Tree and Water Compositions in Nova Scotia

Like most photographers, I’ve found that certain interactions of elements really appeal to me. Tree and water compositions are one of my favourite combinations.

This short article shares a few images from our recent photography tour of Nova Scotia. All locations will be included in our upcoming Nova Scotia Photography Tour eBook.

To illustrate how important using trees in compositions can be, let’s start by looking at two images captured back-to-back at Little Narrows Beach.

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm @ 14.4mm, efov 38.9mm, f/5.6, 1/500, ISO-160

While the photograph above is reasonably pleasant with its gently curving beach and “magic 7” composition, it lacks a feeling of depth and intimacy.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm @ 10mm, efov 27mm, f/5.6, 1/640, ISO-160

Including some pine trees on the left-hand side of the photograph, and shooting at a slightly wider angle, has helped to create a more balanced and engaging composition. To me, the composition also has more intimacy and helps a viewer feel more a part of the scene.

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

The image above was captured at Torbay. I took a very short walk through a forested area in order to create this image. I purposely composed the photograph by walking in very close to the tree on the right-hand side, and shooting with a wide angle setting. I also wanted the overhanging boughs on the left-hand side to be visible in the frame. The combination of these two tree elements help to create a subtle reveal in the composition. When I was creating this image I was imagining how early Nova Scotia explorers may have felt when first seeing Torbay from this vantage point.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm @ 10mm, efov 27mm, f/8, 1/200, ISO-400

The area around Ingonish abounds with photographic opportunities. I loved the stillness of the water and the contrast of the white birch against the tree covered hills in the distance. The scene felt very restful. I find that feelings of stillness and tranquility are often communicated through tree and water compositions.

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

This is another image from the Ingonish area. We spent a fair bit of time on gravel, and sometimes dirt roads, during our recent Nova Scotia trip. I captured this image on our return to a main road. I noticed the ‘for sale’ sign on the birch tree and stopped the car thinking, “Wow…someone actually wants to sell a piece of paradise.” Using the dirt road as a leading line was a given.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm @ 10mm, efov 27mm, f/8, 1/50, ISO-400

If you blinked a few times while driving, it would be easy to miss Goose Cove. The image above, and the next two, were captured in this area. A stand of birch trees along the water caught my attention so I pulled over. This is a typical ‘reveal’ type of composition intended to direct a viewer’s gaze across the water to the fog shrouded hill in the distance.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm @ 10mm, efov 27mm, f/8, 1/60, ISO-400

The stillness of the water and the resulting reflections of the opposite shoreline intrigued me. I purposely moved in very close to some birch trees that were right on the water’s edge, using them as a foreground curtain. The intent was to create a strong feeling of intimacy by purposely composing the image without showing the ground in the foreground. The tiny cabin on the shoreline serves as a focal point in the composition.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm @ 10mm, efov 27mm, f/8, 1/50, ISO-400

The image above is one of my favourites from our Nova Scotia trip. I took a bit of extra time to compose this image. I framed the white and red cabin on the shoreline with birch tree branches to help lead a viewer’s eye to it. To help get more details out of the water in the foreground, as well as the reflections, I used the DxO ClearView adjustment.

Technical Note:
All photographs were captured hand-held using Nikon 1 gear as per the EXIF data. Images were created from RAW files using my standard process of DxO OpticsPro 11, CS6, and the Nik Collection.

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