Landscape Compositions at Burntcoat Head

The Bay of Fundy fills and empties 160 billion tons of water twice each day with the rise and fall of the tides. There are numerous places along the Bay of Fundy to capture some interesting images with Burntcoat Head being one of those ‘not to miss’ locations. My wife and I spent some time capturing some landscape compositions at Burntcoat Head during our recent visit to Nova Scotia.

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 14.4mm, efov 38.9mm, f/8, 1/640, ISO-400

While technically not at Burntcoat Head, the image above was on route. I used some tall grass in the foreground as a ‘bottom bar’. This also helped to create a triangular shape with the stream which helps draw a viewer’s eye into the composition.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 18.1mm, efov 48.9mm, f/8, 1/800, ISO-400

I don’t usually like to have people in my landscape images, especially folks that I don’t know. Incorporating some people in the image above was a conscious choice, designed to add a sense of scale to the cliffs in the photograph.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 10mm, efov 27mm, f/8, 1/500, ISO-400

The late afternoon sun was quite strong during our time at Burntcoat Head. This made some exposures challenging for my small sensor camera gear as you can see in the photograph above. I used a large rock on the sea bed as a corner anchor.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 10mm, efov 27mm, f/8, 1/500, ISO-400

The tide was coming in at Burntcoat Head, allowing me to incorporate some wave action into the photograph above. I used some debris on the sea floor and the curve of the ‘beach’ to form a leading line directing the viewer’s eye to the rock structure in the background. To add some perspective and help make the rock structure the ‘hero’ of the image, I used equidistant composition on the top and right-hand side.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 10mm, efov 27mm, f/8, 1/320, ISO-400

To provide some added depth to the image above, I used a large boulder on the sea floor to act as a corner anchor. This photograph was shot in close proximity to the boulder, causing some wide angle distortion. I partially adjusted the distortion using the perspective control tool in OpticsPro 11 to give the scene a more natural appearance.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 10mm, efov 27mm, f/8, 1/500, ISO-400

Incorporating the bright green vegetation that grows on the sides of the cliffs at Burntcoat Head allows for some unexpected splashes of colour. The green highlighted rock served both as a corner anchor and a leading line in the photograph above.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 10mm, efov 27mm, f/8, 1/500, ISO-400

I was attracted by the intersecting angles of the rock formations and the horizon when composing the photograph above. I saw some parallel lines formed by the left edge of the rock in sunlight and the low rock formation on the sea floor. These parallel lines help lead the viewer’s eye to the small triangle formed in mid-frame.

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

Getting in really tight to the water-eroded cliffs gives photographs some intimacy. While my wife and I only had time for a single visit at Burntcoat Head, I did meet a couple of other photographers who were capturing images there at both low and high tides. In 1975 The Guiness Book of World Records named Burntcoat Head as the site of the greatest average tide, measuring 47.5 feet (~14.5 m). The extreme tide range at Burntcoat Head has been as much as 53.6 feet (~16.3 m).

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 10mm, efov 27mm, f/8, 1/320, ISO-400

Since the sea floor has some uneven erosion it is possible to incorporate various rock formations on the sea floor as leading lines  as seen in the image above. While a bit off the beaten path, Burntcoat Head is certainly worth the trip for folks interested in landscape photography.

If you enjoyed this article, you may want to check out our Nova Scotia Photography Tour eBook, which is available at $12.99 CDN.


Technical Note:
All photographs were captured hand-held in available light as per the EXIF data. All images in this article were produced from RAW files using my standard process of OpticsPro, CS6 and the Nik Collection.

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