Skip to content

By the Dawn’s Early Light: A Photographic Review

As every photographer knows, when shooting outdoors, an essential component of any photograph is the available light. In the open air, the photographer is subject to the vicissitudes of terrain and weather, which to a large extent determine the nature and quality of the available light. However, one factor that remains within the photographer’s control is the choice of the time of day to shoot. My favorite time of day to take photographs, particularly when traveling, is at dawn, both just before and just after sunrise. The early morning light before sunrise is gentle and even, suffusing the entire scene without creating dark shadows or strong highlights that can reduce or eliminate detail. If there are thin clouds in the sky, they may pick up orange, pink and purple colors from a sun still below the horizon. In town, the streets are deserted, without moving automobiles or pedestrians, and the photographer can roam the streets and concentrate on the architectural detail without interference. Later, when the sun first appears above the horizon, it casts a soft reddish light that gives a warm glow to buildings and trees.

Some of my early morning photographs have already appeared in previous blog posts here. For example, all of the photos shown in my article entitled A Photographic Tour of Saint-Paul-de-Vence, other than the first two, were taken in the early morning at first light. The details of the ancient stone buildings and alleys of that medieval village seem almost magnified in the soft light of dawn.

In fact, the beautiful architecture of many old European cities seems to take on a special aura at first light. This can be seen in a number of early morning photos which I took a couple of years ago while in Edinburgh, Scotland. I awoke before dawn on a Sunday morning and peered out of the window of my hotel, which was located on the Royal Mile, where many of the city’s historical attractions are situated. I was greeted by a beautiful clear pre-dawn sky which, as frequent visitors to Scotland will attest, is not something that can always be counted on in that otherwise wonderful country. I hastily got dressed, picked up my camera (Nikon D800 with a Nikon 24-70 mm f/2.8 lens) and tripod, and headed down to the street. At about 6:30 AM on Sunday morning, the sun was still below the horizon and the city was half-dark and virtually deserted. I walked to a suitable spot and photographed the view down the Royal Mile facing east (click on any photo in this article to see a larger version):

The Royal Mile, Edinburgh

The Royal Mile, Edinburgh

In this sort of low light, a tripod is almost always a necessity. In order to obtain corner to corner sharpness and the least possible noise, it is usually advisable to use a small aperture and a low ISO, and as a result a fast shutter speed will be unavailable. The above photograph of the Royal Mile was taken with an aperture of f/14 at ISO 100, resulting in a shutter speed of 0.3 seconds, so a handheld shot was out of the question.

The building in the center of the above photo is St. Giles Cathedral, which dates mostly from the late 14th century (the unusual “crown steeple” from the late 15th century), and was extensively restored during the 19th century. Here is a photo St. Giles from the east side, taken at about the same time:

St. Giles Cathedral

St. Giles Cathedral

The building is suffused with warm pre-dawn light, here coming from behind the camera. At left, a statue of the Scottish economist Adam Smith is visible.

It had also been my aim to record an unobstructed view of Edinburgh Castle. The castle is located at the western end of the Royal Mile. However, to obtain a view of the entire castle together with the rocky outcropping on which it sits, it is necessary to walk a considerable distance off the Royal Mile. This shot was taken from Princes Street, on the other side of the railroad tracks from the Royal Mile, after about a half hour’s walk:

Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle

As you can see, by the time I reached this spot, the sun was already above the horizon, its light illuminating the upper parts of the castle.

Aix-en-Provence, France, is another town which is ideal for early morning photography. Normally a busy city with streets full of cars and sidewalks and cafes full of tourists and university students as well as local residents, in the early morning hours just before or just after dawn it is beautiful and quiet. Here is the Place Séraphin Gilly at dawn on a Sunday morning:

Place Séraphin Gilly, Aix-en-Provence

Place Séraphin Gilly, Aix-en-Provence

The principal street in Aix is the Cours Mirabeau, which extends from the circular Rotonde with its large fountain eastward to the Place Forbin. Along the way are several cold water and natural hot water fountains. Aix has been known since ancient Roman times for its natural hot springs. In fact its name derives from its Latin name “Aquae Sextius,” meaning waters of Sextius. Gaius Sextius Calvinus was the Roman consul who founded Aix about 122 BC as the first Roman city in the territory of today’s France. This is an early morning shot of the Cours Mirabeau, before the street became filled with the morning traffic:

The Cours Mirabeau

The Cours Mirabeau

In the foreground is the Fontaine des Neuf Canons, built around 1691. The term “canons” here refers not to weapons of war but to the pipes that spout water from the fountain, of which in the case of this fountain there are nine, as the name implies. At the end of the avenue in the distance can be seen the large fountain of the Rotonde.

