The markets in Collioure are on narrow streets that lead to courtyards filled will shops. This is a fishing village along the mediterranean that’s also a destination for French and Spanish vacationers on the account that its close to the Spanish border. In fact its part of Catalonia, a region with a separate language and customs that crosses the borders and envisions itself as an independent state.
The border crossing between France and Spain is up a mountain road at the very top. As I drove past I mistook the boarded up buildings for a tourist attraction, but in fact it was the old border checkpoints that were used before the EU. When you see those old stations it amazing to think that there are no more borders within the EU.
Anyway, I loved the colors of the houses here, they reminded me of homes in tropical regions where colors are used freely and in excess. I suppose that’s an earmark of a warm climate, colorful houses that reflect the atmosphere. Further north we tend to stick with muted or darker tones to endure the winter. The feeling here was almost magic as we sat at outdoor bistros and meandered along the narrow streets looking for bargains. I was too busy taking pictures to shop but my wife found a couple of dresses by a designer dressmaker at the little shop on the left.
I can be such a tourist at times, like when I took this shot of the Vancouver Convention Centre against the back drop of the harbour, bridge and mountains. It would not surprise me if there are a thousand of these photos taken everyday. To prove my point there was a little plaque where I stood to describe the scene. One minor difference is that I took this at an ungodly hour on a Sunday morning before any self respecting tourist was out of bed.
But its karma, or something like it. I live in an area of Florida where there are a lot of tourists, so it’s only fair that I should get to be a tourist once in a while. Actually, it’s not karma, its more like tourism payback, serious payback. That makes no sense.
Off to the right is the Lions Gate Bridge, beyond that are the mountains and at the tops you can make out the lights of Cypress Bowl, a local ski area. Between the bridge and the convention centre is Stanley Park and to the foreground of that is the sea plane port. But the one thing that catches my eye, and everyone else eye, yet gets left out of the tourist plaques is the gas station. Why on gods green earth they decided to put a gas station in the middle of Vancouver Harbour I’ll never know. But there it sits, along side all the other icons of Vancouver. Interesting.
This is the Arc de Triomphe in Montpellier France. It’s a gateway to the old city which is full of shops, galleries and bistros. I walked for hours around here on a couple of occasions and didn’t come close to seeing everything, as if that’s even possible with the countless narrow passageways. On my second or trip I was beginning to learn my way around, orienting myself to the towering steeple of the main cathedral. I think that pretty much works anywhere in Europe. However, in between the main arteries are small subsections of neighborhoods, each with endless generations of habitation.
I have no idea what it would be like to be born, live and die in the same place. I’m somewhat nomadic and I live in a world that is re-inventing itself every generation. Very little stays the same in the landscape of North America, at least within the urban areas, we are always re-inventing ourselves. That stands in contrast to the old city centers of Europe. They remain intact while inculcating a sense of european identity that endures even as the world changes around it.
Urban exploration in photography is a passion for me. I’m not entirely sure why that is. Maybe because it freezes a moment so that I can go back and examine it, like an anthropologist. The structures and ambience of an urban setting speak volumes to the questions of my inquiring mind.
This is sunrise north of the Manatee River in Palmetto Florida. I’ll be driving along running an errand and see something that makes me wish I had my camera. Once in a while I have it like the day I took this out the window of my car. The area is known as North River which has a small-town atmosphere. However now we are in the peak of snowbird season which is when the population is doubled due to the number of people that come down to Florida for the winter.
Even though I live in a small town it’s still an urban area. Even so I’m always looking for images and paying attention to the light. Often enough there are good conditions for photography, but when I’m on a street or in a parking lot or sitting at a stop light it loses some of its allure. A sunset next to a gas station is not my idea of landscape photography. But, maybe if I try hard enough I could find a composition there also.
For instance, this I used my telephoto lens to create a narrow field of view between two houses. Because I aimed just so you don’t see the houses or urban sprawl. I like simplistic images because it is a way for me to bring some balance to the clutter of urban spaces through art. Here I’m using my imagination to create what I’d like to see, rather than what I do see.
The Palavas swamp is a habitat for all manner of birds on account of the shrimp and other tasty morsels that thrive here. The glassy surface at dusk caught my eye as I drove past. Those houses on the other side sit along the shore of the Mediterranean Sea, this is a popular destination for vacationers in summer. However I was here in the off-season which afforded me an opportunity to see a slightly different side of life in southern France. Quiet walks along the beach or simply watching the night set in across the swamp.
Other swamps around this area are used to cultivate salt. The nearby town of Aigues-Mortes is where some of the finest salt in the world comes from. I’m not a good judge of salt but it seems to me refined and smooth. nevertheless but we bought a little box to bring home which we use sparingly for special dishes.
Aside from the salt, several little aspects of French culture rubbed off on us while we were here.; cheese, wine and baguettes be chief among them. But other things like slowing down to enjoy a meal which is something we don’t always do back home. In the end we came back with just enough to whet our appetite for more and the thought that things taste better when we slow down and, use a dash of good salt.
Here is another shot I took from an observation tower looking north towards St Pete. In the foreground is the trail through Robinson Preserve, off in the distance is the Sunshine Skyway bridge and, if you look closely, beyond the bridge is downtown St Petersburg.
For the sky and water I overlaid the texture from the inside of a native american Cedar canoe. Surely that has nothing to do with this picture yet it seemed to work well. Textures are photos of other things that can be used to add to an otherwise plain surface. I started collecting textures, which is just another way of saying I’ve been taking pickers of the ground, walls, clouds or interesting patterns. I never know how something will work until I try it out, like this one.
I wrote a post about pictorialism and how I gravitate towards the artistic side of photography. That’s evident in this image because I’ve changed it to convey a feeling or idea, not so much a strict representation of the moment. I’m not that much into the purist side of photography where we document a moment in time. That’s an honorable profession, it’s just not for me. I’m in it for the art. Totally.