Island photographer unveils guidebook to Island photography

Mary MacKay
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Stephen DesRoches is a designer and photographer who has helped create and publish 22 photography-related ebooks.

Prince Edward Island’s best-kept scenic secrets are now just a download away.

A new ebook, A Photographer’s Guide to Prince Edward Island by well-known scenic photographer John Sylvester with help from designer and photographer Stephen DesRoches, maps out more than 40 prime shooting locations, using more than 130 photographs and accompanying text.

“It’s a guidebook first, photo book second . . . . It’s about the location,” DesRoches says of the ebook, which is available for purchase at www.photographersguidetopei.com.

This meeting of the photography minds started with DesRoches, who had worked on similar ebook projects, beginning with an Albertan photographer’s guide to shooting the Canadian Rockies.

With a P.E.I. ebook in mind, he approached Sylvester, who has been making his living as a travel, nature and landscape photographer from his Island home for more than 30 years.

“We wanted to go around the province using Tourism P.E.I.’s three drives — eastern, central and western — and then find locations all along those routes,” Sylvester says.

“Then I went to my photo archive and pulled out images that I thought would work (as image examples).

Of the 40-plus places that are listed in the guide, Malpeque Harbour stands out foremost as one of Sylvester’s ultimate spots to shoot.

“I love that location. It’s really unique because it’s one of the few harbours where the fishing boats back in with the stern to the wharf. So when you are across the harbour and you are looking toward the boats, all the bows are facing toward you. Usually they’re parallel parked against the wharf,” he says.

“And it can get very calm and you can get some beautiful reflections.”

DesRoches has a definite preference for Greenwich in P.E.I. National Park, namely the boardwalk that spans from the woodland across the saltwater marsh to the parabolic dune system.

There are also lots more off-the-beaten path locations highlighted in the guide, such as Knox’s Dam, Naufrage, Teapot Rock and Seacow Head.

“For autumn there are the heritage roads of P.E.I. One of my favourites is the Princetown-Warburton Road in Queens County . . . ,” Sylvester says.

“It is really quite beautiful and has this canopy of trees that goes right over (the red dirt road). And again that’s something that is quite unique to P.E.I. — those clay roads with the canopy of trees.”

In addition to each recommended shooting location, the ebook includes easy-to-follow driving directions and GPS co-ordinates.

“I’d say everything on Prince Edward Island is easily accessible. If you have to hike anywhere here, you don’t have to hike very far to get to a beautiful location,” Sylvester says.

The guide’s chapters are also organized sequentially in a counter clockwise direction.

“The GPS takes you to either the parking lot or the starting point. For some of the sections there are two GPS locations, so the start and the end, (for example) starts at Souris and ends at East Point,” DesRoches says.

Another handy guidebook component are the recommendations of what months are best to visit a particular location, as well as the time of day.

“The best time for landscape photography is usually in the morning or late in the evening. One of my favourite places in the National Park is Cape Turner, (but) if you go there in the evening the sun is on the other side of the cliff so you’re going to be in the shade and you won’t get that nice warm light there on the cliffs at all. So it’s really a morning location,” Sylvester says.

There are also seasonal shooting suggestions so that people can broaden their photographic horizons beyond the traditional warm weather months.

“I have to admit I am partial to June, but the thing about winter here is that we nearly always get something special happening. We did (a few weeks ago) when P.E.I. was covered in glass (freezing rain) for an entire day, it was fantastic,” Sylvester says. “The other thing I really like this time of year is photographing the ice on the north shore. It’s kind of like going to the poor man’s arctic. This year has been fantastic because there has been incredible ice cover in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

“And just at the end of March and the beginning of April, the sun comes around to the north so it’s actually setting over the ice. So you get this beautiful light coming across the top of the ice pans with water in between. Every season has its beauty here for sure. “

The ebook format makes it super easy for people who are travelling to take the book along with them on their mobile device, tablet or computer during their photographic exploration of this province.

“When you’re travelling somewhere and you’re interested in finding these locations, it’s a lot easier just to go to your iPhone, look at the maps and find all the information right there, rather than having another guidebook that you’re flipping through,” Sylvester says.

Instead of a finite book product, an ebook can evolve with time as new content becomes available.

“The beauty of a digital edition is also that you can adjust if things change or add new material to existing sites,” Sylvester says. “In fact, there was another elephant trunk coming out of the cliffs at elephant rock and I had photographed it, thinking it was going to be this other great rock formation, but it was gone the next year.”

At the end of A Photographer’s Guide to Prince Edward Island, people are requested to submit suggestions they think should be added to future e-editions.

“This book is not intending for people to go and try to reproduce exactly that same photo. (It’s to show) that this location exists; go try your own thing,” DesRoches says. “And then in the back of the book we say that we’d love to see what you find that’s different. In photography workshops, you can line 10 people up side-by-side and everyone will shoot something different.”

AT A GLANCE

Fast facts

Photographer John Sylvester, with help from Stephen DesRoches, has produced an ebook guide featuring 40 of his favourite Prince Edward Island photography locations.

With more than 130 photographs and accompanying text, the ebook is designed to guide users to the best photography locations in all seasons and at the right time of day.

It includes useful photography tips and GPS co-ordinates to pinpoint each location.

Conceived and designed by DesRoches, the guide is easy to use with mobile devices, tablets and computers.

The book is available as a downloadable PDF file. It can be purchased for $10 at www.photographersguidetopei.com.

Organizations: Canadian Rockies

Geographic location: Prince Edward Island, P.E.I. National Park, Princetown-Warburton Road Queens East Point

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