My love for early morning photography began some years ago when I was serving as production stills photographer during the shooting of “The Man at the Counter”, a short film shot mostly in the town of Hudson, New York. As is customary in such settings, the cast and crew were off to an early start the first morning, setting up on a nearly empty street at about 7:00 am. The town had cooperated by blocking off a portion of Warren Street, the town’s main street, for a few hours to facilitate unobstructed filming. After taking some preliminary shots of the cast and crew, I looked about for a scenic shot and found this view of Warren Street, looking west toward the Hudson River:

Warren Street, Hudson, New York

Warren Street, Hudson, New York

This shot has been one of my most popular photos, and appeared in the November, 2013 issue of Architectural Digest. I was inspired enough by the early morning light that weekend to get out even earlier the next day, before the crew even began to set up. Walking down to the east bank of the Hudson River, I took this shot of the Hudson-Athens Lighthouse, which sits on a tiny island in the middle of the river between the town of Athens, on the west bank, and Hudson on the east bank:

The Hudson-Athens Lighthouse

The Hudson-Athens Lighthouse

This photo also found its way into Architectural Digest, in an article entitled Great American Lighthouses.

More recently, I had an opportunity for early morning photography in the gorgeous California town of Carmel-by-the-Sea, where I was staying for a few days last spring in a house just a few blocks from the beach. The following shot was taken just after sunrise from the edge of the Scenic Road, the street that runs alongside the cypress-lined beach:

The Beach at Carmel

The Beach at Carmel

Carmel’s famous “fairy tale” architecture also photographs well in early morning light. Here, for example, is the “Tuck Box”:

The Tuck Box, Carmel

The Tuck Box, Carmel

And this is Carmel’s version of the great American shopping center:

The Court of the Golden Bough

The Court of the Golden Bough

While we are on the subject, here is a recent addition from a trip to Quebec City. The early morning sky was overcast, but a break in the clouds allowed the sun, which was just above the eastern horizon, to illuminate the Château Frontenac Hotel and create a strong contrast with the dark sky:

Château Frontenac Hotel, Quebec City

Château Frontenac Hotel, Quebec City

By the way, early morning is also a great time for wildlife photos. Here is a shot of a great blue heron, standing on a raft in a pond, lit from the side by an early morning sun:

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

The photographs shown in this blog are available for purchase as prints or (in most cases) as downloads for personal use on my photography website at http://www.philhaberphotography.com. You are also invited to visit and hit the “Like” button on my photography Facebook page, located at http://facebook.com/PhilHaberPhotography.

Phil Haber

Un Tour Photographique de Roussillon (Version Française)

(Note: An English version of this post may be found at http://philhaber.com/2011/12/21/a-photographic-tour-of-roussillon/)

En octobre 2011, j’ai passé quatre semaines à Provence et la Côte d’Azur. Pendant cette période j’ai réservé une journée entière pour visiter Roussillon, un village situé dans le Luberon. Le Luberon est une  région montagneuse dans le département de Vaucluse au nord d’Aix-en-Provence. Le trajet d’Aix, òu j’avais loué un appartement, à Roussillon fait environ 60 kilomètres de long, mais on met beaucoup plus q’une heure pour y aller même par les routes les plus directes. Les routes étroites serpentent autour des collines et à travers des vallées pittoresques, et traversent d’autres villages aux coteaux, y compris Bonnieux et Lourmarin qui eux-mêmes méritent une visite d’au moins un jour.

Roussillon est assis sur des dépôts énormes d’ocre rouge, orange et jaune. Les couleurs de l’ocre sont les effets d’oxydes de fer de genres variés qui y se sont déposées il y a plus de cent millions d’ans, quand la terre qui aujourd’hui constitue la Provence se trouvait au fond de la mer. En entrant dans le village, on voit en premier une grande falaise d’ocre en face du côté est du village (vous pouvez cliquer sur n’importe quelle image dans ce blog pour en voir une copie plus grande):

Ochre Cliff in Roussillon

Après une courte promenade le long du haut de cette falaise, on arrive aux carrières d’ocre, òu pendant des siècles on a miné les matériaux qu’on a utilisés pour construire les bâtiments du village. Dans les carrières on voit beaucoup de formes colorées et fantasques comme ceux-ci:

