were shocked at the drastically increased amount resulting from the quickly sinking Canadian dollar. (we must first convert our currency into US funds prior to sending) Thankfully, everyone who has been helping to support the children in 2008 have agreed to continue through 2009, and have adjusted (increased) their funding accordingly to help cover the worsening exchange rate. A special Thank-You to our friends and family who continue to help us support these wonderful kids. We could not do it without your participation!

December 24, 2008

                                          Christmas party for our supported children

I would like to wish all of the loyal followers of my journal a very Merry Christmas, and all the best in 2009. We are finally all ready for Christmas, though it seems the weather is not ready to co-operate, as they are calling for rain on Christmas day. And we were hoping to be snowmobiling!
It is tradition in our family to have a big feast on Christmas Eve, and this year is no exception. Friends will be coming over this evening, and we are looking forward to stuffing ourselves.

Ezra wrote from Uganda to wish us a Merry Christmas; here is a copy of his letter:

Greetings dear friends,
We are busy with Xmas activities. All the KIDA staff are traveling to their homes for the Xmas break. It's sunny as usual at this time and excitement seems to be covering around. We had on the 20th Dec, the infant clients (children with AIDS) conference and Xmas get-together for them and their caregivers/guardians. It was not only a time of learning how to live positively with AIDS, but of fun, playing and eating together a meal of rice, meat, bananas, etc. and a soda, which most of them would never have in this festive season.
In the attached pictures you see Marjorie and some other staff members playing outside with some of the kids, (see top of this post) while others and their guardians were inside, and clap with joy around the Christmas tree which carried some candies, balloons, etc. for them to pick.
Your parcel and photos arrived, and Marjorie and a couple of other people who knew Fred burst into tears on opening the envelop and seeing his photo.

I wish you and your family a Merry Christmas.

May 9, 2009

As you may or may not know, my landscape photography has been picking up speed in recent months, and has gained some international attention from such esteemed sources as National Geographic, Canadian Geographic, One Exposure, Photography Monthly, (United Kingdom) Shutter Talk, Trek Earth, Photo Pro and Outdoor Photographer.

I will be selling my prints at all of the upcoming festivals and craft shows on Fogo Island and Change Islands this summer season, and will keep you informed of any other venues as they become known.

We are still keeping busy on the Africa front; still very much involved in supporting AIDS orphans in Uganda, as well as partnering with our friends with the ever expanding medical clinic, and with providing business start-up loans to AIDS clients.

The biggest news is that plans are moving forward to turn the clinic into a full service hospital. Architectural plans for a large one storey hospital have been drawn up. The total cost of construction is estimated at $1,000,000 US. Another project is to bring the power grid to the new facility, which will require a three-phase transformer and about a mile of poles and wiring. This decision was reached after realizing that the solar powered system presently in place at the clinic is just not sufficiently effective. I will keep you up to date on this exciting new project as things progress.

School is now in first term recess. Our supported kids will gather at the clinic for a conference and to pick up their supplies for the new school term on May 16th.

May 14, 2009

Who would have ever thought that we would get hit with a huge snowstorm in the middle of May! But that is exactly what happened. We woke up Monday morning (May 11) to about a foot of snow, whipped up by strong winds into large drifts. School was canceled, our car was buried, we couldn't even open our front door because of all the snow that was packed against it...
and we didn't really care anyway, as we have all been sick in bed with a particularly brutal bout of the flu. But a special thanks goes out to our wonderful neighbors who had us dug out in no time. Here's a few pics taken on Tuesday, May 12th, although much of the snow had melted by then.

The good news is that we are now back into the warm weather again, with plenty of sunshine. Now, if I could just get over this flu so I can enjoy the sunshine!

May 22, 2009

Just a quick note this time to say a new home is being constructed for one of the families that we are supporting. For the past couple of years we have been renting a small house for them to stay in. We purchased a parcel of land beside her home in 2007, and are now constructing a new larger house on that land, as the rental was in a bad state of repair, and the family was in constant worry as to whether the landlord would evict with no advance notice. The construction has begun but will take some time to complete with limited funds, and will proceed in stages. I will post photos and more info soon.

