Occitanie, France

It has been quite some time since I last visited my blog, and I was astonished that it has been about 8 months since my last post. I have been busy with work (and the occasional trip away), that I have found it difficult to find the time or the motivation to make an entry, but finally I have found the time and some motivation, so here goes!

Back in February I travelled to the Azores and spent an amazing week there, and managed to take some lovely images, but I will be sharing these at a later date. Last month I spent a week just outside of Toulouse, and with a hire car, travelled around the region of Occitanie. A lovely part of France, and I look forward to returning in December.

 

 

Toulouse

 

 

Montbel

 

 

Rocamadour & La Forêt des Singes

 

 

Cité de Carcassonne

 

 

Pyrénées-Orientales

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360º Stereographic Photography

Having visited 360º stereographic photography in the past during my studies at university, I was keen to revisit this genre. Previously my work with 360º photography involved me taking numerous amounts of images, stitching them together and editing in them in the relevant software. All of this could be time consuming and in certain situations it would be difficult to set up my tripod without attracting unwanted attention.

If only there was a way that I could quickly and discreetly take images that would allow me to photograph a 360º landscape…and there I saw it advertised…the Nikon 360 Keymission. This was the answer that I had been looking for. I added it to my Amazon wish list and waited…and waited…and waited…and waited further more, but the release date kept being pushed back and there was no way that I was going to get this in time for Christmas. I even contemplated buying one from the U.S, even though it would cost considerably more. I then done some research on the internet to see why it hadn’t yet been released in the U.K and it seemed that there were some issues surrounding the software and the reviews that I had read were not great. This lead me to look at alternatives and I found the Ricoh Theta S. Initially I had concerns, as it was cheaper than the Nikon Keymission and I thought that this would compromise the resolution.

At Christmas I received the Ricoh Theta S and couldn’t wait to start shooting. After adjusting the settings and getting them to my liking, I am finding that it is a great camera to have and serves as a great alternative to the traditional photograph, capturing the whole scene as opposed to a fraction of it. It is a lightweight, fun camera to have and is a great addition to my camera kit. I will point out that the resolution is not the best I have ever seen but for the price you pay and for the convenience of not having to stitch the photographs together, I can overlook this.

A great camera for the novelty value and the software is easy to use and allows for some interesting and creative edits. I have not used the video function much but if you are looking for a 360º camera with a high resolution, then is would possibly not be your best bet and I would suggest looking for a product with higher videoing capabilities. This is a good gateway product into the world of 360º photography.

Here are a few examples of the images that I captured on one of my days out:

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Castle Acre, Norfolk

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Castle Acre, Norfolk

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Castle Acre, Norfolk

Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur

A week ago I visited the southeastern region of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur in France and stayed in Cavalaire-Sur-Mer in the department of Var. With a hire car and a camera, I explored what the region had to offer and I was not disappointed. This was my second visit to the region and it was just as beautiful the second time around as it was the first.

 

Bonporteau Beach, Cavalaire-Sur-Mer

 

 

St-Tropez

 

I couldn’t visit Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur without making a trip into St-Tropez. Saint-Tropez is a town about 100 kilometres (62 miles) west of Nice and is located on the French Riviera. After the war it became an internationally known seaside resort, well known for its influx of artists of the French New Wave and it also became a resort for the European and American jet set with the occasional chance to do a bit of celebrity spotting.

Away from the hustle and bustle of the ports, boats and the busy high streets, you can take a stroll in the side streets where you feel like you have been transported back in time, being surrounded by beautiful old buildings.

 

 

Castellane & Gorges du Verdon

 

Taking a drive to the department of Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, I decided to revisit Castellane. Castellane is a charming place to visit, very scenic and a very peaceful place. Here you can visit La Chapelle Notre Dame du Roc…if you can handle the climb!

 

 

Moustiers-Sainte-Marie

 

Moustiers-Sainte-Marie is considered to be one of the most beautiful villages of France and I have to say that I agree. The views are simply breathtaking.

It lies at the western entrance to the Gorges du Verdon. The village has been a centre of the pottery trade, especially faïence, for centuries. A spring flows out of the cliff and creates a waterfall in town, providing water power. The village was built on platform terraces a hundred or so metres up the side of a limestone cliff.

