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July 21st, 2021

By Simon Jodoin

Presented by Tour du Québec


We've all heard about the magnificent sunsets over the St. Lawrence River, which we contemplate with delight while traveling on the south shore of the river. So, when we are on the other side, on the north shore, what time is the colorful show that makes photographers run? 

 Logically, it should be the opposite, at dawn, right? Well, yes! With a bonus: the morning mist.

 Let's go strolling in Charlevoix! We like to go to this region for its magnificent landscapes, its mountains where the roads and paths seem to flow into the river and its farmlands lying comfortably in the hollow of the hills. However, we are going to reveal a well-kept secret: the beauty of Charlevoix reaches its peak while most travelers are still in bed. To realize this, you have to get up early to see the sunrise.

 Consult the weather schedules found on various websites to find the time of the first rays of the day. As an indication, in July for example, the magic moment takes place between 5:00 and 5:30 AM. This means that you will have to be on the road well in advance, because you want to have a front row seat to witness the sun's entrance on the scene!

To get a good view of the sun, take route 362, the road that dances with the river and the mountains, between Baie-St-Paul and La Malbaie. When the first rays of light hit the land, you realize how much it deserves its title of panoramic road.



Simon Jodoin - Charlevoix
Road 362 - Miellerie du cratère
Sony a7 II + 24-70mm f/2.8 GM
ISO 100 | 1/125 | f/5.6


Simon Jodoin - Charlevoix
Road 362 to Saint-Irénée
Sony a7 II + 24-70mm f/2.8 GM
ISO 100 | 1/125 | f/4.0

 

The contrast effect created by the relief is striking. While on the summits the golden hour highlights the barns, houses and fields, you only have to go down a few meters to find yourself in an allegory of diffused light piercing the mists that evaporate from the waking earth. As for the river, it is often covered by a thick layer of clouds that makes you imagine for a moment that you are on top of the world.


Simon Jodoin - Charlevoix
Road 362 to Saint-Irénée
Sony a7 II + 24-70mm f/2.8 GM
ISO: 100 | 1/80 | f/5.6


Simon Jodoin - Charlevoix
Road 362 to Les Éboulements
Sony a7 II + 24-70mm f/2.8 GM
ISO 100 | 1/8000 | f/3.2


Simon Jodoin - Charlevoix
Road 362 to Saint-Irénée
Sony a7 II + 24-70mm f/2.8 GM
ISO 100 | 1/500 | f/3.2


To give you an idea of the contrast between the river bank and the peaks of the road, it is absolutely necessary to start several descents towards the river, in the villages which remain shrouded for a long time in the fog. The hunt for images opens the way to many adventures! The steep slope towards St-Joseph-de-la-Rive, for example, offers a large portion of the horizon. At this point, you can see L'Isle-aux-Coudres emerge from the fog to take on the appearance of a distant world. Perhaps you will be tempted to take to the sea to discover the wonders of this part of the country. In this case, you will not see the end of the boarding dock where passengers wait to take the first ferry, which surrounds the place with an aura of mystery.



Simon Jodoin - Charlevoix
Descent to Saint-Joseph-de-la-Rive
Sony a7 II + 24-70mm f/2.8 GM
ISO 100 | 1/100 | f/7.1


Simon Jodoin - Charlevoix
Descent to St-Joseph-de-la-Rive and Isle-aux-Coudres, which emerges from the mist
Sony a7 II + 24-70mm f/2.8 GM
ISO 100 | 1/100 | f/7.1


The morning mist acts as a giant natural diffuser that you can really play with to create images that are out of the ordinary. The golden rule is simple: don't be afraid to miss and take every opportunity to press the shutter. One thing is for sure, time is of the essence, as the fog dissipates quickly and in many cases it only takes a few meters to measure the distance between places that are completely sunny and others that are still bathed in thick fog.


Simon Jodoin - Charlevoix
Saint-Joseph-de-la-Rive, De l’Église Street
Sony a7 II + 24-70mm f/2.8 GM
ISO 100 | 1/100 | f/7.1


Simon Jodoin - Charlevoix
St-Joseph-de-la-Rive, boarding dock to Isle-aux-coudres
Sony a7 II + 24-70mm f/2.8 GM
ISO 100 | 1/100 | f/7.1


Simon Jodoin - Charlevoix
St-Joseph-de-la-rive - Musée Maritime de Charlevoix
Sony a7 II + 24-70mm f/2.8 GM
ISO 100 | 1/100 | f/9.0


We bet that getting up early to explore every corner of the region will quickly become a passion for image hunters. Of course, the sunny days offer a marked contrast between the foggy hours after dawn and the great light that will lull the rest of the morning. However, it is not uncommon to discover places further along the coast where the fog seems to drag its feet for a long time. This is often the case in Port-au-Persil, north-east of La Malbaie, where the light diffused by the fog allows to clearly mark the outlines of the small McLaren chapel and the rocky capes of the surroundings. This is another place you will want to visit early in the day, when the few houses that border the bay still seem to be sleeping. A change of scenery guaranteed.


Simon Jodoin - Charlevoix
Port-au-Persil
Sony a7 II + 24-70mm f/2.8 GM
ISO: 100 - 1/160 sec @ f/8.0


Simon Jodoin - Charlevoix
Port-au-Persil
Sony a7 II + 24-70mm f/2.8 GM
ISO 100 |1/160 | f/8.0


Again, it bears repeating: although there will undoubtedly be a difference in rendering depending on the range of cameras and lenses used, it is nature itself that offers amateur and professional photographers the important elements to create memorable images. The main idea is to capture the moment, not to be a prisoner of technology! However, a good quality camera that will allow you to develop RAW files will give you more flexibility, as playing with the rising sun will sometimes bring out the shadows. For morning walks, too, having a versatile constant aperture zoom is a huge advantage. However, you should never be afraid to go on an adventure with the equipment your budget allows, without forgetting, of course, your alarm clock.



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