First photography trip of the year complete!
A, to some extent, spontaneously planned trip with another photographer that I recently met (you can find his site here https://www.jirihrebicek.com) to Camargue in the south of France.
Based in Basel we’re pretty much the centre of Europe, so the Camargue is only a short 7 hours drive away. Yes it may at first seem like a better option to fly from Basel to Nice and then hire a car for the rest of the trip, but when you add it up, there is not much in it. Half an hour trip to the airport, one hour before the flight there, an hours flight, thirty minutes to an hour to pick up luggage and get the hire car, and then a two and a half hour drive adds up to around 5.5hrs - 6hrs. Add on the worry about baggage handlers and camera equipment (large heavy glass lenses!) the extra 1.5 hours in the comfort of the car is more than worth it, and there was only one very small speeding ticket!
We chose a lovely little hotel right next to the Ornithological Park of Pont de Gau. I can highly recommend the Hostellerie du Pont de Gau, in fact I’m going back again next week.
We had an afternoon, the entire following day, and then a morning before heading home. As the park was next door to the hotel the first afternoon was spent at the park with a lot of Flamingos. In this post I’ll stick with images from the park. The next post will show the images taken from the lagoon.
I’ll start with something simple, the first image is from one of the first lakes that you’ll see after entering the park, the second is to establish what a flamingo looks like. ;o)
The advantage of the park is that there are a lot of flamingos and you can get very close even though they are all wild. What I’m not keen on is that the birds appear to be fed daily, which would explain why they remain there and the lack of fear of all of the people that are around, and there are a lot of people in the main section of the park. There are certainly pros and cons, you can get very close up images, but it does feel a little artificial.
There are less people in the second section of the park. This part is a 4.3 kilometre path around several smaller lakes with a few hides dotted around.
Due to the amount of people and paths, finding a composition can be difficult and requires more planning and a little inventive though. I found the challenge interesting, it drew me towards more intimate close up shots, faster shutter speeds to play with the light, and of course unusual perspectives, as with the next shot.
As I was sat by the lake gazing into the flock of flamingos I noticed that occasionally a head would drop down to the water. I decided to wait and see if there was a pattern to follow so that I could try to time a shot of a head in the rays of the sun; there wasn’t. The movement of the head going down to the water and back up was quite fast, so what I ended up doing was deciding where I wanted the head to be and then wait for one to go down at this point, then press the shutter and hope. I would have preferred it slightly more to the right, but I’m still happy with the result.
The same process was used for this shot, although there was an indication with this one. Most of the time the heads were kept under the wing, but there were times when one of the flamingos raised its head and started to call. This would trigger a chain reaction across the flock and a wave of heads would rise and call out too. I just had to find a composition and wait for the calls to start. Okay it was somewhat more difficult, but that was the gist.
This one is a juvenile, from what I’ve read they do not start to develop the pink colouration from their food source until around 3 years. It makes an interesting comparison to the vibrant colour of the adults.
It was a short trip, but worth every moment of it, and I hope to do something similar soon.