Category Archives: France

Cliffs of the River Lot

I am sitting in the Gare Matabiau in Toulouse, France waiting for the train to Paris. The bench with plugs for my electronics beckoned, and I work in the modern station on my laptop, dreaming of the cliffs of the River Lot and the trail beside the river.

Cliffs of the River Lot © Harold Davis

Cliffs of the River Lot © Harold Davis

Also posted in Landscape, Photography

Chemin de Halage

Under the cliffs beside the Lot River, and below the picturesque medieval village of Saint-Cirq-Lapopie, the Chemin de Halage makes for spectacular walking, and is part of one of the French feeder routes to the pilgrimage trail of Camino de Santiago, better known for the routes to the southwest on the Spanish side of the Pyrenees.

Today we wandered this path with our cameras amid intermittent sunshine and rain squalls.

Chemin de Halage © Harold Davis

Chemin de Halage © Harold Davis

The cliffside path is shown above in a fisheye view, with the Lot River framed by the stone of the trail. I’ve also added below an impressionistic version of the cliffs and Lot River created using my iPhone.

Along the Lot River © Harold Davis

Along the Lot River © Harold Davis

Recent iPhone Sketches in France

Here are some recent iPhone images from southwestern France I made today and yesterday, and processed on the fly on my iPhone while traveling on the bus. With the first image, I was walking around the wonderful historic village of Saint-Cirq-Lapopie. When I saw the white dog, I got down on the ground at his eye level, and made a portrait with the village in the background. It was processed using Lo-Mob.

White dog in an old town © Harold Davis

White dog in an old town © Harold Davis

The next image is in the little square next to our guide Francis’s home, just outside Chateau Biron. I processed it using Waterlogue.

Faubourg Chateau Biron © Harold Davis

Faubourg Chateau Biron © Harold Davis

Finally, the statue shown in this image is outside the church adjacent to the central square of the bastide town of Montpazier. I processed the image using Plastic Bullet and Lo-Mob.

Christ in Montpazier © Harold Davis

Christ in Montpazier © Harold Davis

Also posted in iPhone

Lot River Valley

Today we walked to the small town of Calvignac, France perched on a rocky crag, and about 3 kilometers from the Mas de Garrigue. The weather threatened rain, and was misting when we set out. But along the way the clouds opened up, the threatened rain never arrived, and from the ledges in Calvignac there were glorious views across the valley and the bends in the Lot River.

Lot River Valley © Harold Davis

Lot River Valley © Harold Davis

This is a seven exposure blend shot on a tripod using the Zeiss 35mm f/1.4. Each exposure was shot at f/6.3 and ISO 100, with shutter speeds between 1/40 of a second (for the dark trees in the foreground) and 1/2,500 of a second (for the bright clouds in the sky).

I used the image as a black and white demo for the group, first processing the seven exposures using Nik HDR Efex Pro. Next, I tweaked the color version. Finally, I converted to black and white using a layer stack, layers, masking, and a number of different conversion filters and presets.

Also posted in Landscape, Monochrome

Carcassonne at Night

Coming back to my base in Carcassonne after a long day of exploring Cathar castles—more on this later—I took my gear out on the old bridge after dark. Photographing back at the the old city of Carcassonne, the well-lit ramparts contrast in a visually odd way with the modern buildings and pollarded trees below the fortifications.

Carcassonne at Night © Harold Davis

Carcassonne at Night © Harold Davis

Also posted in Digital Night

Cordes sur Ciel at Dawn

I set the alarm for an hour before sunrise. When it rang in the darkness well before dawn, I put on the warmest clothing I had with me and made my way into position to wait for the light of dawn to illuminate the ancient hilltop citadel of Cordes sur Ciel, France.

© Harold Davis

Cordes sur Ciel at Dawn © Harold Davis

Also posted in Digital Night

Dawn in the Lot Valley

Last night a wild storm blew down the Lot River valley, with thunder, lightning, and even some hail. For much of the night rain and gusts of wind beat against the windows of the old farmhouse. At dawn, in the morning, things had calmed down—and clouds and tendrils of mist hung to low-lying areas. Above the clouds, the sun rose and dawn touching the scene with its golden light.

Dawn in the Lot Valley © Harold Davis

Dawn in the Lot Valley © Harold Davis

Also posted in Landscape, Photography

Park Path and Reflection

I photographed this image in the Parc de Sceaux, which is located in the suburbs of Paris, France and accessible to the city center via light rail (RER).

Park Path and Reflection © Harold Davis

Park Path and Reflection © Harold Davis

Also posted in Landscape, Paris, Photography

Monet’s Lily Pond at Giverny

This May will mark my fourth visit to Giverny in three years—each time a kind of pilgrimage to this extraordinary and iconic place. Along with Ansel Adams’s prints of the American west, Claude Monet’s painterly abstractions of his wonderful water garden are a large part of what drew me into my life as an artist and photographer—so it is very special for me to be able to spend some time at Giverny.

