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Posted by: DrOrloff on Wed Oct 30, 2013 12:41
On the trails of the impressionists of the Creuse Valley.
My autumn/winter Limousin landscape campaign has started with a whimper. The autumn colours here are a bit disappointing so far but nonetheless the time was nigh to start photographing, so I set off for the Creuse valley intending to spend a few days making the most of the forecast of misty mornings. The Creuse valley is a cradle of impressionism and at one time the place was heaving with them, including Big Claude. I started at Fresselines, where the Creuse and Petite Creuse rivers join in a deep cut river valley with a beautifully rocky foreground to lift the view out of the ordinary. Unfortunately I found the river high enough to cover most of the rocks, I thought it would be lower after a dry summer. The light was harsh and difficult to deal with. There was some nice late afternoon light along the Petite Creuse, with gold and blue tones in the water. I photographed it as a landscape but it would have been much better as a close study of the colours in the water, bugger. That's how Monet painted it. Monet 1 Orloff 0.

The stroll continued with a few efforts that are now mostly confined to cybertrash. One quite pleasant view of the treachorous stepping stones across the river:

I crossed the river, not by the stepping stones mind but the new bridge just downstream from them. But alas I couldn't really find any river views really worthy of spending the night there for. One token, boring image for posterity

Onwards to the well know site of Crozant, for a bit of location scouting before it got dark. I didn't find the view I was expecting to, too many trees obscuring it even right down at the waterline. There was a nice enough view from a little slipway but it wasn't what I was expecting to find so I didn't photograph it. I should have, it was nice enough. After trying here and there to find a view I gave up and headed onwards as it would soon be dark. On the way out I spotted a rainbow but there was nowhere to pull over on the narrow winding road. By the time I parked and found a spot the rainbow was fading fast, no time for a tripod hence a shaky image with a hint of a rainbow:

So that was it, off to stock up on a few supplies at Eguzon and find somewhere to spend the night. Halfway between the two towns I did pass a little stand of poplar trees full of mistletoe looking very handsome in the last of the Sun's rays. I turned round and in haste decided to pull onto the narrow verge opposite the trees rather than find a sensible place to stop but risk losing the light. I quickly realised this was the wrong decision when I found the car was at a steeper angle than my car can really deal with and sure enough the wheels just happily spun round in the wet mud. Very soon someone stopped and kindly offered to try and find a farmer. But there weren't any farms obvious just off this road, they would have been tucked away down the lanes. An hour or so later it was clear that help would not be forthcoming. It was almost dark, the car was only just off the road and fog was closing in. This really was not good at all. The hazard lights might have lasted for a few hours but not all night. And dark in rural Creuse means dark, not UK dark but proper dark, see nothing whatsoever dark. I don't have a mobile phone so I was readying myself to set off and find some help when a car stopped. By a huge stroke of good fortune it turned out to be a local farmer who lived only five minutes away. He was of course as to why I was in a ditch. Instead of the ignominy of telling him that I was desperately trying to photograph a few trees (he would have rightly dismissed me as insane) I told him I swerved to avoid a cat. I think he was nonplussed but he duly returned with his tractor and pulled me out. I continued to Eguzon, I found a campsite but although it seemed to be open there was noone there, no lights, the main toilet block was closed and I couldn't work out if there was another one, it was pretty foggy and there no lights anywhere. I was covered in mud from trying to dig the wheels out and a bit fed up as I hadn't had any time to get any beer. On the way to the campsite I had seen a sign back to the motorway and it was just too tempting, so I returned home.

Even though I hadn't got my locations really sorted the morning would have been photographically perfect, swirling mist until mid-morning. I never got the shot of those poplars either, that would have been a good one. Game set and match Monet.

I shall return though undaunted, maybe in a week or two if the autumn gets its act together. It's not that far but it's further than my ancient car likes to travel, especially when I park it in ditches. Next time I might though see if I can call on the services of someone who knows the area Wink

In the meantime my car is still packed and awaiting the next adventure. The photos here are oversharpened, which is down to Flickr resizing. I don't approve and neither would have Monet.

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