Low Light Europe

More from the trip…

My dad’s favorite new toy, the Canon Mark II 5D takes amazing photos (and video!) in low light conditions. He went flash-free the entire trip and just kept an eye out for good “natural light”.

Nearly every night, we’d put Mackenzie to bed at a hotel and my fantastic (and often, worn-out) mom would watch her while my dad and Scott and I explored and took photos.


Here’s the Champs de Elysees, from the top of the Arc du Triomphe:

Cool sculptures farther down the street, close to the ferris wheel:

(Scott actually wanted to climb on the rhinebra’s back to take a picture. I was mortified, but as luck would have it, I was saved from further embarrassment by a random man in a parked car a hundred yards away. He started chastising Scott in French (we think) and Scott reluctantly retreated back to the other side of the fence.)

Click here for the jaw-dropping video my dad shot of our night on the town. Make sure you have the sound on because the music is great. Also, click the biggest size your computer screen can display and wait for it to load. It’s worth the wait, promise. 🙂

Loire Valley

Here’s just one shot from the marvelous evening we spent in a chateau. My dad had the camera on a tripod and instructed me to “hold very still” while he took three shots at different exposures. Well, I held my breath and tried not to twitch, but then on the last (looonng) exposure, Scott casually walks into the room right in front of the camera and asks what we’re up to. I busted up laughing, of course.

Small-town France

One of my very favorite shots from the whole trip, this was taken on New Year’s Eve in a small town in France where we spent the night:

Lots more from that same night. We found that many towns had cool lights strung across the main streets for the holidays:

My dad is one of the least pretentious people I know. Here he is chilling in Crocs and sporting his SmugMug hoodie:



We MUCH preferred the Italian Riviera to the French Riviera. I felt like right when we crossed the border into Italy, the touristy/resorty/heavy traffic stopped and we kept the gorgeous geography. I didn’t know what to expect, having never been in the area, but it’s just the most amazing and dramatic thing to see snow-capped mountains in the distance and cliffs cloaked in green dropping off into the Mediterranean. On the Italian side, the cliffs were sprinkled with houses and greenhouses where people grew enormous peppers and tomatoes so beautiful I nearly shed a tear in the middle of the market.

Anyway, we ended up staying the night in a bit of a sleepy town so after Mackenzie was down for the night, the three amigos were itching for adventure. We found it in spades by turning up a narrow, winding local road up the side of one of the cliffs. Oh my. That road was so narrow, if you dared look out your window you didn’t see road. You saw blackness. That road was so narrow, I found myself unconsciously leaning towards the center of the car as we’d round corners. That road was so narrow, I held my breath and shut my eyes at least a dozen times.

The locals seemed unphased and just casually pulled to the side so we could inch past them on the few occasions we encountered another car. I should say here, my dad is a fantastic driver. He can maneuver a car equally well forwards and backwards and is seriously James Bond-esque in negotiating tight spaces. There’s no one else I’d rather be riding with on a road like that.

That notwithstanding, I almost wet my pants.

The photo above may not look that tight, but check out how much space there is between the tire and the wall: 1 1/2 lengths of Scott’s shoe. There was probably 1 inch of space on the other side of the car. Hence why I’m cowering in the back seat rather than posing for a photo. I may be a tad claustrophobic. 😉


No photos from nighttime here, but our wanderings were definitely notable. This area houses 5 picturesque fishing villages and my dad was determined to get a perfect shot of one in particular. He missed the beautiful early evening light due to some misinformation from locals and he ended up spending precious minutes helping them clear boulders off of a path. My soft-hearted dad then threw his tripod on his back and booked it up over hills and through bushes and backyards to find The Spot. Ideally, it would be overlooking the village and catch the sun reflecting of the water. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be, and the sun set without him even clicking the shutter once.

Late that night, the three amigos ventured out on foot from the next village up to find The Spot. We had to hike over/around five mountain ridges to get to where we THOUGHT the spot was. The plan was to scope out the route so my dad could retrace our steps at the crack of dawn and capture the early morning light.

Well, we started out on the wrong trail and wasted an hour before we realized we were headed to sea and not over the first mountain. Once we were on the correct trail, the going became very very tough. It was pitch black, the trail was impossibly narrow and slippery and winding and it had steep dropoffs nearly the whole way there. We inched along using the iPhone for light. Foolishly we pressed on despite near tragic falls, badly bruised knees, bloodied hands (and, we later discovered, an ear), spooky houses, and getting lost more than once. We were on a mission and The Spot felt so close. “Just around this ridge” we’d assure ourselves, only to realize we still had much farther to go. We shed our jackets early on after a steep ascent, and froze the rest of the trip because things leveled off and our pace slowed. Finally, at 1:15 am, we decided to turn back.

My dad’s head hardly hit the pillow before he was headed back to our trail, laden down with camera gear. He made excellent time in the daylight and reported back that yes, we had in fact been foolish to hike such a treacherous trail at night. He also reported that The Spot was literally 30 seconds away from where we had finally decided to turn back. Doh!

(Early morning photos to come. I hope.)


Catching the light playing on the water:

I feel I have to explain the next photo.

I’m a California girl through and through. Worse, I’m spoiled by the Bay Area so any variation in temperature leaves me without an appropriate wardrobe. Despite having weathered two winters in Columbus and bringing every article of warm clothing I owned on the trip, it was cold enough that I frequently emptied my suitcase in the morning. It takes a lot of long sleeved tshirts at once to keep one warm! Here’s a great picture taken on the night when I stole both of my mom’s fleeces (bringing the fleece count to THREE underneath my jacket).

Keep in mind that Venice is a fashion mecca. Women mince around in fur-trimmed designer coats. I was the lone marshmallow in the city that night.

Now, after just reading my sob story about being cold, above, you might be surprised to find me partaking of some gelato:

… Unless of course you’ve actually tasted real Italian gelato yourself. In that case, you’re probably too busy drooling at the mention of it to judge me.


About beanland

Scott is a family practice doctor and Anne is a full-time mother and teacher to three beautiful girls and one boy.
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5 Responses to Low Light Europe

  1. Maya says:

    mmmmmm italian gelato!!! i got it every day i was in rome. 🙂

    gorgeous pictures!!!


  2. Camille Craw says:

    Thanks for sharing!


  3. NJones says:

    Your dad has some major talent with the camera! Seriously! And that video?… I’ve seen high-priced big screen movies with less quality. I give him my 2 thumbs way up!


  4. Angie says:

    Olivia loved the music with the video. We may have to put that on her ipod…I mean my ipod. Sometimes I get confused as to who it actually belongs to. (Does every 4 year old listen to an ipod?) Anyway, great video and wonderful pictures! I love reading about your trip. Thanks for sharing it with us!


  5. Anne's dad says:

    Yikes, I’m feeling guilty for not posting more photos! I need to get on that but I have the assignment to film Logan’s bday partay…


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