Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Photographing Polletts Cove

My favourite image

Talk about a daunting trip. I've always wanted to hike this trail and take amazing photographs. I knew if I could get there in the right circumstances I could get the best photographs of the Cove and I hope I did it.  This hike is almost 'legendary' in terms of Cape Breton hiking. In terms of long distance or crazy difficult hikes it's not that long or hard, but it's still pretty hard to get to.

Me..finally at the Cove

The circumstances finally worked out right for me. I was hired to photograph stills of a production featuring outdoor activities in Cape Breton and Pollett's Cove was a featured episode. We had four in our party, the producer, host and an assistant to help carry gear. It worked out beautifully in terms of timing. I had just purchased my new camera kit, my 1DS Mark III and my 16-35mm L F2.8 and I knew with this, I could capture extremely high resolution photos. I just needed the skills to get them.

The Coast
This reminds me of Jack Dykinga's work in Arizona.. look him up

We started our hike off a little later than we had hoped so I didn't have the opportunity to photograph the trail in the morning light but it was okay. The light was soft and diffused since the sun was behind a high layer of cirrus clouds. These clouds had my hopes up. The hike in was hard, not too hard...but hard enough. It consists of two steep climbs and a lot of unstable trail.  After some climbing and descending (2x each) we had arrived at the cove and I was like a child in a candy store. I had just finished hiking 7kms, set up our camp site and then I set out to photograph my grail. I ran all over that cove, choosing not to eat (it'd waste time and light) and photographed as much as possible. The biggest treat of the cove were our camp guests, 4 'wild' horses. These horses were so curious about us they wouldn't leave us alone. Their group consisted of two females, a juvenile and a male. Both females were your 'typical' brown and so was the juvenile but the male was speckled black and white, very striking to photograph.

Our other campers

Needless to say, they were pretty comfortable with us

Drifting embers from our fire make a nice touch

I ran up and down the coast, inland and coastal, shooting panoramas and landscapes. Finally I forced myself to stop and eat something and then get back to work. The horses managed to place themselves in the perfect spots for grand vistas of the cove.
Just good timing.

My favourite of our group

Our hike back out was a bit wetter than I had hoped for. About half way back at Otter Cove the rain had started. I had been watching the weather from the south and had been anticipating a few hours of clear weather for our hike back...then this rain came straight from the east (odd for the east coast) and drenched us. It was a saturated hike back but I felt safe knowing my gear is weather proof!

My whole time in Pollet's Cove I believe I shot with my 16-35mm for ultra wide angle shots trying to capture the grandeur of the landscape. I keep my ISO as low as I can (50) and set my camera to Aperture Priority at f11.  Keeping the camera on my tripod forced me to slow down to look at my compositions, to study them. I had to make sure I knew what I was going to shoot.  Something else I wanted to do was capture huge panoramas. I have a lesson on how to shoot pano's in an earlier post and it applied here as well.

The first panorama of the Cove that I've seen
This panorama is 180 degrees. This shoreline does not bend and is only warped by the perspective of the photo.

These horses were my greatest asset to pulling off great shots