The Last Tango in Spain

photo: last beach

Until Next Year

Paris:- Tuesday, 1. September 1998:- Some people can't wait to get their holiday photos developed and printed. Then when they do, they wish they hadn't.

Underexposed, fuzzy, and one with the unexpected milk truck that wandered into the picture are common reasons for kicking the camera.

Normally I don't hurry with this, because I probably won't use the photos for anything until I write next year's summer issues. But this year I started a film in Spain on the last day, shot some of France on the way home, and then finished it off on a visit to the Pont de l'Alma yesterday.

The other five rolls full of Spanish photos, can sit in the lab until I get enough money to bail them out. They arephoto: last pizzeria just a bunch of palm trees and barber shops and fishing boats anyway.

On the last day of a vacation, after three weeks of doing 'not much' in the sun by the seaside, it is a good idea to go out to dinner. This saves washing dishes in the morning before the sprint back to Paris.

In the deadend place I spent all this time doing 'not much' there are only two simple restaurants. At the end of August, just about everybody who is leaving the next day tries to not wash dishes - so you have to get to one of these places early.

This 'early' in Spain is about 20:00 - not Spanish evening meal time of 23:00. Between 20:00 and 21:00 it gets dark.

Where the restaurants are, the beachfront was fixed up a couple of years ago. A good seawall was put in and the road was closed to traffic, and a lot of street lighting was installed.

If you have small kids and you are sitting outside, and the kids get restless - now they can run around in safety, and you can see them too if you feel like it.

For some reason, the renovations also included lighting the beach. After dark, it is quite dramatic. The lights are sort of yellow and so is the sand, so it is all a kind of yellow-orange, right down to the water's edge, where it looks like blue-black ink.

Except for some pedalos stacked up and a few kids running around who have escaped from the restaurants, there is absolutely nothing happening on this brilliantly-illuminated stretch of beach. All the fun people are over on the left-hand part of the beach that has no lights.

This illumination is what the eye sees. Cameras withphoto: last beach shower film 'for bright daylight' are not supposed to 'see' it. How many 'shots in the dark' have you taken, only to get the film back with these negatives unprinted because they are 'underexposed?' Lots, I bet.

Sometime in the last ten years, changes have happened to film processing. Most of it is no longer done by hand; it is done by computer-driven robots. These robots are programmed to put out as many prints as possible - to charge you for every print!

The result is that you will get prints that were formerly 'unprintable.' What is even more amazing, 'smart' cameras that are supposed to stop you from shooting underexposed shots, sometimes don't. Or maybe mine is dumb, and wants me to waste film.

There is nothing special about any of the photos on this page. They are my last beach shot, my last restaurant shot, and my favorite shot - of the brand-new beach shower, the last shot of all. They were done with an automatic camera; using no flash and no tripod. You can try it too.

I think they are my favorite vacation photos. But I have not seen the other five rolls yet. They can stay in the lab until it snows.

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