When I started teaching, almost 35 years ago, an ‘expert was someone from out of town with a slide show’. And they were actual slides in a carrosel, not a Power Point. And many were giving opinions, hopefully based on research of some facts.
After my many adventures to attend openings of Come From Away all around the world, some misplace me for a “theatre expert”.
Due to my back ground information, being represented by my last name and profession and personal knowledge of amazing actors, producers, writers, etc. I have a pretty good knowledge of this particular award winning musical. But even focusing on this one musical, I’m a fan of Come From Away (with connnections) at best. (https://findnewfoundland.com/2016/10/30/so-im-a-bit-of-a-character/)
Taking it down a level to the actual events that happened in Central Newfoundland, again, I’m eagerly hearing and learning more details. Zoom in further on events at Gander Academy where I volunteered day and night with my collegues, I only know some of the many stories that happened with over 1000 people in the school for 4 days.
Today, “an expert” seems to be anyone with a phone and a bit of wifi, and misinformation and disinformation abound, after the slightest hint or misunderstanding.
Those who know me well know that I have a passion for icebergs. Perhaps an obsession, if I admit to the amount of time and resources I spend to see them and to help others see them.
I also believe in respect and telling the truth. And doing your homework.
Initially, I tried to report locations of icebergs to the provincial government web page as part of their call to be an iceberg ambassador but for a battery of reasons, including outdated methods and technology, they had no interest in my photos or reports of current icebergs in 2014. I tried again, with a friend, to submit photos in 2015, and when we were again not seen as needed information, I started, first a blog and then Newfoundland Iceberg Reports, a social media experiment, encouraging others to share current iceberg sitings with locations. The Facebook group gave the immediacy of information that a blog can not.
Our groups has over 20 000 members from all over the world. Some have come to see icebergs, some dream of it and a core group of a couple of hundred Newfoundland and Labrador residents are the heart of the thing and provide regular, reliable photos during iceberg season and great memories and teases during the long off season while we wait again for spring.
Folks think I’m some kind of an “iceberg expert” but my gift is is creating a community of iceberg lovers who share eagerly with others. I get called on by media often to talk about iceberg sightings and seasons but clearly represent myself as a hobbiest, at best. The page is a hobby page with no gains of any kind for me except iceberg information.
I’ve only ever seen the Northern Lights once. It was remarkable.
I would never accuse a photographer of photoshopping their Northern Lights images because they represent something I have not see before or something that I have not seen as dramatically in my own experience. I marvel at them and wonder about a northern holiday they way icebergs draw visitors to Newfoundland and Labrador.
Facebook keeps doing Updates and Upgrades ( of all the wrong things, but that’s another topic) so I availed of the Rules feature this year. With over 20K members and knowing there’ll be an influx this year, I’m hoping it will save me some repetition and help with crowd control.
Our number one rule, in a group of adults, is to be Kind and Courteous and this is the description of that :
This is a group for the sharing of current iceberg locations in season. You may see things that challenge your understanding. We do not photoshop in this group. We don’t need to.
This is rule number one because of past experience and the damage that can be caused to individuals when they are accused falsely of deception or wrong doing. We are not that kind of Facebook group and the tone is set repeatedly to remind members that we are here to create a reliable and trustworthy site for information.
We have had a number of photos challenged by ‘non-believers’ in the past.
Their favourite target is Doreen Dalley’s image, often shared without photo credit and recently attributed to Ferryland when it was actually in Little Harbour, near Twillingate.There’s no mistaking it.
When she initially published it, two members on my page accused her of photoshop and one was so indignant at being asked to remove or comment or be blocked, that she went to Little Harbour the next day to prove Doreen to be a cheat. Of course, standing in the correct location, she got a great photo of an iceberg she had not even noticed the day before from that community. She apologized profusely and admited to having learned a lesson.
Doreen and I don’t mind being part of someone’s new awarenss or learning something new. We are life long learners and teachers.
It’s when folks dig themselves deeper that we get riled.
Bill Hudson, a writer for Pagosa Daily Post recently wrote some articles using an iceberg analogy for a business theme. We’ve all seen it, the tip represents one things and the submerged part represents various unseen elements. The visual is used often in education, motivational speeches, etc. Somehow, this made him an iceberg photography expert.
Someone then sent him a link to Doreen’s photo of an iceberg and he posted a blog post called “The wonders of an Iceberg” accusing her of photoshopping the image. Not only did he not contact her to ask about the image, he quoted her from a CBC article where she explained that the image was direct from the camera, therefore also calling her a liar.
When contacted by Doreen by email, he challenged her to produce other images to prove her ablity to take such a photo and then edited the title of his blog to add the word photoshopped. So he is now an ‘expert’ on the “Wonders of Photoshopped Icebergs”.
When in doubt, I encourage you to do research. On any topic but also to check reliable sources and multiple sources. There are hundreds of images of this iceberg and Bill’s seem to be the only ones photoshopped to add palm trees.
Doreen and I have had many long conversations over the people who accuse her of having to fake photos.
They obviously don’t know she’s photographed thousands of icebergs or that she and her husband often took professional photographers on tour so they could get their perfect ‘unbelieveable’ shots.
At one point, discouraged by the controversy, she was going to stop participating in the group. Then buoyed by posts from people who saw that iceberg or came to Newfoundland inspired by her images, she realized that the sharing of current, truthful information, even about icebergs, is more important than backing down to conspiracy and jealousy. She still feels this way and offered correction to Mr. Hudson so he could correctly answer the woman who asked about her image but he replied that he’s an investigative reporter and then added the word photoshopped.
Thank you Doreen and Peggy and Eric and Mark and Paul and Sheila and so many others who contribute to our group and who value accuracy and reliability.
One thing about him, he got me back to writing today after a year, so thanks Bill too.
If you are looking for information about Newfoundland, there are many better sources than Bill.
If you want to see great photos of icebergs and have accurate in season information
Facebook page is Newfoundland Iceberg Reports.
There is also an app called Iceberg Alley. Both of these sources depend on user generated content, meaning eye witness viewing and reporting.
The department of Tourism in NL also has upgrated their web page over the past couple of years and accepts UGC too, making it much easier to check multiple sources for accuracy before going on a drive (or accusing someone of falsifying information).
Their iceberg page did not launch in 2020 due to the spring travel concerns related to Covid 19. Not sure what 2021 will bring yet. I was invited to critique their page and made some suggestions. One I’m pleased to see used this year is putting the years on iceberg photos in their gallery. I also prefer month and date so show just how long some seasons are. We do that in my Facebook group.
For more views of icebergs in the Little Harbour, near Twillingate see these links.
And for more of Doreen’s post of the Little Harbour berg you can look here. The iceberg eventually broke down enough to become freefloating but was in a trench so tides and currents caused it to rotate in place for another few days. A few folks found that fodder for false accusations too.