_DSC8162s

Du haut de la falaise, il y a une vue du village d’une beauté frappante:

_DSC8117alt3

Au centre du village, les couleurs de l’ocre – rouge, orange et jaune – se trouvent partout:

_DSC8199s

Comme on voit dans beaucoup de villages en Provence, il y a ici une belle tour d’horloge ancienne:

Clock Tower of Roussillon

À l’autre côté de la tour d’horloge, j’ai pris une photo à travers l’arche d’en bas:

View Through Archway in the Clock Tower

Au fait, les couleurs de l’ocre se voient dans toutes les rues du village:

Street in Roussillon

Les portes et les volets des fenêtres montrent des couleurs qui s’accordent ou contrastent avec les couleurs prédominantes de l’ocre des murs:

Façade of House in Roussillon

Door and Window in Roussillon

Doorway in Roussillon

On peut vite comprendre pourquoi le village de Roussillon est inclus sur la liste des “Plus Beaux Villages de France”. Une visite à Roussillon est une expérience inoubliable.

On peut voir et acheter copies des photos ci-dessus et d’autres photos de Roussillon et d’autres villages en Provence et la Côte d’Azur à mon site de web photographique, dans la galerie Provence-Côte d’Azur. Pour obtenir plus d’informations sur ma photographie, veuillez visiter aussi ma page photographique de Facebook.

Phil Haber

Un Voyage sur la Dordogne à Travers l’Histoire (Version Française)

(Note: An English version of this post may be found at http://philhaber.com/2013/08/23/a-voyage-through-history-on-the-dordogne/)

Récemment j’ai voyagé à la région de la Dordogne une deuxième fois – j’y avais voyagé auparavant, il y a neuf ans. Une visite à cette région (aussi appellée Périgord) est un voyage à travers l’histoire, voire à travers la préhistoire. Châteaux médiévaux ou de la Renaissance donnent sur le fleuve à plusieurs sites, et centaines d’autres châteaux se trouvent partout dans la région. Sur les rives de la Dordogne et de son affluent, la Vézère, on trouve des falaises calcaires gigantesques, qui sont percées à beaucoup de sites par des grottes qui maintes fois étaient utilisées comme abris par les riverains des villages proches pendant des périodes difficiles du Moyen Àge. Sur les murs intérieurs de quelques grottes, par exemple les grottes de Lascaux, de Rouffignac et du Font de Gaume, se trouvent des images de mammouths, de bisons, de taureaux, de chevaux, de rennes et d’autres animaux que des hommes Cro-Magnons y ont dessinées,  peintes ou gravées il y a 12.000 à 18.000 ans.

Une voiture est nécessaire pour voir toutes les choses en cette région qui méritent une visite. Mais aussi on ne doit pas omettre une promenade à bateau sur la Dordogne. Des kayaks et des canoës sont à louer à beaucoup de sites sur les rives du fleuve. Aussi au village de La Roque-Gageac on peut acheter un billet pour une promenade d’une heure dans une Gabare Norbert, qui va de La Roque-Gageac à Castelnaud-la-Chapelle et retourne, pilotée par un capitaine qui sert aussi comme guide touristique. Les Gabares Norbert sont des répliques des bateaux à voiles et à fond plat qui portaient des marchandises sur la Dordogne et d’autres fleuves de France pendant les 18ème et 19ème siècles. Mais les gabares d’aujourd’hui sont equipées de moteurs fiables qui vous assurent d’une promenade assez confortable. Voici une photo d’une Gabare Norbert qui va arriver à quai à La Roque-Gageac (vous pouvez cliquer sur n’importe quelle image dans ce blog pour en voir une copie plus grande):

Gabare Norbert

Gabare Norbert

Le bateau part du quai à La Roque-Gageac, un des “Plus Beaux Villages de France,” qui d’ordinaire paraît ainsi:

La Roque-Gageac

La Roque-Gageac

(À noter: J’ai pris cette photo pendant ma première visite ici en 2004. La vue est maintenant un peu changée temporairement par un projet de construction qui a pour but d’élargir la rue qui traverse le village.)

