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Wildlife Photography Workshop By Floating Blind In The Dombes - June 17th, 2017

For this new workshop season focused upon the use of floating blinds in the Dombes, we have acquired new floating blinds, found new holiday homes and selected new ponds. This first workshop was a complete success despite the somewhat capricious and unfavorable weather.

The participants of this wildlife photography workshop with floating blinds in La Dombes in June 17th, 2017: : Amar, Josiane, Annik, Grégory, Jean-Jacques, Patricia, James et Daniel.
The participants of this wildlife photography workshop with floating blinds in La Dombes in June 17th, 2017: Amar, Josiane, Annik, Grégory, Jean-Jacques, Patricia, James et Daniel.

The Dombes - A Paradise for Wetland Birds

The region of the Dombes hosts numerous species of birds. Near 130 species nest and reproduce there regularly. 30000 Birds migrate there regularly throughout the winter months. The region of the Dombes is peppered by more than 1000 ponds. These ponds are of human origin. Their uniqueness is due to their slightly sloped bottoms that permit their waters to slowly and regularly trickle down towards the tributaries. These fish filled waters attract numerous species of birds. It is an important international zone for those migrating wetland birds.

During the months of May, June and July, it is possible to observe several emblematic species of the region: Great Crested Grebe, Little Grebe, Black – Necked Grebe, Red Crested Pochard, Whiskered Tern, Black – Crowned Night Heron, Purple Heron, Grey Heron, Squacco Heron, Little Egret, Great Egret, Cattle Egret, Comoran, Eurasian Coot, Eurasian Reed Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Common Kingfisher, Warbler, Western Marsh Harrier, Red Kite.

The Dombes does not solely attract birds. The Muskrats and the Nutrias are also mammals that we often come across on the ponds. Dragonflies, green frogs and grass snakes are also part of the animal landscape.

The lights which flood the Dombes are exceptional. In the spring and beginning of summer, the early mornings are often bathed by warm and felted lights

The Floating blind: an unforgettable experience for an animal photographer

The use of a floating blind always leaves an indelible trace in the memory of an animal photographer. It's a unique way to observe and photograph the animal world. This is the only way to photograph birds at the water's edge without disturbing them. The approach is an incredible way to go a few meters from a bird. We can spend hours in front of a heron ash to observe.

Our courses in floating blinds in the Dombes always obey the same ritual. On the first day, after going around the various ponds and explaining how to launch the boat, taking care of the photo equipment, each photographer leaves for a first session of 3 hours in search of the first ponds, coots and others Great Crested Grebe. Returning at dusk, the satisfaction of the first shots successful gives the tempo of the atmosphere of the week that follows.

The floating blind scares many photographers who are afraid of dropping the camera into the water. Many people are afraid of taking water in the waders or not knowing how to get back to the starting point. During our courses, we give all the explanations to ensure maximum security. If the advice is scrupulously followed, no problem can happen. It is a safe photographic activity that allows you to live closer to aquatic animals without ever disturbing them. It allows you to create exceptional creative photos that would be impossible to create otherwise.

The floating blind is certainly the best way to freeze animal behavior that is impossible to achieve from the mainland. The choice of point of view is certainly the most essential element in this technique.

Acquiring A Solid Technical Expertise & Developing Creativity

Throughout our workshops, we either have those photographers confirmed to possess an advanced degree of photographic skill or we have amateurs who are just beginning, or have never done photography directed at wildlife, and it why we therefore make sure to early and repeatedly focus upon the correct movements and techniques involved with the usage of floating blinds. We always prepare in advance for in-depth progression and learning specifically tailored and adapted to the group. We always reserved a portion of these lessons so as to devote them to the creative nature of photography all the whilst making sure to go back, rehearse and reinforce the basics and fundamentals. The act of presenting and unveiling various tips, tricks, hints and secrets of our success to our photographs makes for a real win in the yes of our studious photographers.

A Relaxed & Friendly Ambiance For 7 Days

From our perspective, a photography workshop is made up of three elements: Technical apprenticeship, the discovery of new and exciting treasures throughout the region and, finally, a combination of both good humor and acceptance.

