Calm Harbor After the Storm

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Brightly Lit Harbor, Làc Leman, Yvoire, France

Brightly Sunlit Harbor, Làc Leman, Yvoire, France

A violent thunderstorm and drenching rain had passed over the lake. It had truly been, ‘a dark and stormy night’.

We were staying in a small, lakeside hotel in Yvoire, France on Lac Léman. Our room looked over the lake, a harbor, and the terrace restaurants below us. The heavy downpour had created havoc. The restaurant staff had to frantically put away all the tables and chairs and take down the semi-permanent terrace awnings. As they cranked down the awnings heavy sheets of water drenched them. Table cloths and napkins were scattered by the wind. Lightning lit up the lake and showed us flashed glimpses of the sailboats anchored in the harbor.

The French word for this is orage – a violent thunderstorm. (We had first heard this word when we were eating dinner on the beach in Montpellier, France several years before. It seemed like a nice sunny evening. But the restaurant staff scurried to take down the tables and umbrellas. They tried to let us know to find shelter, “Orage, orage!” We headed back to our hotel and before long an intense lightning and rain storm moved through the town. We learned about the orage.)

I had a plan to photograph in the beautiful medieval village of  Yvoire at dawn, before anyone was on the streets. I got up at around 4:30 am and quietly left the hotel. It was misting and water was running down the steep cobblestone streets leading up into the village. It was still dark and quiet. I walked through the main streets and went back downhill to another harbor next to a beautiful old chateau. I set up my tripod on the breakwater on the outside of the harbor. It continued to rain so I covered my camera and waited for the dawn. But it was just  too rainy, so I found shelter in a small public restroom and waited.

After a while the rain stopped, but it was still overcast and the light was bad. Everything looked drab. I took some photos and then wandered back through town, returning to the hotel disappointed and frustrated.  As I was getting ready for breakfast I noticed that it was brightening outside. I grabbed my pack and hurried back to the other harbor.

As I entered the harbor area the sun emerged at lake level under the clouds. It reflected across the surface of the lake like a spotlight on the harbor, the boats, and the chateau. Over the next half hour I got several successful photos of the harbor, the central square, and the chateau. During the several days we were in Yvoire, the few successful photos were taken during that half hour when the light was right! In the calm after the orage.

I tried for a long depth of field to show the full length of the pier. And I enjoy the reflected masts on the right side. Photo: 1/100 s at f/18. You can see other Yvoire photos in the Photo Gallery at my website:




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