Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Day 18 - Earth, Water, Air

A few days back MadamMtnLion commented about the logistics of providing water to all the plants in the gardens of Château de Villandry. It's actually pretty eco-friendly. They have a reservoir that fills up with water by natural means, and they reuse their water too. So providing water to the 150 000 plants really isn't the same troublesome deal here that it would be in other parts of the world where the climate is less forgiving.

The left picture shows the chateau as seen from a large pond that is situated in the highest part of the garden, and the right picture shows a beautiful set of steps that the water falls down though as it travels down towards the lower parts of grounds (on the other side of the bridge in the left shot). I like the curved pattern to it, it made it fun to compose pictures :)

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Day 17 - Sunlight, Sunshine

The Swedish summer is a bit like a lottery - sometimes you hit the jackpot, but more often you lose out. The two latest summers have been jackpots though, and thankfully we got to enjoy this one before we hit the road down south. The summer in France was lovely too, but this year it was a bit hotter than I like it. I'm most comfortable when it's 25-30 degrees C, but some days it was as hot as 42 degrees. This was the very start of this year's heat wave though, so it was not that "bad" yet, but still hot enough that you didn't want to be outside when the sun was at its highest. Therefore, we visited Château de Villandry in the morning.

The sunny morning light really made the gardens pop. I especially like what it did to today's second picture - with the shadow running along the middle of the path in the tree avenue. The symmetry is quite neat. The back-lighting in the top photo was another thing I found interesting. It makes the shapes of the pruned bushes stand out in an interesting way.


Monday, September 16, 2019

Day 16 - Blossoms and Butterflies

Needless to say, there were many pretty flowers in the Château de Villandry gardens. Mr and I love places like that and ever since we bought our house (roughly five years ago) our interest into gardening has grown, so, naturally we now like visiting places like this even more. You just appreciate them better when you know how much hard work goes into keeping them so neat and tidy. Ours is nothing like this garden though, but we have become more and more like Hobbits, planting and replanting stuff each year. There's just such a sense of joy to watch things grow and become more or less what you envisioned it would be. I also love that the more flowers you have, the less room there is for the weeds to pop up between them. Win-win! :D

Today's bonus shot didn't get a before shot. I edited it so little it didn't feel like there was a point to it. It's som kind of mini bamboo looking plant that I've never seen before. It's very pretty, but I doubt it would like our climate. That's the pity about living as far north as we do - many of the flowers and bushed we love simply won't survive in our garden. Some will live if you tuck them in each winter though, quite literally - we put a soft weave over them to shield them from the wind. It's not pretty, but at least they survive to bloom another season.


Sunday, September 15, 2019

Day 15 - Château de Villandry

Now for one of the more Disney-like chateaus ;). This one was only a stone's throw from the place where we stayed, and we hadn't planned to visit it, but our host recommended it very highly, so off we went. It was well worth a visit. Not only was the chateau beautiful, but its gardens too. It was quite hot that day so we went early in the morning and spent our times in the gardens before going inside to look at the interior. It turned out to be a good choice. I want out into the gardens after we had been in side to use my telephoto lens because it struck me that I hadn't done anything with it, but it was so hot I couldn't concentrate and the pictures didn't come out good at all.

The second and third shots are from the top of the tower in the first shot. The view was just marvelous from up there (and it was a bit cooler up there too). It was nice to get to see the geometric shapes of the plantings from above. All of the gardens had different themes, like "the kitchen garden" that dated back to the middle ages. It's actually the very last one remaining in its style - combining the traditional vegetable garden of the time with Italian influence that brought decorative elements like flower beds, fountains and bowers.

The third shot shows only a small portion of the gardens. There are 150 000 plants growing there and gardeners (ten!) work all year around, changing them out with the seasons on a rotation schema.

I'm glad we went here. Even though it ended up meaning we didn't have the time to visit one of the places we had planned to. It really is a beautiful place. And like I said, now we have a reason to go back :)


Saturday, September 14, 2019

Day 14 - Ballan-Miré

We have traveled south again, to the French countryside just outside Tours. The area is renowned for its many chateaus, big and small, and to our delight we even stayed a couple of days in one of them.

This is La Commanderie de Ballan an excellent hotel with wonderful hosts that really take pride in making all of their guests feel... well wonderful! We've never been upgraded before, but we got a really nice suite on the top floor. The breakfast was delicious with fresh eggs from the hotel hen house and homemade yoghurt. The pool had just the right temperature and... ekhem... sorry, now I'm starting to sound like a reviewer haha. I just love this place is all. It's hard not to sing its praises when you've had such a wonderful stay. We were only here for two nights, but this place really found its way into our hearts.

The upcoming days I'll share some pictures from the chateaus we visited in the area. We had planned to visit at least four of them, but it turned out we underestimated the time it would take to see them, and we wanted to take our time to enjoy the experience. We can always come back here after all, and now we'll know exactly where to stay too :).


Friday, September 13, 2019

Day 13 - St-Leu

We're leaving Amiens' Cathedral now and heading for a charming neighborhood called St-Leu. The area is situated right by a stream and several canals. The houses there are adorable and some of them even have their very own bridges that you cross to get to their entrances. A great thing about this place is that there are many places where you can sit down to eat right by the water (second picture). We had dinner here on the evening when we arrived, right before the light show. The food was you would expect from a tourist hot spot - not your best choice - but the location was wonderful. The top shot is actually pretty much the view from where we sat, only I shot it the next day.

