During travels to most countries, it’s often unavoidable for me to photograph cars. And particularly in London, where the bewildering variety of areas and models make it possible to shoot rare automobiles in their equally exotic decor, as if at a fashion show.
In Brittany, however, boats are much more compelling photographic subjects than cars.
First because the whole region seems completely uninterested in anything fancy. Cars appear to be tools, just like a hammer, and to be chosen with as much consideration for aesthetics as one would dispense when buying a wrench. It’s unreal to walk past a house that would make your eyes pop in a magazine and find the driveway littered with derelict Renault 19s and rusty Citroen Saxos. This is the almost exact opposite of the Med coast where a family of 12 will squeeze into a shack so long as the Merc outside is shiny and visible from afar.
Secondly, and also in stark contrast to the ports in the South East (of France), most boats are sailboats, rather than motorboats, and often very beautiful. And, rather than concrete pontoons, many harbours are just beaches, subject to the constantly fascinating ebb and flow of the tides.
When I say beautiful, … 😀 I mean as photographic subjects.
Granted, not all are drop dead gorgeous. But, unlike cars, the most exotic are rarely the most beautiful or interesting to photograph.
There can be as much charm to a tiny little nutshell that has lost its spar and engine as in a much larger multi-mast vessel. And certainly far more than many (not all) motorized monstrosities that occupy the front rows of the posh harbours around home.
Plus the light, near the sea, is unlike anything we get in my neck of the woods. Instead of a gradual plunge into darkness, the Earth’s shadow graces maritime coasts with a flourish of blue, pink, mauve exotic hues that really make a huge difference in photographs.
Much like cars of the area, those boats seem to serve a purpose. Some no longer even have a mast because they are just used to go inspect the oyster farms. Others have very shallow keels because they have to navigate the gulf of Morbihan and its thousands of rocks. Others have two keels to stand up when the tide goes away. Other are built for speed. Others for long distance cruises. Others …
This is both refreshing and inspiring for a short series such as this one.
I last set foot on a sailboat almost one year ago, in the port of Marseilles, for the Bastilles day firework display. It stunned me to learn that 80% of boats there never leave the harbour. They are week-end homes or dreams turned sour.
It’s no secret to readers that variety is one of the aspects of life I value most. My rants against the photographic industry and its dreadfully normative approach to product marketing are not a secret. To me, variety is life.
And the variety of uses in Brittany also makes for a far greater variety of shapes and sizes. Hence the idea for this mini series.
I am not try to dig out a deep channel of consciousness here. This is only a casual post made to show photographs of nice boats encountered rather than actively searched for.
Rather than present a consistent series as for a gallery, I have let each picture take me “where it wanted”. i.e., there is no hidden meaning in the series, each photograph is an independant image processed in a way that suits it, to my eye, rather than for integration in a larger whole.
This, above, is possibly my favourite because it best displays the idea of tranquility that you experience on a sailboat, in good conditions.
As all photographs, of course, it is a lie. While the relatively sheltered waters on this inland sea never see 20 feet breakers, the waters are extremely hit and miss. Over 40 large, “permanent” islands (mostly inhabited) dot the gulf, but hundreds of others pepper the horizon either slightly above or slightly below water level. The Eastern half of the gulf is even off limits to all but the bravest (most foolish? 😉 )
And, if that’s not enough, currents are extremely powerful, drifting up to 12 knots in some parts. We saw a sports catamaran fighting its way against that current for fun, like a swimmer would against a pool jet. And the mini tidal waves that appear out of nowhere when you approach the roaring current let you know that the ride ahead is going to be interesting.
Still, though, in that particular instance, serenity was absolute and I tried to convey that with the photograph’s composition and post processing.
Let me leave you with a few final images, including the last one of toddlers setting out on their life of discovery of the sea, lucky them.
If you’ve ever been bitten by boat love, it never really goes away, even when you live far from the sea and can’t afford the running costs for one of these beauties. Are you bitten? Which is your fave here? 😉
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