Twillingate is a gem for tourist. It offers up a touch of everything they’re looking for in Newfoundland: Icebergs, seafood, great accommodations, and the like. Recently, I took a trip to Twillingate outside of the usual summer tourist season. That means no icebergs, not-so-warm weather, and many establishments – restaurants, B n’ Bs, etc. – closed for the season. So, you say, what to do? Because my trips are centred around photography I usually have no problem entertaining myself. Twillingate is a photographer’s delight!

A photograph of a house in Twillingate, Newfoundland near the ice-covered ocean.

A House by the Sea

I woke early after a great night’s sleep at a private accommodation. Looking through my bedroom window, the pink glow of the morning sun bathed the landscape and distant ocean. I didn’t plan to be on deck before sunrise. The weather was inclement overnight and I was late getting in to town. Why not grab an extra hour?

A photograph of two boats hauled up on the beach and houses old and new along the winding road of the ice covered harbour.

A cold spring morning in Twillingate

I enjoyed my usual morning coffee and out the door I went. It was cold! I was dressed the part, save for the boots. I had not expected the mercury to be pushing down towards minus 15 C (5 F).  But, let’s face it, cold temps are just part of the challenge to getting the image, and because fewer people are willing to venture out with their camera on those colder days, that makes the shots that much more unique.

Tip: You can always shed extra gear if it’s too warm, but you can’t put it on if you don’t have it with you! I knew my feet were in for a chill and said to myself: “Suck it up!”

This is a photograph of an old house with wooden siding. The paint is cracked and peeling. Note that the window has an old screw-on type storm window with three vent holes in the bottom, which was common during this era. A small, hinged piece of wood flipped up to provide a small amount of ventilation when the inside window open.

The old, painted wooden siding on this dwelling has seen better days

A photograph of an old door to a fishing stage. There's snow piled against it and it's weathered and beaten from the elements of time.

Retro Door

Headed down no particular road, I quickly settled into shooting mode. If you’ve read some of the other articles on my site you’ll see that I like architecture. I love pointing my camera at old dwellings and structures and pieces thereof. The intrigue, the illusion of being in the era, playing with the lines and the challenge of squaring it all off in the viewfinder. Historical Architecture, I suppose, if I could call it that. It’s a great bit of fun, especially when the structures are slanted and sagged.

This photograph depicts a brown shed with an interesting green roof and picket fence.

A brown shed with an interesting green roof and picket fence.

Here’s a few tips:

  • Square yourself to the subject. Move left and right until you’re in the middle of the subject, for example, the dwelling. This will give you a symmetrical image, that is, in relation to the left and right sides of the building or dwelling.
  • Line up the horizontal and vertical sides of the building or subject with the top, sides, or bottom of the viewfinder. With practice you’ll start to scan the viewfinder and do this automatically and – presto – push the shutter button for nice, balanced images…not withstanding exposure settings, of course. Let fence lines and other elements in the image fall with the lay of the land.
  • Sometimes, symmetrical isn’t what you want to convey. In the first image, A House by the Sea, I shot a series of exposures of the house, first by itself, and then found that I liked the scene more by balancing the composition with the tree and the boulder to the left. The ice-covered ocean in the background added a scenic element to the photo but, key is, remember to keep yourself square to the face of the building. I used the right side and the top of the viewfinder to align the right side and the roof line of the house.

    A photograph of a root cellar entry and earthen mound, used to store vegetable through the winter.

    A root cellar kept vegetables through the long, cold winter

  • Perspective Distortion –  distortion caused buy using a telephoto zoom or wide-angle lens – is another obstacle. Lines – especially noticeable with straight lines near the edges of the image – appear to bend outward or into the frame.
  • Yet, another similar – but completely different effect –  is called Keystoning, or the key stone effect. Rather than being caused by lens distortion, it occurs when you’re not able to get square and centered on the subject, like the face of a tall building. The top of the building is further away from the lens projection surface (the camera’s sensor) than the bottom of the building is, so the lines of the building appear to head towards each others. If you look at the above image (A Brown Shed with a Green Roof…) you can see this effect. While you can centre yourself L – R on a dwelling, unless you have a ladder – or a boom truck – the top is further away than the bottom. This can easily be corrected in Photoshop or Capture One software (the two that I’m aware of and have used), but the discussion for correction is a topic in itself. Images can contain a combination of both of those properties of physics, Perspective Distortion and Keystoning. As I said, a good topic for a future article!

    The stern of the wooden fishing vessel Gloucester 23 is shown in this photograph.

    The stern of the Gloucester 23 glows in the morning sun on day two of my photo shoot (pssst: my feet are still cold!)

So, to sum up:

  1.  get square to the subject
  2. get centered on the subject if you want a symmetrical look (L-R and Top – Bottom if possible)
  3. move close or away from the subject if you have the room to fit the subject in the viewfinder without having to zoom or use your lens in the wide angle setting (if using a zoom – wide angle lens). This prevents the aforementioned Perspective Distortion
    Note: Use your lens at or near its normal view – about 50mm on a 35mm camera…and because the 35mm camera is no longer the standard used by nearly everyone out there in the world of photography, a mathematical formula is needed to find that focal setting on your lens. And, that my friends, would require another article in and of itself!!! (feel free to use the comment section if you want any clarification and how I can further convey this little-understood topic).
  4. Plan ahead and get a long term outlook for the weather….if you know what I mean 😉

On that note I’ll wind up my article, but not before publishing a few pics from a surprise photo-op that I happened upon by chance. I heard there was a lighthouse located through a branch of town called Crow Head. When I got there a small group of ice climbers were climbing a frozen waterfall. They were from nearby Gander, based with 103 Squadron Search and Rescue (so I was more daring with my shooting style, knowing they could retrieve my body from the rugged terrain below…right! ;). By all appearances, it looked to be a fantastic sport, something I’d like to give a go, a camera strapped to my pack! Here’s a small image gallery of the climbers and surrounding terrain…an awesome way to end my photo tour of Twillingate!

It’s a great day for photography!

Shoot ’til it feels good!

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