Clear as Claret, July 2014
|Category: News||21 July 2014|
A fox in a field near Molières,
Pays de Bergerac, Périgord, Dordogne, Aquitaine, France.
Canon 5D mkIII,
EF-200-400mm f4 L 1.4X lens @ 400mm, 1.6 secs @ f22
From here on top of the embankment I can see the village through a narrow gap in the trees. If I move either up or down, right or left the tight cluster of honey coloured buildings are lost. In the field below are some freshly rolled hay bales; with a bit of careful manoeuvring I can just about include them in my frame. A focal length of 400mm allows me to isolate all else from the image area concentrating just on the bastide village with the foreshortened perspective of the ultra-long lens working to my advantage. Maybe the composition is just a bit messy with a random tree encroaching in the bottom of the frame; but sometimes landscapes that are too tidily arranged can look contrived. The soft early light is just starting to paint the paysage from the north east, side lighting the scene as I perceived it would when we stumbled across this view on the previous day's hike. At 5.30am on a morning in late June stood by the tripod waiting for the light in the Périgord region of south west France I'm happy; the shoot is coming together, as is the whole trip. This quiet part of the Dordogne is really getting beneath my skin.
As I wait my mind turns to pondering the complexities of this area's history. That quintessential rustic village below now filling my frame is Molières. It is a classic bastide; a fortified village established in 1284 on behalf of King Edward I of England to establish his rule here in what then was the Duchy of Acquitaine. So how did it transpire that we English held sway in this of all regions of France? It's a convoluted sequence of events involving such colourful characters as Charles the Bald (was there ever a Charles the Hirsute), Eleanor of Acquitaine, a tasty catch by all accounts, and Edward Longshanks, the Hammer of the Scots. Could it be that two centuries after The Conquest Edward was still in his heart of hearts a Norman, so inevitably would have had strong French connections through his ancestors including his mother, another Eleanor, but of Provence? It's intriguing to think those Normans were originally Norse Men; invading Vikings.... but I'm getting diverted. No, it all comes back to Eleanor, Edward's great grandmother, one of the wealthiest and most powerful women in western Europe during the Middle Ages. She became Duchess of Aquitaine while she was still a child before marrying King Louis, thus becoming Queen of France, before binning Louis for Henry, the Duke of Normandy who inherited the English crown becoming King Henry II, making Eleanor his Queen in 1154. And so Acquitaine came under English rule, bastides such as Molières came to be and now 860 years later I'm here, wondering how much the scene I’m peering at through my eyepeice has changed since then. It's all as clear as claret, isn't it?
Wendy walking in a lane in Molières, Pays de Bergerac, Périgord, Dordogne, Aquitaine,
France. Canon 5D mkIII, 85mm f1.2 L lens, 1/125 sec @ f1.2
The light's coming. I switch Live View on, check all my settings and make my first exposure. What's that speck in the field? It's a fox. Can I capture him in my shot? Maybe, but with a relatively slow shutter speed of 1.6 seconds I need him to be still. He/she scampers across the field, then stops just in the right place, as if posing for the lens. Oh yes; the shutter clicks, job done. Cue euphoria. That was a lucky break, but of course we all know we make our own luck. It's a shot that encapsulates the experience of being here in a nutshell, I'm pleased. We've another week in the region yet but our decision to stay on and really burrow into the character of this corner of Acquitaine; the Pays de Bergerac, is paying off.
An image from the Paris Video Blog in this month’s edition of the Chasing the Light Online Magazine: the Musée d'Orsay and River Seine from Pont Solférino at dawn, Paris, France.
Canon 5D mkIII, 17mm TS-E lens, 0.4 sec @ f11, 0.9 ND grad filter
French influences permeate our offerings this month as the July Edition of our Chasing the Light Online Magazine features my Video Blog from Paris while the “Stepping Back” feature ruminates on the appeal of shooting in rural France. Concentrating on locations further north in Scotland there’s the usual two Fundamentals of Post-Production Video Tutorials, while “How It’s Done” deconstructs an intentional camera movement shoot in the Balmoral forest. We've also the first in a 3 Part “Low Down” on Printing series, and starting this month is the first regular column by “The Storyteller”; acclaimed wildlife photographer Chris Weston. This month he’s swimming with elephants and tigers, as you do. “Taylor Made” sees David Taylor laying down the law on composition, while the Guest Feature hits the streets of New York with documentary photographer James Maher. We've also a special Member's Gallery featuring a report from Freda Hocking, the Winner of the Your Vision 2014 Competition, on her prize day of One to One Tuition with me in the woods of Dorset. On that topic we're also proud to announce the launch of the Your Vision 2015 Photography Competition; entry is free for all f11 Members. Just to remind you the Chasing the Light Online Magazine is published exclusively for our f11 Members. You can become one by signing up here for a 30 Day free trial.
An image from the “Stepping Back: French Invasions” feature in this month’s edition of the Chasing the Light Online Magazine: St Cirq Lapopie, Lot Valley, Midi-Pyrenees, France.
So, summer is here. After this French sojourn we're back in Blighty for much of the holiday season, with a few events we hope to see you at coming up. On July 15, in my guise as a Manfrotto Ambassador, I will be at the Manfrotto Takeover of the Jessops Store in Birmingham to present two talks; do come along for a chat if you're in the area. Then on July 24, in my role as Canon Explorer, I'm at Canon (UK) HQ at Woodhatch, Surrey to present and tutor the 1Dx Experience Day. Then on the 30 July I'm presenting at another Manfrotto Takeover Day at Park Cameras in London, see you there?
Through August I've several One-to-One Tuitions sessions booked. If you too are interested in spending time with me in the field improving your photography it's an option worth considering. Or of course you could also choose to accompany us on one of our Workshops. Exmoor next autumn is fully booked, but we have our Jurassic Coast Capture to Print Digital Workflow Special coming up in November, and of course our popular Iceland Photography Adventures next winter. There's even an Iceland video taster for you to watch. As usual in addition to this Newsletter and the Online Magazine you can interact with us and keep up to date with events via Facebook or Twitter (@DavidNoton).
Join us next winter in Iceland: waves breaking on Renisfjara beach in front of the Dyrhólaey headland, southern Iceland.
Canon 1Dx, EF-200-400mm f4 L 1.4X lens @ 490mm, 1/800 sec @ f10
As for the rest of the year I'll be at Photokina in Cologne in mid-September; watch this space for more details. After that we're headed for California, starting in San Fransisco, with or without flowers in our hair. But before then this summer between all the editing, commitments, talks and workshops I will be there, in a field, stood beside the tripod in the wet grass watching dawn break and foxes scamper while pondering obscure historical facts, you can count on it. It's what I do. Don't you?