Two weeks en Provence; the week leading up to the wedding and the week after. A plus; being an early riser there may be an opportunity to capture some sense of the region, the people and the sights before the rest of the visitors hit the streets?
We’d arrived with only matrimony (our daughter’s that is) on our minds, done none of our usual planning or advance research about the region – we were just here to enjoy the ceremony, give our daughter away and relax. Besides which, anyone who has been to Province in high summer will remind you, it’s dry, almost sere and very, very bright. Not exactly ideal photographic conditions during the day.
So, my first morning foray was made largely in the hope of finding something interesting to shoot. Looking at what I bought back to our temporary farmhouse home, it seemed that the day-to-day scenes of Provençal villages might work really well.
So, I started in Villecroze where we were staying, then morning by morning, moved on to Salernes, Tourtour and many others in the area.
One thing was immediately clear; the morning sunlight that streams into these villages offers magnificent photographic opportunities, but – there’s always a but – most scenes are right at the extreme of digital’s already wide 12-14 stop dynamic range. And, because of the scenes I’d chosen to shoot, a graduated ND filter wouldn’t really work to tame the irregular shaped highlights of rooflines and street views, so I’m left judging a tiny histogram on the NEX’ LCD and relying on a bit more post production than usual.
Provence is hardly unexplored and I was aware that most visitors settle for similar views, scenes and probably take home much the same memories. So, I looked harder, searched for the unusual, (otherwise) unseen, novel and downright odd. It was a challenging project and just a couple of days in, I found I was enjoying myself immensely.
Meanwhile, my collection of images grew – I decided to select the best of them and compile a PDF book, called “Coups d’œil en Provence” – a much better record of the trip than the odd pic posted on Flickr or 500px – seen and as quickly forgotten.
France starts work early – by 06:00 there are already people around, despite it being still completely dark. By 07:00 the day is brightening and the public areas of the villages I visit are already hosed clean and swept, the cafés and tabacs open and heart-starting jolts of coffee served to those already out and about. At home in South Africa, we are battling economic stagnation and 30+% unemployment, but still little seems to stir before 08:30. Perhaps we should send our politicians and union leaders over here for a taste of what goes on in France, while in Africa we slumber on?
Co-incidentally, my e-book business partner and fellow DearSusan blogger, Pascal lives not far away and we had arranged to meet. To save me having to drive too far on France’s unfamiliar roads, he has driven an hour from his home to Sillans la Cascade, where we finally meet face-to-face, introduce ourselves, drink coffee and review progress and future plans for the DS InSight Guides.
Meeting and discussions successfully completed, we decided to wander the streets of this ancient village with our respective cameras. Mark the occasion with some memorable street images. Some of them went into the book.
Available as this post is published, “Coups d’œil en Provence” is 65 pages (with 63 images) in full screen PDF format and available on this page at the usual DS price of US$7.99.
Finally, Pascal and I are working hard to increase our Facebook presence. We recently set up a DearSusan page and I am currently posting a single image there daily. If you are a FB user, take a look at the page and if you have an interesting photograph, or a comment to make, feel free. Maybe even Like the page – we’ll be coming back to this topic a lot in the days and weeks to come and that way, you’ll always know what’s going on.