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Monday, March 1, 2004

Great Lakes

An intrepid family of adventurers set out to explore, photograph and bring awareness to the swath of Canadian wilderness called the Heritage Coast

Adventure Photography
Some images in the book hold special meaning for the McGuffins, but don't ask them to pick a favorite. Instead, they prefer the memories of the journey associated with certain shots.

"We were there for three days in a huge wind," Gary describes of an image of a flying kite in the book. "The seas were massive, the waves were 10 or 15 feet high, and you can see that big breaking wave on the way in to where Joanie is flying Sila's kite. I'm standing in waist-deep water and the wave has just come past me. Imogene Bay is an old logging camp, and at one time, there was a community of 400 people that lived there. Now it's totally reverted to wilderness. So, I look at that image and it brings back what a great three days it was running up and down that beach—just being there for three days without another soul around."

Other photographs offer the opportunity to recall profound personal moments they experienced during the expedition.

"That's on top of a place called the Sleeping Giant," Gary remarks of another dramatic photograph in the book. "That's just over 800 feet in height. What's really neat about this place is the tops of the glaciers were about this high. The first people who came to this area exploring along the bottoms of those glaciers were walking along the tops of these cliffs. So, to stand there and imagine looking down and watching for woolly mammoths doing their seasonal migration, and then coming across spear points that are literally eight inches long and four inches in height and perfectly tooled—it's amazing stuff to come across.

"You're standing there looking out with an entirely different perspective on what you're doing, compared to somebody standing there 10,000 years ago whose mission was to feed his family and his tribespeople. You feel so connected when you've been traveling by a traditional method—whether it's walking or snowshoeing or canoeing or kayaking. You have more of an affinity with the person who left that spear point behind.

"I just don't get compelled to pick the camera up and try to shoot something," Gary says. "I'm much more interested in the experience. When you're on a journey, it's a spiritual, emotional, physical, mental challenge. You're so connected with everything. That's what our photography represents. The camera came out; it went away when we finished the journey.

"That's what adventure photography is to me as compared to maybe landscape photography, where someone decides they want to put a book together on a subject and they go back to it year after year, season after season, waiting for lengths of time for the light to be right. With this book, that's what we saw when we were there. We're taking you there to the best of our ability through these images.

"The journey is the experience," Gary adds. "The book and the images are just a total celebration of that journey."

The McGuffins hope that readers will not only find the images beautiful and compelling, but inspiring as well. They hope to create appreciation for the environment and to help motivate positive changes in the natural world.

"In order to get people to defend a place, they have to come to love it," says Gary. "I hope that even if people can't come to the Great Lakes Heritage Coast, if they can't get to these places, hopefully we've brought them there and stirred a passion in them. We're all part of this web, and our actions—no matter how small—are felt by others."

For more information about the Great Lakes Heritage Coast, and to see more photographs from their journey, visit the McGuffins' website at www.adventurers.org.



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