I’m afraid this is not an epic world war tale of heroism and bravery. More a cautionary tale about the dangers of mixing two very keen, over-worked and overenthusiastic amateur photographers with a new landscape and too much sunshine 🙂
Allow me to explain…
We have just returned from a glorious week in the Loire Valley, where the order of the day was R&R. Purposefully located off the beaten track in a tiny hamlet, our small but perfectly formed gite was to become our home for some serious recuperation after a hectic 8 weeks. We’d arrived with little expectations, but were immediately blown away not only by the accommodation – but its setting. Set amongst a mature orchard, the gite was next to a field of thousands of sunflowers – every which way you looked was nature at its most splendid. What’s more it was quiet, oh so quiet. There was no sound, no active neighbours, nothing – just the unrelenting French sunshine, us, a BBQ, cheese and nature.
I tried my best to rest – I really did. But with such incredible scenery on my doorstep I was like a toddler on Christmas eve, restless and wondering ‘what if?’. I managed a whole 30 minutes from arriving before grabbing my camera and heading outside into the calm and beautiful evening. All options of R&R where shattered when, upon wandering into the field of sunflowers I was met with a score of chirping and bouncing grasshoppers. The lure of macro photography was too much – and from this moment onwards, you’d find me, day or night, in the sunflower field or the scrub land surrounding it – bottom protruding high to the sky, head in the ground, seeking insects and wee beasties to take photos of. Well – they do say a change is as good as a rest?!
Now – match this maddening enthusiasm and passion with that of my Astro Photographer husband, Ali, and you have a real treat on your hands…Ali adores the night sky, and those in the Loire Valley were amongst the best we’ve seen since Costa Rica and Greenland. After a hard day’s macro photography and a long, lazy homecooked supper, we’d head outside the gite with our plastic chairs with wine bottle in hand, and sit and stare at the night sky. Everywhere you looked there was planets, galaxies and shooting stars. It was stupendous.
We found the best spot for planet gazing was ‘in the middle of the road’ (AKA dirt track) beside our gite. So here we settled for nature’s greatest display – equipped with tripod, torch lenses, camera, plastic chairs, coats and mindless chatter about all things ‘astro’. It was during one of these ‘restful’ evenings that we had the brainwave that we could effectively combine our love of macro and astro photography if, in the dead of the night, we headed into the sunflower field (in our PJs!) and took some illuminated shots of the sunflowers against the night sky. It seemed too good an opportunity to miss, so off we trotted into the field. It was very successful. Using a torch, we lit the drooping sunflower heads from below to illuminate them against the midnight starry sky in a long exposure.
It was only after 30minutes of working that we realised we’d been wandering further and further into the field and had been shedding various possessions along the way – our night lights, lenses and, unbeknown to us, the feet of our tripod! We found most things (by sheer luck alone), but our eyes were not able to spot the small, black, tripod feet, no matter how hard we tried. And try I did. Using the torch I’d wander row upon row of sunflowers, dedicated to finding this lost tripod foot. My enthusiasm and effort bore little reward against darkness of the night sky. We resigned ourselves to the fact we’d find it in the daylight – and headed inside for a much needed cuppa.
…Despite 5 days of subsequent searching we never did find the tripod foot – and nor did our neighbours ask any awkward questions of us. They soon became accustomed to seeing my bottom protrude over the horizon each day, or see my hubby head outside in PJs with a ladder and a tripod each midnight.
I have heard it said that from madness comes creativity?!!
Further night-time pictures are available in our France photo gallery.