May 25, 2009

Over the past few weeks I have had the pleasure of getting to know Dean Brokop, brother (and manager) of famous singer/songwriter Lisa Brokop, and an important member of the Rick Hansen Foundation. Dean works very closely with the non-profit foundation, and is the chief coordinator for the annual Rick Hansen Fishing Challenge, which brings together business and community leaders from across North America to raise funds to support spinal cord injury and quality of life initiatives through the Rick Hansen Foundation.

I am pleased to report that I am now involved with the Rick Hansen Foundation, and will be working, with Dean Brokop's guidance, to find new ways in which to support the organization.

I am donating several of my landscape prints to this year's Fishing Challenge fundraising event. This all came to be after Dean saw my photographic work on the Focus On Newfoundland website. We began a correspondence; he learned of my own spinal injury, and I learned of his association with Rick Hansen's organization. I told him I would like to donate some of my work for the latest fundraiser; he thought it would be a fine idea and was very grateful.

I look forward to being part of this well respected foundation. You can learn more about the Rick Hansen Foundation by visiting their website at www.rickhansen.com

May 28, 2009

Moreen's family has decided to construct a larger and sturdier house. With the generous help of the KIDA staff, it is slowly but surely progressing. It will require 26 metal sheets to cover the roof, and to date funds have been raised for about half of the sheets. The family raised the structure themselves. The KIDA staff, vocational students and the guests visiting from the USA prepared the mud, and filled the walls during the community outreach program, designed to help clients in dire need. A special thank-you goes out to all of the volunteers for their contribution.

When we visited with Moreen and her family last year, we were shocked to see their living arrangements. The roof was made from grass and leaking badly in the heavy rains, and there was very little room to even move about, let alone live in comfortably. There was no latrine on the property, and their cooking shelter was on the verge of collapse.
Friends of ours back in British Columbia have since sponsored Moreen, and the family's conditions have improved dramatically over the past year. With our friends' monthly support Moreen is attending school, and all of her daily necessities are provided for. When we were there we purchased new mattresses, blankets and clothing for them, as well as mosquito nets to protect them from the swarms of malaria-carrying pests.

The first picture shows Moreen standing in front of her (old) home when we came to visit. The last two images were taken recently by our friend Ezra when the KIDA staff came to help with the mudding of the new walls.

We took tons of photos when we went to visit Moreen. She lives far down in the bottom of a valley with no roads. The climb back out of the scorching hot valley (well over 100 degrees F) just about finished us off, as one could tell from all the huffing and puffing!

You may be shocked to see the terrible living conditions of these wonderful people. It is worth noting that this family is no worse off than most others in this region of Africa. This sadly is the norm. It is mind-boggling that so many children must live like this in the 21st century, through no fault of their own. There is so much that we can do to help provide a better life for these kids, as such a small amount of money can buy so much in that part of the world. Bear in mind that it only takes about $35 to support FIVE children; it's enough to enroll them in school, pay for their school uniforms and tuition fees, and provide all of their daily needs. If you are interesting in helping out, just email me for more information.

May 29, 2009

I am thrilled to report that I am in the final planning stages for a large permanent exhibit of my Fogo Island landscapes and panoramas in the town of Fogo by the end of June, just in time for the busy summer tourist season. I am presently preparing about thirty framed pieces, as well as hundreds of unframed prints, for the grand opening in about four weeks time. I will keep you updated as we get closer to opening day.

This year is a very exciting time for me, as what started out as a photography hobby has been expanding in leaps and bounds. Plans are also in the works for another permanent exhibit of my landscapes, this time south of the border. Again, I will keep you posted as more information becomes available. And of course I still sell directly from my home in Island Harbour, (sign coming soon!) as well as internationally from my website at FocusOnNewfoundland.com.

I have been asked by several people recently if I would be interested in teaching a photography course locally. I would love to start a class at some point, but unfortunately I just don't have enough time right now, and my good days (healthwise) are few and far between. For the past few months I have been giving instruction to over 100 people from around the world via the Internet (email and specialized photography forums) but have recently had to cut back because it was taking up so much of my time. Some day, when/if things have settled down a little, I would like to give advanced instruction in photography here on the island, if there are still enough people interested, and if my health allows.

