The river Erdre in Nantes and some birds…

It was Ascension Thursday which is a public holiday in France, and as usual I headed out to Nantes with my camera. The Canon had been getting jealous of the Fuji so I acquiesced.

Killian, my son, and favourite travelling companion (have a look at the photos from Edinburgh) came with me. We ate at the Suppli Factory, which was a lovely change, and also happened to be open!

We went round the St Nicolas Basilica (photos of which will be in an other article), and then walked up towards the Île de Versailles, which is an oriental garden themed park on an artificial island on the River Erdre in Nantes.

I had previously promised him a trip out in a small boat (you can hire small electric boats that you don’t need a permit for) and it was time to honour that promise.

The following photos were taken on that boat. It was a brilliant idea and the man that had it is obviously a genius. There was just the two of us. Sometimes joking. Sometimes talking. Sometimes saying nothing but just enjoying the father son moment.

I took out the 70-300mm zoom lens, just in case we spotted some birds that wanted their photographs taken. And it turned out to be yet another genius idea.

Photography in the streets of Nantes, May 2019

Now that you’ve had a bit of time to get used to me, I’m going to show you some of the usual photography I do, to keep my eye in. No fancy lenses. Just the Fujifilm X100F with it’s 35mm equivalent lens.

So basically I go into town with my small inconspicuous little camera that does the business, and, believe it or not, take some photos. I then find a café to sit in, take a few more photos just in case, and start editing.

That entails sending the photos from the camera onto my phone via Wi-Fi, and getting annoyed when I have to start again a few times… Then comes the editing on my phone with Snapseed, and there you are. Photos ready to publish on Instagram or Facebook etc.

Win I do this I have my own preset as a starting point and that allows me to finely tune the end result. I nearly always go black and white for this kind of photography. The idea being that o manage to get photos of the ordinary things and try and give the justice. You’ll be able to decide when you look through.

On this particular trip, those of you who know Nantes will be able to see exactly where I went…

Parc Oriental de Maulévrier

I’d heard of this place since I moved to Vendée in 2001, but had never got around to visiting it. The occasion was a friend’s birthday. My photography is my way of detaching myself from this world of commotion and taking a seat to just observe. The French talk about Zen, and “being zen” as an antidote to our modern lives, and finding that certain calm that we all long for.


Japanese gardens are traditional gardens whose designs are accompanied by Japanese aesthetic and philosophical ideas, avoid artificial ornamentation, and highlight the natural landscape.

Wikipedia

Even thought we were in a group, we allowed ourselves to go at our own pace. For those of you who have a photographer as a partner, apparently you have tremendous patience as all of a sudden we will stop dead and start taking a photo. Today I could just get on with it and wander around. Blissful it was, blissful! The only person that doesn’t mind me doing this is my son who waits patiently. If we go out, I will do 8000 paces, and he will do at least 12000 because of turning around and coming back to me. I do love that boy!

All these photos were taken on the Canon 6D Mark II, with the Helios M44-2 58 mm lens, except for one shot, which was taken with the Canon 16-35 mm lens. I do like the bokeh it gives you and on some of these photos you can actually see the swirly bokeh! Try and spot it…

Abbaye de Maillezais Vendée

Originally from Yorkshire, we were brought up on the merits of Rievaulx and Fountains Abbeys. They were of course the most famous and beautiful of the abbeys destroyed by Henry VIII when the pope said no he couldn’t have a divorce to be able to marry Anne Boleyn. Bit of an over-reaction in my opinion especially when you think how it turned out in the end…

Anyway. This article isn’t about them. No. It’s about Maillezais Abbey in Vendée. It’s a little bit of a hike, but you basically just get on the motorway and don’t forget your exit the way I did, and ended up taking a very scenic route, which was very scenic. Luckily my daughter didn’t realise this. My wife would have been telling me how bloody useless I am. Ahhh, the joys of youth!

I’m going to start with the photos I took on the Easter Monday 2019, and then I’ll do an other article about my previous visit when I was with a film camera…

In this series I was using the Canon 6D Mark II with the Canon 16-35mm lens, and the Helios M44-2 58mm lens, which seems to be becoming my “go to” kit…

Clisson in colour, and close up…

As you might know from reading the rest of this blog, I love using my Canon 6D Mark II with vintage glass. This Helios M44-2 is a bokeh beast for my inner bokeh whore… I love depth of field and this lens allows me to really express myself. Not only do I get the bokeh but due to a design falut in this lens, you get a “swiry bokeh.”

When I saw photos with this swirly bokeh for the first time I was blown away. I wanted that so boadly and when I first got this lens onto my camera I loved it. I’ve been getting acquainted with this lens and am beginning to get find what I can do with it.

Of course it has limits, the major one being that I can’t focus to infinity but i’m ok with that. I can get around it by using zone focusing. I can be around 6 to 10 metres away from my subject and have a small aperture. Above that the mirror with smack into the lens and my camera with start throwing a wobbler! And we don’t want that , do we!

So this bokeh, what is it then?


In photography, bokeh is the aesthetic quality of the blur produced in the out-of-focus parts of an image produced by a lens. Bokeh has been defined as “the way the lens renders out-of-focus points of light”.

Wikipedia

Clisson in Black and White.

Clisson is one of those pittoresque little market towns that France is famous for, except for three days a year when Heavy Metal fans come for the Hellfest and celebrate the late demi-god Lemmie! When these photos were taken, it wasn’t one of those three days and you could “quietly” breath in the tranquility and history of the place.

On a Friday morning there is the weekly market that I love going to but haven’t been able to go for ages as I’m no longer doing shift work. I would wander along the food stalls and have a few favourite places to stop and be seperated from my money for some wonderful produce. I’m talking about the good stuff… The kind of stuff that makes a foodie drool with pleasure. The place not to go when you’re hungry… I’m so weak!

I spent about two hours in Clisson before going off to Nantes to meet other photographers for a “photowalk,” just to see what I could get and to try and see a familiar place in a new way. It ended up falling through but I met other friends for an impromtu picnic. I’d been wanting to see Clisson again and try out the X100F and the Canon 6D with the Helios 44-2.

This first series of photos were taken on the Fujifilm X100F, and the 35mm equivalent lens and I was after trying to get some wider shots so you can get a feel for the place.

The second series will be more about how I see the place, and more in my style. IE the place where I seem to be on my photographic journey at the moment. That doesn’t mean that these black and white shots aren’t me. They are. And the editing is a reflection of me too. But I do love getting closer. You’ll see when you read the next article!