Posts: 6
Registered: ‎06-04-2014

Loire Valley (France) by Bicycle

Voire Valley TravelsOne advantage of traveling by bicycle is parking: Compared to car and bus parking areas it invariably gets you closer to the attraction you're trying to visit and has the additional advantage of being free. Disadvantages? Well, it takes you longer to get where you're going so time may be more of a constraint than with other modes of travel (...or not, as anyone who has tried to negotiate the railway system in Italy will attest).

We arrived at Chateau Chenonceau mid-morning and allowed ourselves till noon to tour the chateau and grounds before moving on. Low-hanging, dark clouds were threatening rain, which presented a serious problem. No, not getting soaked on the bike ride for the rest of the day – getting good photographs! Weather is a continual factor in travel photography and it can't be persuaded to change its mind no matter how hard you try. You simply have to work with whatever you get. Really stormy weather can make for wonderful photography but dull, featureless (boring) skies are difficult to deal with. Here are a few approaches I took on this occasion.

    • Chateau ChenonceauJust shoot as you normally would but keep the skies out of frame. This is the simplest and most obvious tactic but it's one that gives itself away after just a few photographs. You can only get away with it for a few shots before everyone starts to see that's what you're doing. More creativity is called for.







Bridge over moat    • Look for details to photograph. These can be small items shot close up (macro photography is an option here if you go for really small objects at high magnification) or large items isolated from the much bigger whole of which they are a part, like this section of a footbridge over the moat (largely decorative) leading up to the chateau.









    • Garden at ChenonceauUse a long focal length and wide aperture to isolate parts of a larger scene through shallow depth of field.







There were two other tactics I tried out on this trip, both of which were great successes:

Chenonceau ReflectionShoot the Reflections

Since Chateau Chenonceau straddles the River Cher, there were plenty of opportunities to photograph the reflection of the chateau in the river, rather than shoot the chateau directly. Mirroring the image in post-processing gave me several wonderfully impressionistic photos.











Chaumont stained glassShoot through Windows

This is Chateau Chaumont, photographed through a window looking out over another part of the building. The screen distorts and blurs the background, while leaving it generally recognizable, while the stained glass in the center provides a sharp focal point.

So when you're stuck at a location you may not get to visit again for a second try give these tricks a try and see if you can apply a little "creative problem solving" of your own. Sometimes circumstances will force you into discovering a great new technique you'd never have thought of if conditions had been perfect.

Mark Roberts
Editor, PDML Photo Annual (
Pentax geek at large (
Posts: 4
Registered: ‎11-29-2014

Re: Loire Valley (France) by Bicycle

Thank you for sharing your tips and haviing example if the tips.