En aval de La Roque-Gageac, la gabare passe le Château de La Malartrie, bâti en style Renaissance, qui apparaît au bord gauche de la photo ci-dessus. Voici une vue du château de plus près:

Le Château de La Malartrie

Le Château de La Malartrie

Puis la gabare continue à glisser en aval au village de Castelnaud-la-Chapelle:

Castelnaud-la-Chapelle

Castelnaud-la-Chapelle

Le Château de Castelnaud surplombe le village. Bâti pendant le 12ème siècle, ce château était un site important de la Guerre de Cent Ans (1338-1453) et était occupé par l’armée anglaise pendant la plupart de cette guerre. Voici une vue du château de plus près depuis le centre du village:

Le Château de Castelnaud

Le Château de Castelnaud

Du haut du Château de Castelnaud, il y a une vue merveilleuse de la Dordogne jusqu’au village de Beynac-et-Cazenac, qui est surplombé par le Château de Beynac:

Vue de la Dordogne depuis le Château de Castelnaud

Vue de la Dordogne depuis le Château de Castelnaud

Le Château de Beynac était bâti pendant le 12ème siècle par les barons de Beynac, dont Richard Coeur de Lion, qui était baron de Beynac de l’an 1189 à l’an 1199. Ce château était un autre point central de la Guerre de Cent Ans. Situé environ trois kilomètres en aval du Château de Castelnaud et sur la rive opposée du fleuve, le Château de Beynac était occupé par l’armée française. Il se perche en haut d’une falaise imposante et donne sur cette partie du fleuve:

Le Château de Beynac

Le Château de Beynac

Un peu en amont de La Roque-Gageac, perché sur une falaise qui donne sur la Dordogne, est le village de Domme, aussi membre de la liste des “Plus Beaux Villages de France.” Au bord de la falaise, près du restaurant bien nommé “Le Belvédère,” se trouve une terrasse où il y a une vue spectaculaire du fleuve et de sa valleé:

Vallée de la Dordogne

Vallée de la Dordogne

À Domme, j’ai acheté des belles faïences artisanales à la boutique “Les Coquelicots.”

_DSC3398a

Les attractions spectaculaires de Périgord ne se bornent pas à celles situées aux rives du fleuve. La region est remplie de centaines de châteaux et d’autres attractions touristiques du Moyen Àge et de la Renaissance, et effectivement est appellée le “Pays de 1001 Châteaux”, y compris le Château de Puymartin. Ce château était bâti pendant le 13ème siècle, était détruit pendant la Guerre de Cent Ans, et était rebâti pendant le 15ème siècle. Des membres de la même famille ont possédé et habité le château depuis l’an 1450.

The Château de Puymartin

Le Château de Puymartin

Pas loin du Château de Puymartin se trouve la ville de Sarlat-la-Canéda, la ville principale de cette partie de Périgord. On a soigneusement conservé le centre médiéval de cette ville:

Place de la Liberté, Sarlat-la-Canéda

Place de la Liberté, Sarlat-la-Canéda

Sarlat est rempli d’histoire. Le panneau au mur de la maison dans la photo ci-dessous déclare que Étienne La Boétie est né dans cette maison le 1er Novembre 1530. La Boétie etait écrivain, diplomate, juge et créateur de la philosophie moderne française de la politique. Mais aujourd’hui il est peut-être plus fameux comme ami du philosophe Michel de Montaigne.

House of Etienne La Boétie

Maison d’Etienne La Boétie

La beauté de Sarlat ne se montre pas seulement de jour, mais aussi à la nuit. Sarlat est peut être la seule ville française qui est encore illuminée pendant la nuit seulement par des lampes à gaz.

Closing Time in Sarlat

Le Soir à Sarlat

Le château le plus étrange qu’on peut trouver dans la région de la Dordogne est peut-être la Maison Forte de Reignac:

Maison Forte de Reignac

Maison Forte de Reignac

Bâtie au flanc d’une falaise calcaire proche de la Vézère, la façade cache des immenses espaces intérieurs à beaucoup de niveaux. Depuis environ l’an 1300, il était construit et occupé comme château d’un baron. Encore aujourd’hui les salles et les chambres du château sont meublées élégamment comme au 16ème siècle. Et il y a aussi beaucoup d’évidence que le site était occupé par des gens Cro-Magnons il y a 20.000 ans, comme beaucoup d’autres sites dans cette région.

Comme on peut voir ici, le Périgord est rempli d’une quantité immense de choses belles et fascinantes à visiter et à voir. On peut voir et acheter copies des photos ci-dessus et d’autres photos de Périgord à mon site de web photographique, dans la galerie Dordogne. Pour obtenir plus d’informations sur ma photographie, veuillez visiter aussi ma page photographique de Facebook.

Phil Haber

A Voyage Through History on the Dordogne (English Version)

(À noter: Une version française de cet article se trouve à http://philhaber.com/2013/10/01/un-voyage-a-travers-lhistoire-sur-la-dordogne-version-francaise/.)

