Winter Onesie Exploits…

You may recall that I’m down in Sutton Coldfield visiting my friend Jane. We’d been talking one night and she was on about having her ‘rabbit’ onesie, which was super warm and how she’s put it on on cold nights and curl up with a book and some hot chocolate. This conjured up images of Bridget Jones and I wondered if girls really do do this sort of thing!
Anyway, after some discussion which included me saying Id been wanting to get some practice in using my flash and gels, we decided to take some photos. Here are the results…

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Now, to you they’re just photos. But to me, they’re much more than that! For a start we’d been shopping all day looking for a huge mug with Cocoa written on. We finally found a huge mug in Asda but it was plain and light blue. We bought some letter stickers, but they were silver. So when we finally got cocoa on the mug using the stickers not only did it just not look right, but the letters were so large all you could see was Coc  LOL

So we went with wine and chocolates, reading and texting. When I was setting up the first book which was quite large was intruding over her face so I grabbed the smallest one off the shelf that I could find. It wasn’t until afterwards that we checked the images and saw that it was The Scarman Report! Hardly light entertainment reading for a cold winter night!

Anyway. These are straight out of the camera, they haven’t been processed at all in any way, and here’s how we set the shot up.

I wanted to meter for the table lamp to give ‘atmosphere’ but there simply wasn’t enough light to illuminate Jane. If I exposed for Jane, the lamp was pure white and burned out. In the end I exposed for the lamp but there is also a flash unit just out of shot beside the lamp resting on another little table the same height as the lamp table. Check the shadows and you can see it’s effect 🙂
The flash of course is daylight balanced whilst the lamp is tungsten. So I used a CTO gel on the flash to balance it to tungsten, and a softbox to make the light less harsh. Because it was so close to the lamp it was burning the lamp out terribly. I don’t have cinefoil or snoots, so I made a baffle using Bacofoil which was sellotaped to the softbox.

To further complicate things my tripod does not go low enough for the angle I wanted. So I used a DVD rack on it’s side, with 3 DVD’s on top to rest the camera on and a wad of kitchen towel under the front to level it up. Sounds professional eh? Hahaha! What the hell, I got the shots as you can see and both me and Jane are over the moon with them.

Head for the hills!

So, I’ve found Alden’s unit just outside of Strasbourg and I need somewhere to spend the night. I could easily stay here except it’s still oppressively hot and humid and I’ve had this fantastic idea. I can see just north east of me some hills. Hilly ground usually means cooler. So, sweat running down my face, legs swollen with the heat, eyes blinking the salt away and hands slipping sweatily on the steering wheel, I head for the dam hills!

On the way I can’t resist stopping to take a photo of a field of sunflowers. It looked lovely in the evening sun. So did the cornfields with hoses irrigating them. It looked way better than the pictures suggest, but then I never claimed to be a great photographer: I wish I was.

Dambach la Ville
Dambach la Ville

I continued on not really knowing where I was going, just roughly following the road to the hills for a cool night. Then I came across this archway, quite small, and clearly part of  a walled in structure. I checked it and guessed (rightly so) that I would just say fit through in the van so I drove through it and instantly had to stop, as I saw the most beautiful, characteristic old building to my left. I had to get out and take a picture. When I did, I realised there was more, then it dawned on me that the entire village was an old rustic settlement of some kind. It was outstandingly beautiful and I just started walking round it. Every turn was another old building and they all looked like they were at least 250 years old. I find out later it’s called Dambach la Ville and is only the home of the Vins Ruhlmann-Schutz Vineyard and Winery, which counts among it’s wines Pinot Noir, Muscat and Riesling and has been around since the 14th century. So that explains the weird looking vines behind the car park.

What struck me was the way the Boulangerie, the restaurant, the wine shop and the town hall had all been kept in the old style . It was sometimes difficult to see what a shop was until you got close to it. Children played in the street as in any village and a couple of young men were standing outside what I found to be a public bar. It’s a gorgeous place and I loved it so, having found a matching arch on the other side of town to where I’d entered, I got the van, went through the opposite arch and found a free public car park. 🙂 Excellent, great place to spend the night and it meant I could wander the town on the evening which I did.

On top of the north gate, there was a large nest with 2 large birds in it. Whenever they sense danger they made a call which sounded like a small stick being hit quickly and repeatedly off a hollow wooden tube. Kind of like the sound a woodpecker makes when pecking, but a richer sound and lower note at the percussive parts and slower. That’s the best way I can describe it and I’d love someone to tell me what birds they are if they know.

So, the Alsace region is a place I’d like to explore some more. I can’t at the moment as I have to be back to Paris to meet a friend who’s flown in for a few days. I’ll definitely be back here though.