This recipe continues to pay off. We rent two large holiday homes so that each and every participant may have access to their own personal rooms and commodities. The afternoon, we all gather up and go eat at one of the more typical restaurants as scattered around the area. Just about every town and village within the regions of the Dombes has at least one local restaurant. We have the unrestricted opportunity to savor and taste at least one regional speciality every single day, with each member brining back one of these said delicacies of their choice. In general, the following week does not contain enough time for us to get through it all and whatever leftovers remain, yet this only adds to the amazing ambiance we get to experience together. It never takes long to break the ice.

Finally, our animal photography workshops by floating blinds are really made to be experienced and remembered as a time of great ambiance that if both welcoming, open and friendly.

Dombes Animal Photography Workshop Testimonies - June 17th, 2017

Annik Annik.

It’s my second workshop using floating blinds with you in Dombes. Following the first, I signed myself back up for another round as soon as possible. Before the workshop, I was asking myself what new thing I’d be doing. As incredible as it might appear everything was completely different. The conditions totally changed. The birds were different due to the water levels within the ponds and as a result of the heat. This week was a real pleasure. I’ve improved in comparison to last year. I’am a better photographer. I have greater imagination as to how I should take my pictures. I’ve finally come to understand many of the concepts you’d taught me. I also have a better handling of my camera. This year, I spotted many night and squacco herons. These are species that I’d not had the previous occasion to often photograph. I was surprised by the sheer number of eurasian spoonbills that I was able to see at Teich though it was from afar. It was also my first time seeing northern lapwings from so up close and especially the chicks. What a discovery!

The onset of this workshop was notably difficult throughout the duration of the first session of using the blinds as the water elevation was quite low. It left me a bit chilly. Yet all throughout the week I got better. I progressed a lot. Now I’m more imaginative. With your advice, I improved on my application of focus and blur. This year, I appreciated your techniques in regards to irisation, sparkling bokeh and counter-daylight photography. From now on, I’ve abandon naturalistic photography. I will be more creative. I will attempt to give my images meaning.

Through my viewfinder I see things differently. I try to create more. The image reviews that you organize during the afternoon are very interesting and enriching, it’s inspiring. Your comments additionally bring a lot to the table. When I make a snapshot, I think back on your words. The workshop’s organization was excellent. The week just flew me by. The ambiance was excellent even if some of us like Daniel were quite larger than life, though they did remain humble. We’re all here to progress and have some fun. It’s really a great atmosphere.

If I had to hold onto a nice moment from this week it would be without question all of those night herons I saw one morning on a lake with some beautiful lighting. I didn’t dare leaving the water by fear of accidentally disturbing them. It was extraordinary.

Daniel Daniel.

It’s my second workshop in the Dombes whilst in your company. As usual my general impressions are both positive and excellent. The birds were at the rendez-vous. We had plenty of sunshine. The only thing that I could choose to regret was the overall shallow natures of the waters within the ponds. This year, it’s a bit physical as moving around can get quite difficult. Yet satisfaction awaits by the trail’s end. As it turns out, when reaching the end of a day’s work on your knees and coming up less than 10 meters away from a bird, you end up rather glad that you did. It’s worth the effort. I was able to realize some extraordinary images.

If I’ve come along yet again, it’s because I adore your workshops’ atmospheres. Plus I really wanted to continue my series on herons. I feel as if it is a poor animal decried and made fun of by Jean de la Fontaine. I wanted to produce a genuine series solely focused upon and about this beautiful bird. This year, I also caught on camera numerous examples of eurasian spoonbills. I’d never seen any before in my life in person. I was a frankly amazing discovery.

All of these elements came together in order to create a superb week of photography and exploration. The ambiance amongst the group was marvelous. Living with the group was a real pleasure. The interactions are constant and in an environment of great amicability. It’s really fantastic.

Within your workshops, however, remains one key downside. We eat to well. I’d lost 10 kilos ( ~ 22 pounds) before coming along. I think that I’ve gained 5 ( ~ 11) back. Your new floating blinds are really user friendly. It was fortunate that you had them given the overall low water levels this time around. Without them, we’d never have been able to get around amongst the ponds this year. The inflatable floats allow for a stealthy approach towards the birds.

The new holiday homes that you’d chosen are fabulous. The rooms, the terrace and the surrounding landscapes are amazingly beautiful. The dining room where we work was a real plus as we could all come together and work. The eating area and kitchen were very comfortable. The organization was very well handled. Committing to memory a feel good moment about this workshop is difficult as there are simply to many to choose from. I experience nothing but fun times. You’ve uncovered a fabulous equilibrium.

