February’s calendar photograph I call, “Menton at First Light.”  Menton (en Français, pronounced, men-tone’) is a resort town on the Côte d’Azur.  Because it is a resort, it has a more touristy flavor, despite that we visited in November long after the summer tourists had departed.  The old town is up on the hill. Its very narrow streets don’t accommodate automobiles, but it is a delightful and quaint town to walk through.  The tourist area is largely at the sea level, with the usual tourist fare of hotels, cafes, restaurants, souvenir shops and the like.  The town is dominated by the Basilica of St Michael the Archangel.  Fortunately for my photo, the lights of the Basilica remained on throughout the night.  The photograph would be unremarkable without the prominence of the illuminated Basilica, including its reflection.

I arose before dawn to capture this image.  I often make use of reflections in my images.  I like this photo for how the slow shutter speed (1 second) smooths out the reflections in the water.  It was largely still before dawn, so 1 second was sufficiently slow. In addition to the colors of the buildings, I like the elongated shapes that are the reflections of the lights illuminating the road that follows the beach, as well as the reflection of the lights of the Basilica.  Unfortunately, these printed much darker for the calendar than on my screen, and the rich blue of the sky and the colorful buildings of the town are largely lost in the calendar print. That’s why I do my own printing for my client work.  When I print, I can maintain strict quality control over my images.

As the sun came up, so did a breeze, and I made these two very different images from largely the same location. 


The image with the beautiful golden sunrise light was made only 50 minutes after the “First Light” photo.  It’s amazing how fast the morning light goes from beautiful to washed out.  That’s why it’s called Golden Hour.  The hour, or at least 30 minutes, before sunrise is magical, too. It’s also remarkable how different the image looks and feels only 50  minutes later.  For the image on the right, I framed for the reflection only and, unlike the calendar image, used a fast shutter speed to “stop” the moving water.  The breeze moving the water disrupted the reflection and gave this abstract look that I really like.  When I get an image like this, it reminds me that when I’m at a shooting location, keep shooting, and experiment.  I try not to be finished until the beautiful light is gone.

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