June’s Photo is the “Roman Aqueduct – Pont du Gard.”  Thank you to those following my blog, and apologies this post is so late this month.  This month’s post is about making the right photo with the right light.

So much about this photograph made this a “must include” in the calendar.  The structure itself, its antiquity, massive size and preservation, is remarkable.  The near mirror-like reflection in the river and the contrasting blue sky are also features that draw my eye.  But what really makes this photo for me is the warm, late afternoon light illuminating the aqueduct.  What is not seen is the walk and the wait to get this image.

As we approached the aqueduct on foot from the parking area, the sun was in front of us, on the opposite side of the aqueduct – it was back lit (photo below on left).  Sometimes I love the backlight, often in portraiture.  But this photo didn’t really do it for me.  The details of the structure are interesting, and you get a good sense of scale (see the people on the walkway above the lower arches).  The foreground is not very interesting and the white sky kills the photo.  I walked around to the opposite side for a very similar composition but very different photo (below on right).  The sunlight on the structure brings out much more of the details of the structure and the sky is immensely better, with color and details.  The foreground is a little better, but I don’t really care for the perspective.  I’m going to keep walking away from the aqueduct.  Peggy wants no part of that (she’s one of those people on the aqueduct) but her friend, Olga, is up for the walk to see what we can see, and if we can make a better photo.


We keep walking and I like this perspective (photo below on left).  I notice how still the water is and I know I need to make my way to the water to capture the reflection of the aqueduct.  The light on the structure is not very good.  But, I’m also watching the sun and clouds, and think there’s a possibility that the sun will break through the clouds and cast a beautiful golden light on the aqueduct.  But, hopefully, not before I find a good spot at the river’s edge, with a composition I really like.  If I get the light I want, I suspect it will be fleeting.

Well, you’ve seen the photo, so you know the sun did come though to give me much better light on the aqueduct, what I was hoping for.  The wait for the better light was definitely worth it.  The light continued to come and go, and the sun hadn’t completely broken though the clouds, so I waited, patiently, another 20-30 minutes, taking more photos. In the end, it never completely broke through, and nothing more spectacular happened in those 20-30 minutes.  But, you can see the difference the beautiful light made by comparing my calendar photo to the one below, a largely similar composition with a nice reflection.  The beautiful light made all the difference.  All in, it probably took 45-60 minutes from the time I left the aqueduct to when I returned.  (Peggy has gotten used to me waiting for the light to be right for the photo I want). 

I had a picture to document that I was at the aqueduct at Point du Gard in 5 minutes or less.  But, I’m glad I took the hour to get a photo I really enjoy.