Patricia Patricia.

It’s my second workshop in the Dombes with you. It’s marvelous as always. This year despite the number workshops done along with yourself, I’ve once more learned new things. I believe myself to have yet again reached a new level. I think that I’ve got a good grasp of the artistic understanding in relation to animal photography. This year, I worked my subjects with simplicity rather than making things unnecessarily difficult through unnecessary complexity. For example, I worked on their attitudes and postures. Sometimes I’d wait for the birds to fly off yet nothing would happen. I adapted to this by figuring out new ways in which to approach my particular brand of photography. I elevated the background to a rank of greater value than during the previous workshop.

This year there was a lot less water than during the preceding workshop. There were therefore fewer flowers as the area was, generally overall, much drier. I further worked over the textures of the feathers for exampled. This year, I was indirectly forced to get more creative. As the days went by I gradually adapted and for each photo session, everything would turn out to be different. I never got tired. In addition to this, this year, I was purposefully biased towards as different species of bird each instance and time. I was able to see things differently and return with more interesting images in the end.

The lodgings you choose this year were honestly extraordinary. The holiday homes were authentic. It’s very calm and we’ve got lots of space. It’s awesome. It’s like a real vacation. Your workshops’ organizations are always excellent.

Your new floating blinds are completely different from their predecessors. Lightweight and easily manageable, especially given the lack of water. Honestly, they’re great.

The ambiance throughout the week was excellent. I know practically everyone. We got along well. There was lots of respect. We interacted a lot. If I had to hold onto a good moment from this workshop it would be whilst within the pond that day, when there weren’t that many birds. With a little bit of patience and a keen sense of observation, I was able to discover a purple heron hidden amongst the branches. I spent the entire morning with him. He accepted me within his comfort zone.

We shared some magic moments. I even had the impressing that, when he caught a frog, he presented it to me as if it were some kind of trophy. He was staring right at me with the frog still in his beak. That shared moment created some powerful emotions. Those 4 hours of sharing are unforgettable.

Josiane Josiane.

It’s my second workshop with yourself and floating blinds. This year’s proved more difficult due to the relatively low water levels amongst the ponds. I was often on my knees and it could get rather hot, not to mention humid. This year, I learned a lot of new things in terms of photography. My photos are completely different. This year, I took a lot more time getting my framing and perspectives right whilst also getting closer to the birds. Before I had a tendency to photograph everything that came within my line of sight. In the aftermath of this workshop, I’ve become more selective. The act of concentrating on one subject and one alone has enabled me to better realize my photos as their’s less fiddling with my camera settings. I’ve come to understand that, by choosing and focusing solely upon a lone subject, and by additional concentrating on it, the images came out as much more interesting. Now, every time I see a bird, I wait for his attitude and posture to be interesting before I take the shot. I’ve become patient.

This year, you were finally able to convince me to carry out a greater amount of postproduction to my images, especially in terms of grayscale. I’m not yet comfortable with these techniques but I’m trying, experimenting, testing. I’m become more creative. I’m still trying to find myself but I’m on the right track.

Tis year, your floating blinds were far better than their predecessors. They are light, easily handled and user friendly. Along with the lack of water this year, they were very practical. The holiday homes this year were magnificent. The dinning room is practical for everyone to meet. The rooms are comfortable. The surrounding area is great as we’re alone and right smack-dab in the middle of some beautiful nature. It’s really great. The workshop’s organization is impeccable as you’ve adapted it to each and every one of us.

You select the frequented ponds as if they were individually tailored to our wants, desires and needs so that he or she is free to do whatever they want. It’s perfect.

The group ambiance was frankly amazing throughout the week. I knew everyone personally. It’s easy to talk to everyone and conversations flowed by naturally. It’s really quite familiar. If I had to hold onto something from this workshop, it would be without question that you don’t have to image things from every conceivable angle in order to realize beautiful snapshots. I wasn’t aware of this last year. Now I understand that you’ve got to pick a spot and wait for the birds to come to you.

This year, I learned to understand how to properly used my camera in all conditions. I’m at ease with it. I’m also aware of how to, from here on out, use all of its different modes in terms of lighting and other related functions in order to place greater photographic emphasis upon the value of my subjects’ feathers and plumage. This was mostly a situational kind of thing before. Now my camera has become an extension of myself, or at least almost, more like an important and useful tool which remains always at hand.

