Jonathon Reed and Asad Chishti are cycling 15,000 km from the Atlantic coast of Canada to the Arctic and Pacific Oceans. Throughout the 6-month expedition, they are documenting unheard stories within the Canadian landscape through the lenses of their cameras. This is the second of a series of dispatches from the wild and windy roads of the north.

We’re currently in Québec City. The St. Lawrence River has narrowed as we’ve headed inland. Since our last dispatch, we’ve crossed the uplands of Newfoundland, circled Cape Breton and Prince Edward Island, and climbed over the long-eroded Appalachian and Laurentian mountain ranges. We camped surrounded by snow in the first few weeks of our journey, and by now the heat of summer—accompanied by thunderstorms in the last few days—is rushing towards us.

Avalon Peninsula, NL
We scrambled up the rock and tried not to walk on the lichen as we reached the light of the setting sun. The orange of the sunset mixed with the blue of the shadows, plus the green trees and red moss. The rocky hills were alive with color. The highway was close enough to photograph but the sounds of the vehicles faded into the distant hills as they reflected the sun.

Photographing the Avalon Peninsula, NL by Jonathon Reed on

Avalon Peninsula, NL – Canon 6D/Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art

Behind the Photo
When I’m in a stunning landscape, my thoughts move to how to photograph wide enough to capture the view. I was shooting with a 35mm prime lens, so I shot three separate images and merged them in Adobe Lightroom. To try to keep the camera steady, I held the camera against my face and locked my elbows against my ribs, rotating my core horizontally to make my body as tripod-like as I could.

Tignish, PE
He was skilled in the way of decades. His eyes had seen thousands of sunrises and his ship had weathered thousands of storms. When I took this photo, he wasn’t paying attention to me; he was calculating the distance to the next set of traps. But as he turned to look at his crew on the deck behind him, his eyes flickered to me, caught the sun, and I clicked.

The Ledge, PE by Jonathon Reed on

Tignish, PE – Canon 6D/Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art.

Behind the Photo
The most important part of this photo was the angle of the sun. I waited in the cabin as he repositioned the boat for the next set of lobster traps and took the photo when the sun was casting shadows on his face and illuminating his eyes. Usually, when I shoot a portrait, the eyes are the focal point, so that’s what I pay attention to in the composition of the shot.

Chéticamp, NS
The one thing that every single sunrise and sunset has in common is that they don’t stay for long. It felt like just minutes before I could tell that the colors were fading into blue. For every panorama I shot, for every wave that rolled onto shore, it was like I could feel the earth spinning away from the sun and towards the night. The day of grey sky had concluded in a breathtaking whirlwind of orange and pink and purple, but it had concluded nonetheless. Night was on its way.

Touching the Atlantic, NS by Jonathon Reed on

Chéticamp, NS – Canon 6D/Canon 14mm f/2.8.

Behind the Photo
The exciting part of shooting a seascape sunrise or sunset is how the water reflects the color and light of the horizon. I took a couple photos from a distance and then decided that with such a dynamic sky, I wanted to capture that same kind of motion in the waves as well. I squatted as close to the rolling waves as I dared, and waited for the right timing of foam and water. The result is a photo that is both colorful and full of different textures, which I find to be very visually interesting.

Stag Harbour, NL
We were alone with the sea. One of the many fascinating things for me about the ocean is how different it can be from one moment and one place to the next. Crashing or lapping, roaring or lingering. Here, it was still. Not quite like glass; more like the stillness of someone holding something fragile, wanting to touch it but afraid if they move too quickly, they’ll break it.

Stag Harbour, NL by Jonathon Reed on

Stag Harbour, NL – Canon 6D/Sigma 35mm f/1.4.

Behind the Photo
The composition of this photo is quite simple. I aimed for symmetry and a sense of balance in the photo. I didn’t have a lot of options for foreground, and after looking around, decided to just shoot for the midground and background, using Asad as a focal point. The best part of this moment was the color combination. The yellow seaweed provided a color balance for the blue ice, with Asad’s red jacket drawing my eye to the centre of the photo.

Saint-Thérèse-de-Gaspé, QC
We bicycled past a stretch of road that led to a lighthouse. I regretted not turning towards it instantly but kept on pedaling forward, hoping another spot would take me right to it. Coming across this railroad bridge, I stopped and wandered over to hopefully talk to the owner and get a story. There was a renovation crew of two perched all the way at the top. They weren’t too interested in chatting while on the clock. Understandably so. When I wandered back towards my bicycle, it made sense to have Jonathon stand somewhere on the bridge.

ATRF on Digital by Asad Chishti on

Saint-Thérèse-de-Gaspé, QC – Canon 5D Mark III/Sigma 35mm f/1.4.

Behind the Photo
I focused on the red bicycle panniers (also made in Québec), which complemented the red lighthouse paint, as well as the trajectory of the lines from the electric pole to the lighthouse. It took a little bit of walking around to frame it just the way I wanted it to and to make sure Jonathon was looking the right way. He kept looking from side to side for a train that was never coming. The railway was abandoned, but he didn’t know it at the time.

Tadoussac, QC
The attention to detail in Québec astounds me on many different levels, and the cycling infrastructure is leaps and bounds ahead of all the other provinces. They have a series of gorgeous lookouts outs called Halte municipal (municipal stops). Each of them has a gorgeous view. The framing of this—despite the red roofs, the town, the harbor, the St. Lawrence River—didn’t quite feel right till I found a little window. Almost like catching a sneak peek.

ATRF on Digital by Asad Chishti on

Tadoussac, QC – Canon 5D Mark III/Sigma 35mm f/1.4.

This was true of our experience of Tadoussac as well. We zipped in on our bicycles, bought some groceries, refueled our cooking stove tank, and took the short ferry ride to Baie-Sainte-Catherine. As soon as we crossed, a cycle tourist told us that we were truly missing out by not having lingered for longer. Next time, we promised and kept pushing up the hills. When you pay the price on these northern shores—with all of their altitude gains and drops—you will witness some majestic views, he assured us. We can verify his claim and that the price, just like some of the gradients, is steep. At least on a bicycle.

Métis-sur-Mer, QC

There are not too many bad habits I’ve picked up in the few years that I’ve been a serious and avid cycle tourist. But Jonathon is often using his headphones to make calls, and I was doing the same, with an impromptu call to a dear friend, when Brigitte biked right up to me. We started speaking French, I accidentally forgot about my friend on the phone (who eventually hung up), and I had a beautiful ride into Métis-sur-Mer, also called ‘Metis Beach’ by the locals. Brigitte is a geologist in the city of Montréal who grew up not too far from here. The bicycle she had was the same line of my favorite touring bike, the Specialized Tricross, which is closer to me than most people I know. We talked about love, the local Québécois, the economy, coffee, embarking on adventures, shooting and developing 35mm film, and how it was the perfect day for her dog to go for a swim. We bid farewell at the outskirts of the town, and just before we did, after having biked past innumerable beautiful spots to have taken a photo, the middle of the road with the hint of the yellow line behind her and the road wrinkled with time—, it just clicked. By which I mean, I did.

ATRF on Digital by Asad Chishti on

Métis-sur-Mer, QC – Canon 5D Mark III/Sigma 35mm f/1.4.

Read the first article in this series on ISO. Then, follow Jonathon Reed & Asad Chishti on 500px and stay tuned for their next ISO article tracking their travels through Canada.
Until next time, you can find us at

Jonathon Reed: 500px/jonathonreed
Asad Chishti: