M y day out to the lakes was something I was really looking forward to doing on my France Trip. I had found two lakes at the bottom of the mountains about an hour and a half drive South of Toulouse. Lac de Filheit and Lac de Mondely.
My plan was to scout them both out during the afternoon and find the best of the two to try and photograph during the evening as the sun was setting. I thought it would be great to have the sun setting over the lakes, reflecting off the surface with the mountains in the background.
This all sounded rather spectacular in my head beforehand but unfortunately the reality was somewhat different.
I left my cousins house at around 2pm and started the drive down to the lakes. The drive itself wasn’t too bad, luckily not much of the route was on the motorways, it was mainly through the countryside which is just what I like.
It wasn’t long at all after I left the motorway that I could see the mountains in the distance. It was another really hot sunny day so the visibility was pretty good. A little bit hazy in the distance but not enough to cover the mountains.
The first lake I arrived at was Lac de Filheit. I guess it must have been around 4 pm or so by then. My first impressions of the lake were not exactly great, it wasn’t really what I had expected to be honest. For a start, there was barely anyone else around. Actually, there was barely anything around. When I arrived in the car park, there was only one other car in sight. This was the first sign that maybe the lakes weren’t going to be what I had pictured.
Anyway, I thought first impressions might be wrong, never judge a book and all that, so I got out the car and started to have a look around. It was still really hot and there were only a few clouds in the sky. Given that I wanted to get some photos of the lake, it meant that I had to be out in the open. I couldn’t get the right shots from the shade of the trees so I was slowly being baked by the afternoon sun.
This situation wasn’t really helped by the water level of the lake. It must have been one hell of a summer, because the water level was really really low. You could see where it should have been and that was a good few metres away from where it actually was. The sun had baked the bed of the lake where the water had receded, it was just all so dry and dusty. I think it was clay based, because the top had cracked in the heat which created the most beautiful patterns all around the side of the lake.
As I got closer and closer to the water, the ground softened up a little underneath the surface crust, it was really gooey and as I found out when I nearly went arse over tit, really slippery. I was of course, not at all dressed for the occasion. I decided to wear white trainers with an absolutely flat sole. This did not help the slippery situation in the slightest – as you could imagine. I delicately tip toed my way back from the edge of the water to the safety of the well dried and solid ground. I thought I would stick there for the remainder of the day. Didn’t want to get my trainers dirty did I!
I didn’t stay for too long at this lake taking photos. They weren’t really coming out how I wanted. I had pictured a beautiful blue lake surrounded by green grassy banks, but unfortunately what I got was a bit of a dull grey lake, surrounded by what I can only describe as a ‘desert like’ landscape.
There was no way near as much colour as I had hoped for, so all the photos I was taking were just a bit disappointing. I carried on wandering round to try and find some subjects to add a bit of interest to the shots, but there was just nothing! A couple of tree branches sticking out of the lake were a possibility, but they just didn’t really do it for me. So after a while I decided to call it a day here and head off to the next lake. I slowly made my way back to the car – sticking to the shade of the trees this time of course.
From Lac de Filheit, I then made my way up to the second lake on my list for today. As I mentioned, I was trying to find the best lake to photograph at sunset so I was still currently in scouting mode! Arriving at the second lake, things started to look a bit more promising. There were rows and rows of cars parked along the road, and there were people! Actual people were there!
This lake seemed to be much bigger and there was a lot more going on. This was both good and bad. Good that it seemed to be more popular than the previous lake, so maybe it was a nicer place? More of what I was after perhaps? But then bad because I didn’t want a photograph full of people!
I got out the car and started to have a wander around the lake trying to find the best place to be when the sun started setting. I was hoping to be able to use the hills surrounding the lake as a bit of substance in my sunset shots, reflecting them off the surface of the water. This lake was very much like the first in that the water level was much lower than it should have been which meant more tip toeing around on the crusty clay. It was like walking on a creme brûlée and in the end, I managed to break through the hard surface, put my foot through into the gooey centre and ruin one of my white trainers. I was not impressed!
So after a while, I managed to find a spot that I thought would be a good place to be for the sunset. Sadly, this was just as the sky started to completely cloud over which meant there would be no sunset for me today!! Not only did the cloud come in, it came in very thick! People all around the lake started packing up their picnics and games of boules fairly pronto and driving off. It was like they knew something I didn’t! And right on cue, the thunder sounded, and the rain came pissing down. I followed suit and got back to the car to start the drive back to Toulouse.
On the way, it occurred to me that if I wasn’t going to get any sunset shots I could at least try and get some shots of the thunderstorm above the lake, then it wouldn’t be a completely wasted trip! Since there was no-one else around, I drove my car right down onto the side of the lake, and set the camera up ready to get some shots of the lightning.
I started off stood outside the car with the camera on a tripod, but I thought this probably wasn’t the best idea. Stood next to a metal car holding my metal tripod in the middle of a thunderstorm. Moment of dumbness behind me, I then got back into the car and just wound the window down enough to poke my lens out…..oh behave!
I sat there waiting, and waiting. Oh and waiting some more. And a little bit more waiting. An hour later there still hadn’t been one flash of lightning. Not anywhere around the lake anyway. The rain got heavier and heavier so eventually I gave up and decided to just drive back.
The drive back was no way near as nice as the drive down there. It rained the whole way, and when I finally made it to Toulouse, right around the evening rush hour, the lightning I had waited for all that time at the lake finally arrived! Just my bloody luck!!