Voyage d'emotion - a photography tour with heart
05/01/09Exploring the French Pyrenees, Cathar and Basque country through the eyes of a professional photographer and through my own camera lens at times took my breath away. Maybe it was the higher altitudes as we climbed snow-capped mountains, but I think it was the natural unspoilt beauty and variety of the countryside we experienced as the trip evolved from farmhouses to mountains, to small, rain-splattered fishing villages and solitary pubs offering tempting hot steaming coffee.
As the first group to experience this particular trip offered by Jonathan’s growing business, we travelled a route which provided vast contrasts in scenery. We started in spectacular Biarritz, a thriving surf town in summer, but very sleepy and relaxing during our autumn stay, providing the coast I had been looking forward to seeing, crepes to indulge in, and plenty of fresh sea air.
Our first day was spent travelling through Basque country, fighting the bitter wind in the morning to set-up our shots and find our photographic feet. Through the Iraty forest photographing waterfalls, rivers and lakes. As the day progressed we began to climb the Pyrenees and headed to Cauterets, a ski town without the ski crowds, our first overnight stay.
Days two and three and the snow capped peaks became knee high snow, hiking and taking in the sights with regular breaks, to take photos of course. Cirque de Gavarnie was the focus of a 4 hour walk and shoot claiming fame to Europe’s highest waterfall in the National Park of Ordesa . And finally, for the last day, Carcassonne, a magnificent walled city and the Cathar castles, some of which have been listed as a monument historique by the French Ministry of Culture since 1902”.
In four days, as well as shifting my camera setting from auto to manual, a starting point for all novices, and picking up small technical tips to try and practise, I also learnt about composition and , even more importantly, emotion in photography. I learned the excitement of that perfect lighting suddenly displaying the shot to take, the desire to capture the heart and soul of a romantic castle and the appreciation of beauty in the changing landscapes with “shots to die for”. Capturing the sadness, loneliness and in stark contrast the happiness and joy of the landscapes on offer.
Along with the photos and some wonderful memories this was what I took away from this trip, this “voyage d’emotion.”
Author Note - At the beginning of 2007, Jonathan Chritchley started Ocean Capture Adventures - photography holidays and workshops in his beloved Aquitaine region of France aimed at people with a love of photographing the shoreline, forests and lakes, in perfect light and with space to breathe.
See Ocean capture adventures for more information.