France Living

Memorial Day 2020

A scene from the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial, Colleville-sur-Mer, Normandy in France. I visited this sacred spot last fall on a beautiful September afternoon – just after seeing Omaha Beach and Pointe du Hoc.

Buried here are 9,385 Americans who lost their lives in World War II defending freedom – most during the D-Day landings and ensuing operations in the area.

Another reminder: Freedom is not free.

Food and Drink France Travel

Better than French Fries!

During a recent visit to Normandy, we had lunch in the fishing village of Port-en-Bessin-Huppain at Le 47ème Brasserie. I should have ordered some seafood – the fresh fish market in town is right across the street – but, instead felt like a burger. When it arrived, I was surprised – no bun but, instead, top and bottom layers of hash brown-like potatoes. Not something you could pickup and eat like a normal burger – but it was very delicious nonetheless!

Nearby, just across the bridge, is a beach of sea shells unlike any I’ve ever seen (see below). After lunch, I walked about and did some exploring there.

Black and White France Fujifilm X100T Fujifilm X70 Paris Photography Photography - Black & White Photography - Fujifilm X100T Photography - Fujifilm X70 Street Photography

Paris in Late September


Two years ago I attended a Paris street photography workshop led by Valérie Jardin – see my first post about that here. Most of my Paris posts are here.

This year I repeated the exercise – heading back to the City of Light for another superb week of street photography. Valérie is a superb workshop leader – and my photo buddy Doug Kaye was also signed up to go. I couldn’t resist flying back to Paris for a week on the streets in late September!

The weather was ideal – one rainy morning but otherwise spectacular fall days with beautiful light and the lower sun angle that this time of year provides such niche light/shadow contrasts.

I traveled light – shooting with my Fujifilm X100T and the even smaller Fujifilm X70 – both are superb cameras for street photography.

Below are a few of my favorites from the trip – you’ll find even more here in this Flick set. Enjoy!


Mirror magic//



Close #2//

France Fujifilm X100S Paris Photography - Fujifilm X100S Street Photography

Into the Light in Paris

Late Afternoon - Paris - 2014

We’d just arrived in Paris – and Valerie Jardin was walking us around the area near the hotel. I shot this with a Fujifilm X100S – looking into the light. Opted for the subtle color treatment instead of monochrome – seemed to add a bit more depth and interest.

France iPhone 6 Paris Photography Street Photography

Late Afternoon in Paris

Late Afternoon - Paris - 2014

While I was in Paris, I stayed at a hotel in the 5th arrondissement of Paris – just across from the Panthéon. On this particular day, I was walking back via Pont de la Tournelle and captured this shot with my iPhone 6. The river is the anchor for me of Paris.

France Photography Photoshop CC Topaz

Waiting for a Boat at Versailles

Waiting - Versailles - 2002

For some reason tonight I started looking back through my image library for images from France.

I stumbled across this one from 2002 – shot with my first digital camera – a Kodak DC290 – at Versailles. I love the composition – totally accidental though it was at the time! I captured a very special red head in the photo!

I post-processed this using a bit of Topaz Simplify and Photoshop CC’s oil paint filter. I love the look and the subtle textures!

France Photography

The View from a Terrace – Vence France – 2006

French Terrace - Vence - 2006

This image – of a street terrace outside our hotel – was taken during a family vacation to Vence, France in the summer of 2006. This was before I got back into serious photography – with this image taken using a tiny Canon PowerShot S500 pocket point-and-shoot camera.

The original image was recently marked as a favorite on Flickr – which caused me to go back to look at the images from the trip including this one in particular. Thinking it had “great bones” as an image, I chose to post-process it in Photoshop CS6 using a series of filters include Nik’s Viveza 2, Color Efex 4 (Tonal Contrast and Detail Extractor) and, finally, using the new Oil Paint filter.

I really like how the combination turned out – a nice way to remember our wonderful visit to Vence! Hope you also enjoy it!

Black and White France Photography Photography - Black & White

France 2006: An Example of Layers in a Photo

Shoes - Saint-Paul-de-Vence France - 2006

I had a great time this afternoon catching up with my good friend Doug Kaye. Doug’s recently had a pretty serious illness – and we were all worried about him during that time. But, based on my visit today, he’s almost back to his usual self – and about 20 pounds lighter. I hope we’ll be out shooting together again soon.