Jean-Jacques Jean-Jacques.

It’s my second workshop using floating blinds with you. It’s still just as fun. I continue to progress little by little. I feel like I’m chugging along quite well whether it be on the artistic track of technical route. I feel like I’m getting better and better. Although this year, since there was a lot less water than during the last workshop, I sweat a lot.

This year, our approach towards photography was totally different. I spent more time discovering the artistic side of photography. Now I know how to handle my camera with a greater degree of skill. Another thing of which I pay closer attention to are the environments and surrounding in which the birds find themselves. During this workshop, I payed a lot close attention to my choice of lighting. I’ve also come to better select my points of view to give the birds a sense of value. Now I know why I should pick one spot over another.

It’s funny how I always feel motivated by your workshops despite the years starting to weigh on me. The workshop’s organization was excellent. My old friends and Patricia are here. The ambiance is great. Plus you’re here. The food we prepare in the holiday home is fabulous. During your workshops, I feel like I’m right at home. It was a good week’s worth of vacation. I cleared my head. No television, no electronics. It’s great.

I think that I’ll come back here yet again as the Dombes region is honestly quite the sight to see. I know many of France’s regions yet this one stands out thanks to it’s environments and lighting. If I had to hold onto one good moment about this workshop it would be the region’s beauty and the manners in which I carry of my photography nowadays. I’ve progressed. I’ve changed. I’ve got new ideas. I continue to learn and that’s the essential.

Grégory Gregory.

My thoughts about this workshop on floating blinds in the Dombes are very positive. It had been quite some time since I’d wanted to use floating blinds to realize some photos. I wanted to do it with you as you’re well aware of the techniques involved. You’re also keenly familiar with the region.

The usage of floating blinds enables one to have an amazing proximity with the birds. I had an enormous amount of freedom of movement. I’ve always been able to get close to birds whilst emerged within their natural habitats. It’s a beautiful experience.

I was surprised by the large scale of bird presence within the Dombes. I observed many species that I’d naught photographer whilst in Belgium. The surrounding backgrounds and decors were also very beautiful. I enjoy those environments that are welcoming towards birds, whence the contrasts are at their greatest to place said birds at greater value whilst amongst their surroundings. In Dombes such places are rather easy to find. The region is amazing. I’d never visited before. I want to come back.

To take images from a floating blind, I plop myself down in an area of my choice and then wait a little. The birds never delay much and arrive quite quickly. Otherwise, if I see a bird within an interesting environment, I go towards it. My approach comes at a snails pace. Photographing a bird take flight is a very rare occasion indeed. When he looks at me, I don’t just yet take the shot. I wait for him to become accustomed to my presence whilst within his space. Then he goes back to about his business and we’re all set. Floating blinds necessitate a lot of patient observation.

The workshop’s organization was particularly well done. You take care of us. We don’t have to worry about anything. It really does make for an agreeable kind of vacation.

The ambiance throughout the entirety of the week’s length was very nice. The members were fun to be around. The group’s overall level of photography was far from amateurish. It’s interesting to share points of view with people whom have different visions and perspectives than your own.

Last year I’d come along for the workshop following the rut of the deer. With this workshop as an addition to the previous one, I’ve yet again come to see things differently. I’ve truly progressed.

If I had to hold onto a key moment about this workshop, it would be this moment. I saw a purple heron land amongst the reeds. We search for one another for more than an hours. Tracking him down and isolating him was difficult but the experience of it all was exceptional.

James James.

It’s my second workshop in the Dombes with you. I came back as I wanted to meet you again as I learn many things throughout your workshops and the ambiance is sympathetic. You explain how to create beautiful photos quite well. This year there was much less water than the last. This permitted me to realize some different types of snapshots, more creative than usual. After this workshop, I understood how to realize more creative photographs. Before I was especially good at photojournalism. Given how low the water levels were, I had to adapt.

This year you changed with ponds we visited. It was really interesting as the photos were, in effect, made different as well. The species we encountered were also quite different. I saw eurasian spoonbills for the first time. I snapped many shots of herons as well as northern lapwings, the latter so difficult to approach usually. They made for some nice discoveries.

The workshop’s organization was perfect. The holiday homes were magnificent whether it be from their interior to their exteriors. It was really cool. It was a real week’s worth of vacation apart from the physical exertion but I’d signed up for that as well. I came to stretch my legs. I was ready for anything except for it’s absence.