June 4, 2009

Margret Achola's new home is coming along nicely. Here is a picture taken this week by our friend Ezra, showing the metal sheets fastened to the front half of the structure. Hopefully a little more money can be raised to complete the job. This home is being constructed on an acreage that my family purchased in Kitojo, Western Uganda about three years ago. This property supports about 400 banana trees, and has been cultivated to grow many other types of produce. Here is another shot that better shows the lay of the land. I took this photo myself in early 2008.

There has been no shortage of screw-ups lately, in preparation for my inaugural art gallery photo exhibit in the town of Fogo. Although I have never had any problems with my printing lab in California, (when there were never any pressing time restraints!) this time, when I happen to be in a mad rush to get panoramas printed out in large numbers for the art gallery display, the entire order ended up being shipped off to the other Fogo Island... off the coast of Africa! The local framing shop has promised to have all of the framed prints ready in time for the opening, yet I don't have enough prints to give him! I had to reorder, and I was just informed that they got shipped out today. Let's hope the parcel gets here quickly, in time for the opening in four weeks time. As for the original order, I don't suppose that I will ever see those photographs again, but I can envision a little grass roofed hut in the middle of nowhere with a large number of Newfoundland scenes plastered all over its walls!

Well, I finally finished my "prints for sale" sign today! It took some time, and I will admit to uttering a few curse words along the way, but the end result is satisfactory. I think it will be difficult for the tourists to miss as they cruise up our road.

July 7, 2009

The new "Fogo Gallery On Church Hill" is now open to the public. This gallery features thirty of my framed Fogo Island landscapes and panoramas, as well as many unframed images which are available for purchase directly from the gallery. It is located in the former United Church, constructed in 1877, in the town of Fogo. Here is a photo showing the exterior of Fogo Gallery On Church Hill. Today I was thrilled to learn that Canadian Geographic plans to publish my "Africa Candid Portraits" photo essay.

July 8, 2009

There is now a display of our Treasures Of Africa Foundation's African handicrafts and art in the dining room of the Quiet Cannon Hotel in Stag Harbour, on the south shore of Fogo Island, just metres from the ferry terminal. This picture shows some of the hand-made baskets which are available. All proceeds from the sale of these handicrafts go directly to our various ongoing projects in Uganda, to help children who are orphaned by HIV/AIDS.

The Quiet Cannon's licenced restaurant is Fogo Island's best kept secret, serving a variety of authentic and delicious Newfoundland dishes.

August 10, 2009

My Africa Candid Portraits series is the Featured Photo Essay on the Canadian Geographic website for the next three months. You can access it from the home page by clicking on Canadian Geographic.

Tomorrow, Tuesday Aug 11th, is the grand opening reception at the new Fogo Gallery, from 4 to 7 PM.

October 28, 2009

Today was day four of a terrible wind storm that has been relentlessly pounding Fogo Island. The winds have been 110 km/h (about 70 mph). On Saturday, a fishing boat that was bringing home a load of shrimp was hit broadside by a rogue wave. Of the 4 man crew, sadly only 3 were still alive in their survival suits by the time the Search And Rescue helicopter plucked them from the frigid North Atlantic.

The same day, two men from the town of Fogo ventured out in the rough seas in a small boat to go bird hunting and never returned. We watched from our front window all afternoon, and into the evening, as Coast Guard and Search And Rescue vessels and helicopters continuously worked their way up and down the coastline. All through the night I kept getting up to look out the window, and a large Coast Guard cutter could always be seen searching. By Sunday morning the bodies of the two local men had been recovered. A very sad and tragic weekend for us Fogo Islanders.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the lost men.

Today the winds were still blowing at over 100 kph, and though it was raining/snowing and the skies were very dark, I drove down the road a short distance and took a few shots of the powerful surf from inside the car. Here are two of these captures.

Below are the Canadian Press news stories of the two tragedies:

FOGO ISLAND, N.L. — One man is dead and three have been rescued after a shrimp boat sank 65 kilometres north of Fogo Island, N.L., early Saturday. The Seafaring Legend, out of LaScie, N.L., was heading to Twillingate to offload when it ran into unspecified trouble and sent out a distress call. Cmdr. Mike Considine of the Search and Rescue Coordination Centre in Halifax said a Cormorant helicopter out of Gander as well as a fixed wing aircraft and coast guard vessels responded. "The Cormorant was first on scene and the fishing vessel seemed to have sunk. It was nowhere there," said Considine. "There were life rafts in the water and the chopper crew proceeded to recover all four persons who had been on board." He said the survivors appeared to be in good shape. All three were transported to Gander, N.L., for medical attention. There was no detail on what caused the boat to sink. Considine said there were strong northerly winds in the area but visibility was good.

