I was able to catch up with the character of Beth Samuels, whilst I was in France a little earlier in the year. Having put one or two testing questions to Jacques Forêt last week, I then went to meet Beth in her new studio and shop. Read on to find out what she said…
AW Beth, thanks for giving me some of your valuable time and I have to say this place looks wonderful.
BS Thank you. It has taken a lot of hard work to get everything exactly how I wanted it. And I still haven't quite finished yet.
AW So the fire in October 2009 did extensive damage then?
BS In some respects, yes. Come through to the studio, the beams above us were badly burnt and two had to be replaced. The window is completely new and part of that back wall had to be rebuilt. There was damage to the floor above too. All of this room and the shop front had to be re-plastered. The windows had shattered with the heat and have now been replaced. It took a lot longer than I anticipated. Let's go back into the shop and I'll show you what I'm working on at the moment.
AW Those pictures on your computer screen look great - how did you do that?
BS It's quite easy really. I'm just experimenting today. I got the base shots with my very small digital camera one day last autumn when I was visiting a village just north of here. I thought the autumnal displays were lovely, but it was only when I downloaded them and looked at them on the big monitor that I thought the windows might make a good feature to use as the pictures on greetings cards. And that's what I've been playing around with this morning.
AW So this first one is the original shot and the second is?
BS The one that I've cropped and then applied a filter. The third one has had the colour density for red enhanced slightly.
AW And did that take long?
BS Not at all. Once I'd got the window as the central feature, right size and sharpness, then I can change the picture using the filters in the software at the click of the mouse.
AW Amazing. So, next, you will print the picture onto cards, is that it?
BS Not quite, no. Now that I know the idea will work I will go back and take my tripod and my other camera with me and spend a day there taking shots. As the sun moves through the sky during the course of the day, the light changes. I'll go back four times so that I can capture the inside of the church in each of the seasons. Then I'll choose the best shots and then create the finishes that I want on the computer. When I have my final set of images I'll take them to Monsieur Rochefort - the local printer here in Mende - and get them printed and then sell them here in the shop.
AW I see. I wish you all the best with that. Beth, I was talking to Jacques last week and I know he asked you a very important question when he had completed his investigation in Merle. Is there anything you want to share with us about that?
BS Mmm, Jacques told me you'd been fishing for information. So, I'll take the same line as him and just say that we're both working hard to make a life for ourselves here in Mende.
AW Not quite the answer I was hoping for. Are you sure there's nothing more you want to tell us, Beth?BS Yes, quite sure. You'll just have to wait until November.
Montbel Jacques Forêt's next case is available for pre-order in both print and e-format.