Recently I traveled to the Dordogne region for a second time, the first having been nearly ten years ago. A visit to this area (also known as Périgord) is a voyage through history and even prehistory. Medieval and Renaissance castles look down on the river at several points, while literally hundred of others dot the region. The Dordogne and its tributary, the Vézère, are lined in many areas with towering limestone cliffs honeycombed with caves that often provided shelter for village residents during tumultuous periods of the Middle Ages. Some of these caves, such as those at Lascaux, Rouffignac and the Font de Gaume, contain pictures of animals such as woolly mammoths, bison, bulls, horses and reindeer that were drawn, painted or carved onto the interior walls by Cro-Magnon people 12,000 to 18,000 years ago.

While an automobile is a necessity to get to everything worth seeing in this area, one should not miss an opportunity to ride down the Dordogne itself on a boat. Kayaks and canoes can be rented at many locations along the banks of the river. In addition, at the village of La Roque-Gageac, you can book a one-hour ride on a Gabare Norbert, which will take you down the river to Castelnaud-la-Chapelle and back, with a captain who doubles as a tour guide. The Gabares Norbert are replicas of the flat-bottomed sailboats that were used during the 18th and 19th centuries to transport goods along the Dordogne and other rivers in France. These gabares, however, are fitted out with motors that assure a smooth and reliable ride. Here is a photo of a Gabare Norbert about to arrive back in the dock at La Roque-Gageac (you may click on any photo in this article to see a larger version):

Gabare Norbert

Gabare Norbert

The boat leaves from La Roque-Gageac, one of “Les Plus Beaux Villages de France,” which usually looks like this:

La Roque-Gageac

La Roque-Gageac

[Note: This photo was taken during my previous visit in 2004. The view has now been temporarily altered by a construction project that is widening the road through the village.]

On the way downstream from La Roque-Gageac, the Gabare Norbert glides past the Renaissance-style Château de La Malartrie, seen on the left side of the photo above. Here is a closer view of the château:

Château de La Malartrie

Château de La Malartrie

The Gabare Norbert then continues downstream to the village of Castelnaud-la-Chapelle:

Castelnaud-la-Chapelle

Castelnaud-la-Chapelle

The village is dominated by the Château de Castelnaud. Built in the 12th century, this castle was a focal point of the Hundred Years War (1338-1453), during most of which it was occupied by English forces. Here is a closer view of the castle from inside the village itself:

The Château de Castelnaud

The Château de Castelnaud

From the top of the Château de Castelnaud, there is a marvelous view down the Dordogne to the village of Beynac-et-Cazenac, which is dominated by the Château de Beynac:

View of the Dordogne from the Château de Castelnaud

View of the Dordogne from the Château de Castelnaud

The Château de Beynac was built during the 12th century by the barons of Beynac, one of whom, during the period 1189-1199, was Richard the Lionheart. The château was another focal point of the Hundred Years War. Located about two miles downstream from the Château de Castelnaud and on the other side of the river, the Château de Beynac was occupied by the French. It is perched on top of a towering cliff and dominates its section of the river:

The Château de Beynac

The Château de Beynac

A short distance upstream from La Roque-Gageac is the village of Domme, perched at the top of a cliff overlooking the Dordogne, also a member of the “Plus Beaux Villages de France.” At the edge of the cliff, close to the appropriately named restaurant “Le Belvédère,” is a terrace from which there is a spectacular view of the river and its valley:

_DSC3636a

In Domme, I purchased some beautiful hand-made pieces of faïence at the boutique “Les Coquelicots.”

_DSC3398a

The spectacular sights in the Dordogne region are not by any means limited to the banks of the river itself. The area is filled with hundreds of castles and other medieval and Renaissance sights, and in fact is popularly known as the “Land of 1,001 Castles.” One of these is the Château de Puymartin. Built during the 13th century, the castle was destroyed during the Hundred Years War and rebuilt in the 15th century. It has been owned and occupied by descendants of the same family since 1450.

The Château de Puymartin

The Château de Puymartin

Nearby is the town of Sarlat-la-Canéda, the principal town in this area. The medieval center of this town has been carefully preserved:

Place de la Liberté, Sarlat-la-Canéda

Place de la Liberté, Sarlat-la-Canéda

Sarlat is full of history. The sign on the house shown in this photo states that Etienne La Boétie was born here in 1530. La Boétie was a writer, diplomat, judge and a founder of modern French political philosophy, but is probably best known today as the famous friend of the philosopher Michel de Montaigne.

