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Behind the image: Nuit tombante, Pentrez, Finistère

We stopped here just to give the dog a run. We’d been out exploring the Finistère coast all day and, with the light fading, had decided to head back to the gîte. But our old dog Zola needed to stretch his legs.

We threw the ball for him a few hundred times (so it seemed), and just as we were all feeling tired and eager to get back in the car, nature decided to put on a show.

Now I like the golden hour as much as the next photographer, but I’m a little allergic to straightforward sunset pictures. They seem too easy, somehow. A bit of a cliché. And so I like to find an additional element to introduce into the image, such as structure or pattern.

It helps to have an assistant. Zola, as it happens, likes to chase birds on the beach. The very first time he encountered the sea he spent much of his time tearing around trying to snag himself a tern or a gull. He never caught one but he also never gave up hope.

And so it was on this evening that he pelted down the beach and caused a cloud of birds to flutter into the sky. And when they settled, I got this.

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

I feel this works because of the strong shape of the cloud echoed in the lines in the sand, with the birds adding a kind of visual punctuation. It’s a pure piece of composition and, unusually for my landscapes, has no trace of the hand of mankind in it. For me, this picture just embodies a happy end to a good day.

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