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, NY at Dawn

Warren Street, Hudson, NY at Dawn

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

On a recent trip to Salzburg, Austria, I got out early one morning and took these two photographs from a bridge over the Salzach River some distance from the town center:

_dsc6095

Salzburg Sunrise

Salzburg Sunrise

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

Copyright © 2014 Philip A. Haber

Un Tour Photographique de Roussillon (Version Française)

(Note: An English version of this post may be found at https://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 dans 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

Copyright © 2012 Philip A. Haber

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

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

Récemment j’ai voyagé à la région de la Dordogne une troisième fois – j’y avais voyagé deux fois auparavant, il y a onze ans et il y a deux ans. Une visite à cette région (aussi appellée Périgord) est un voyage à travers l’histoire, même 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 Âge. 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 en bateau sur la Dordogne. Des kayaks et canoës sont très populaires et 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 voile 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”:

La Roque-Gageac

La Roque-Gageac

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 jusqu’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

Pas loin du Château de Castelnaud se trouve le Château des Milandes. Bâti pendant le 15ème siècle, le château est devenu pendant le 20ème siècle la résidence de la chanteuse/danseuse/actrice américaine Josephine Baker. Ne pouvant pas réussir dans son propre pays à cause de sa race, Baker a néanmoins gagné un succès immense en France:

The Château des Milandes

Le Château des Milandes

Un peu en amont de La Roque-Gageac, perché sur une falaise qui donne sur la Dordogne, est situé 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,” s’étend une terrasse de béton d’où il y a une vue spectaculaire du fleuve et de sa valleé:

Vallée de la Dordogne

Vallée de la Dordogne

On peut entrer au village de Domme par l’imposante Porte des Tours, qui était utilisée comme prison pour 70 Chevaliers Templiers pendant le 14ème siècle:

La Porte des Tours de Domme

La Porte des Tours de Domme

Voici deux beaux bâtiments médiévaux qui se trouve dans la Place de la Rode à Domme. Le bâtiment à droite, bâti en 1282, qui maintenant contient une bijouterie de bonne qualité, était jadis la “maison du batteur de monnaie du Roy Philippe III le Hardi,” comme on peut voir d’une inscription ciselée dans un bloc de pierre au mur extérieur du bâtiment. (Philippe le Hardi était roi de France de l’an 1270 à l’an 1285.) Le bâtiment à gauche est maintenant le restaurant-café “Le Médiéval.”

Dans la Place de la Rode, Domme

Dans la Place de la Rode, Domme

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

_DSC3398a

Comme j’ai indiqué déja ci-dessus, des randonnées sur la Dordogne en kayak ou canoë sont très populaires et offrent de belles occasions pour la photographie. Voici une photo de La Roque-Gageac prise d’un canoë sur le fleuve:

Kayaking on the Dordogne

En kayak sur la Dordogne

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

Le samedi il y a un grand marché à Sarlat qui est très populaire:

Le Marché à Sarlat

Le Marché à Sarlat

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.

Un petit village de cette région à ne pas manquer est Saint-Cyprien. Ce village est plein de belles rues comme celle-ci:

Belle rue à Saint-Cyprien

Belle rue à Saint-Cyprien

Aussi on y trouve beaucoup de belles façades de maisons comme celle-ci:

Façade de maison à Saint-Cyprien

Façade de maison à Saint-Cyprien

Le dimanche matin il y a un marché merveilleux à Saint-Cyprien qui se répand le long de la Rue Gambetta, qui est la rue principale du village. Voici un étal d’olives pittoresque au marché:

Étal d'olives au marché de Saint-Cyprien

Étal d’olives au marché de Saint-Cyprien

Parmi les attractions de la région qui valent aussi une visite sont Les Eyzies de Tayac, qui contient le site du découvert original de l’homme Cro-Magnon et le Musée National de la Préhistoire. Aussi à ne pas manquer est Lascaux II, situé à Montignac, qui est une réplique de la grotte originale de Lascaux qui contient des peintures préhistoriques de renommée mondiale.

