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.
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