If I had to remember something about this workshop it would be our last outing. Yet there were so many so it’s honestly rather hard to tell.


Some pictures taken by the students

To play the video, just click the "Play" button.


Why Calibrating a Screen is not Enough to Create an Art Photograph

To correctly create an art photograph, the calibration of a computer screen is essential for the development phase.
Correct calibration of a screen is the guarantee that the photos will be viewed in the same way on another calibrated screen from anywhere in the world.
As we wrote in another article, an artistic photograph exists only on paper whether for a wall display or for a beautiful book. Displaying on a computer screen, tablet or mobile phone is only an intermediate step that is not essential to us. To correctly print an artistic photo, the calibration of a screen is insufficient.

Art Photograph of sand dunes. The calibration of the screen is not enough to print it correctly.
Art Photograph of sand dunes. The calibration of the screen is not enough to print it correctly.

Calibrating a Screen is the First Step in the Development Process

As we mentioned in the article dedicated to the development of an artistic photograph, the use of software is essential for a photographer to show his vision of the world through his photographs.

But before using software, it is essential to properly calibrate the screen that will be used during the development process.

If this step is not done correctly, the development of colors, tones, contrasts will not be good.

Why Calibrating a Screen

Screen manufacturers produce devices that are often very bright, very contrasting. The photographs displayed are often cold. Indeed, photographers are a very small minority. Most screen users just play games, visit websites, or use desktop applications. The original settings are made to satisfy these users.

But a photographer has other more specific needs because his photographs will be printed. When a photographer edits a photograph, he wants to be able to display colors, contrasts and tones correctly. For example, he does not want exuberant colors as tablets know how to produce. It is most certainly flattering to the eyes, but they are incompatible with a quality paper printing.

For this reason, it is necessary to calibrate the screen. Colors, contrasts and tones will be displayed relative to standard values.

The Principle of The Calibration of a Screen

To properly calibrate a screen, it is necessary to use a calibration device. A calibration with eyes will not give a good result because it will be subjective.

A calibration device is a small electronic device sold by specialized companies. It connects to a computer via a USB cable. It is displayed on the screen for the calibration phase. It comes with a special application supplied by the manufacturer. It is he who will control the probe during the entire calibration phase.

At startup, the photographer will enter some very simple data, perform one or two operations. Then the software will drive the probe for calibration.

When all operations are complete, the application will generate a file called an ICC profile that contains the characteristics of the screen.

This ICC profile will be loaded by the operating system of the computer at each startup. This profile will provide information to the video card to correctly display colors, contrasts and tones.

The goals of correct calibration are:

  • Neutralize the default settings of the constructor of a screen.
  • Display a correct level of contrast and brightness in the widest range of colors possible.

Take the example of the gray in the gamut RGB has the value 128. If the screen is calibrated correctly, it will display a true gray. If the screen is not calibrated properly, the gray will shoot the orange.

Why Eyes Do Not Allow a Good Calibration

As we have just described, a calibration device is necessary to properly calibrate a screen. The human eye is not adapted to this operation. On the one hand, he is not able to read a color without having an element of comparison. On the other hand, he is not able to know the brightness level of a screen. Even when the light is low, it can detect details in a scene. If a photographer observes a dark picture on a screen, he will be able to see details. He will think that the tones are correct. This is when the photograph will be printed that that he will realize that shadows or blacks are deep.

Calibration in Practice

Calibrating a computer screen has become quite easy. The application editors have made very great progress in the ergonomics and software interface.

The first step in the data. The photographer will fix the color temperature, the gamma, the contrast value, the maximum brightness, which is also called the white point.

Once these values are provided in the calibration device application, calculations will be performed for a few minutes. This step is called characterization. At the end of the process, the application asks for a name for a data file. This is the famous ICC file that we mentioned earlier. It will be loaded each time the computer starts.

One of the essential points for an art photographer is to fix the amount of light emitted by the screen between 80 and 100 cd / m2 (candelas per square meter). A higher value will cause problems at the time of printing.

Once a screen has been profiled, one also says characterized or calibrated, the settings must not be modified any more. If this happens, it will be necessary to redo a calibration.

We recommend performing a full calibration every two week as the settings change themselves. These are not great variations, but quality developments need to be perfect from the beginning to the end of the post-processing chain.

