My wife and I recently returned from a short photography field-work trip to Nova Scotia Canada during which I had the opportunity to try a few composition approaches at Indian Harbour.
This article features a small selection of photographs along with some commentary on the composition considerations used for the images.
NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.
Indian Harbour is a small fishing community which you will pass through on the way to Peggy’s Cove when approaching from Halifax. There is a small gravel road leading into the cluster of homes and docks. The image above is one of the first ones that I captured at Indian Harbour. The body of water is called Modesty Cove.
As I initially scanned the shoreline of the cove I specifically looked for interesting foreground elements and noticed a trio of pointed rocks. I walked in tight to the rocks so they form the foundation of the image. Positioning the grey building in the top right of the frame helped to create a strong left to right flow to the image. I positioned the horizon at about 1/3 from the top of the image to help create a feeling of depth.
Walking a bit further into the cove yield this ‘across water’ view of the same grey building featured in the first photograph. I used a fan-like spread of rocks as a foreground element. This also helped to create a leading line from the bottom right corner of the image. I included a few additional buildings on the opposite shore to bring in more colours. The trio of roof lines of these buildings helped to create some balance in the image. A 1/3 from top of frame horizon line was again used to add some depth to the photograph. I adjusted my physical position until I could get a pleasing (at least to me) pair of parallel rock lines.
Moving further into Indian Harbour my eye was attracted to a pair of seaside chairs. I noticed a nice line of red highlights that I could position on the left side of the frame, along with a series of grey buildings to help accentuate the colour. Another 1/3 from top of frame horizon position was used to help create depth. Since the image had very little happening on the right hand side I made sure to incorporate some large rocks in the right hand corner to help balance the composition.
At this point I was pleased with the few images that I had captured so we decided to leave. As we strolled back to the car it occurred to me that I hadn’t composed a photograph with a broader perspective, which yielded the image above. I dropped the horizon line down a bit to properly frame some interesting clouds and used a small ditch as a leading line. I made sure to incorporate some buildings on both sides of the cove to create some continuity between the sampling of images. I also purposely left in some of the gravel road on the left-hand side of the image as it helped to create some colour balance with the building on the right-hand side of the frame.
As I looked back up the small gravel road I noticed that it hooked up to the left and disappeared behind a few houses. I was intrigued, so we drove up the road to see what we would find. This short exploration yielded the images above and below. Both were captured from the driver’s seat of my rental car.
I really liked the strong leading line that the stacked wood created in the above image. The horizon line was moved to 1/3 from the bottom of the frame so I could capture the entire pine tree on the left-hand side. I slowly moved the car forward until I could create a triangle of green grass leading off towards the horizon. I used the tree in the bottom right corner as a partial reveal element for the building behind it. Overall I liked the simplicity and strong lines of the photograph.
I pulled my rental car in very close to the circular stack of wood to capture the image above, using it as a corner anchor. This angle put the row of stacked wood in centre frame and created a ‘7 shape’ to help lead a viewer’s eye to the left. I moved the car forward slightly so I could position a bench that was overlooking the ocean between two buildings in the background. I had to raise my camera slightly to make sure that the bench was visible. In this instance I decided to crop the trees on the right hand side as this also helps to direct a viewer’s eye to the left. This creates a right to left flow in the photograph and after being stopped by the circular log formation in the bottom right corner, leads the viewer to the bench on the horizon.
Returning down the small, gravel road provided some different perspectives and yielded the next two images. I cropped a blueish grey building on the right-hand side of the frame. This helps to direct a viewer’s eye to the left, and creates a leading line formed by the water. I incorporated a ‘bottom bar’ of green grass to frame the photograph and direct the viewer’s eye toward the horizon. I then made sure to visually stack the grey buildings in the background so they would act as a single visual unit. I adjusted my focal length so the cloud detail would not be cropped.
The final image I captured before leaving Indian Harbour is the photograph above. I positioned the blue and red chairs in the bottom right-hand corner to help accentuate the angles of the chair arms, which were pointing out to the sea. In my mind this creates a feeling of expectancy for a viewer. One can almost imagine walking up to one of those chairs and sitting down to enjoy the idyllic scene. In this case I left a lot of sky to help create a feeling of openness. The expanse of blue sky also serves to direct a viewer’s eye down to the colour and details below.
It took less than 10 minutes to capture all of the images in this article…time that was quite enjoyable!
If you enjoyed the images in this article you may want to consider our Nova Scotia Photography Tour eBook, which is available for $12.99.
All photographs in this article were captured hand-held using Nikon 1 gear as per 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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