Behind the image: Îlot St-Michel

This is an example of why you should always carry a camera.

We were on holiday in Brittany. In the late autumn we like to get to the coast for a week. Most often we head for Finistère, but this time we decided to stay closer to home. Our dog Zola was old and wouldn’t have liked the long haul to the west coast.

But that was okay because the Côtes d’Armor is another of our favourite areas of Brittany.

On the advice of friends, we chose to stay near Erquy. It was good advice. We even found a fabulous voie verte (greenway) to cycle. Best of all, our gîte was close to the coastal path, meaning that walking the dogs was always a scenic experience.

But the thing is, if you think that all you’re going to do is walk the dogs you might be inclined to leave the camera at home. After all, it’s not a photographic expedition.

This is one of the reasons I bought the Fuji X100. It’s small enough to slip into a pocket. But, partly because it has a fixed focal-length lens (35mm equivalent), its image quality is superb – much better than you’d get on most compact cameras with their over-ambitious zoom lenses. And it shoots raw, albeit only at 12MP (later versions of the camera have boosted this to 16MP).

On this particular day we headed off down the coastal path with no destination in mind. I’d left the Nikon D800 in the gîte – it was too heavy for what was meant just as a gentle stroll. But I took the Fuji.

Pretty soon we could see a tiny island just off the beach. This is the Îlot St-Michel. It’s like a Spinal Tap version of Mont St Michel – little more than a small mound (rather than a giant volcanic outcrop) topped by a miniscule chapel instead of an abbey. But it’s unquestionably picturesque.

Îlot St-Michel, Côtes d’Armor, Brittany, France

And, of course, it fits exactly with my obsession with the relationship between mankind and the landscape. In the foreground of the picture above you can also see the remains of an old building, possibly a former customs hut.

We went on, arriving at the spit of land that joins the mainland to the îlot. Although it was a sunny day (and it’s surprising how often the weather is this beautiful in November in Brittany), there was clearly a front moving in.

That turned out to be a bit of luck, however. The clouds that often presage a front added a dynamic element to my favourite photograph of the Îlot St-Michel, and nicely mirror the streams of water on the sand.

This is one of the images I’m showing at my forthcoming exhibition, L’Esprit Insolite. It’s also for sale in my shop.

This was also the image I chose for the exhibition poster – partly because it cropped well, but also because of the way the clouds work with Sue Riley’s sculpture.



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