#28 in the Judging a Photograph Series
.One of my favourite things about our self-drive trips to France has been the chance to stay in a few different places on one holiday. One time, after a week near Guerande in the Loire Atlantique region, we had a second week in western Brittany. On the drive between the two we stopped to see the Carnac Megaliths. These ancient avenues of stones are as old as Stonehenge but are smaller, irregular shapes. Around 3000 standing stones stretch in eleven lines for over one and a half kilometres.
We decided to treat ourselves to a tour on the roadtrain. Audio tour headsets are provided with commentaries in different languages. In English we could choose either an adults or children’s audio guide. For quite a long time the roadtrain drove around the local beach and harbour areas. It was very pretty but it wasn’t what we were expecting. Fizz reached her boredom limit in short order. When we began to drive past the fields of standing stones we found that we didn’t have a particularly good view from the road.
After the tour we walked a few hundred yards to a viewing area to get up close to the stones. I had assumed that I would be able to take sweeping vistas with long lines of stones stretching into the distance and converging. In fact, the lines are really far apart and the viewpoints don’t provide much perspective.
Four Mistakes to Avoid Taking Photos at Carnac
Carnac is a really important and impressive megalithic site and if it sparks your interest I would encourage you to visit. I hope you can learn from my list of mistakes and get some better shots than mine!
1. Camera Ready
I was unprepared! My camera battery died just as we arrived and I had to take photos with my phone. I was stuck with a wide angle when I really needed optical zoom. Also, I didn’t mug my husband for a turn with his camera. To be fair, he was managing to take a few photos and keep the children entertained at the same time so he deserves some credit there.
I was so set on the idea of taking shots of lines of stones stretching out in front of me that I didn’t think laterally. With a the phone, couldn’t get a long perspective of the avenues. I got bogged down in this frustration and didn’t change tack. What I could have done was to look for the light and take shots of just a few stones with good hard shadows. I could have used the rule of thirds to shade off a portion of the shot with a large stone, perhaps concentrating on the texture. Then the remainder of the image could be the other stones and landscape in the distance.
3. Get in Position
I didn’t research the site before we visited so I didn’t know about all the wire fences. These ugly boundaries ruined a lot of shots which I took from the road train ride. Of course the motion of the road train made it tricky too. If we had toured the site independently by car, we might have found some better angles. We didn’t have time to go back round after the road train ride, unfortunately.
4. The Best Light
We could have timed our visit better. We were there at midday. At first it was overcast and the light was flat, then when the sun came out it was overhead and harsh. Early morning or evening light (the “golden hour”) would probably look fabulous at Carnac. Light from a low angle will pick out shapes cast interesting shadows.
Which is your favourite photo?
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