Morning photo: Gorge du Verdon

The Grand Canyon of Europe

During the last few days of this visit to the Provence, I finally had a chance to visit the Gorge du Verdon, where the Verdon River has cut an impressive path through the massive limestone plateau that characterizes much of the Provence region geologically. Along with all sorts of recreation, the gorge, through a trove of fossils and other evidence, has revealed many secrets of the prehistoric people who lived in the region. The canyon walls tower as high as 2,500 feet over the aquamarine water in places, and the winding roads along the rim offer great access to view points and to trailheads leading deep in to the heart of the canyon. Truly, the Grand Canyon of Europe!

Morning photo: Postcards from France

A week in Provence …

FRISCO —I’m not quite ready to move to Provence for year, but one could definitely tarry here for a few weeks or months, at least. There’s plenty to explore, and not just vineyards. Just off the shore of Hyéres is a group of car-free islands that have been set aside as a national park. It’s rare to find much undeveloped land along the Côte d’Azur, so taking the ferry across to Porquerolles was a chance to see what the area looked like before it was completely over-developed for tourism. More info later in a travel story, but for now, a few postcards.

Morning photo: Market day

En Provence …

BRIGNOLES —Spending a few days in a small, non-tourist town in southern France isn’t all bad. In fact, it’s pretty darn good to hang out and try to blend in. So in the evenings, I wander to the main square and listen, trying to let the melodic language flow back into my brain before trying to start up a basic conversation. I need to brush up quick — my friend, Pierre, is 93, and he still has a lot he wants to tell me, starting with the age of Napoleon, right on through to the hot debates about immigration policy, which is playing out here in a big way, as the tiny community rapidly diversifies with an influx of people, primarily from northern Africa.

But Saturday was market day, so we left politics aside and enjoyed an early morning stroll to the town square for a quick shot of very black coffee, then to market place beyond, where vendors from around the region offered up a bounty of fruit and vegetables at the peak of the harvest season. Enjoy the sights of southern France!

Morning photo: Window seat!

‘Not all who wander are lost’

FRISCO —This summer’s trip has been a little different so far. I’m missing my travel companions, Leigh and Dylan, with whom I’ve shared some amazing adventures all over the world the past few years. For the first time in a while, I left Colorado by myself to join part of my family in Linz, Austria, where my mom grew up. A big part of this trip was to be there to accompany mom’s sister, my aunt Erika, safely back from Austria to her home in France. She and her husband Pierre were inveterate travelers, but both are in their 90s now, so it’s not always easy for them to get around. But we made it safely, even during a pretty extreme mid-summer heatwave and are now enjoying a cool glass of rosé from a family vineyard on the patio of their 200-year old house. I’m brushing up on my French and enjoying just being with two people who have seen so much in their lives, and who radiate contentment and calm.

Morning photo: Sunday set

Overview …

FRISCO —I made it out for an early morning photo sesh/dogwalk today, heading to one of my favorite wrinkled areas along the shore of Dillon Reservoir. This particular stretch of shoreline is notched by deep coves, which is good for photography, because you can find different vantage points, in relation to the water and the mountains, to make the most of the reflections, and using the vegetation along the water’s edge to help frame the scenes. Once again, I was struck by how fast our area’s lodgepole pine forests are regrowing after the pine beetle outbreak that move through the north-central Colorado mountains in the late 1990s and early 2000s. In places that were logged early, many of the new trees are already two- to four-feet tall and growing densely, just like the old lodgepole pine forest. This morning’s clouds, fueled with moisture from the remnants of Tropical Storm Dolores, helped soften the light. Click on the images in this set to choose the full-size option, especially for the pano shot, and visit our online Fine Art America gallery for more Colorado landscape photography.

Morning photo: Half light

From the vault …

FRISCO — Super-bright sunlight is great if you’re trying to catch a tan, but for mountain photography, I prefer the softer illumination of half-light. Sometimes just a thin layer of clouds can take the edge off the brightness and help shift the light just enough create magic. like in the image of the rays over the Continental Divide. In the crepuscular predawn light, you can open the camera shutter for several seconds, which adds a whole new layer of richness to the exposure. And every few years, during a solar eclipse, the light can be otherworldly! Click on the images in this set and choose the full-size option, and visit our online Fine Art America gallery for more Colorado landscape photography.

Morning photo: The wide view …

Lovely landscapes

FRISCO —Many of the vistas in the Colorado high country are so expansive that they’re hard to capture in a single frame without a good wide angle landscape lens. Mountains stretch across the horizon as far as the eye can see and tower up high into the sky. But there’s another option — some newer smartphone cameras feature a panorama option, which enables you to move the camera, in vertical mode, across the landscape. I’ve been exploring this feature the past couple of months, finding that, even without a tripod, you can do the scenery justice. Click on the images in this set and choose the full-size option to see the full-size panos, and visit our online Fine Art America gallery for more Colorado landscape photography.

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