Sunday, November 26, 2017

When everything conspires to succeed...

My father and brother were scheduled to come to Europe on vacation.  Unfortunately my father broke a leg as he was "buttoning up" his home before the trip and they couldn't come.

My wife and I were left with train tickets and hotel reservations to deal with.  We canceled what we could, but we prepaid several things we couldn't back out of.  So we decided to use what we'd already paid for.

Our destination was the beautiful town of St. Malo which is out on the western edge of France in celtic Bretagne.  We'd been there once before, but I was sick that time and wasn't able to fully enjoy the adventure.

It'd been over a year since I'd acquired my French driver's license, so we decided to test it out by renting a car.  Usually we take public transportation everywhere.  We get to see things in relative comfort and ease.  But renting a car would require my attention be diverted and directed in a very different and stressful way.

The day after we arrived we set off for Dinan.  It's an incredible little village that still retains much of its medieval character.  The next day we visited the nearby town of Dinard.  It's a place rich in big old houses that the rich built to create a seaside playground for themselves.  On our final full day, we drove to Mont Saint Michel.

The old monastery is well known for the way it sits on top of a granite rock island.  Iconic photos of place at dusk or sunrise are easily found all over the internet.  Our visit was in broad daylight and I hoped to find a way to share a different perspective of the place since we'd be lacking the drama of the edges of the day kind of light.

Once inside the cathedral at the top of the hill I saw the windows were ablaze with sunlight.  Standing toward the back I took a series of images in the hopes of stitching them together later.  Unable to see the final result in-camera and on-site reminded me of the many years I shot film.  I would have to wait to see if what I saw and felt had been adequately captured.

Once home I opened Capture One and worked on the cathedral images.  I tried to match the exposures and curves between each of the image segments.  I've found taking care of such things sometimes helps in the stitching step.  Files were written out as 8 bit TIFFs and opened in Hugin.

Hugin is an open source image stitching and alignment software.  I recently experienced several failures using Hugin in that it doesn't always align all elements of a scene correctly.  So you can imagine my surprise when the resultant file from Mont St. Michel turned out to be perfectly aligned across the entire file from the very first stitching attempt.

Next I opened the Gimp (another open source software and one that I've been using for over a decade), added a little vignetting, and lightly modified the luminosity of various regions.  As I wrote the final image out to a new file I realized the long dimension was well over 12,000 pixels.  There is a lot of useful and beautiful information in the image.

I feel I have successfully captured something unique.  No, it's not the iconic view of the medieval community, but it is uniquely mine, what I saw, and I think it's beautiful.

Mont Saint Michel ~ France ~ 2017

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