Posts tagged ‘France’

February 1, 2014

Lead me to the rock that is higher than I

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Photo: Church at Pointe du Van, Brittany.

We visited this wonderful location during the summer. As I read the words of Psalm 61 recently, I remembered this beautiful little Church high up on the rock, far above the crashing Atlantic waves below…

“Hear my cry, O God,
listen to my prayer;
from the end of the earth I call to you
when my heart is faint.
Lead me to the rock
that is higher than I,
for you have been my refuge,
a strong tower against the enemy.”  (Psalm 61:1-3)

October 8, 2013

Walking home

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Silhouetted against the evening sun, he walks angled with a limp. Even so, he walks quickly and with a definite purpose; he knows where he is going. Is he going home? I guess so, but will there be anyone to greet him, a wife to ask how his day was, or someone else with whom to share the contents of his carrier bag?

I shall never know the answer, but I pray that he was walking home to more than just the brightness of the evening sun; that his home would be a place that is full of light, life and laughter, peace, hope and joy.

Everyone deserves a home to go to, a refuge from the world outside, a sanctuary where one can truly be oneself. Or as the old saying goes, ‘home is where the heart is.’  May that be so for each one of us.

October 2, 2013

Douarnenez marina at dusk

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We had joined an evening walk led by a local guide, walking the narrow and winding paths along the beautiful coastline, we ambled our way into Douarnanez as the sun was setting.  It’s a town full of character and history; an interesting juxtaposition of it’s Communist past (yes really) with Soviet-style housing blocks sitting uncomfortably amongst otherwise typically French provincial architecture.  There was a yachting festival taking place, so the marina was full and busy, however by the time we got there most had retired to one of the many roadside bars and cafés.

One of the challenges with photography is narrowing the gap between what your eyes see and what the camera ‘sees’.  In this case the exposure came out quite flat and the colours muted compared to what I remembered from being there.  Using Lightroom I brought the colours and white balance back to to as close as I can remember.

Info: Nikon D7000, 18-55 vr lens @ 18mm ISO 800, 1/125 sec, NEF file processed in Lightroom 4

September 3, 2013

Le parapluie rouge

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A man standing, waiting for the rain to ease up, looks towards Quimper Cathedral as scurrying shoppers and tourists hurry past its ancient walls.

September 1, 2011

Attempting Street Photography in Sarlat

Sarlat-la-Canéda is a wonderful old town that we came across during our holiday. Stuck in a traffic-jam, we had plenty of time to admire the magnificent old buildings and enjoy the lively and bustling atmosphere (and also breathe in an unhealthy dose of exhaust fumes)! We returned to visit the town on a Saturday (which also happened to be Market Day), this time getting the bus from our campsite so as to avoid any more traffic nightmares.

If you don’t mind the large crowds that frequently become bottle-necked in the narrow and winding streets then you will love the market. There is something for everyone, from food and wine to books, hats, jewelry, toys and much more besides, a really great day out.

From the photographers point of view, especially if you enjoy ‘street photography’, then this place is as good as it gets. It’s not easy though trying to expose accurately in the high contrast environment of bright light and dark shadows. I chose to use the largest aperture my lens would allow of f3.5 which gave me a useable shutter speed of about 1/160 sec most of the time.  I tended also to use spot metering more than I normally would, as the matrix metering was often fooled by the extreme light and shadow in many scenes – and all this whilst balancing our 4 year old son (who was worn out with all the walking) on my shoulders!

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Not a stall for vegetarians!  I enjoyed watching the interaction of the two people working on the stall; she was the flamboyant saleswoman, he the quiet and efficient businessman…

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This man had a great view of the street from his hotel window.

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A lot of street photography is about juxtapositions, opposites and contrasts.  Here is one (quite accidental) example – happy/miserable, in focus/out of focus, far/near, older/younger etc.
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The ancient Cathedral.

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This  lady was selling pottery birds that when filled with water (and blowed as a whistle) made a tweet noise!

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Some colorful fish that caught my attention.

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Sarlat is a beautiful place and we had a really great time exploring just a small part of it.  Writing this now almost a month later and looking out upon leaden West Cork skies, it seems like a million miles away…

August 31, 2011

Foie Gras

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Driving around the Dordogne region of France it is inevitable that you will sooner or later come across some Geese, lots of them! One day we stopped the car for a better look at these birds who seem to have a wonderful life. They have plenty of space, lots of shade, water to drink and bathe in and of course more food than they can eat. The catch is of course that these Geese are made to eat more than they are naturally capable of.

‘Foie Gras’ literally means ‘Fat Liver’! These geese are force fed by hand or machine (read about it here), so that their livers will be as large and fatty as possible.

I’m afraid to say that I was unaware of just how intensive the process was until reading about it upon our return home. I wish now that I had not bought a jar of Pâté (€12 for 100g) that now sits on a table in our dining room along with lots of other food that we bought back – actually not much of the other food left now!

Perhaps I am just being naive; there are of course many things involved in food production that I and many are uncomfortable with, such as with intensive egg and poultry production, pigs who live their entire miserable lives in dark concrete sheds, veal and farmed fish to name but a few. Our response to this is to try to be aware enough of the issues so as to not buy products where we are not happy with the method of production involved.  Perhaps if I knew more I would end up being a vegetarian – something I certainly could not stomach!

August 23, 2011

Paris

My favourite ‘mixed idiom’ (I had to look up what it was called) is “Scratching the tip of the iceberg”, which is a great combination of ‘Scratching the surface’ and ‘The tip of the iceberg’.  Of course it means that really you have only the tiniest sense of what something is like or may become.  This is how I would describe our day out in Paris at the beginning of the month.  Thanks to a family we had met earlier in the summer we found a wonderful campsite on the edge of the city, which was the perfect base from which to make our day trip.  Catching the double-decker train into the city was an exciting start to the day and we soon arrived at the station nearest the Eiffel Tower.  When we saw the large queues forming we were grateful for the advice which we had taken to pre-book tickets on the internet.

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I just had to take a picture of these two characters – they might be gangsters at home, but here they are just tourists like everyone else…

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Not a bad view…

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If you wanted to you could spend a lot of time walking; we took the easier option of a boat trip along the river Seine, a great way to see many of the sights such as the Louvre, Notre Dame and so on.
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This chap was interesting – in “The Great Flood” of 1910 the water level rose as high as his beard!

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We made the obligatory stop at a street Café…
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watched the pigeons…

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It was a long, tiring but very enjoyable day…

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On the way back to our campsite we noticed grapes growing over a garden fence, something we are not used to seeing back in West Cork!
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Yes we really only did “scratch the tip of the iceberg” of this wonderful city – God willing we will be back another day…