Chasing Light

What do you do if you want to go somewhere and your family and friends don’t want to or can’t get away when you can? Deciding to explore the world on your own can be a daunting prospect. Thoughts of the drawbacks may cycle through your mind: having no one to rely on should problems arise, planning the trip all on your own, being a target because you are solo, table for one most of the time, or the possibility of being lonely.  The perks of being able to do what you want when you want wherever you want look attractive but will it be right for you. It takes a leap of faith to take on the challenge. As with most things — you don’t know what you don’t know. With a “you won’t know until you try it” attitude I took that leap of faith to France a couple of years ago and in the process learned a lot and among many memorable experiences a long afternoon and evening taking in the changing light of Mont Saint-Michel stands out.

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At first sight, the Mont is an impressive and awe-inducing structure. Its size dwarfing the people and vehicles on the bridge. This area is known for extreme tidal fluctuations and upon my arrival the tide was out and the light was muted from the gray sky.

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Boats become stranded on the sand and people can walk in the silty sand, with caution, during low tides.

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I walked up to the Mont on the bridge, explored the town and toured the Abbey taking my time admiring and capturing the almost 360-degree view from the top.

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The afternoon was turning into evening and the sky with billowy clouds was ever-changing. The golden hour was beginning. Different times of day bring different light to subjects. At sunrise and sunset the sun is near the horizon which creates a golden hue and cast long shadows. In the time before and after sunrise and sunset the light changes hue quickly. From blue to pink to gold in the morning and the reverse in the evening.

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The late afternoon sun added a beautiful golden tone to the walls.

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The surrounding countryside isn’t immune to the sun’s rays.

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The sky wasn’t the only thing changing, suddenly, I became aware of the sound of rushing water. The tide was on its way in, and when that tide comes in it surges in. The boats are once again floating on the water as the gold turns to pink.

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The speed of the incoming tide was creating waves.

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Engrossed in the phenomenon, I hadn’t noticed the sky beginning to darken when a drop of water hit my cheek. Then another and another and suddenly I was in the middle of a rainstorm. Not yet ready to leave this show of color and water, I pulled out my umbrella and went back to the demonstration of mother nature’s extremes. During the rain the lights on the Mont were lit, illuminating  the walls.

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Slowly the golden hour gave way to the blue hour.

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I left to grab some dinner and since I was staying nearby went back to get the full nighttime experience.

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The tide was completely up by this time and the water surrounding the Mont was reflecting the lights.  I said good night to the Mont-Saint-Michel and returned to my hotel. Contemplating my afternoon, I felt blessed and grateful for having taken that five thousand mile leap which landed on the distant shore that day. Being alone allowed me the unscheduled time to linger. If I had waited to go or been with somebody who wasn’t willing to stay and let the moments unfold and watch the light change, I would have missed out on the events that October afternoon. I never would have come to the conclusion that the Mont- Saint- Michel is a beautiful subject in all lighting.

Cheers,

Susan

 

under a watchful eye

towers6Any sunny summer day at the beach, you will find them; working the shore with red bathing suits, and hanging red canisters at the ready, eyes fixed on the water. They are lifeguards and their “office” – the lifeguard tower. The towers dot the sand up and down the beach.

towers7Summer time is the busy season but they are at their posts year round.

towers11The water is too enticing, most days, for all sorts of water activity enthusiasts to be left unattended.

towers10Or, some days there are more birds than people but there is still a lifeguard somewhere on the beach keeping watch. The lifeguard tower itself is a simple structure, architecturally speaking, constructed of wood with a ramp leading up to the door and shelter. It is elevated about three feet off the ground, just enough to give the guard an unobstructed view of the beach and water. These towers remind me of many a day spent at the shore and feeling sentimental, I chose the lifeguard towers as a subject of an evening photo shoot. The sun, low in the sky, on its way to setting, giving a golden hue to the light. I decided to walk around the tower and play with different lighting situations. First, I placed the sun behind the tower thus back-lighting it.

tower1As you can see the tower is more in silhouette but the background is the ocean, which I like. Next, I walked to the side and gave it a side light.

towers5First one side, then the other. . .

towers4This creates different effects and backgrounds so keep this in mind when choosing what to photograph. Turning and facing the tower and using front lighting was next.

tower2This gives the front of the tower full exposure and allows the ramp to be visible. Another angle using front lighting is explored.

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The towers are a constant at the beach. They get moved back away from the water in the winter and brought closer to the shoreline in the spring but are ever present on the sand standing tall. Sometimes, they are used in perhaps unexpected ways.

towers8The blue towers are iconic representations of the beach to me and I appreciate the role they play in the dance of the shore. If you have an interest in lifeguard towers check out the fun colors and patterns they were decorated with a few years back in an earlier post: “Flashback Summer of Colors“.

Hearing the crashing surf,

~ Susan