Honfleur, Daytime

I’ve been trying to “find myself” lately as far as photography goes. Different editing techniques instead of always doing black and white. Maybe it’s time to get back to basics for at least one article. You’ve seen Honfleur in colour and at night in my last article. However, I did take my camera out during the day! Yes, that can happen sometimes.

You’ve already had the witticisms about Normandy and the like, so this article is somewhat shorter. It’s about exhibiting some black and white photography of a very pretty little town in Normandy without the distraction of colour. They were taken whilst walking from where I had parked the car, to the house that we had rented for the week. They were taken whilst meandering through the streets, getting lost, trying to see what the place looked like in daylight. They were taken whilst I just let my mind wander off and just take in the beauty of the place. Quite typical for me really, and probably the best way to photograph a town.

The photographs were taken over a period of three days using both the Canon 6D Mark II, with the 16-35mm lens, and the Fujifilm X100F.

Omaha Beach, Normandy

Omaha Beach was one of the five beaches that had to be taken on D Day, 6th July 1944. That task was given to the 1st and 29th Infantry Division of the US Army. To say they took a hammering is an understatement, and General Bradley saw the very grave situation, and one stage nearly abandoned the operation. The grit and determination of his men paid off and they took the beach, but the amount of casualties and dead was tremendous, around 2000 men. A great sacrifice was made that day.

Whilst on that beach, I saw American families turn up, and the emotion was visible on their faces. It is almost a spiritual experience for them, and a form of pilgrimage. The dead are remembered, not only by the few that survived, but by the local population , and the French in general. Just next to the beach, there is the American War Cemetery at Coleville sur Mer. The prisitne graves serve as a reminder to those of us that didn’t experience what they did: the horrors of war!

I remember seeing footage of an old veteran who landed on Omaha, saying that the greatest reward they had, was to see children playing on that beach now, enjoying the peace that was earned by those men who lay down their lives on that same beach all those years ago.

I’ve decided to share photos of both the beach and the cemetery with you. The camera used that day was the Canon 6D Mark II with the 16-35mm Canon lens.

First night of the holidays

It was Friday. The boss had come round and asked where we were with our workload. I was fully up to date. He asked if I wanted to finish work that morning or work the Friday afternoon. Strangely enough I said, oh alright, I’ll finish at lunchtime then. And so started my four week Summer holidays.

I’d done a reportage of Bouffay at night a while ago and wanted to have another bash at it. And as usual I found the pub… Ah well, I was a good boy and only had a single pint. Yes that can happen! Not often, but it has been known.

I needed food and ended up having a goats cheese and honey pizza. Don’t forget that this is France and that anything can happen as far as food is concerned. On the way back to the pub for number two, pint number two and not a “number two,” even if the loos have just been done up and look rather nice, I just wanted to get a photo of the Café du Cinéma, which is a cafe just next to a cinema but is a thing of beauty with it’s mosaic front and just looks sooo French. I still get emotional every time I pass by. Am I the only person who gets like that when they see a certain building?

Hello, my name is Ian, and I like looking at certain buildings and they just touch me.

Back to the pub just to say hi as the late shift came on, just to say hi. That second pint was just circumstantial.

I was taking the X100F out for a spin that night, and although everyone says it, I’m going to to say it too: It’ a great little camera for street photography.

Farman

Yesterday, I was out with my daughter in Nantes. Nothing new about that, but those who know me, know that already. What was new was that I had just bought a Canon 85mm F1.8 lens and wanted to try it out. Kate had decided that we would not go to the pub but go the Anneaux de Buren instead. And to be more exact, go to the Altercafé in the Hangar à Bananes!

So, we did. I usually get green tea flavoured with ginger and lemon, and Kate has Orangina, and we get to eat a nice chocoloate brownie together. Shock and Horror (which always were a class double act)! No more brownies. Oh woe is me! And her! Luckily they still had Orangina, but I had to make do with a beer. I know, I know. The lengths I will go to to stop that child being traumatised by lack of rather tasty chocolate brownie! I give, give, give, and give some more. We even had to slum it and have a cheese and charcuterie board with toast. Totally yummy, but missing that chocolatey taste that we were after. Mind you, if you do get French cheese and charcuterie that tastes of chocolate, you might want to send it back and choose something else…

Whilst we were offering up our misfortune for the Holy Souls, a band started setting up. Yes, we were going to get live music! The guy from the band came up the mezzanine where Kate and I were to take some photos on his phone. I asked would he mind if I took a couple of photos. He asked are you on Instagram. I was and immediately followed him. I said I’d send him a link to the photos once they had been edited, and these are the photos that you’ll be seeing in this article.

The proceeded to set up and do their sound check. We weren’t able to stay for the concert, but I thought what the heck, I’ll get some good photos and as I’ve never photographed a band before, I thought it would be a good environment in which to learn. No hoards of screaming fans to wade through…

So here is the photo reportage of the Farman sound check, and here’s their Instagram account. Tools of the trade were the Canon 6D Mark II, with the 50mm F1.8 lens, and its big brother, the 85mm F1.8 lens.

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…

Come to Nantes – It’s a riot!

Oooooh… About to get political. Well, not really, but for the last 19 weeks, the Gilet Jaune movement has become a reality and what was at first something pretty scary, has now become part of everyday life and people are just getting on with it! I love the way they just say “merde” which delivers a certain contempt that the English language just can’t manage to doso concisely.

I’m not going to pass judgement on the movement, or am I going to get into the politics of it all. However, as a piece of history, it has been fascinating to watch and photograph. I mean the French are ready to demonstrate about anything, and things can get quite militant, so we know what to expect. The police come out dressed in riot gear, an all of a sudden you some bangs. The first rounds of teargas have been fired. You get that strange mist that permeates the city and gets your eyes and throat. Not the most pleasant experience, but I’ve had worse. Streets get blocked off by rather large CRS (Compagnie Républicaine de Sécurité) or Gendarmes. And they know if you’re demonstrating or not and are quite civil. The ones you have to watch out for are the BAC (Brigade Anti Criminalité) who have less riot gear on but can be pretty brutal.

I watch from afar as elements of the scene fall into place. People are just going about their daily business.

A Manif (demonstration) from last May bout the proposed airport in Nantes.

Thes folowing photos were taken on the X100F and the Canon 6D Mark II, with a Pentacon 50mm lens.