 

The Gold Star

“Moustiers evokes a Nativity scene: confined between two rock ledges, a star dominates the village from a great height…”

According to Frédéric Mistral, the star is an ex-voto dedicated to St. Mary. The knight Blacas decided to hang a star there as a homage to the Virgin on his return from the Crusades.

Other versions talk about love stories, the Three Kings or Chivalry… Although many versions exist about the origin of the star none have been verified to date. The mystery remains total on the origin and meaning of the star above Moustiers… The size of the star we see today dates from 1957. It is the eleventh to hang above the mountain road. In 1995 it was covered in gold leaf before returning to its vigil over the village. The size of the star, which originally had five points has changed over time from 1.80 to 30 cm. Today, the chain is 135 m long, weighs 150kg and the star covered in gold leaf measures 1.25 m.

(Office de tourisme Moustiers Sainte-Marie – Gorges du Verdon, 2016)

 

 

 

Lac de Sainte-Croix

 

 

Domaine du Rayol

 

Towards the end of the trip I visited the Domaine du Rayol, also known as the Jardin botanique du Rayol and the Parc botanique à Rayol-Canadel-sur-Mer, a botanical garden and arboretum located on the Avenue des Belges, Rayol-Canadel-sur-Mer.

 

 

I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur and can’t wait until I return again sometime next year.

 

Au revoir France, à bientôt…

 

 

 

References

Domaine du Rayol. (2016). Le jardin des méditerranées. [online] Available at: http://www.domainedurayol.org [Accessed 5 Oct. 2016].

Office de tourisme Moustiers Sainte-Marie – Gorges du Verdon. (2016). The legend of the star. [online] Available at: http://www.moustiers.eu/?Legende-de-l-etoile&lang=en [Accessed 5 Oct. 2016].

Wikipedia. (2016). Alpes-de-Haute-Provence. [online] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alpes-de-Haute-Provence [Accessed 5 Oct. 2016].

Wikipedia. (2016). Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur. [online] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Provence-Alpes-Côte_d%27Azur [Accessed 5 Oct. 2016].

Wikipedia. (2016). Saint-Tropez. [online] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint-Tropez [Accessed 5 Oct. 2016].

Iceland

Last week I visited Iceland for the very first time and I was not disappointed, it was everything I wished it would be and more.

With a population of around 332,529 and an area of 103,000 km2 (40,000 sq mi), Iceland is the most sparsely populated country in Europe which makes it a pleasure to drive around. Compared to the U.K, the roads seemed empty and it was a delight to take in the surroundings, from the sand, lava fields, mountains and glaciers.

My camera went into overdrive during my 1 week visit and I have decided to put a selection of the images onto this blog.

The Blue Lagoon was my first port of call, great for relaxation and unwinding after a flight.

 

“The Blue Lagoon was formed in 1976 during operation at the nearby geothermal power plant. In the years that followed, people began to bathe in the unique water and apply the silica mud to their skin. Those with psoriasis noticed an incredible improvement in their condition. Over the years, Blue Lagoon has been innovative in harnessing this gift of nature to develop different spa services and products. Today, Blue Lagoon is recognized as one of the wonders of the world.” 

(Blue Lagoon, 2016)

 

Reykjavík

 

Geysir

 

Gullfoss

 

Þingvellir National Park

 

Kerið

 

Seljalandsfoss

 

Eyjafjallajökull

 

Skógafoss

 

Reynisfjara

 

One of my favourite parts of the trip to Iceland was visiting Jökulsárlón where I took a boat tour onto the glacier, it is an experience I shall remember for a very long time.

 

Jökulsárlón

 

Glacier Lagoon in Iceland | icelagoon.is

Pit stop on the way back from Jökulsárlón. A field full of Lupin(e)s and a stream. Great place for a picnic!

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Valley of Reykjadalur

 

It was a great experience visiting Iceland and I am looking forward to returning in the near future…maybe in the winter months so that I can try and catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights.

Work trip to Cardigan, Wales

This weekend my work took me to Cardigan, Wales for a photoshoot with a swim school. Whilst on the journey there it was hard to resist stopping and taking some pictures of the beautiful countryside in Powys, so we did!

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My map reading skills coming in handy

Gran Canaria

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View of Mountains © Richard Brochu-Williams

Located southeast of Tenerife and west of Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria is of volcanic origin, mostly made of fissure vents. Gran Canaria’s surface area is 1,560 km² and its maximum elevation is 1,949 meters (Pico de Las Nieves). It has a round shape, with a diameter of approximately 50 km.