Quand je voyage à la region de la Dordogne, je loge toujours à Les Hirondelles, une propriété idyllique située dans le très petit village de Carmensac Haut, qui se trouve sur la Route D48 entre Meyrals et Les Eyzies de Tayac. La propriété etait jadis, il y a 300 ans, une abbaye et contient plusieurs bâtiments de pierre, y compris la maison des propriétaires, un gîte d’une chambre (“Butterfly Cottage”) et une grande maison de cinq chambres (“Mulberry Tree Villa”). Tout a été modernisé par les propriétaires, un couple américain qui ont aussi installé une piscine chauffée, un jacuzzi, des jardins avec bassins et fontaines, et d’autres améliorations qui font de cette propriété un logement idéal pour tout voyageur. La propriété est située seulement 10 minutes par voiture de Les Eyzies de Tayac et environ une demi-heure de Sarlat-la-Canéda, La Roque-Gageac, le Château de Beynac, le Château de Castelnaud, Domme, le Château des Milandes, Lascaux II et beaucoup des autres attractions principales de la région.

Butterfly Cottage

Butterfly Cottage

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

Copyright © 2015 Philip A. Haber

A Voyage Through History on the Dordogne (English Version)

(Cliquez ici pour lire une traduction de cet article en français: https://philhaber.com/2013/10/01/un-voyage-a-travers-lhistoire-sur-la-dordogne-version-francaise/.)

Recently I traveled to the Dordogne region for a third time, the first having been eleven years ago and the second two 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 are very popular and 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”:

La Roque-Gageac

La Roque-Gageac

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

Not far from the Château de Castelnaud is the Château des Milandes. Built during the 15th century, it was more recently the home of the American singer, dancer and actress Josephine Baker who, unable to achieve success in her own country on account of her race, became immensely popular in France:

The Château des Milandes

The Château des Milandes

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:

Vallée de la Dordogne

Valley of the Dordogne

One entrance to Domme is through the imposing Tower Gate, which served as a prison for 70 Knights Templar during the 14th century:

La Porte des Tours de Domme

The Tower Gate of Domme

Here are two beautiful medieval buildings found in the Place de la Rode in Domme. The building on the right, built in 1282, which now contains a high quality jewelry shop, was formerly the “maison du batteur de monnaie du Roy Philippe III le Hardi” (“house of the minter of coins of King Philip the Bold”), as one can see from an inscription chiseled into a block of stone on the exterior wall of the building. (Philip the Bold was king of France from 1270 to 1285.) The building on the left is now a restaurant and café called “Le Médiéval.”

Dans la Place de la Rode, Domme

In the Place de la Rode, Domme

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

_DSC3398a

As indicated above, kayak and canoe rides on the Dordogne are very popular and offer excellent opportunities for photography. Here is a shot of La Roque-Gageac taken from a canoe on the river:

Kayaking on the Dordogne

Kayaking on the Dordogne

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

On Saturdays, there is a large and very popular market in Sarlat:

Market Day in Sarlat

Market Day in Sarlat

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.

A small village not to be missed in this region is Saint-Cyprien. The village is full of beautiful streets such as this one:

Belle rue à Saint-Cyprien

Street in Saint-Cyprien

There are also many beautiful façades of houses, such as this one:

Façade de maison à Saint-Cyprien

Façade of house in Saint-Cyprien

On Sunday mornings, there is a marvelous market in Saint-Cyprien spread out along the Rue Gambetta, the principal street of the town. Here is a colorful olive stall in the market:

Étal d'olives au marché de Saint-Cyprien

Olive stall in the Saint-Cyprien market

Other major attractions in the Dordogne region include Les Eyzies de Tayac, site of the original discovery of Cro-Magnon Man and home today to the Musée National de la Préhistoire (National Museum of Prehistory), and Lascaux II, located in Montignac, a replica of the original Lascaux cave discovered in 1940 which contains the world’s most famous prehistoric cave paintings.

When in the Dordogne, I stay at the idyllic Les Hirondelles (The Swallows), located in the tiny village of Carmensac on Route D48 between Meyrals and Les Eyzies de Tayac. This is a converted and thoroughly modernized 300-year-old stone abbey, owned by an American couple who live in a separate house on the premises. Available on the property for vacation rentals are a one-bedroom “Butterfly Cottage” or the five-bedroom “Mulberry Tree Villa.” The owners have also installed a heated in-ground pool and jacuzzi and other features that help make this a perfect vacation stop. It is centrally located less than 10 minutes from Les Eyzies and about a half hour’s drive from Sarlat-la-Canéda, Beynac-et-Cazenac, Castelnaud-la-Chapelle, La Roque-Gageac, Domme, Lascaux II, Les Milandes, and many other top attractions of the area.