House of Etienne La Boétie

House of Etienne La Boétie

Sarlat’s beauty is not limited to daytime. At night, Sarlat is perhaps the only French town still lit entirely by gas lamps:

Closing Time in Sarlat

Closing Time in Sarlat

Perhaps the strangest of all the castles one can find in the Dordogne region is the Maison Forte de Reignac:

Maison Forte de Reignac

Maison Forte de Reignac

Built into the side of a limestone cliff close to the Vézère River, the façade hides vast interior spaces on multiple levels. Beginning about 700 years ago, it was constructed and occupied as a baronial castle, and its many rooms are today still beautifully outfitted with period furniture and furnishings. But there is also copious evidence that the site was occupied by Cro-Magnon people 20,000 years ago, like many other sites in this area.

As you can see, the Dordogne region is filled with an almost inexhaustible supply of beautiful and fascinating things to see and to do. The photos shown in this article and other photos from the Dordogne region are available for viewing and purchase in full original resolution in the Dordogne Gallery of my photography website. For further information about my photography, please also visit my photography Facebook page.

Phil Haber

Un Tour Photographique de Saint-Paul-de-Vence (Version Française)

(Note: An English version of this blog may be found at http://philhaber.com/2013/01/18/a-photographic-tour-of-saint-paul-de-vence.)

Moi et ma femme, nous avons passé une semaine heureuse à Saint-Paul-de-Vence vers la fin d’octobre 2011. Saint-Paul-de-Vence est un village médiéval situé au sommet d’une colline, aux contreforts des Alpes maritimes environ une demi-heure par voiture au nord-ouest de Nice. Le village est spectaculaire et bien conservé. On peut trouver des mentions du village dans des documents officiels à partir de l’onzième siècle. Le village etait fortifié pour la première fois au treizième siècle, et une deuxième muraille défensive, qui est encore presque entièrement intacte, etait construite pendant le seizième siècle sur la commande du roi François I après une visite royale au village.

Aujourd’hui Saint-Paul est presque entièrement consacré à la création, l’exposition et la vente des beaux-arts. Pendant les mois d’été, il est plein de touristes, mais vers la fin d’octobre il était beaucoup plus calme. En fait, au temps de notre arriveé, le restaurant fameux de La Colombe d’Or, dont les murs intérieurs sont pleins de tableaux des grands peintres, était sur le point d’être fermé pour plusieurs mois parce que c’était la fin de la saison. Nous avions voulu retourner à Saint-Paul-de-Vence depuis que, quelques ans plus tôt, nous étions restés au Château du Domaine Saint Martin, qui est situé à Vence, plus haut aux montagnes que Saint-Paul. En allant de Vence à l’aéroport de Nice, nous avions passé Saint-Paul et avions aperçu la vue extraordinaire du village qu’on peut voir depuis la Route de la Colle. J’avais voué qu’un jour je retournerais là et que je prendrais alors une photo de cette belle vue. Cette fois-ci nous avions décidé à rester à Le Hameau, un charmant hôtel situé sur la Route de la Colle aux environs de Saint-Paul.

Nous sommes arrivés à l’hôtel vers la fin de l’après-midi et, après que je nous y avais enregistrés, j’ai ramassé mon appareil photo et trépied et me suis dirigé à la Route de la Colle. Depuis cette route, on peut voir une vue imprenable du côté ouest de Saint-Paul en entier, y compris les murs fortifiés du village, qui étaient construits pendant le 16ème siècle sur commande de François Ier. Voice le village, illuminé par des rayons rougeâtres du soleil couchant (vous pouvez cliquer sur n’importe quelle image dans ce blog pour en voir une copie plus grande):

_DSC8669_70_71a_tonemapped

À mon retour à Le Hameau, j’ai erré pendant quelque temps au travers les jardins et passages de ce bel hôtel:

_DSC8915

De Le Hameau, on ne mettait que 10 minutes pour marcher le long de la Route de la Colle à l’entrée du village de Saint-Paul. Donc je pouvais arriver au village tous les matins avant le lever du soleil pour prendre des photos de ses rues, ses bâtiments et ses cours, tous si beaux et bien préservés, dans la lumière du petit matin et sans piétons et voitures. Après qu’on entre dans le village par son extrémité nord, on passe le restaurant Le Colombe d’Or et puis on entre dans la Rue Grande, qui s’étend sur presque toute la longueur du village du nord au sud, en passant sous des arches anciennes. Les côtés de cette rue sont parsemés d’ateliers et de galeries d’art:

_DSC8690_1_2

Dans le centre du village, un peu loin de la Rue Grande, se trouve la Place de la Grande Fontaine. Dans le 17ème siècle, cette place était le centre de l’activité sociale et commerciale du village et le site d’un marché hebdomadaire:

_DSC8677

Un peu plus loin vers le sud, il y a une cour charmante qui s’appelle “La Placette” et qui contient une petite fontaine:

_DSC8702

Un matin, quand je suis arrivé à l’extrémité sud de la Rue Grande, les rayons du soleil levant illuminaient les toits des bâtiments:

_DSC8895_6_7

Depuis les remparts du côté est du village, il y a une vue magnifique sur les Alpes maritimes au nord:

_DSC8871_2

L’ancien cimetière de Saint Paul est situé à l’extrémité sud du village, en dehors de la muraille. Entre les tombes qui y se trouvent est celle de Marc Chagall, qui habitait au village de 1966 jusqu’à sa mort en 1985. Sa tombe est un bloc simple de pierre rectangulaire, dont le dessus est jonché de petites pierres dans l’ancienne tradition juive. Les surfaces de beaucoup de ces pierres montrent des hommages écrits à la main au grand maître.

_DSC8879

La population de Saint-Paul comprend moins que trois mille habitants. Avec ses nombreux ateliers, galeries d’art, boutiques, hôtels, églises et restaurants, on pourrait en conclure que le village n’aurait pas beaucoup d’espace pour des habitations. Mais il y a des exemples frappants d’architecture médiévale parmi les maisons qu’on voit là:

_DSC8862_3_4 _DSC8859_60_61_tonemapped

Vraiment, il y a de belles vues dans presque tous les coins de Saint-Paul:

_DSC8835_6_7

Comme on peut voir, une visite à Saint-Paul-de-Vence est un impératif pour chaque personne qui voyage à la Côte d’Azur.

On peut voir et acheter copies des photos ci-dessus et d’autres photos de Saint-Paul-de-Vence et d’autres villages de Provence et la Côte d’Azur à mon site de web photographique, dans la galerie Provence-Côte d’Azur. Pour obtenir plus d’informations sur ma photographie, veuillez visiter aussi ma page photographique de Facebook.

Phil Haber

A Photographic Tour of Saint-Paul-de-Vence (English Version)

(À noter: Une version française de ce blog se trouve à http://philhaber.com/2013/03/29/un-tour-photographique-de-saint-paul-de-vence-version-francaise/.)

My wife and I spent a week in Saint-Paul-de-Vence in late October, 2011. Saint-Paul-de-Vence is a spectacular and well-preserved medieval hill town, located in the foothills of the Maritime Alps, about a half hour’s drive northwest of Nice. It is mentioned in official records as early as the 11th century, and was first fortified in the 13th century. A second defensive wall, still almost entirely intact today, was built in the 16th century, upon the order of King François I following a royal visit to the town.

Today Saint-Paul is almost entirely devoted to the creation, exhibition and sale of fine art. During the summer months, the town is extremely crowded with tourists, but by late October it was much quieter. In fact, at the time we arrived, the famously art-studded restaurant La Colombe d’Or, located at the northern entrance to the town, was in the process of closing for the season. We had wanted to return to Saint-Paul-de-Vence ever since, some years earlier, we had stayed in the town of Vence — further up in the mountains — and on the way down to the Nice airport had spotted the striking view of Saint-Paul that is visible from the Route de la Colle. I had vowed then that I would some day return and take a photo of that beautiful view of the village. This time we had decided to stay at Le Hameau, a charming hotel on the Route de la Colle just outside Saint-Paul.

We arrived late in the afternoon and, after checking in at Le Hameau, I grabbed my camera and tripod and headed out to the Route de la Colle. From the road, there is a completely unobstructed view of the entire western side of the village, complete with its fortified walls built in the 16th century on the orders of King François I.  Here it is, illuminated by a reddish sun about a half hour before sunset (click on any image in this posting to see a larger version):

_DSC8669_70_71a_tonemapped

Back at Le Hameau, I took the time to wander through the semi-enclosed outdoor corridors of this beautiful hotel:

