#862. Fog, for fog’s sake.

By pascaljappy | Opinion

May 24

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 ๐Ÿ˜‰

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 ๐Ÿ˜‰ Those pics please me, and all thanks someone who cares enough ๐Ÿ™‚ Sometimes, life is good, ain’t it?

 
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  • Andreas Aae says:

    Petrol!
    ha!
    Passive french good enough to appreciate
    Active french not good enough to think it up….

    Love no.ยดs 11 and 12 for the most painterly expression.

    As always, a perfect dose of DS: Good content, quality art, right length

    Lovely weekend to you all

  • Hans Ernst says:

    True love, beautiful images. Thanks for sharing

  • Scott Edwards says:

    Thanks for sharing!! Some great images in this batch – and yes, sometimes, life is really good.

  • Nancee Rostad says:

    Beautiful images of trees and vineyards…..you have my attention! Nice job of using lovely light to convey a mysterious mood. Thanks for sharing, Pascal!

  • Brian Nicol says:

    You are obviously getting comfortable with the X1D files. These images possess a quiet natural beauty that is quite enjoyable. Thanks for the treat.

  • Cliff Whittaker says:

    Too many good shots here to pick just one, but……. if I had to pick ONE, it would probably be the last one in the series. To me, this one carries the most emotion. This is the one that makes me actually feel the dark, brooding landscape that gives me a sense of foreboding. The scene has depth in six different bands or layers from about zone 2 1/2 to about zone 8 without losing detail IT makes my eye get in there and roam around to see what else I can find.
    Then the heavy clouds of fog press down to create a sense of urgency for you to get the hell out of there. The detail held in that fog bank lets you see as well as feel the threat. It is ominous.
    Plus, there’s a good story to go with it.
    Good work, Pascal.

    • pascaljappy says:

      Thank you so much, Cliff. The compliment goes straight to my heart but, mostly, I’m so glad you mentioned zones. I’m not the only one around still thinking in those terms !!! Makes me very happy, in this digital preset age ๐Ÿ™‚ Cheers !

  • Michael Fleischer says:

    What a fine set of images and a lively story to read…nearly got me out of breath too! I particularly like no. 7 –
    the one with the contrasty tree/stone wall and the low contrast hill in the background!
    Sometimes being able to follow “the flow” (here helped along by your muse) brings you to a new
    unexpected viewpoint or insights that couldn’t be preplanned!
    Like the creativity/joy the X1D seems to unleash in you!

    • pascaljappy says:

      Thank you very much Michael.

      I like that photograph as well, with the light cooperating so kindly to light the top of the tree but not the bottom. It was constantly changing and I got lucky here. So the trunk is like a cutout in front of the paler background, but the top is still luminous and joyful.

      I am having a lot of fun with the camera, now. I bought it because I wanted the neutral look to give me more options, rather than be hemmed in by the native look of my previous system, however nice. And that turned out well, even though it took more effort to master than anticipated. However, now it’s possible for me to create rich and almost vintage looking photographs such as these (I tones a couple and they really look old) or do much more modern and stark things, as I’ll illustrate in an coming post on “deadpan” aesthetics.

      Cheers, Pascal

  • Kristian Wannebo says:

    Pascal,
    wonderful that you found so nice backlight under those alive clouds, and fog.

    Lovely greyscales! – and in the clouds and on the ground at the same time!

    You’ve made even “simple” views come alive, so I just can’t pick favorites – they all grow on me.
    Thanks!
    ๐Ÿ™‚ !

  • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    A perfect example of how MF captures all the tonal values in the highlights and the shadows, where FF and HF and the followers along behind do not.
    And black & white shows how you don’t even need detail in the shadows – if you’re using the darker part of the image to provide a frame, to capture strong images in the clouds. There’s an art to doing that, and all too often it doesn’t really work in the smaller formats.
    (I bet I get stoned for this – never mind, if any of you hate these comments, you can treat this as a challenge to do better!)

  • Pascal Ravach says:

    Silky, superb.
    And a (little bit of) sadness: I got pleasing results too, in a distant past, with the Kodak Technical Pan… with digital, my M43 and FF don’t allow this, as Pete says so simply.
    Well… another distant goal, when my lifetime dreamed real 6×6 will be released, plain square ๐Ÿ˜€
    And yes, it is an evidence that your PP is now spot on.

  • Brian DD says:

    Your Wife sounds like mine.

    She is also my muse and best and worst critic.

    Always encouraging me to shoot the light when I feel lazy. I thank her for that.

    I guess this is my good luck for falling in love with an Art Teacher and lithographic print maker and her agreeing to marry me.

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