FOGO ISLAND, N.L. — A search for a pair of bird hunters in waters off Fogo Island, N.L., ended in tragedy Sunday with the recovery of two bodies. RCMP said they had positively identified the men as Ralph Coles, 50, and Derek Godwin, 47, both of Fogo. Cpl. Stephen Smith said a military helicopter, two coast guard vessels and a vessel from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans were involved in the search. "It was quite a large effort to find the men," he said. "The bodies were located this morning in an area known as Deep Bay." Family members reported the two men overdue when they failed to return home after leaving in a small fibreglass boat to go bird hunting early Saturday. The bodies were flown to Gander where a medical examiner will determine if autopsies are necessary. It was a rough weekend around Fogo Island with the loss Saturday of a shrimp boat and the life of one crewman. Three others were rescued when the Seafaring Legend out of LaScie, N.L., sank after developing unspecified problems. "The weather was very bad on Saturday. There was quite a chop on the water, real gusty winds," said Smith.

December 15, 2009

Today I received this letter from someone in England who visited Fogo Island this past summer:


We have never met, but I have felt compelled to write to you for quite some time, and have finally found some much needed down time, so here goes.

Out of the gate, I wish to compliment you on your brilliant photographic talent. With not a word of fiction I have never in my years seen such stunning artwork from a mere camera. I have come upon your fine Newfoundland seascapes at various times, on numerous photographic websites, and no matter where I find your work, I am without exception moved by it.

But my primary reason for writing today is to congratulate you for what may possibly not have been your intention at all; specifically, how enormous of an impact, and important a role you play in putting Fogo Island on the international map. I firmly believe that you, single-handedly, have done more to promote Fogo Island's tourism trade than all the various public relations announcements, make-work projects, and philanthropists work combined. I have first-hand knowledge that many from this side of the pond (I reside in Guildford, England) are either planning future trips to your province, or have visited and will be returning. I have met several in recent months who are familiar with your photography, and speak of how you so beautifully illustrate the natural scenery of Newfoundland.

I visited Fogo Island this past summer season, (third time over) and was fortunate enough to blindly stumble upon your gallery exhibit in the town of Fogo, and regret not meeting you while I was still in the area. I too am an avid photog, but certainly not of your pedigree, although I am ever learning by watching/listening to others who have a stronger grasp of the subject than I. I will certainly make a serious attempt to look you up when I return.

Again, wishing to thank you for what you are doing to promote tourism through the art of photography. What until now has been Canada's best kept secret, is evolving into a choice destination. Every capture shows clearly what a unique geography and culture exists in your part of the world, which can only mean seriously boosting the overall local economy in coming years.

You are truly to be commended.

Allen R. Walker
Guildford, Surrey

September 12, 2010

I used to be able to write on this blog almost daily, but now it seems there is always something that prevents me from doing so. The fact that I am bedridden much of the time means little time for keeping the journal up to date, but there is more to it than that. As many of you know, I have been getting more involved in tutoring others in the art of landscape/nature photography, and things have grown and grown to the point that it now consumes a large portion of each day. I correspond daily with dozens of people from around the globe, and am often still typing far into the wee hours of the morning. But I love it. I can't work at a real job anymore, thanks to my poor health, including severe Restless Legs Syndrome, which can cause as much, if not more misery than the spinal issues, prolonged and severe headaches, and resulting permanent nerve damage combined. And any extra available moments have been spent together with my wife and daughter, and of course taking pictures of Fogo Island.

Every so often, I will click on this website and be reminded that the last entry is from about nine months ago, and I keep telling myself that I need to get back at it again, especially when I can see by my web statistics software that there are a great many of you who keep coming back, hoping to finally read something new. There are a lot of things to talk about, but it is already getting very late, so tonight I will just give a taste of what our summer has been like.

