American Cemetery, Omaha Beach, Normandy, France.
When last we saw our intrepid Filmosaur, he was plunging north along the French motorways toward Normandy, happily taking slightly blurry pictures out the window. We now join him as he arrives in Bayeux….
Bayeux cathedral is quite an impressive structure, as you can see. Trite though photos of European cathedrals may be, it’s sort of hard to avoid the 800-pound architectural gorilla in the town when you’re out on a photo walk. It’s unique in that it contains numerous memorial elements dedicated to the liberators of France in 1944 amid the much earlier construction.
The whole place is almost distressingly picturesque. I liked the way the lighting in this shot brought out the traditionally earthy colors of the plastered buildings. Since it is one of the few Norman cities that was left untouched by the war, the old portions of the town are much as they have been for centuries.
Of course, Bayeux notwithstanding, one cannot go to Normandy without constant reminders of the war. I mean, every village seems to have Sherman tank parked near the square, and there are monuments and British and American flags roughly every 12 feet (that’s just under 4 meters for those of you who insist on using local measurements…weirdos). The cemeteries are the most moving of these; the British, Americans, and Germans each have their own character, but all are thought-provoking to say the least.
Our time in Normandy was short. I was due to head for England, and that meant an early blast to Paris to catch the first of four trains that would eventually deposit me in Devonshire. But the morning light in France is something that demands attention. This shot, and several others I got that morning, attest to the value of getting up early once in a while. Especially in France.
Because I am old, I have had time to accumulate a lot of stuff. Among the various collections (this is a very polite way of describing things, and I’ll thank you not to question it), there is a fair quantity of film. Through the wonders of modern technology, and a tendency toward Obsessive/Compulsive Disorder, I’ve been able to scan much of it. Most of it, it turns out, is completely unremarkable and often blurry. Occasionally, and largely by accident I assure you, a decent shot occurred; give enough monkeys cameras and eventually one will produce something that could be mistaken for Ansel Adams or Henri-Cartier Bresson (though I’m not really sure that monkeys would do particularly well with large-format landscape photography, especially the smaller, more hyperactive ones, but that’s for another time). Thus I present to you the Filmosaur Archives, in no particular order, for your viewing pleasure.
The first series are from France circa 1999. All were shot with my trusty Pentax SFX, mostly on Kodak Gold 200.
We begin in Lyon.
To be honest, I didn’t have many pictures from Lyon. I was only there for a day or two before heading north, and I was jetlagged. My recollection was of a hot and hazy city with very few people in it. But I felt like I needed to represent it, as it was the starting point on this particular trip.
Moving on, we drove north to Bayeux, in Normandy. The drive was long but pleasant, at least as pleasant as eight hours in a French minivan can be. The view along the way was worth shooting.
The Filmosaur Archives will return with photos from Normandy in the next installment.