Experimenting with Landscape Compositions at Estmere Nova Scotia

This article shows a selection of images that were captured at Estmere Nova Scotia while I was experimenting with some landscape compositions. 

Some of these photographs are outtakes and will not be included in our upcoming Nova Scotia Photography Tour Highlight eBook. I realize that not every photography blog would show images that ‘didn’t work’. If you’re like me, you may learn quite a bit from studying your own images of this type. So, I didn’t see any harm in sharing some of my flubs with readers. I’ve included them here to demonstrate some of the composition options that I considered during a 5 minute stop at this location. It is often a good idea to ‘work a scene’ rather than settle for the first couple of composition attempts that one tries.

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 10mm, efov 27mm, f/8, 1/200, ISO-160

One of the elements that originally caught my eye causing me to pull over, was a bench overlooking an inlet on Bras d’Or Lake on Cape Breton Island. I captured a couple of images incorporating it, and quickly decided that the photographs were not going to work as well as I had hoped.  While the bench had the potential of being a character element it just didn’t feel right. The image above was the best of the two I captured.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 10.9mm, efov 29.5mm, f/5.6, 1/400, ISO-160

I noticed a spit of land out in the inlet that had a nice curve to it and captured the image above. After checking it in my viewfinder I moved on without taking any other variations of the scene. I liked the curved spit of land but the composition looked a bit flat and lacked depth. Sometimes I take images like this just to get a sense of how a landscape feature looks in the frame.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 10mm, efov 27mm, f/5.6, 1/500, ISO-160

There were a number of birch trees at the location so I experimented with various approaches to include them as a corner element or as a feature. Some of the trees were growing at unusual angles, making them difficult to incorporate. The image above was the best of 5 attempts, but still not right.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 10mm, efov 27mm, f/8, 1/200, ISO-160

I decided to pull back a bit so I could overlap more of the elements. I thought the image above had some promise but still needed some work. The cut-off tree on the right hand side was a bit distracting and the curve of the spit of land wasn’t positioned well in the frame. I also felt that not enough of the tree on the left-hand side had been included, causing it to look odd.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 10mm, efov 27mm, f/8, 1/400, ISO-160

I changed the shooting angle of my camera upward, moved slightly to my left, and came in a bit tighter. I recomposed the scene by lopping off the distracting tree on the right-hand side, included a small piece of land that was in the water on the left-hand side, as well as showing more of the tree on that side. This helped to balance the image and helped direct a viewer’s eye into the frame. I liked this image quite a bit, feeling it had much better flow and balance.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 10mm, efov 27mm, f/5.6, 1/500, ISO-160

My final approach was to move in a bit tighter in an attempt to incorporate the various elements but simplify the composition. I moved to my left to position the spit of land between a single birch and a small cluster of trees. I incorporated leaves beginning in the top left-hand corner to form a left to right downward eye flow as I felt this helped direct a viewer’s eye to the spit of land and the main cluster of birches. I liked this composition.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 10mm, efov 27mm, f/5.6, 1/500, ISO-160

I tried another quick composition by adjusting my framing. I lopped off the two trees on the left hand side and brought more of the island on the left-hand side into the frame. I wasn’t entirely happy with how the spit of land was interacting with the birch trees. I also thought that bringing in more trees on the lake was distracting. I decided that the previous photograph had better flow and balance. I looked at my watch, discovering I had already spent 5 minutes at this location. It was time to move on!

Technical Note
All photographs in this article were captured hand-held in available light using Nikon 1 camera gear as noted in the EXIF data. All images were produced from RAW files using my standard process of DxO OpticsPro 11, CS6 and the Nik Collection.

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2 thoughts on “Experimenting with Landscape Compositions at Estmere Nova Scotia”

  1. Tom,
    I find your example of the process of identifying and refining a composition very helpful. Too often we only see the final product. The process is what we need to learn.

    1. Hi Jack,
      I’m glad you found the article helpful! One of the eBook projects I have under development is about photographic composition and I’m considering adding some case studies of this type as a section in the eBook.
      Tom

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