France and Camera Thoughts

Air Baltic to Paris
Flying Air Baltic to Paris

We’re home in Canelo, 6 pretty hard, but fun weeks on our European tour.  My blogs dropped off after Finland, the pace always seems to get quicker, we work more, especially when we arrive at a place where there is a lot of preparation needed.  Plus, I think fatigue gradually eats away at you, almost imperceptibly, until you realize you probably don’t have another workshop left in you and it’s time to go home.  Four – 6 day-long workshops is a lot, especially if you tack on another 3 days of preparation.   The days are long, the working hours typically run between 9 am and 7 pm, lunch breaks vary in length, evening presentations typically happen every night, wrapping up anywhere between 10 and 11 pm.

Air Route form Finland to France
Traveling to Paris

I’m going to see if I can get a number of posts done in the next few days as our reality is about to shift.  Next weekend, October 14-16, is Tucson Meet Yourself, which for us means hosting the Xunutzi dance group from the Rio Sonora, Mexico at our home, facilitating their participation in the festival and that will leave Europe somewhat in the distant past.  To begin, I’m going to do two posts on France, the first consisting of mostly iPhone images, just because it is a wonderful place to photograph and the second more focused on our workshop.

Each place has its own pull and magic.  With Finland it was the Baltic sea, the forest and mushrooms, with France, it’s the small villages, antiquity and the of course, the food.  France is funny, on one hand, it is very modern, malls, McDonalds and the like and on the other, very old.   As is the case everywhere, much depends upon the kind of road one travels.  In France, a country where everything seems perfectly manicured, there can be a dizzying array of small country roads that, from my perspective, seem to lead from one small village to another.  These are never new, in the Cognac region where we stay, near the town of Angouleme, everything is made from stone, the worn walls suggest nothing but old.  Housing is a mix, the very old of stone, and the new, identical everywhere, from the color of the plaster to the roof tiles, more static than here in the States.

Today I would like to share with you some of the few things that caught our eyes while traveling there.  Kalin increasingly becomes a photographic partner with his iPod touch, very worthy of the better camera in the iPhone, but presently not within his budget or mine.  It is readily apparent, by what he is creating a the age of 11, it won’t be long until he surpasses anything that I do.  What’s really marvelous about the iPhone or the iPod in this case is that it has allowed him entry into the same world of creativity, one that is exclusive when I’m using more serious photographic equipment.  I’m not going to include place names with the photos, mostly because I don’t remember them, but they’re not essential at this point for the images I’ve chosen.

Bill and Kalin taking photographs
My photographic partner.

Now that our trip is over, even though I took my larger DSLR camera, I rarely used it.  I seemed to reach for it when there was little available light, night scenes, photographing people and faces from afar with the telephoto lens.  The iPhone is still weak when it comes to low light, capturing movement, the kinds of things that happen with a nighttime dance performance in a small town Mexican plaza.

I wasn’t going to write anything much with this post, rather I had it in mind to post photos and leave it at that, but somehow, the keys on the laptop are moving almost by themselves so I think I’ll go on a little longer.  I’m in the mood to talk a little bit about cameras at the moment, so if you’re not interested, just can simply scroll down to the images below.

What I’ve come to appreciate about the iPhone is that it is so small and inconspicuous.  I always viewed the larger camera gear as a necessity and put up with the size and the weight.  However, that little device has broadened my perspective.  When I did work the street more as I did during our stay with the Basques, wanting to shoot more people and scenes, the larger camera gear stood out to the point I felt very awkward and intrusive when using it.  I’m seriously considering switching to the newer, smaller 4/3’s format, half the size of a mid-sized DSLR in an effort to capture the feel of the smaller iPhone and yet delivering higher quality images when needed.

The other thing that I’m thinking about at the moment is the types of images the iPhone can easily produce, they’re much more fun with their abstract and painterly qualities.  In many ways, they can be much more powerful.  The issue of whether or not they are realistic I think is not an issue and irrelevant.  If you think about it, any photo, regardless of how realistic one thinks it is, is still an abstraction and very far removed from what one experienced when it was taken.  The artistry of the iPhone, makes the viewer do more work to interpret it.  And in that process, one’s memories, experiences and feelings are brought into the process.  The experience can be much more satisfying.  And lastly, the rough edges, texture, skewed color, faded looks, low-fi look, that they so willingly offer, are an opportunity to expand one’s own creative pallet.

