I saw this open window making sure that I knew where to look. In truth, I was trying to look everywhere as it was a beautiful spot to be. So I appreciated this subtle direction as to where I should focus.
Nothing’s going to happen unless you take a risk
Big House Small House. Lomography Purple and Pinhole
Over the years I have noticed a trend in my photography. To be fair, I notice many trends. It is sort of how I work: I make photos over a long span of time then see where the pictures settle and read them like tea leaves. It gives me a perspective on what I am doing that I don’t have while I am out doing it. But I digress. It is a lot about feeling, mood, perspective or whatever other abstract ideas you want to associate with what guides us through the creative process. I tend to be more in a black and white mood, for lack of better words. I love the simplicity of black and white. It pares the world down a bit to more essential elements. It makes things a bit simpler, a bit quieter… in a way. And that is a big part of what is driving me. I appreciate that simpler rendering.
I think part of it is also the timeless nature of b&w film/images. Colour is date able, by which I mean, you can generally tell when a colour image is made by its palette. The colour films of the 1970s look like the 1970s, just as the colour palettes of today’s images have a distinct look that is temporally anchored. Black and white eschews this dating to some degree. And I appreciate this too. That I am more easily able to make an image that is not anchored to a particular time, because sometimes the image I am making is not about a specific time at all, and if that is the case I don’t want that association to be baked into the photo. If that makes sense. But I do just like the concept of time as this slippery, amorphous, crazy notion of a thing and so if there is a way to set it aside just a bit, to make a photo that isn’t necessarily of a certain place at a certain time but perhaps somewhere sometime, then I enjoy doing that as well.
So there it is, just some of my thoughts hammered out in a bit of a stream-of-consciousness manner.
As mesmerising as the Mont is at a distance, and trust me, it is completely entrancing even from afar, Susan and I were eager to head closer to it. So that is where you and I are heading now.
Mont Saint-Michel is currently connected to land via a dry causeway, which is causing all sorts of problems, namely the fact that it is changing Saint-Michel from an island to mainland as silt builds up on one side of the causeway and cannot be washed away by the tides.
The causeway itself is roughly a kilometre long. There are buses that trundle along it every few minutes transporting visitors, but we preferred the walk on the other side of the canal. Getting to know Mont Saint-Michel step by step was an enjoyable process. And it is something else to see it grow steadily in front of you as you get closer and closer; there is certainly more gravitas to it than zipping up in a bus crammed full of tourists smashed up against the windows with camera phones out and the reflected backwash of flash lighting everything up. Although, that is an experience of its own.
Especially on a misty afternoon like this though, with only two other individuals to share the road with and this beautiful and famed abbey rising slowly in front of you, it wasn’t hard to imagine the experience of past pilgrims to this site. Though I think my journey was a drier one.
To state the obvious, France is a land of fairy tales. Walking under the Eiffel Tower. See Mont Saint-Michel rise out of the fog above the tidal plains for the first time. Running your hands along the many rough, ruined stone walls. I am thankful that such places exist. Even more amazing that they were built by people. But I guess when you think about it, in one sense or another, all the best fairy tales are created by people. We create the stories that we make appearances in.
And as a new year starts for me and with it new stories, that I’ll share some moments from this particularly lovely fairy tale of a trip that was momentous and fleeting all at the same time.
Like Dean Moriarty’s ghost I came in quest of secret knowledge
in the winter of my journey to a crumbling Granite college .
I saw three crosses pierce the sky above that distant hill
the sky burned red as I turned my head and I left that scene behind
I took another god to be my guide, the one inside
our destinies entwined
I chose this image not because it is really all that remarkable. At least not in a unique way. It is just a beautiful image. Sometimes the large amount of photography I produce conflicts with the small amount I decide to share that I pass over some of the images of mine I feel are more generic but still pretty. I let these collect digital dust in favour of the images I see as more unique and that isn’t always fair. Or rather another way to think about it is the reason to pick an image for sharing doesn’t always have to be based on creative uniqueness or even technical accomplishment. Sometimes it is worth sharing something because it is a nice reflection of a beautiful place and time.
The truth – I have always been afraid. It is a painful feeling, fear. It sits deep in the bottom part of your stomach and hurts. But it is the energy of survival. I have always been afraid of fear and at the same time grateful for it–afraid of its pain and grateful that because of the pain I can take steps to eradicate it by overcoming that which frightens me.
One who is afraid reacts to it as any animal. If one is a rabbit, one runs into one’s hole and hides. If one is a turtle one pulls back into one’s shell. We have all known people who react to their fear in this fashion. Some call them shy. Some, wrongfully, call them cowards.
But some people react to fear as a wolf reacts. We get angry. It is easier to be angry than to be afraid. It is less painful. The frightened wolf attacks whatever frightens him. But it is fear, nevertheless.
Fear has been given to us so that we may recognise that which endangers us in this complex world. To avoid injury of one kind or another we need to recognise the danger, whatever it may be. Fear permits us to ask ourselves: what are we afraid of and to evaluate it. It gives us an opportunity to say to ourselves, we don’t need to be afraid of this person or that situation. It is something we can handle. It gives us an opportunity to understand that the other person may be as afraid of us as we are afraid of them. It gives us a chance to deal with our fear.
Fear is also the stuff of courage. We cannot be brave without fear. One who faces unreasonable danger is not courageous unless that person has first felt fear and overcome it. He is only foolish. I know of no persons who are brave who are not first afraid. So, at last, fear is our friend. Listen to it. It speaks loudly to us. It is not to be ignored. It is to be cherished as our protective partner.
In the end, fear is a gift.
I stood upon this ancient land with eyes so wide
The clink of bells came drifting down the mountainside
When in my sight something moved
Lightning eyed and cloven-hooved
The Great God Pan is alive !
Part of that wonderful bit of Brittany coastline known as Pink Granite Coat. Every time I stop anywhere along this stretch of coast I think, this is my favourite spot. So if you ask me my favourite part of this coastline, take any answer I give you with a large grain of (sea) salt.
I think the images say all I want to say
Give me the open road, a deserted building, the hypnotic motion of the ocean or the whispering rustle of the wind in the trees to the sound of talking heads and news politicos any day.