Gran Canaria is known as a “Miniature Continent” due to the different climates and variety of landscapes found, with long beaches and dunes of white sand, contrasting with green ravines and picturesque villages. A third of the island is under protection as a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO.

The climate of Gran Canaria suited me perfectly, as it was not excessively hot but was warm enough to take a walk in the breathtaking countryside in a T-shirt and shorts, also the breeze was mild. The temperature is constant throughout the year with temperatures ranging from 20-28 ºC with August being the hottest month.

This was my first visit to the island and I was not disappointed. I opted to stay in the north of the island near to Las Palmas as I had found an apartment there that would suit my needs and also had the added benefit of a private pool. Exploring the island is not too difficult, especially if you choose to hire a car during your visit. At first I was a little apprehensive about driving on the right and taking on the mountain roads but I quickly adapted and became accustomed to it. Now it was time to head on out for a road trip, with camera in hand and start taking some photos. The scenery is incredible, especially when you head up into the mountains and you can see for miles. The sea is even visible from the middle of the island and I enjoyed great views from Roque Bentayga.

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Map of Gran Canaria © Google Maps

I travelled to the south of the island to visit Maspalomas and its magnificent sand dunes which stretch out along the south coast looking like giant waves of sand covering around 4 square kilometres.

 

Maspalomas

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All of that walking through the sand dunes was thirsty work…

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Playa del Inglés is a great place to top up your tan and it’s full of great places to eat and drink giving you a perfect place to rest and recharge your batteries. By night Playa del Inglés really comes alive. If you like music and dancing, this is the place to be! I spent a couple of hours here and it was really easy to find a quiet, secluded spot to have my picnic and enjoy the views that were on offer. A great way to spend my birthday!

 

Las Palmas

My next trip was to Las Palmas which I found to be in complete contrast to Maspalomas. Las Palmas reminded me of a smaller London and much more busier and compact than Maspalomas, which is probably due to the fact that nearly half of the island’s population live there. I took a tour bus around the city so that I did not miss out on any of the key sights. I actually took the bus twice, the first lap was to take in all of the sights and the second lap I took the opportunity to get off at locations that I was interested in visiting. I would recommend taking the tour, by doing this I ensured that I would not get lost, as my map reading skills are not the best.

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Jardín Botánico Canario Viera y Clavijo

Jardín Botánico Canario Viera y Clavijo is the full name of the botanical garden on Gran Canaria and simply means “Botanical Garden of the Canaries” while the additional words “Viera y Clavijo” honor the pioneering Spanish cleric and scholar José Viera y Clavijo (1731–1813), who attempted to found a botanical garden in the Canary Islands in the late eighteenth century. The garden comprises approximately 27 acres and is definitely worth a visit if you have an interest of things botanical or to just simply take a pleasant stroll in. I spent over 3 hours here, and the plants, location, waterfall and numerous ponds make it an enjoyable visit. It is worthwhile bearing in mind however that the gardens are on very steep slopes and may not be suitable for everyone. There are two entrances, one at the top and one at the bottom. I started at the bottom and worked my way up, where I witnessed some spectacular views…well worth the climb!

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Road Trip

The great thing about hiring a car is that you can plan your own day out and you don’t have to rely on public transport. One day was spent driving around the island taking in all of the sights, from the coast to the mountains. It amazed me how diverse the landscape on the island was and with each twist and turn of the winding roads it felt like I was entering into a completely different environment. Some parts were green and lush, whilst other parts appeared baron and desert like.

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Tejeda

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Tejeda

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Roque Bentayga

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Roque Bentayga

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Roque Bentayga

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Roque Bentayga

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Roque Bentayga

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Roque Bentayga

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Roque Bentayga

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Roque Bentayga

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Roque Bentayga

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Santa Lucía de Tirajana

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Mirador De Guriete

 

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Mirador De Guriete

 

My time spent in Gran Canaria was enjoyable with plenty to see and do…in fact there was plenty more that I wish I had done. I would most definitely like to return again in the future to enjoy what the island has to offer and to take more photographs.

 

 

References

Grancanaria.com. (2016). The Canary Botanical Gardens. [online] Available at: http://www.grancanaria.com/patronato_turismo/27798.0.html [Accessed 29 Mar. 2016].

