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I didn’t pick up my camera for a long time after the pandemic shut down the world. The shock and uncertainty of how this new virus spread so quickly overwhelmed me. During the summer of 2020, I returned to a cottage where I spent my childhood; the trip reignited my love for photography as I immersed myself in nature.
If you look up the world’s largest freshwater island, Manitoulin Island, you’ll see it hugs the northernmost shore of Lake Huron, one of the five Great Lakes, which is in the province of Ontario, Canada. In the eastern corner of the North Channel that separates it from the great Canadian Shield, you’ll find the Bay of Islands. My parents’ cottage was built on one of these islands. My visit to the cottage during the summer of 2020 would be the last. My parents had just sold it, and I had to say goodbye to the place I love most. With my camera, I did my best to try and capture its magic.
This is a place where I feel like I’m not just looking at nature but actually a part of it. It always welcomes me with open arms and tells me everything is going to be okay.
Arriving at my childhood cottage in the Bay of Islands, Ontario, Canada. We made it just before the clouds opened up and poured rain. Getting to and from the island is half the adventure.
A Great Blue Heron waits patiently for the right moment to catch a fish. Nature photography requires similar patience and focus.
The Comet NEOWISE peeks through the clouds in July 2020. A reminder of how incredible the universe is.
Water smartweed is found in shallow water near the shore.
A bald eagle returns to the nest to feed its young. The nest was on a small, uninhabited island and was photographed from a kayak.
Another common sight in the shallow waters around some of the islands is the beautiful water lily.
A crescent moon rises after sunset in the Bay of Islands.
A long exposure reveals the Milky Way along with some shooting stars from the Perseid meteor shower.
A loon dries out its wings after a long dive underwater to find food.
My favorite place to watch the sunset. Each one is different.
Vanessa Dewson is an award-winning photographer and travel writer based in Ottawa, Canada. She also teaches photography at the Ottawa School of Art and leads photography tours around the world.
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