Country Road, Brittany

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Breton Farmhouse, Malestroit, France

Breton Farmhouse, Malestroit, France

This rural road in southern Brittany had very little traffic. It followed gently rolling hills through corn fields and pastureland. There were small patches of woodland and scattered farmhouses.

Even though only a few people drove past this farmhouse it was generously decorated with flower baskets. It had been stormy, but an opening in the clouds let the afternoon sun spotlight this well-maintained stone building.

We were staying in a beachside gite near Pénestin, France. It was September, so the holiday crowds had left. We were about the only people on the short lane to the beach. We could walk less than a hundred meters and down a sandy trail to the beach. The only other people we saw on that beach were early morning fishermen rowing out to their boats and a few mussel gatherers.

Pénestin beaches were part of the occupying German fortifications during World War II. There still are  ominous concrete blockhouses perched in the rocks above the beach. They are on the sides of points so that they were not easily visible from offshore.  The opening for the guns faced across the beach, not out to sea. So they could not be attacked by the landing Allied soldiers until they were on the beach, entirely exposed to the machine guns in the blockhouses. Even though they are just concrete boxes, they still look vicious.

Each day we had traveled out into the Breton countryside. Some days we just wandered with only a general photography plan like, “Let’s see what kind of villages are along this south-facing slope above the river. The afternoon sun will be shining on them and we might find a chateau next to the river….” Thank goodness for the detail of Michelin maps and my wife, our navigator!

This farmhouse was in Malestroit. We found it after a very pleasant country drive. The openings in the clouds were like an ‘on’ switch for the sunlight. The light-colored stone and the mortar reflected the low-angle sun. I stood against a tree next to a roadside ditch and photographed during several brief openings in the clouds. I waited for the sunlight to brighten the stone and the flowers. But it is hard not to cast a shadow into the photograph when a setting sun is behind you. I thought I had tucked into the tree shadow, but you can see my hat brim and my shoulder in the opening between the two tree trunks. It surprised me that you can see the shadow of the entire canopy of this tree. I guess that is thanks to the wide angle lens.  Photo: 1/80 s at f/14  with 16-35 mm lens at 16 mm.

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