On Birdsong Avenue.

Birdsong Avenue, Prades, Pyrenees Orientales.

It has been a quiet time for me recently, photographically speaking. Following a number of disappointments –  this one, for example, but there have been others –  I am adapting to the idea of being semi-retired as a photographer. It has been a difficult process, but, looking on the bright side,  I can now enjoy things, places and events without having to take photographs of them. The postcards are still providing some useful income, and I still have a couple of projects I’d like to get off the ground, but the confidence I used to have is missing. In late April I went to north-eastern Spain and then south-western France for a holiday with Jane. Despite some excellent birding at the Aiguemolls de Empurda in Catalonia I took few photographs; only once did I really regret not having the camera to hand and that was when a little bittern appeared on the edge of a reedbed just in front of the hide, posed for a few seconds and then flew off. If only…….

After a week in Spain we moved on to the Tet valley about 25 miles inland of Perpignan in France. The local town was Prades, where we went for shopping, the farmers market and meals out.. On one visit while parking the car I happened to notice the street name – Avenue du Chants des Oiseaux : or Birdsong Avenue in English . How beautiful and how gently surreal! I took a snap with my phone and mulled it over for a day or two before returning with my full kit.  I took a series of exposures as cars went past, using long-ish shutter speeds to give a sense of movement, and a narrow aperture for depth of field – in this case the combination was 1/40th second at f14.

The image haunted me for several weeks after I returned to the UK. Do you need to know French to “get it”? How well does an environmental message come through? Or is it too obvious?  Whatever could I do with a picture like this? Then I was reminded of the Open Exhibition at the Penrallt Gallery and Bookshop in Machynlleth, the theme this year being “Language in the Landscape”. Perfect! The submission deadline had already passed but Geoff Young kindly allowed me to sneak it in at the last minute. I’ve recently been thinking that certain subjects are more suited to black-and-white, so I converted this before printing. As you can see I’ve also added the colour version to this post; does anyone have any thoughts on the colour vs b&w dilemma, one way or the other?


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