Butterfly Cottage

Butterfly Cottage

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

Copyright © 2015 Philip A. Haber

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

(Note: An English version of this blog may be found at https://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, et 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 de l’art moderne. Pendant les mois d’été, le village est plein de touristes, mais vers la fin d’octobre il est beaucoup plus calme. Au fait, au temps de notre arrivée, le fameux hôtel et restaurant La Colombe d’Or, qui est plein de peintures et sculptures des grands artistes du vingtième siècle, 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 j’y retournerais 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, il y a une vue inoubliable du côté ouest de Saint-Paul en entier, y compris les murs fortifiés du village. Voici 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_less_sharp

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 mets 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:

_DSC8690_1_2

Les côtés de la Rue Grande sont parsemés de galeries d’art et d’ateliers d’artistes. Voici des galeries d’art sur la Rue Grande:

_DSC8806

Il y a aussi beaucoup d’ateliers d’artistes sur la Rue Grande:

_DSC8803a

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

Dans ce village, il n’y a pas de manque d’arches médiévaux de pierre:

_DSC8763_DSC8740

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

saint-paul-sunrise2

L’ancien cimetière de Saint Paul est situé à l’extrémité sud du village, en dehors de la muraille. Entre les tombes du cimetière est celle de Marc Chagall, qui habitait au village depuis 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. Beaucoup de ces pierres portent des hommages au grand maître, écrits à la main.

_DSC8879

La population de Saint-Paul comprend moins de 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 y voit:

_DSC8862_3_4 _DSC8859_60_61_tonemapped

Naturellement, il y a beaucoup de bons restaurants à Saint-Paul, y compris le très pittoresque “La Petite Chapelle”:

_DSC8911

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 n’importe quelle personne qui voyage à la Côte d’Azur.

On peut voir et acheter les photos présentées ci-dessus et d’autres photos de Saint-Paul-de-Vence et d’autres villages de 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

Copyright © 2013 Philip A. Haber

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

(Cliquez ici pour lire une traduction de cet article en français: https://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 modern 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-filled restaurant and hotel 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 an unforgettable view of the entire western side of the village, complete with its fortified walls.  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_less_sharp

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, passing under centuries-old archways:

_DSC8690_1_2

The Rue Grande is lined with art galleries and artists’ studios. Here you see art galleries on the Rue Grande:

_DSC8806

There are also many artists’ studios on the Rue Grande:

_DSC8803a

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

There is no shortage of medieval stone archways in this village:

_DSC8763_DSC8740

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

saint-paul-sunrise2

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

Of course, there are many good restaurants in Saint-Paul, including the very quaint “La Petite Chapelle”:

_DSC8911

In fact, there is a beautiful sight at just about every corner of the town:

_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

Copyright © 2015 Philip A. Haber

Birds of Hawaii – A Photographic Essay

Periodically I have visited the Hawaiian islands of Maui and Kauai, photographing their spectacular landscapes, flora and fauna. Kauai, sometimes referred to as the Garden Isle, is the oldest and furthest northwest of the inhabited Hawaiian islands. The most eroded of these volcanic islands, Kauai features lush vegetation and beautiful mountains, cliffs, waterfalls and beaches, providing ideal nesting sites for many species of birds. Maui, also known as the Valley Isle, is the second youngest of the Hawaiian islands and is located northwest of the big island of Hawaii, from which it is separated by a 26-mile-wide channel. Maui was formed by two volcanoes: the volcano that produced the somewhat eroded West Maui Mountains, and the giant Mount Haleakala, 10,000 feet high and about 30 miles across at its base. The two sections of the island are separated by a flat isthmus, or valley, giving rise to the island’s nickname.

Of particular interest to me are Hawaii’s birds, which include many species that are rarely if ever seen in other parts of the United States. One of the best locations to view such 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 187-foot high promontory that juts out into the Pacific Ocean and is the northernmost point of the inhabited Hawaiian islands. At the end of the promontory sits the Kilauea Point Lighthouse (Note: you may click on any photo in this article to see a larger version):

_DSC3808

Looking east from Kilauea Point, you can see rugged cliffs characteristic of the coastline of Kauai, which serve as nesting sites for thousands 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, red-tailed and white-tailed tropicbirds, great frigatebirds, and wedge-tailed shearwaters. The most numerous are the red-footed boobies, which nest by the thousands on the neighboring cliffs. At the time of my most recent visit to the refuge in March of 2015, the cliffs were sheltering 1,500 pairs of red-footed boobies, all busy gathering materials to build nests, tearing out pieces of vegetation from the perimeter of Kilauea Point and flying off with them to their nesting sites. 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:

The job of gathering and bringing back nest-building materials is given to the male birds of the species. Their efforts are not always successful:

_DSC4511

_DSC4512

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:

_DSC4529

Another seabird often seen flying by at Kilauea Point is the Laysan albatross (Phoebastria immutabilis). These birds have a wingspan of about 6-1/2 feet. Nearly the entire world population of this species lives in the northwest Hawaiian islands:

_DSC4215

Hovering overhead in a strong wind were red-tailed tropicbirds (Phaethon rubricauda):

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

_DSC5538

And here is another diving over the ocean:

_DSC4707

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

_DSC4596

Male great frigatebirds are almost entirely black; the females can be distinguished by their white throat and breast, as well as a red eye ring:

_DSC4678

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

Cattle egrets have broad, adaptable diets: primarily insects, plus other invertebrates, fish, frogs, mammals, and birds. Here is one that is about to make a meal out of a gecko it picked out of the top of a hedge in Kihei, Maui:

_dsc7108

Another good location to see and photograph birds is the Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge, located just north of the town of Kihei on Maui. You are sure to find several species of unusual birds there, including the indigenous Hawaiian black-necked stilt (Himantopus mexicanus):

_DSC2174

Cattle egrets also abound there:

_DSC2255

I don’t mean to suggest that you need to visit a wildlife refuge in order to see birds in Hawaii. Colorful and interesting birds abound just about everywhere in the Hawaiian islands. For example, I found this red-crested cardinal (Paroaria coronata) at the Makena Landing on the southwest coast of Maui:

_DSC0287_alt

Red-crested cardinals are indigenous to Brazil, Argentina and other parts of South America, and in fact are also known as Brazilian Cardinals. They were introduced to Hawaii around 1930 and today are common throughout the Hawaiian islands. Here is one that I found hopping about behind our condo on the north shore of Kauai:

_DSC4563

Laysan albatrosses nest on the ground just about anywhere they choose. Here is a pair that decided to set up house at the edge of the Princeville golf course on the north coast of Kauai:

_DSC2092

Always graceful and majestic in flight, Laysan albatrosses can frequently be seen cruising over the north coast of Kauai, near Princeville and Hanalei:

_DSC4122

The champion songbird of the islands is clearly the white-rumped shama (Copsychus malabaricus). Native to India and Southeast Asia, these birds were introduced to the island of Kauai from Malaysia in 1931, and later to Oahu. They have a distinctive, complex and beautiful song that is readily recognizable.

_DSC3845

The Japanese white-eye (Zosterops japonicus) is a small perching bird that was introduced to Hawaii in 1929 to control insects. Today their numbers throughout the Hawaiian Islands have increased to such an extent that, by consuming a large portion of the available food supply in some areas, they have reportedly become a threat to native Hawaiian species of birds, which have suffered stunted growth and reduced populations.

_dsc1495

Another non-native bird which is now very common indeed in Hawaii is the common myna (Acridotheres tristis tristis). These birds are native to south Asia and were introduced to Hawaii in 1865 to control an infestation of army worms. They are aggressive, gregarious, noisy and omnivorous, and are widely viewed as an invasive species and a pest.

_dsc7029

The spotted dove (Spilopelia chinensis) is commonly seen foraging on the ground throughout the Hawaiian Islands. Originally native to the Indian Subcontinent and Southeast Asia, it was probably introduced to Hawaii from Southeast Asia in the late 1800’s.

_dsc0800

Seen below is the Pacific golden plover (Pluvialis fulva), known in Hawaii as the Kolea, in non-breeding plumage. These birds are migratory and spend the summer months (May through August) in Alaska, where they breed. They then fly nonstop to Hawaii, where they spend the winter months. The flight to Hawaii covers about 3,000 miles and takes only about 3 to 4 days. The birds return to Alaska the following summer, for a total round trip distance of some 6,000 miles. How they manage to find their destinations while flying over thousands of miles of open ocean is a mystery.

_dsc1562

Not to be forgotten is the nene, or native Hawaiian goose (Branta sandvicensis), which is the official state bird of Hawaii:

_dsc0919

These photos present just a small sample of the wonders available for viewing at the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge, the Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge, and other locations throughout the Hawaiian islands. 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 Birds of Hawaii Gallery and the Hawaii Gallery on my photo website.  For additional information about my photography, please see my photography Facebook page.

Phil Haber

Copyright © 2015 Philip A. Haber