While we were getting caught up, Doug talked about this reaction to this particular photo of mine that I posted on Google+ last week. It’s kind of a strange shot – taken in a village in Provence, France in 2006 using one of my early Canon Powershot cameras – an S500. I was casually flipping through my portfolio of images in Lightroom when I stumbled across the original and something about it caught my eye. I brought the original image into Photoshop, tweaked it a bit (Tonal Contrast primarily) in Nik’s Color Efex Pro 4 before taking it to black and white using Silver Efex Pro 2. A bit of vignetting, some subtle toning, and it was complete.

Doug’s reaction was what stimulated our conversation this afternoon – his comment on this photo was:

Love this one! The foreground bars give such a twist to the story. Lighting/vignetting really place the emphasis well. Great composition & crop.

— Doug Kaye

This fall, I’ve been taking a photography course at Stanford and one of the themes the instructor has educated us to is the notion of layers in a photo. I think that’s what Doug saw in this photo – and, perhaps, what I saw when I originally spotted in among a mass of older photos in my library. There are several layers at work here – the outer bars, the wall and ledge with the shoes, the windows, and the reflections in the windows – or both the bars and a more distant wall. Almost seems hard to imagine squeezing more layers into an image like this!

Another area of interest which caught my eye as I was scanning was the two window panes above the shoes with the whiter borders – as if the glass in them had recently been replaced. I like the checkerboard pattern those two panes add to the visual interest of this image.

I suspect I had no clue about any of this when I originally took this shot! But, it’s great fun to look at it now – and to appreciate a bit of what it teaches us about the power of layers and the treats those layers provide to our eyes!

France Living Photography Travel

On the Beach at Cannes

Cannes Beach

For some reason, this particular photo of mine (from a wonderful trip to France in the summer of 2006) has been having an unusual number of views over the last few days on Flickr. Curious.

It was taken using my old Canon PowerShot S500 on a bright afternoon in July on the beach at Cannes – with hazy sunlight filtering down.

I love the colors in this shot – reminds me of an old postcard! Absolutely nothing has been done in terms of post-processing to this image! Hope you enjoy it too!

France Travel

Playing Favorites

Some friends have asked “so what was the highlight of your trip to France?”

My answer: if I had to pick one, it would be Les Baux de Provence. If I could pick two, it would be Les Baux and Feyence. If I could pick three, I’d add Vence. If I could pick four, I’d add Saint Paul de Vence. I could keep going, but these four were the true highlights for me.

Les Baux de Provence, France

Les Baux is a place I’ll never forget. We had gone to Arles earlier in the day (to see the Roman stuff) and got to Les Baux after 3 PM – a very good thing as it turns out if you’re hoping for a parking space near the top of the hill by the entrance!

But what was really different for me at Les Baux was the whole “top of the world” feeling – enhanced as it was by some really amazing music that the weapons demo staff were playing in their little corner of the Les Baux world. Wow, a very special time and place.

Feyence ended up being my very favorite hillside town – a very non-touristy place that just felt like it might be home. The airport/gliderport down in the valley below Feyence helped me appreciate that it had the “right stuff”!

Vence has that same “hometown” feeling – far enough away from the craziness of the coast, and up in the beautiful hills. But it’s bigger, almost a city in its feel as compared to the “town” feel of Feyence. Alas, it’s also far too hilly for hosting anything like silly airplanes nearby.

Saint Paul de Vence, France

Saint Paul de Vence is in a class by itself in terms of the beauty of the village – but it’s also “unreal” in that it’s hard to imagine actually living there among the galleries and shops.

I forgot to mention La Colle sur Loup, just down the road a piece from Saint Paul and a wonderful village. We had some great crepes there on a Saturday night while the “Big Band” was playing in the town square. Everyone in the town was out bouncing to the music, the lead singer had a great repertoire of Frank Sinatra classics, and we really felt right at home. Our friends at Villa St. Maxime suggested the tapas place in La Colle sur Loup “for next time” – turns out it’s their favorite spot.