Fogo Gallery has just shut down for the year after another successful exhibit of my landscapes and panoramas. The annual gallery reception was held August 17th, and a few days later our good friends from the USA invited us to their summer home in Fogo for a dinner party, where we spent a very enjoyable evening with friends from New York, Delaware, London England, and of course from right here on Fogo Island. I am already hard at work preparing for next summer's gallery exhibit, which is set to open near the end of June, just in time for next year's busy tourist season.

Earlier this season, we had friends from Australia come to stay with us for a few days, and what a fun time we had! Here is an excerpt from their blog, describing their time spent with us on Fogo Island:

We were met at the Stag Harbour ferry terminal by Glen and Linda. And if you haven’t checked out Glen’s photographs yet they are a must see and here is the link:
The island was shrouded in fog, which gave the stunning scenery a magical air. We saw our first caribou on the way to Glen and Linda’s home in Island Harbour, a cozy hamlet of about 180 people. The entire Fogo Island is home to a mere 2,700 souls. The welcome was warm and generous, and Linda’s home baking was hard to resist: scotch eggs, home made pizza, lemon meringue pie, blueberry pie, with the wild berries harvested with her daughter, Jacqueline, last summer from the hill behind their house as they gazed out to the sea.
Our first morning, we went for a walk to the end of the point in front of the house; everywhere we pointed our camera there was a stunning composition to capture. In the afternoon, Glen, Linda and Jacqueline took us on a lovely driving tour of the island, and we visited the communities of Tilting, Black Head Cove, Deep Bay, Joe Batt’s Arm, Fogo, and many of Glen’s favourite photography sites and subjects.
Our last evening, we had a good laugh over the amazing power of the Internet as a tool to connect people from opposite ends of the world as we drank Jacob’s Creek Merlot (Aussie wine) coincidentally bought from the local shop and watched footage of The Eagles playing at a Melbourne concert! We found we had a lot in common to share and laugh over. We LOVE Fogo Island and aren’t concerned that the fog never lifted while we were there nor that we didn’t see any icebergs nor that the temp didn’t vary between 0 – 4 degrees – it was all enticing and delightful for us and……. we know we are coming back next summer!
Thanks so much Glen, Linda and Jacqueline, and little doggie Chrissy, for sharing your home and hearth and your island – we really enjoyed ourselves.

On the Africa front, the first phase of the new hospital construction in Kitojo, Western Uganda is nearing completion. This is a very large undertaking, as the total construction costs are expected to top a million dollars. All of our supported children are doing well. They received all of their new school supplies a few days ago. I have photos of them receiving their supplies, as well as some shots of the hospital construction, which I will post next time.

September 22, 2010

We have just survived the worst Newfoundland hurricane in recent memory. Everyone had expected Igor to weaken as it neared this province, but it in fact strengthened into a very dangerous hurricane causing at least 100 million dollars in damages to our infrastructure, with countless roads and bridges washed away and homes destroyed.
Here on Fogo Island we experienced winds of 145 kph and an unbelievable one day rainfall total of 168mm. Many of our neighbors' homes sustained damage, and roads were washed out. We were very lucky, as our old house was spared; not a shingle out of place! Here's a news article from the St. John's Telegram:

Harper deploys military to Newfoundland to aid hurricane relief efforts

Prime Minister Stephen Harper today said Ottawa was deploying the Canadian military to the hardest hit areas of Newfoundland to provide emergency supplies, assist with medical evacuations and rebuild critical infrastructure ripped apart by hurricane Igor.

Harper toured areas affected by the hurricane today and announced that Ottawa would deploy the Canadian Forces to respond to a call for assistance by the province to address critical requirements in the aftermath of the storm.

Harper was joined by Premier Danny Williams and Senator Fabian Manning.
“Today, I saw first hand the very serious damage caused by Hurricane Igor,” Harper said. “Our government stands behind Newfoundlanders and Labradorians and we will be dispatching Canadian Forces personnel immediately to the hardest hit areas to provide emergency supplies and to assist local authorities with medical evacuations and the rebuilding of critical infrastructure.”

Harper visited two of the hardest hit communities, Trouty and Britannia, where he met with families, volunteers and authorities dealing with floods, as well as damage to roads and bridges.

“Newfoundlanders and Labradorians affected by hurricane Igor will face enormous challenges ahead,” Harper said. “But they are facing the aftermath of the storm with their characteristic resilience and determination.”

Proceed to Page #4 for news about our upcoming return trip to Africa!

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