Spain-grancanaria.com. (2016). Gran Canaria Hotel, Tourism and Holiday Guide. [online] Available at: http://www.spain-grancanaria.com [Accessed 29 Mar. 2016].

Wikipedia. (2016). Gran Canaria. [online] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gran_Canaria [Accessed 29 Mar. 2016].

Wikipedia. (2016). Jardín Botánico Canario Viera y Clavijo. [online] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jard%C3%ADn_Botánico_Canario_Viera_y_Clavijo [Accessed 29 Mar. 2016].

Seals at Waxham Beach

© Richard Brochu-Williams, 2016, All rights reserved.

 

The New Year has arrived and at the weekend I decided that I would take a journey to the coast and dust off my camera. It was a wonderful opportunity to witness the seals and to capture some images. I had initially intended to visit Horsey Beach which is one of the many unspoilt and wonderfully quiet sandy Norfolk beaches on the east coast of the UK but when I arrived the car park was full and there was a long queue of cars waiting to get in. At this point I was tempted to drive away and head back home, but my travelling companion suggested that we drove on further and see if we could possibly park up further along the coast….then BINGO! We arrived at Waxham, a few miles up the road from Horsey. I didn’t hold much hope for seeing any seals and when we walked onto the beach, it was deserted…no people & no seals.

Walking along the beach on a mild January afternoon was a pleasure in itself but after 10 minutes of walking we could see what looked like big rocks in the distance. I changed the lens on my camera to my 200mm and could see that what initially appeared to be rocks  were in fact seals…the long journey had been worthwhile after all.

It was a real pleasure being able to photograph these seals, it is so much nicer to photograph an animal in its natural surroundings as opposed to a zoo and I think that the images look far superior. An enjoyable afternoon and I would urge anyone to visit who is near the area and has a keen interest in nature and wildlife.

 

Waxham Beach – Explore Norfolk

 

© Richard Brochu-Williams, 2016, All rights reserved.

 

 

Wrest Park

It has been a few months now since I left university and I have missed creating panoramas and stereographic images. So whilst out on a weekend stroll around Wrest Park in Bedfordshire, UK, I decided that I would create some new images.

The shots have been taken “hand held” as I still haven’t had the opportunity to purchase a panoramic head for my tripod. The images I can achieve from “hand held” are of acceptable standard but I know that having a panoramic head will make the stitching process far easier during post production.

Here are the images that I obtained:

Wrest Park © Richard Brochu-Williams

Wrest Park
© Richard Brochu-Williams

Wrest Park © Richard Brochu-Williams

Wrest Park
© Richard Brochu-Williams

References

English-heritage.org.uk, (2015). Wrest Park | English Heritage. [online] Available at: http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/properties/wrest-park/ [Accessed 12 Jan. 2015].

Ready for Assessment

I have spent much of this morning putting up my images and I am pleased with the way that they look. I had a few hiccups along the way with aligning them correctly and making sure that they were straight but I seem to have overcome this now.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Now all that is left to do is to give my presentation later this afternoon. Hopefully my nerves will not get in the way!

Finals & Artist Statement

Anthropogenic Impact on the Environment

 

 

For this project I have decided to concentrate on the theme of landscapes, a subject that I am passionate about. Each of the 6 images shows a “stereographical” interpretation of a particular type of landscape.

I have chosen to photograph landscapes that are not conventionally perceived as beautiful and have moulded them with the aid of digital manipulation to make them unapologetically abstract and give the viewer a new take on the landscape that they have been invited to view.

The images show a compacted landscape, an encapsulated environment and I chose to make them spherical to convey a planet. Each image in turn shows man’s influence within each landscape and how as a species we are changing the environment around us to our own advantage and means.

These images are not meant to convey either a positive or a negative message, just an interpretation of how we are shaping the environment around us.

 

Richard Brochu-Williams

Dungeness Power Station, Kent, 2014 © Richard Brochu-Williams

West Cambridge Site, University of Cambridge, 2014 © Richard Brochu-Williams

Sheltered Scheme, Cottenham, Cambridgeshire, 2014 © Richard Brochu-Williams

Rickney’s Quarry, Nr Ware, Hertfordshire, 2014 © Richard Brochu-Williams

Madingley Reservoir (Covered), Cambridgeshire, 2014 © Richard Brochu-Williams

Sizewell A & B, Suffolk, 2014 © Richard Brochu-Williams