quiet places and shadows in 3 french villages
Some people seemed to get all sunshine, and some all shadow . . . ―Louisa May Alcott, Little Women
There is strong shadow where there is much light. –Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Götz von Berlichingen
Renoir. Picasso. Matisse. Chagall. (I am dropping names now.) Monet. Degas. (Shall I continue?)
Those painters and many others painted in southern France because of the intense, clean light and the shades and shadows.
To catch that light, to observe it, one must know where to go and when.
On the Côte d’Azur—the French Riviera—the pristine light on clear, full sunny days can be experienced anywhere. It blankets everything. The ISO on your camera plummets, the f-stop increases, and the camera fires more quickly. The reds, blues, and yellows on buildings and cars and clothing become more intense. Trees look more green. The blues in the sky reflect the blues of the water and the blues in the water reflect the sky and sometimes they seem like the same blue.
Some say that “Golden Hour” in the morning and evening is best. It is impractical for me. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)
In open spaces, one notices easily the light but not the shadows that appear and move and disappear.
The many villages perchés on the Côte d’Azur offer many opportunities for experiencing the light, but also the intense shades and shadows that compliment the light.
The small villages are compact. One need not walk much to find the angled, light shards striking the surfaces of the stone. Come back later and the geometric configuration will have changed. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)
The villages are built—perched—on hills. Thus the buildings and streets will be elevated in places in relation to one another. One can sometimes stand high on a street or a corner of a small plaza and look down into the village neighborhood. If you are lucky, it might take on the semblance of a cubist painting.
Except for some popular villages—I am thinking at the moment of St Paul de Vence—the streets and alleys and paths are bereft of people. The stillness adds quiet and serenity to the shadows; the light loses its importance and becomes secondary to the shade. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)
The soul that sees beauty may sometimes walk alone. —Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Recently, I visited some villages along the Côte d’Azur: Mougins, Valbonne, and Cotignac. The Météo told me that I would have a full-sun day. That is important. Good light between 10:00 and 14:00, and sometimes later, is required.
In the villages, I looked for opportunities and stopped where it was quiet, calm, and the light struck sharply and the shades asserted themselves.