This is the Arc de Triomphe in Montepellier 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.