Day 2 – La Roque-Gageac to Lyon

I was pretty excited to start day two and woke up before sunrise. I brought my heavy bag down to the lobby to find it dark and empty. I totally didn’t think of this problem. I packed my bags into the car and went back to my room for about 30min – then waited in the lobby. I probably would have been better to drive around and look for some spots while I waited, but I didn’t think it would take long, and it didn’t.

Sunset had started when I finally got my day started. I was only driving a few minutes before I found my first spot.

I quickly pulled over just before the castle. The sky was really that bright orange. I initially took a few shots on the right near some corn fields, but the shot above, with the road leading into the image, was the best composition. I would have liked the castle to have been in a little more in focus, but I am not complaining. This image was difficult to work with. I had used a GND in the scene, but the foreground was a little underexposed.

The morning looked promising for about 5 minutes after the castle,  when it started to rain. I was starting to get pretty pissed with the weather, but kept looking for locations.

The second stop I had pre-mapped was a castle/chateau on a cliff. Some of the best spots (level with the castle) were inaccessible because of people’s homes, or a cliff side road that didn’t have space to stop. I pulled over the first place I could and took a few shots looking up at the cliff. Nothing really worth keeping, but mainly due to the weather and not the angle. I got another shot near a geese farm as I went back up the canyon.

Slightly satisfied with my shots, I continued on towards Racamadour. The drive was nice, and I was enjoying it, even with the rain. I came up on Racamadour about 20 minutes later. Like some of the other towns, it was pretty quite. I guess it was off season and the weather wasn’t helping. My first shots of the town were from above (shot below). I like the shot, but I wish the sky was a little more exciting. I have thought about replacing the sky, but that just doesn’t seem right.

I drove down to the road you see on the left of the above picture. I had planned the location while back in Montreal and it gave a pretty good view of the city. By the time I got there, the misty rain had rolled in and the view was just washed out grey. Not even nice enough for black and white. I gave up on the location and headed back off to the other 6-7 locations I had planned that day.

The next spot was a castle on a lake and was far enough that I had too jump on the highway for awhile. To get to the highway, the GPS had me drive this crazy small road that was troubling when it started but fun once I got used to it. Before I hit the castle, I came across a damn that doubled as the road. I stopped on both sides to get a look, but I didn’t spend enough time really checking out the location. It was still raining lightly and the sky was still pretty grey.

The castle on the lake looked very promising as I pulled up to the parking lot. There were a few cars there but it was pretty quite. I pulled out my umbrella and reviewed the surroundings. There was a marina in the lake next to the castle that really limited the location. It was really to bad having such an eyesore next to something as pretty as the castle. I walked as close to the marina as possible without getting it into the shot.

The rain was coming in waves and currently is was raining a lot. I wasn’t ready enough for it, and my lens got pretty wet from the sideways rain. The first shots I got off were useless and grey and the rain started to come down harder. I walked back to the car to wait. I cleaned off my lens and camera and set up all my filters for easy access. I wanted to play around with the 10-stop ND filter, so I got it cleaned and ready.

When the rain let up for awhile, I rushed back to the spot and took a few more shots (one above included). I could see the rain roll in along the lake, so I could tell how much time I had. I took about 10-20 shots from various angles as well as a few using the 10-Stop ND filter. The clouds actually let up a little and showed me a little blue sky, but the cloudier images turned out the best. I was going to walk past the marina and around to the side of the lake, but I could see the rain coming in and didn’t want to take a chance that there might not be a good shot when I got there.

I got in the car, drove around a while to find a gas station that was actually open on Sundays, and then headed off to the next location.

This is where relying on the GPS totally screwed me over. About 15 minutes into the drive, I hit a sign saying that the road was closed after some town. I couldn’t see the town on the GPS and had no idea if I turned off before that town. 15 minutes later I discovered  my destination was on the wrong side of the roadblock. I tried to figure out where to go using my GPS and the GPS map that was part of the car. I really couldn’t see any way to bypass the roadblock. I should have pulled out the paper map I had, but I had totally forgotten about it. I started driving back 15 minutes while listening to my GPS say ‘Recalculating’ every few minutes. When I finally got back to where I had started down this road, I had no solution on how to get to the next place (again, had I remembered the paper map, it would have given me a lay of the land and a way to go).

I simply decided to change my location to the hotel in Lyon figuring I would skip then next few locations and just go straight there. If I was there early, it would just mean walking around the city more to take pictures. I had heard Lyon was very beautiful. As I drove I could see Puy de Drome. It stood out from the surroundings, so I decided that I should detour through there. I saw signs for the location at the next exit, so I got off and reset my GPS. As I drove towards it, I looked for locations where I could use it as the background. Nothing came up, and I arrived 15 minutes later. As I got to the main location, I was greeted with a huge sign saying that the summit was closed for renovations. How to you renovate a volcano summit? Anyway, I wasn’t willing to really hang around the gift shop, so I had to drop that place as well.

I arrived around 5:00 in Lyon and found parking close to the hotel. I checked in and went out to take some pictures. I was a little nervous walking around a strange city with my camera gear, but I set up by the river about an hour before sunset. The sun was shining behind the buildings giving the sky a cool effect, and I took a few good images. When the sun started to set, a big black cloud started to move over the city. It was a pretty interesting cloud and I took a few photos, but the cloud was more interesting in real life than what turned up in the images.

I headed back through one of the main squares, but I was hungry and tired so I picked up a pizza and watched TV in the room. The last thing I will mention is that out of the two days I had access to a television, I had seen three Steven Segal movies. I hadn’t watched them, but I am wondering what was up with that.

A Few Comments from the Shoot:

  • Waking up early was a good idea, not checking with the hotel and squaring up the night before was an oversight
  • This leg was a 6hr drive and was a little long. I have to keep it down to 3-4hrs. I was pretty tired
  • I spent the perfect amount of time at the castle on the lake. A good 30min, took my time, cleaned my gear when it rained, etc.
  • I need to have backup paper maps for trips where I rely on GPS. The GPS is fantastic, just need a back
  • When the weather was bad because of rain, I should have stopped trying for landscape and moved closer into the cities
  • I have to find out how to easily move around with rain gear. The umbrella was hard to use if I had to change lenses or filters.
  • I also have to find out how rain-proof the gear is. Not by testing, but by asking around.
  • Still not great use of the 10-Stop ND filter. I was able to get a little cloud movement, but need to test out various options.
The Map:


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Castle in the Sky
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