I knew there was something special as soon as I got there, on an evening after sundown. I immediately whipped out my phone to capture the moment. It was a brand new phone. No, not the Otus-Huawei brilliantly described by Adrian. An iPhone Xr. The first snaps looked technically gorgeous on the phone screen. Logical, inevitable conclusion: this phone is a fabulous picture-taker. Colours, contrast, detail, all there! Almost like an invisible layer of fog/haze had been removed that plagues “all other places”. The exact opposite of Pascal’s gorgeous pictures … And I began to go down the slippery slope of heresy, the one that has swallowed up tens of millions of camera owners and (almost) Pascal. If this phone is THAT good, who needs a camera?
I was wrong however. I pulled out my trusted Sony A7 RII and Zeiss primes, and they did better than the phone, and not by a small margin. Whew! things were back to normal.
Being in this seaside resort of the south-west of France for a multi-day brainstorming session still allowed me shooting opportunities. I slipped out every morning at or before sunup and happily snapped away until it was time to go back, clean up, have breakfast and start making brainwaves. And the same during afternoon/evening breaks. Perfect!
While the first evening had been cloudy, the next couple of days included “perfect weather”, except a cloudless sky is not conducive to the more spectacular pictures of sunups and sunsets. But complaining would have been crass, right?
Saint-Jean-de-Luz, as this resort is called, was once a busy tuna and sardine fishing port, and it has escaped most of the horrors of sea-resort development. And being there off-season is to be treasured. It combines Basque identity with a sea culture, and, among other joys, offers many fine and some very fine restaurants. Being there in season however is another story, unless you enjoy severe overcrowding. Maybe not as bad as neighboring Biarritz, but close.
But I digress. Back to photography. Saint-Jean-de-Luz is definitely an un-destination as long as you go there in un-season. That is when you can get un-forgettable images. And yes, in season, they will be forgettable..:-)
That is when I understood why Saint-Jean-de-Luz is so generous with great light, clarity, luminosity, contrast and colours. Its name. It means St-John-of-the-Light… Which goes to show that whoever named this village many centuries ago knew all about photography…
And no, there are no phone pics in this post. That is for later. Mebbe…
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