If I analyze myself, I realize that more and more I feel attracted to the wild and untouched areas of our Planet and try to avoid at all cost any human trace on the landscape. Pristine forests, deserts, mountains and shores are the thing which seem to inspire me thoroughly, ranking the highest positions not only as subjects to be photographed, but also as experiences to be lived. However, I must confess there is small number of “humanised” areas out there which still provoke the same kind of feeling in me. One of them is the Lavaux area here in Switzerland, where human beings have achieved to improve in my opinion the natural landscape. Another case is Provence, in southern France.
Provence is a quite special place, where something just tied to “commercial” reasons as are agricultural crops turn every summer into a brilliant canvas of colours and textures, charm and a real summer dream for the photographer. This year, as it has become ritual for us, we went down to witness the peak colours of lavender and sunflower, and there they were. A totally dynamic landscape sculpted by the willing of peasants, where last year wheat grew, this year sunflower did, and the opposite. Compared to other years, lavender colours were at their best and so the weather displayed a different face. Instead of violent storms like we had the last two years, nice sunny days gave us a “typical” and bold blue Provençal sky.
This image was taken a couple of days ago, at sunrise. We spotted this “perfect” shed, surrounded by blooming sunflowers and quite well exposed to the first rays of sunrise. The first morning the wind made impossible to create a still image and so we played to create some impressionistic effects with blurred sunflowers swaying in the field. The second morning, the wind was calmer and we could photograph a more “standard” scene. I must confess this image is not terribly creative, in fact the idea was not that. I was after a more plain and bold statement of one of those iconic images which come to our minds when we mention “Provence”. I was after a very simple image combining some typical elements of this area: sunflowers, a provençal shed and the blue sky of the Mediterranean. Compositionally speaking, the disposition of the sunflowers was critical, creating a waving curve (thanks Gestalt “law of continuation”!) which takes your eyes around the frame up to the shed on top right of the image. In terms of colours, yellow complements with the bold blue of the sky and create a vibrant, dynamic feel, which goes very well with the subject and the visual metaphor implied. To simplify things and make the image more graphical, a totally blue sky becomes “just” a stripe of colour, loosing its quality of “sky” a bit more. The mountains and little trees sticking out give depth to the image…and a little delay or surprise when contemplating the image is given by a bee, perched on one of the sunflowers (visible on the high res image) which only becomes apparant after some time…This is an image which goes much beyond the elements depicted, and shows the whole “Provence” idea in one image….or maybe not? As always, the viewer decides…
In any case, this is an image which draws to me souvenirs of “cigales” (cicadas) singing, the odour of melon, the balmy feeling of the sunrise and the smell of dew on the crops at dusk and dawn.
It has been only two days since we came from there, but looking at the image, I cannot wait to go back next year…
Thanks for reading, and great light to you all ;-)
PD: click on the image to see it bigger!