Monet's Lily Pond at Giverny © Harold Davis

Monet’s Lily Pond at Giverny © Harold Davis

Double Rainbow Pano over Paris

This panorama of a double rainbow over Paris was shot during a spring rain storm from the Pont Solferino as I described in an earlier story. The pano consists of nine handheld pieces shot vertically, then combined and cropped in Photoshop to make a horizontal image. When I do this kind of photography with the intention of making a pano, and I don’t have a panoramic tripod head available, I’m careful to overlap images, and I try to keep in mind rotating around the nodal point for the image—which will be pretty close to what you’d get if you drew a virtual line to the ground from outermost lens element holding the camera in the center of the proposed composition.

Double Rainbow Pano over Paris © Harold Davis

Double Rainbow Pano over Paris © Harold Davis

Check out this panorama, photographed from behind a waterfall in the Columbia River Gorge.

Also posted in Paris, Photography

Giverny

I am looking forward very much to visiting the gardens at Giverny again with my camera the first week of May! Here are some reflections in Monet’s famous ponds:

Reflections at Giverny © Harold Davis

Reflections at Giverny © Harold Davis

This photo shows the main entrance to Monet’s (definitely bourgeois) house:

Chez Monet © Harold Davis

Chez Monet © Harold Davis

Check out: Giverny via iPhone.

Pont Louis Philippe

An autumn afternoon in Paris on a somewhat sloppy day, with one of the channels of the Seine River photographed from the Pont Louis Philippe, and the golden light of late afternoon just beginning.

Pont Louis Philippe © Harold Davis

Pont Louis Philippe © Harold Davis

Exposure data: Nikon D800, Zeiss Distagon 35mm f/1.4 at f/1.4, handheld; 1/800 of a second at ISO 200.

Also posted in Paris, Photography

Southwest France Itinerary

If you’d like to armchair travel, we’ve sent out a day-by-day itinerary for the lucky photographers who will be traveling with me soon to the southwest of France. You can checkout the PDF by clicking this link! I am looking forward to this adventure with many good friends who have traveled with me before very much, and also look forward to making some new photography friends among my guests, and in France as well.

Valentre Bridge © Harold Davis

Valentre Bridge © Harold Davis

The destination photography workshop to the southwest of France is full, but we do have space in our Paris adventure the first week in May. Click here for the PDF itinerary, and here for the Reservation Form.

Rooftops of Paris © Harold Davis

Rooftops of Paris © Harold Davis

Also posted in Workshops

Audrey Hepburn: Paris is always a good idea

Kira at Passy Station © Harold Davis

Kira at Passy Station © Harold Davis

Paris Sunset © Harold Davis

Paris Sunset © Harold Davis

Paris, as Audrey Hepburn said, is always a good idea. Please consider joining my small group of photographers in Paris (and, oh yeah, at the Monet gardens in Giverny!) the first week in May, 2016.

Click here for the detailed day-by-day itinerary (PDF), here for the Prospectus, and here for the Reservation Form. Very limited availability, on a first come, first served basis.

Also posted in Paris

Blast from the Past: Sacré Coeur Passage

Originally published June 26, 2013:

La Basilique du Sacré Coeur de Montmartre sits high on a hill overlooking Paris. Controversial from long before the start of construction, the design of Sacré Coeur was a response to the supposed “moral decline” of France in the century following the French revolution, with the more proximate cause the defeat of France in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870.

If this defeat represented divine punishment, as asserted by Bishop Fournier, then Sacré Coeur was an iconic response by the hard right-wing allied with monarchists and the Catholic church to the democratic rabble of Paris and the commune. This was not the first, nor the last, time that the forces of repression and the church were on the same side against their common enemy, the people when empowered—but it still was a bitter pill for some to swallow standing tall above the city of light.

Sacré Coeur Passage © Harold Davis

Sacré Coeur Passage © Harold Davis

Visited by millions of people a year, Sacré Coeur gets surprisingly little traffic up in the passage that circles the grand dome.  Perhaps the narrow and twisting stairs—all 280 of them—inhibit guests. The views are superb, as you can see in another image of mine from the dome that includes that other Parisian icon, the Eiffel tower.

Up in the passage around the dome of Sacré Coeur, the “rabble” has had its revenge. On the one hand, it is sad to see the elegant surfaces defaced by layer upon layer of graffiti and a general patina of neglect over time. On the other hand, this defilement—at least in part a deliberate statement—stands as mute testament to the true sentiments of many of those who visit: as much as a holy temple, Sacré Coeur is a political symbol created by those who would keep the people in their place.

Patina of Time © Harold Davis

Patina of Time © Harold Davis

Exposure data, Sacré Coeur Passage: 22mm, eight exposures at shutter speeds between 1/20 of a second and 3 seconds, each exposure at f/22 and ISO 200, tripod mounted; exposures processed in Nik HDr Efex Pro and Photoshop, and converted to monochromatic using Photoshop, Topaz Adjust, and Nik Silver Efex Pro; Patina of Time: 82mm, seven exposures at shutter speeds between 1/30 of a second and 1.3 seconds, each exposure at f/22 and ISO 200, tripod mounted; exposures processed in Nik HDr Efex Pro and Photoshop, and converted to monochromatic using Photoshop, Topaz Adjust, and Nik Silver Efex Pro

Also posted in Monochrome, Paris, Photography