For now, I think that’s enough said, hopefully you will enjoy some of these images, France is so very photogenic, often invoking your camera at every turn.  Hopefully you can share in a little of our fun.

Aubterre France
Late Afternoon Walk in Aubterre, France
Overlook Aubterre, France
Overlooking Aubterre, France
Small French town with Flags
Small town full of flags
Dordogne River
Dordogne River at Dawn
Dordogne River Fisherman
Fisherman at Dawn - Dordogne
French Market
Outdoor Market Dordogne Region
Dordogne River Region
Dordogne Region, France
Figs, Cognac, France
Figs in Cognac, FranceFrench Bakery, Dordogne Region


France, Red Wine
Red Wine, France - photo by Kalin
Romanesco France
Romanesco by Kalin
Window Dordogne
White Window, Dordogne
old town Angouleme
Angouleme, Old Town
Narrow Street France
St. Simeux, France
Noe and Isabelle, our chauffeurs to Spain



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  1. wonderful! I was very sorry, that I was not able to meet you this time in Europe. Hopefully you got at least my “liquid” regards I sent through Janka from Slovakia.

    • Of course, of course, sorry to have missed you. The next time. Hey want some a young dance group from Mexico to visit you next summer? Have a place for them by chance for performances? As for the liquid, I had some competition from the Basques, they too appreciate such things. Many thanks.

  2. Every time you post, your ability to bring sensibility infuses my being with new love….Bill, you are a genius in this area, I am sure. Terrific teacher and father for my inscrutable young friend….almost have the tuition saved for yr workshop .

    • Wow, one needs friends like you. All the same goes for you, and I love that you loved the images. As for Kalin, he’s tremendous, cant encourage him enough, but he has a high demand for type of digital equipment he needs. He’s already a man of high taste. Talk to me about the workshop, good?

    • But of course, I love being a tourist when there are no others around. Such it was at that time of year. However, those moments were too few as always. Hey, I need some trowels, I’ll call, sold a bunch of ours while there.

  3. Once again I very much enjoyed living vicariously through your words and pictures.

    If you would like to take a Panasonic Lumix for a spin let me know next time you are in town. Tom and I made the switch from a Nikon D5 a few years ago and are very happy.

    Did you bring back any floats?

    Thank you for your great blog, it is a real gift.


    • Thanks Jill but I’m looking for one with a viewfinder like the upcoming Sony or perhaps the Lumix Pro. As for floats, we are exploring now a link that we have for buying them online. Will let you know soon.


  4. The painterly quality of many of the photographs is worthy of an art show – say at the Gathering Grounds or one of the local galleries. Reminds me of the French Impressionists. Kalin’s photos do indeed speak of worthiness of advanced equipment when that’s possible. The camera, with its singular eye, can become the reflection of the inner eye of consciousness. I think you bring that quality to your photos. Your pictures express more than what you’re seeing; they express what you’re feeling and experiencing within the experience. Nice work! Thanks for sharing!

  5. Hey you wonderfull people , good to hear from you again , I just love to read your blog like sitteing and listen to you as your voice pas trough the paper. The french stone houses with painted windows and doors old fashion curtens and black iron fenches are beautifull nearly allways with a lot of flowers arround no matter how poor they might be this contrast is beautifull.And Kallins pic is great ; )
    Love to you all
    Kirsten Maria

  6. Hi Bill, no, I’m not living in Patagonia these days, but have fond memories of the art shows at the Gathering Grounds, and I think your photography merits a showing and sharing with the local community. I think too few people in Santa Cruz Co. know what a gem resides in their midst, and I think a showing of your photographs would be very interesting to many people in the area, as is the work you guys are doing. In peace, John

  7. If you don’t mind sharing, how do you make your photographs appear “painterly.” I’ve seen other photographers do the same thing and I have some photographs I want to appear “painterly.” I only use Photoshop. Your work inspires me and challenges me to look more carefully at what I am photographing. Thanks.

  8. Leslie,
    All my Europe photos were done on the iPhone using a variety of apps that are available. They make those kinds of effects fast and easy. If you can single out a photo I can probably tell you how it was done. See the iPhone workshop under our workshop listings for some additional examples.

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