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on seeing the vieux port in marseille in black and white

The Vieux Port in Marseille is wide open. No trees. The buildings are four to five stories. The highest point is inland, and it is la basilique Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde. It is too far away to cast a shadow on the Port.

That means the Mediterranean sun lights up the Port and reflects light off the water. Many, many boats are moored in the port and they are white. Not all of them, of course, but enough when I write that all the boats are white on the Port. They reflect the light as well.

The buildings that line the port are pale and creamy and look unwashed. When the light is at a certain state, the edges of the buildings are indistinct from one another from a distance.

Go along the coast, let’s say to Martigues, and there one sees a strong, iron blue water, and set against it are the burnt orange and blues and ochre of the buildings. Many of the boats in the harbor are painted with bold blue and yellow hues.  (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)

The color at the Vieux Port really is in the clothing. And that is seldom bold. All right, I do see the occasional red jacket, and the jacket I wear is bright blue, purple maybe.  (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)

Sometimes on a luminous day, when the sun covers the port, bouncing off the white boats, and the water light reflects back, it seems odd to see patches of bright colors, the coats and sweaters, moving and often shimmering while most other patches, the blacks and grays and other whites, seem to blend into the scene.  (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)

Set against this background, I take a number of black and white photographs.  (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)

As is usual now, I continue to enjoy taking photographs with simulated black and white film stock. These images then will have the unmistakable grainy look.

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