Working by the fountain in Dijon

Dancing in Dijon

After a first day on the road, we make Dijon by about 3pm. I haven’t visited this city before but a bit of research on the Internet shows that it has some lovely architecture. My plan is to do a quick scout of the historic centre so that we can shoot after dark and, as we work our way to the hotel, I spot the perfect location: the square with a spectacular fountain, a great backdrop and perfect for a bit of barefoot ballet with Alexa, lit by the Bowens XMT 500 and a few speed lights.

Our hotel rooms are spacious, comfortable and well-appointed. Steve has found a little gem here, as usual. Come the evening, we enjoy a beer and a delicious pizza at a delightful Italian restaurant while we wait for the light to fall. Unfortunately, the light is not the only thing to fall. As we are leaving the restaurant, the heavens open and put the kibosh on our night shoot. Looking on the positive side, it gives us all longer to sleep and recharge our batteries so we simply postpone it until morning.

Every cloud has a silver lining and this is quite literally what happens as Sunday dawns, bringing with it brilliant blue skies. The fountain looks beautiful, as does Alexa in a floaty blue dress that complements the scene perfectly. Using the Bowens XMT, we underexpose the ambient light to retain the deep blue in the sky and capture Alexa’s superbly fluid moves on the edge of the fountain.

Back on the road again we head off for Geneva. After a short stop at one of the excellent motorway services, we hit the Swiss border at about 3.30pm. We are subjected to the scrutiny of the Swiss border guards but, after a short delay, we cross into Switzerland. Geneva is a fantastic city and we join the locals enjoying the Sunday afternoon sun by the lake. While Helen is getting Alexa ready for the second shoot of the day, the photographers happen upon a guy doing flips on a ski board, a perfect reason to bring out long lenses and practise the high speed burst mode.

Alexa arrives in pointe shoes. Dressed in a sharp black outfit and dark shades, she cuts a completely different figure from that provided by the classical romance of the styling so far. It is a perfect fit with the lakeside rocks on which Alexa poses in contemporary dance style positions: angular, edgy and urban. She makes it so easy for photographers to get varied shots, cycling through a repertoire of poses with perfect balance, consummate skill and a shot of attitude. She truly is a joy to watch at work.

But we have a schedule and want to reach our hotel in Chamonix before sunset so we are soon on the road again. Reaching the French ski resort in daylight, we are rewarded by a fabulous view of the mighty Mont Blanc from the balcony of our hotel. Because it’s off-peak season, we pretty much have a restaurant to ourselves and are soon tucking into some of the delicious local dishes: Tartiflette and a selection of meats cooked at the table on hot rocks, to name but two of the many choices. Well fed, we return to the hotel ready for bed. Tomorrow, we will cover a few more miles as we journey into Italy for our four-night stay in Padova.

Written by Andrew Appleton

The next EuroPhoto roadtrip.

If this has woken up your creative juices then take a look at out next Roadtrip, the Swiss and Italian Lakes in September 2017.

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Alexa Hilton at Lake Geneva
Mont Blanc