Being a film photographer I move a bit slower and am more concerned with the nature of delayed rather than instant gratification. Also, this image happened to be the first exposure on the roll, meaning I had to make it through another 11 shots to finish this up and even see this exposure. The notion of first exposures is a worthwhile one to explore. A higher-than-normal percentage of my favourite images tend to be the first or last exposures on a roll because I tend to lend more weight to the making of those photos. For example, I typically don’t load an empty camera, or empty film back, until I have a picture to make. That means when a roll of film does get loaded it is because I have enough of a purpose in mind to motivate me to load film. And the film that gets loaded is being selected for the first image it will be used to make. Along those lines, when I get to the last frame I really try to make that last exposure count. There is no better way to wrap up a roll of film than with an image you are excited about. Another way of approaching this is to go out without any spare rolls of film. I did this on this outing with my two Hasselblad backs, one of which is dedicated to colour and the other to b&w. I opted to not take any extra rolls of colour film with me and that back was on exposure 10, meaning I had only three shots remaining for an entire excursion. It is limiting but scarcity can also place greater value. With only three shots, or by waiting on my first shot of the roll, or the last shot, I am placing a higher-than-normal value on those exposures and because I do so, I tend to enjoy a higher-than-normal success rate with those images.
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
Callac November 2018
The Silence holds with its gloved hand the wild hawks of the mind
Sue and JB – Malvran November 2018
Pink Granite Coast November 2018
Two Dachshunds One Bench Chartres 2018
Laughter And Forgetting
Sue Plusquellec December 2018
Farmhouse Morbihan November 2018
Ruin Finistere November 2018
1000 Year Oak November 2018
Shed December 2018
Weathered Wood December 2018
Bench Pink Granite Coast November 2018
I wonder what the view is like just a few feet over, on the other side of that boundary, looking back across.
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.
The day we have been waiting for. Today we had an appointment with the Notaire and signed for our new home in France. Happy…..you bet I am.
My papers arrived, stamped and complete. All previous dispatches are obsolete. The New Life Starts here.
And then we went to the coast to celebrate.
My skewed perspective on focus is not a recent evolution. Rather, it is a tendency that has been there awhile, explored some time ago with the aid of a Daguerreotype lens in this particular case. This has just aided in my explorations, provided me a new instrument by which to poke around at the edges of my perspective on how to focus.
So we made the trip north, poked around and climbed above the exposed mussel shoals.
Just us, the sky and the sea. Bliss.
One of the gaps that exists between seeing the ocean with your own eyes and photographing the ocean is that it can be hard to really capture the sense of movement, which itself helps convey the sense of space and depth. Sometimes I have found it helps to do long exposures. The motion blur can help illustrate the various layers at work. I think that is what this photo was about for me. The light was really nice as well but mostly I was enamoured by the layers: that brightly lit layer with the dark stony layer residing beneath. One moving to the tide of the moon, the other benevolently resting below.
Anyway, this is a partial story, as they all are. I always see more than I photograph and I always photograph more than I write about and explain. But I wanted to add this bit at least, for its depth.