_DSC8915

From Le Hameau, it was only a 10-minute walk up the Route de la Colle to the entrance to Saint-Paul-de-Vence. I could thus be in the town before dawn every morning to get shots of its beautiful and marvelously preserved streets, buildings and courtyards, at first light and without interference from cars and pedestrians. After entering the town from the north, past La Colombe d’Or, you enter the Rue Grande, which runs nearly the entire length of the village from north to south. The Rue Grande passes under centuries-old archways and is lined with many art galleries and studios:

_DSC8690_1_2

In the center of the village, off the Rue Grande, is the Place de la Grande Fontaine, which was the center of activity and the scene of a weekly market during the 17th century:

_DSC8677

A little further to the south is a charming courtyard with a smaller fountain, known as “La Placette”:

_DSC8702

One morning, as I reached the southern end of Rue Grande, the rising sun was just illuminating the tops of the buildings:

_DSC8895_6_7

From the eastern ramparts of the town, there is a wonderful view of the Maritime Alps to the north:

_DSC8871_2

The old cemetery of Saint Paul lies at the southern end of the town, outside the village walls. Among the tombs one can find that of Marc Chagall, who lived in Saint Paul from 1966 until his death in 1985. The top of the tomb is strewn with small stones in the ancient Jewish tradition, several inscribed with loving tributes to the great master.

_DSC8879

Today, Saint-Paul-de-Vence has a permanent population of only about 3,000. With its many art galleries, studios, shops, hotels and restaurants, the town would not seem to have a lot of room for residences. Yet there are numerous examples of striking medieval architecture in the houses that one does see:

_DSC8862_3_4 _DSC8859_60_61_tonemapped

In fact, there is a beautiful sight around just about every corner:

_DSC8835_6_7

As you can see, a stop in Saint-Paul-de-Vence is a must for anyone visiting the Côte d’Azur.

The photos shown in this article and  other photos of Saint-Paul-de-Vence and of other villages in Provence and the Côte d’Azur are available for viewing and purchase in full original resolution on my photo website, in the gallery Provence-Côte d’Azur.  For additional information about my photography, please see my photography Facebook page.

Phil Haber

Birds of Hawaii – A Photographic Essay

During February and March of 2012, I spent several weeks on the Hawaiian islands of Maui and Kauai, photographing their spectacular landscapes, flora and fauna. Of particular interest are Hawaii’s birds, which include many species that are rarely if ever seen in other parts of the United States. Perhaps the best location to view unusual birds is the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge, on the north shore of Kauai several miles east of the resort town of Princeville. Kilauea Point is a high promontory that juts out into the Pacific Ocean, at the end of which is a lighthouse:

_DSC5533

Looking east from Kilauea Point, you can see rugged cliffs characteristic of the coastline of Kauai, which serve as nesting sites for hundreds of large seabirds:

A visit to the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge is an experience not to be missed by any lover of the natural world and its wildlife. The seabirds that can be seen at the refuge include Laysan albatrosses, red-footed boobies, brown boobies, red-tailed and white-tailed tropicbirds, great frigatebirds, and wedge-tailed shearwaters. The most numerous are the red-footed boobies, which nest by the hundreds on the neighboring cliffs. At the time of my visit to the refuge in March, the red-footed boobies were busy gathering materials to build nests, tearing out pieces of vegetation from the perimeter of Kilauea Point and flying off with them to the opposing cliffs. Here is a red-footed booby (Sula sula) about to grab an attractive piece of vine:

Up in the sky, they could be seen in full flight with their nest-building materials:

Red-footed boobies were also visible perched in nearby trees — note the distinctive red webbed feet and blue bill:

Here is another shot of a red-footed booby in flight:

_DSC1730w

Another seabird often seen flying by at Kilauea Point is the Laysan albatross (Phoebastria immutabilis):

And hovering overhead in a strong wind are red-tailed tropicbirds (Phaethon rubricauda):

In this shot, I caught a red-tailed tropicbird on a rapid fly-by:

_DSC5538

And here is another resident of the area: a great frigatebird (Fregata minor). These birds have a wingspan of as much as eight feet:

_DSC5590a

 

Numerous cattle egrets (Bubulcus ibis) may be seen strutting on the ground at the refuge, as well as in many other locations in Hawaii:

These photos present just a small sample of the wonders available for viewing at the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge. Apart from the amazing birds, you may also spot breaching humpback whales, bottlenose dolphins, and rare monk seals (only 1,200 left on earth).

Other photos of Hawaii’s birds, as well as landscapes and other Hawaiian sights, may be seen in the Hawaii Gallery on my photo website.  For additional information about my photography, please see my photography Facebook page.

Phil Haber

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 124 other followers