French Landscapes

This is the first post in a five-part series on my recent trip to France.

I spent the first week in May visiting friends who live in the Loire region of France. The weather was meant to be superb, and my friends promised visits to beautiful countryside locations. So I set one of the objectives of my trip to capture landscapes. Traveling light, I brought one camera body, a 24-105 mm f/4 lens (my favorite all-purpose lens), a 50 mm f/1.4 lens for low light, and a tabletop tripod. The equipment worked well, though there were plenty of times I wished I had my 16-35 mm lens and my real tripod, which would have been more appropriate for making landscapes. Also more appropriate would have been lots of time to devote solely to photography and a schedule I could set myself.

The best light for landscape photography is normally half an hour before and after sunrise and sunset, when the light is warm and its angle is low. This creates much more drama in the image and sets the photo apart from an average snapshot. With the primary purpose of my trip being to visit my friends, by the time we got going the sun was high in the sky, creating harsh shadows and bad contrast. I tried to make lemonade out of these lemons by developing my photos in Lightroom across a five f-fstop range (from minus 2 to plus 2) and processing them for HDR (high dynamic range). This brought out vibrant colors and good contrast and generally salvaged some otherwise mediocre photos.

I had no idea what vista’s I’d encounter, so I couldn’t plan beforehand, and if I saw a potential scene that piqued my interest, I had only a few moments to snap the photo before we moved on. Had I had time devoted solely to photography, I could have made shots from multiple viewpoints, waited for the light to change, waited for cows to move into a better arrangement, etc.

Still, I hope you find these photos interesting. I welcome your comments.

Read the second post in the series: Nine-hour Layover in Paris
Read the third post in the series: A Day in Lyon
Read the fourth post in the series: Chamonix and Mont Blanc
Read the final post in the series: Curiot Mining Museum in Saint-Etienne


15 thoughts on “French Landscapes

    • Thanks for your feedback. I’m glad to hear you like this one. I tried something I’ve never seen in a landscape photo, to focus on a detail in the foreground and let the background go out of focus. I wasn’t sure it was successful, but now I have confirmation. I hope I get to see more scenes that will lend itself to this style.

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