I have traveled the world, maybe not in 80 days, but when I think of it now, it sure felt like that. Too many trips in too little time. This is probably the first time in my life that I didn’t travel for (almost) a year.
Then comes the pandemic and there I am, stuck in my own native land. A land that I have always found too difficult to shoot. The landscapes are flat and dull, the cities are too beautiful and post card like. I wanted to, but I just couldn’t take any good photo. But when push comes to shovel, we can do a lot more than we think. If only we give it (and ourselves) a chance.
Where Belgian cities have become my new passion, the landscapes remain difficult for me (unless there is snow, of course). But once in a while, a good tip from a friend is all I need to explore the lands that I find so ugly.
This tip brings me to the IJzervallei in the Far West of our country, the area around the river Yser where the big battles in WWI took place, close to where the trenches were. The area is very low, and prone to flooding ; the soldiers during the war must have known all about it.
It has been raining cats and dogs for days in a row. Or was it weeks?
So that is where I go.
It is supposed to be cloudy, yes, you know me, you don’t get me out of the house to see boring blue skies. But what do you do when you leave in the night, drive about an hour and see the clouds evaporate completely when the night sky slowly transforms into blue and then golden?
Right, you take out your gear and shoot.
It is not me, it is not my thing, even though I must say that the beauty is stunning! It is dead quiet, apart from the many birds that slowly wake up. The clouds are close to the horizon and form a kind of mountain like scenery. The sky glows a bit yellowish but we are still in the blue hour. Behind me appear huge pinkish yellowish clouds. I need to move. Fast.
I drive on to the next spot, all excited about the appearing clouds. It looks like it’s raining! Can it be that perfect? I brake speed limits, put on my boots, quickly run to the road to nowhere. I need to wade through water, ankle high, with beautiful reflections, every where I look. In the east the sun is slowly rising. I don’t know which direction to shoot first. Towards the sun or towards the clouds on the other side. I chose the sun, if I wait to long it will be too strong.
When I turn around towards the clouds the light is gone. The light is just… light. The cloud has evaporated into a little thing surrounded by blue. Blue! The day has started, the magic is gone. Totally gone.
I am too late.
But still, the cloud is kind of cute. It still looks as if its raining, and the blue, well I think I must become friends with that blue…