We're finally making some headway with my medical situation. I've been ill for over two years now, and now we've got a new find that is something that could finally point us to a "solution". I put the quotation marks there because I'm fairly sure this condition of mine is chronic, but nonetheless I feel a huge sense of relief! Having no answers for this long has been hard. There has been many times when I've put my hopes to different theories, but up until now, everything has been hopelessly inconclusive. Having, at the very least, one part of the puzzle feels like huge win! It means that I will finally get referred to the right department and meet the right specialist. So, tonight I'm celebrating! It might sound strange, celebrating that you've found out something is amiss with your body, but I am happy, oh so happy! Having part of the answer is such a win!


Thursday, September 12, 2019

Day 12 - Altar, Organ, Spaciousness

I thought I was finished with the shots from Cathédrale Notre-Dame d'Amiens, but I was not. These last ones just had to be added into the challenge. The first, because I love how it shows just how grand the cathedral is inside- and I like how the architectural shapes repeat in foreground and background. To wander inside this fantastic building in the morning in complete silence really was something I'll never forget and this image really reminds me of what it felt like being there... the experience of being almost alone inside this wonder was extraordinary.

The second shot is for Bob, who remarked that the organ in a shot from a cathedral Rome in this post was outmaneuvered by another compositional element. I couldn't help but think about you as I shot this, Bob :). Maybe the window steals the show a bit in this one... but I like to think that it shows off the organ as well. We didn't hear it play when we were in the cathedral, but it sure looks beautiful, and it's very tasteful how the inner decor works together.

I hope you like this one Bob :)

The third is quite similar to the first shot I showed you of the inside, but it's taken from a bit further in and I like this shot's composition better (and you can see the altar better), though the other one shows off the the spaciousness of the cathedral well, just like the top shot of today. Either way, I like this one too much to leave it out, so it became a bonus shot. not that I'm sure which ones are bonus shots and which ones are the official ones... just like a proud mother I like them all ;)


Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Day 11 - Glass Work

I couldn't let go of the pictures from inside Cathédrale Notre-Dame d'Amiens without showing you some of the gorgeous glass work. Like I said a few days ago, most of it has been changed out or renovated, but I really couldn't tell. Whichever way they were, they had amazing detail and every motif told a story. Mr and I stood a long time and just looked, trying to identify the biblical stories depicted.

If you have a sharp eye, you might note that there are some stuff missing in the edited shot - I removed some distracting elements. That's something I very often forget to do if they're not blatantly obvious. At least it is that way when I edit, since I know this I often return to my pictures at a later time to edit them a second time. That goes double if I'm putting them in a contest and I might go back to them several times to tweak tiny faults or mess with the contrast slightly. But maybe that's a common thing? Are you like that as well?


Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Day 10 - Details, Details, Details

The top picture shows some of the wonderful artworks inside Cathédrale Notre-Dame d'Amiens. In terms of color the interior not as lavish as the churches in Rome, but nonetheless beautiful (although I noticed one of the motifs are a bit morbid). There are so many wonderful aspects to this cathedral it's a marvel to work with as a (in my case, hobby) photographer - so many interesting viewpoints and ways to work with perspective. I found this spot especially interesting because of how the Gothic arches work together in both the foreground and the background, and in the art as well.
The bottom picture is from one of the chapels that have yet to be renovated. As you can see it has seen better days but I though it charming nonetheless. I have a sore spot for old faded things and don't mind flaking color or worn wallpaper, in the right environment that is, and this is one of those places. It was interesting to contrast it to the other areas of the cathedral.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Day 9 - On the Inside

This is shot from just inside the big entrance to Cathédrale Notre-Dame d'Amiens. We went there in the morning, and as you can see it was nice and empty - just the way I like it when I shoot - it provides fewer distractions in the shots and more control over the composition. It also gifted me with a mood that is hard to get when places like this are crowded. It's was almost like that feeling you sometimes got when you were a child and went into a spacious building that you didn't quite know if you were allowed in. A feeling of being very small and of stepping inside a place that is so grand you also felt like a very insignificant part of the world. Like an ant on the floor of a building that has been a part of history, that has been visited by kings and other persons who have shaped the world we live in today. You don't get that feeling very often... but it's very cool when you do!

The raw format made a lot of difference in making this shot pop. I also enhanced the colors a bit to make things look "sunny" - it was cloudy when we were there, so things got a bit washed out inside. Though I have no doubt a sunny day would have provided its very own set of photographic problems. But then, maybe it also would have made things look cool if the sun shone through the colored windows... (on the sides, behind the pillars).


Sunday, September 8, 2019

Day 8 - Light Show

We didn't know it before coming to Amiens, but the Cathedral becomes even more spectacular at night. When we heard there was a light show on I knew I couldn't miss it. It was truly an experience and I must have snapped a hundred pictures that evening. These are some of my favorites. I couldn't pick just one, so I made a collage.

After the show, they left the top middle lighting going and we were allowed to walk around and look at it up close. It really made a lot of difference, seeing everything all lit up in different colors and I started to notice a whole lot of details I would never had seen otherwise. The lighting was really masterfully done, matching the details of the building perfectly so that you could see what the figurines were carrying in their hands or the different styles of clothing they were wearing.

What picture is your favorite?


Day 18 - Earth, Water, Air

A few days back MadamMtnLion commented about the logistics of providing water to all the plants in the gardens of Château de V...