Colour and Character of Peggy’s Cove

No trip to Nova Scotia would be complete without seeing the colour and character of Peggy’s Cove. This quaint village with its iconic lighthouse is situated about an hour’s drive from Halifax.

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 18.1mm, efov 48.9mm, f/8, 1/640, ISO-160

The lighthouse at Peggy’s Cove was built in 1915 and is often the first thing that people associate with this quaint village.¬†There are a few areas of interest along the road to the lighthouse which can also be explored.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 33.6mm, efov 90.7mm, f/8, 1/250, ISO-160

During the tourist season it is just about impossible to photograph the lighthouse without getting people in images. The best thing to do is simply relax about this issue. The tourists roaming around the site can serve an important role in your photographs as they help create a good sense of perspective.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 6.7-13mm f/4-5.6 @ 6.7mm, efov 18mm, f/8, 1/640, ISO-160

A short walk from the Welcome Centre you’ll find expansive rock formations that can be explored and photographed. These extend all the way to the lighthouse. Depending on the time of day, wind conditions and cloud formations, some of the images captured amongst the rocks can be quite pleasing.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 6.7-13mm f/4-5.6 @ 6.7mm, efov 18mm, f/8, 1/800, ISO-160

If you prefer to capture at least some of your images without people in them, these rock formations present many opportunities to adjust your shooting angles to create ‘people-free’ photographs. Exercising caution when traversing the rocks is critical. It is also very important to stay off any of the wet rocks close to the ocean as the footing is treacherous. Over the years many tourists have either slipped into the ocean or have been washed off the rocks by rogue waves. In both situations many have drowned.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 17.1mm, efov 46.2mm, f/8, 1/500, ISO-160

There is quite an interesting area where visitors have constructed their own  Inuksuk figures. Traditionally constructed by the Inuit, Inuksuit (plural of Inuksuk) are an important part of their culture. They are used as hunting and navigation aids, coordination points, as well as message centres. Using the flip screen on your camera and shooting up towards a Inuksuk, with the sky as a background, can create some quite dramatic photographs.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 10.9mm, efov 29.4mm, f/8, 1/400, ISO-160

Situated half way between the Welcome Centre and the lighthouse you’ll find the harbour area at Peggy’s Cove. This is my favourite photographic location as it provides a treasure trove of creative opportunities.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 10mm, efov 27mm, f/8, 1/160, ISO-160

If you enjoy photographing details, you’ll typically find lots of brightly coloured floats and buoys.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 20.3mm, efov 54.8mm, f/8, 1/400, ISO-160

The homes, sheds and boats can also add a lot of colour and interest to your photographs.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 6.7-13mm f/4-5.6 @ 6.7mm, efov 18mm, f/8, 1/1250, ISO-160

With a bit of luck you may even be able to combine many of these elements into an individual photograph.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 10mm, efov 27mm, f/8, 1/400, ISO-160

Incorporating lobster traps and other fishing gear in your images can also add some interesting details.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 6.7-13mm f/4-5.6 @ 6.7mm, efov 18mm, f/8, 1/640, ISO-160

Using individual fishing boats as a ‘dominating element’ in a composition can also add some drama and interest.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 10mm, efov 27mm, f/8, 1/400, ISO-160

Around the harbour area you’ll find many types of structures that can serve as corner anchors in your photographs, adding to the feeling of depth.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 10mm, efov 27mm, f/8, 1/200, ISO-160

One of the areas at the harbour at Peggy’s Cove that oozes with character is the boat ramp. It is a great feature to incorporate into photographic compositions.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 10mm, efov 27mm, f/8, 1/500, ISO-160

There are specific angles that you can use in your photographs that can completely transform Peggy’s Cove into what appears to be a dark and ominous place. Having some storm clouds moving in can add drama to this type of composition.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 27.2mm, efov 73.4mm, f/8, 1/160, ISO-160

If you’re like me and enjoy photographing at locations that provide both colour and character – you’ll likely enjoy a visit to Peggy’s Cove!

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.


Technical Note:
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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Article and images Copyright 2017 Thomas Stirr. All rights reserved. No use, duplication or adaptation of any kind is allowed without written consent. If you see this article reproduced anywhere else it is an unauthorized and illegal use. Posting comments on offending web sites and calling out individuals who steal intellectual property is always appreciated!

9 thoughts on “Colour and Character of Peggy’s Cove”

  1. Hi Tom,

    One look at the first image and I was compelled to leave you a note — it and the rest of the images in this post look like paintings. I agree with one of your posters, you left the bleached out colors not just of the wooden bollards and the walkway but also of the boats, houses and the sheds which are tempting to tweak for saturation and pop. Sort of an exercise in restraint, choosing between realism and projecting vividness.


    1. Hi Oggie,

      I appreciate your comment and assessment, i.e. ‘choosing between realism and projecting vividness’. These images were quite tricky to process for that exact reason. I did adjust the saturation in many of the photographs, often just the red palette, just to the point where the ‘glow’ of over-saturation was eliminated. The best examples of that are images 6 and 11. Thanks for adding to the discussion!


      1. Hi again Tom,

        I appreciate this artistic decision as it gave me a strong sense of place — the sea breeze, the strong sunlight conniving to bleach the colors of everything they touch. On the other hand, the bleached out hues still look painterly to me in lieu of the popping vivid colors ordinarily resorted to. On second pass, I’ve noticed that even the buoys and marine ropes carry with them an air of restraint.


  2. Always admired how you resist over-tweaking your photos, especially the colors, leaving the washed-out greys, and a bit of sharpening to bring out wood and boulder textures. Beautiful and nuanced. These are works of art of a refined eye for framing…and great timing. Beautiful weather.

  3. HI Tom, nice photos! I used to live in Halifax (35 years ago) and Peggy’s Cove was one of the attractions we would take our out of town friends to visit. I felt I was there looking at your photos!

  4. Hi Tom:
    You have captured many beautiful images of Peggy’s Cove which well represents the “rustic feeling” of this iconic fishing village. It was visually pleasing to see that the clouds rolled in while you were there adding some “drama” to the photographs. Having these clouds show up are an added bonus and are always welcome! Thanks for your wonderful portrayal of the coastlines of Nova Scotia. They are inspiring and enhance my longing to return to this beautiful province of Canada.

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