It’s your average morning. Bones still creaking, brain too lazy to clear breakfast from the dining table, let alone clean the cat’s offering / furball elimination. Catch your toe on a chair leg. Grumble tones, the usual.
The phone rings. If it’s work, I’ll murder them. Turns out it ain’t, and I won’t.
T’is my pretty wife, calling from the car, and she wants me up to no good. Sometimes, life is sweet.
“The sun’s rising under the clouds here and the light is great”, she tells me. How can you not love someone who not only thinks of you when light is good, but also knows your sloth will overcome your desire to immortalize the show if she doesn’t spur you on?
She spurs me on.
In front of me, the view South is one solid block of dull grey. But back North, she’s right, there are lovely openings in the low cloud and the promise of great light goads me into the car and up the hill in 15 minutes.
I’ve forgotten my wallet, phone, camera bag and … proper footwear. But I’m out of the clouds, as they are held back by the hilltops and just starting to overflow through passes in a lovely cascade.
That is the shot I want.
Not far from a parking spot at the top, the view North onto the Sainte Victoire ridge, much loved by Cezanne and friends, tells a very similar story. Clouds bunched up against the cliff. Life must look dark grey in there too. But further on, further back, and further up, the sun rules over the landscape.
I’ve hiked this path multiple times in the past. The opening in the forest that will let me view the cloud fountain is further East. 2 clicks away, topographically, multiple clicks away, photographically.
But I must not tardy. The sun is warm above but the clouds are moving in fast over the hill. The sloth morphs into a beautiful antelope (yes, yes, that is me, I’m referring to) as I run along the rocky path in my town shoes, feeling like the mighty Galen Rowell chasing rainbows in Potala. The things I do for Suzie (that’s the blog, not my wife).
Soon, a clearing in the forest reveals the situation quite bluntly : a steady flow of Chantilly cream is still oozing down from the top but the bulk of the cloud is catching faster than my legs can propel me.
Drat, more distance to go, and the cleaning lady arrives at 9. I wonder how often Galen thought about the cleaning lady’s timetable while he was creating his masterpieces.
After another 10 minutes, there’s not much longer to run, Marathon Man. My window is in a vine ahead, just after this little hill. And still I run, stopping only to pick up my lungs from the dirt, here and there, and swallow them back into place. Man, age is cruel. But I’m getting there. Aaaaaaaand …
…. too late 😉
Entropy wins this round.
Or does it?
I arrive on site too late for a clear view of Mount Aurelian draped in rivers of white, but just as the swirling edge of the cloud is reeling in, playing hide and seek with the trees in the near background.
I have time for a multiple shot of the scene (with the XCD 90 lens, as all other photographs on this page) that will be assembled into a pano back at the camp. Then all goes uniform grey.
The run back is less enthusiastic. Antelope Galen morphs back into Ice Age Sid and Sid wants to chimp. But time is still of the petrol (lousy French joke) and I only have time for a few more grabs as the weather closes in.
Back at the car, I drive down and discover the outside view of my slouch debacle as the last hints of hill tops are swallowed whole by the grey blanket.
Looking at the photographs now reminds me of something Alex Soth said in a Photo London interview: there’s a sense of treasure hunting in any photographic project. You rarely find what you were looking for but unearth other stuff along the way. Often, more interesting stuff.
In my case, that more interesting stuff is the fog itself. It should have been my project all along, not that preconceived postcard. But then, what would have made me run to all these places and watch its progress from distant promise to swirly decor to uniform light source?
Back home, processing those X1D files makes me realise how much my PP has relaxed since the first worrying days the camera arrived. Gone are the harshness and flatness. I can push contrast, I can hold back contrast and still the look feels natural and organic. With this camera, just dump presets. Work dodging and burning, old style. The files do the rest.
Today, work starts at 11, oh well 😉 Those pics please me, and all thanks someone who cares enough 🙂 Sometimes, life is good, ain’t it?
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