Putting things into perspective

I just spent three weeks in Newfoundland and Nova Scotia photographing one of Canada’s most photogenic areas. From Icebergs, to abandoned boats, fishing villages and lighthouses, every turn revealed a photo opportunity that would have kept me there for the next six months.

For the sake of today’s blog I am going to use the subject of lighthouses. Sailors sometimes used landmarks such as glowing volcanoes to guide them. In the Ancient World, trading ships were eventually built enabling navigators to sail long distances to buy and sell goods. Then in the days of wooden ships with sails, the wind and waves could easily push them against the rocks and wreck them. And so, the need for lighthouses as warning signals arose.

Today many of these structures still dot the shoreline of our coastal waters. Many of the lighthouses are no longer needed due to advances in technology and they have been or are being turned over to various government agencies or non-profit local organizations to maintain and administer. It is important to keep them in good condition for future generations to learn about their place in the maritime history of our country. It is also a special experience to be able to climb the stairs just as the keepers did and picture what life was like in times past.

As a photographer you are faced with options when you approach a lighthouse. You can stand there and take a photo of just the lighthouse… and while there is nothing wrong with that style of image, if that is what you want to take… there is a second, more compelling image style that you could choose to take.

That second style is putting the lighthouse positioning into perspective and telling a story of what you see. How do you achieve this?

I first walk up to a scene and look at it from various angles. I want to study the scene to I can place the object of interest into a scene that tells the story of why that particular lighthouse was placed there.

By doing this I believe I create a more compelling image and show the people looking at my photos the lighthouse, the rocks and the water.

Below are a few examples of some of the lighthouses I photographed in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland with an explanation of what I saw as I approached the scene to tell my visual story.

Peggy's Cove lighthouse sits out on a point of rocks that goes out into the Atlantic Ocean. The winds often blow strong and the lighthouse sits high on a rock formation. I wanted to position the lighthouse on the rocks and show the skies that blow across the exposed coastline.

Peggy's Cove lighthouse sits out on a point of rocks that goes out into the Atlantic Ocean. The winds often blow strong and the lighthouse sits high on a rock formation.

I wanted to position the lighthouse on the rocks and show the skies that blow across the exposed coastline.

Rose Blanche lighthouse is on the south shore of Newfoundland near Port Aux Basques. Rose Blanche translated from french to English literally means white rock... so i wanted to show the rock formations against the water and capture the rocks that lay just off the coastline low in the water.

Rose Blanche lighthouse is on the south shore of Newfoundland near Port Aux Basques. Rose Blanche translated from french to English literally means white rock... so i wanted to show the rock formations against the water and capture the rocks that lay just off the coastline low in the water.

Cape Anguille lighthouse lies along the shores of southwest Newfoundland. The land is a grassland that is adjacent to a wetland area and surrounded by farms. I saw no rock formations in this area, but the sandy and small rock beaches and local farms provided a great backdrop to place the lighthouse in. That is why I used the wooden fences and tall grass fields as a foreground anchor.

Cape Anguille lighthouse lies along the shores of southwest Newfoundland. The land is a grassland that is adjacent to a wetland area and surrounded by farms.

I saw no rock formations in this area, but the sandy and small rock beaches and local farms provided a great backdrop to place the lighthouse in. That is why I used the wooden fences and tall grass fields as a foreground anchor.

If you notice, none of my lighthouses are in the middle of the frame, rather offset and standing tall against the skies. Your eyes cannot help but see the lighthouse, but the scene that they are in is what creates the story.

Join me next year when we return to Newfoundland and Nova Scotia to photograph these iconic structures that dot the coastline of the east coast of Canada.

Nova Scotia Lighthouse Tour  -  http://northof49photography.com/2015-nova-scotia-lighthouse-tour

Newfoundland Workshop  -  http://northof49photography.com/newfoundland-and-labrador

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Kevin A Pepper

Kevin is a photographer and educator based in Waterloo, Ontario. His first love is photographing nature, regardless of the season or weather condition; the Ontario landscape and its wildlife are his inspiration. But you will also see other styles of photography in his portfolio. From street photography to urban exploration of abandoned buildings and architecture, he loves to capture it all with his camera for his corporate clients and his growing personal portfolio. Kevin’s images have been featured in Canadian Nature Photographer, PHOTONews Canada, Photo Technique Magazine, The London Free Press, The Weather Network, and National Geographic Online. His diverse client list includes the City of Cambridge, Olympus, GORE Mutual, TVO, and African Lion Safari. Kevin also operates “Northof49 Photography”, a company launched in 2012 dedicated to teaching amateur photographers through International and Canadian-based workshops. In the coming year, Kevin will be leading workshops in Iceland, Mongolia, Tanzania, Venezuela, Provence, and numerous destinations across Canada. Website: www.kevinpepperphotography.com