Proper Calibration is Not a Guarantee for Correct Impressions

Correct screen calibration only ensures that the photos you develop will be viewed in the same way on all screens around the world that are properly calibrated.

If you use another way to view your photos such as a video projector or printer, you may be very disappointed with the result.

Take the specific case of using a printer. As artistic photographers, this is the way we use the most to show our work.

If you do not do anything after developing an art photograph with your calibrated screen, we can bet that your photo will be dark. Indeed, paper absorbs light while a screen emits light.

When printing an art photo, it usually lacks between 1 and 2 EV of light. Shadows are often clogged. The whole photograph becomes flat.

If you have a personal printer, it is essential to calibrate it. So, the result will be consistent with the one you have on the screen.

The problem comes from impressions made by specialized laboratories. You cannot intervene in the printing process. You cannot calibrate the printers.

In addition, if you use the services of a general laboratory, you will not be sure to have your photographs printed by the same printers with each order. This is a real problem because you cannot create a rule for brightness management and apply it every time you want prints. It is totally unpredictable.

For this reason, we always use the services of specialized laboratories with whom we can discuss directly. We can learn the brands of printers as well as the printing procedures.

But in both cases, whether it is a specialized laboratory or a generalist, it will be necessary to increase the light of the photograph to print it correctly.

The problem is how much EV you must increase the light. Too much value may cause overexposure of certain areas. A low value will still give a picture too dark.

It is for this reason that one must ask for tests by asking a proof. It is a test of your final prints. The printer selects a portion of the photo and sends it to you for verification. This process should be repeated as many times as necessary. The proof is often paying but it is interesting because once the photo printed and against glued on a support, the cost is quite high.

We will not go into detail to print an artistic photograph. This will be the subject of another article.


The correct calibration of a screen is the first step for the development of art photographs. But it is insufficient if the photographs are to be used for other media such as a projector but especially with a printer. Another process must be initiated for the printed photo to be properly displayed. A photographer who wishes to perform artistic prints must absolutely worry about this crucial phase if he wants to highlight his photographic vision.


Why Creating Wildlife Photographs in High Key and Black and White - Part 2

High key and black and white photograph of a lion cub in Kenya.
High key and black and white photograph of a lion cub in Kenya.

The Choice of a Scene for a High Key Photograph

Our experience has shown us that minimalist scenes are best suited to the high key technique.

For example, birds flying in the sky are perfect subjects. Mammals are also suitable if the environment is not too thick.

The essential rule is to choose a background that is not distracting for the eyes of an observer. This means that the background tones must be about the same. For example, avoid a background with very deep shadows. It is better to choose a background with very clear areas; so, post treatment it will easily create a high-key effect. But if this ideal solution is difficult to find, it is better to ensure that the tones are homogeneous.

Once the background has been chosen, it must be overexposed by 1 or 2 EV of light. Just use the light measurement of the housing to perform this calculation. But be careful not to burn it: you must use the histogram to perform this check. We will not enter technical details of light measurement as this is not the purpose of this article. If you use the priority mode at speed, overexpose by changing the aperture. If you use aperture priority mode, overexpose by changing the speed by compensation. In manual mode, you can change one or the other depending on the scene.

The LCD screen should not be used to control the light. Only the histogram is authentic. The screen only allows you to check the framing and composition of the scene. For a high key photograph, most of the histogram should be on the right without touching the right side. If so, you have burned the highlights.

Once the subject and the scene have been chosen, we must study the light. It must have an elevated level so as to erase all the details of the back and preserving those of the photographed subject. It's a real challenge.

Overexposing Does Not Mean Burning the Photo

The purpose of the high key technique is to create a photograph with lots of bright areas and very few shadows. When shooting, you must voluntarily overexpose the photo. A photo overexposed still has details in the highlight areas. A photo is said burned when details disappear in these areas. It is important for a photographer to keep this idea in mind.

The photograph should be clear, almost white with only a few highlights or darker highlights that are highlighted.

High key and black and white photograph of two white spoonbills in Dombes.
High key and black and white photograph of two white spoonbills in Dombes.

The Ideal Scenes for a High Key Photograph

Often for a photograph in high key, the first decor that comes to mind is a snowy one. Indeed, it is an excellent choice because an animal moving on the snow will give a scene with little contrast, with little shadows and clear tones. Just as we said before do not forget to overexpose a little bit the background and make a good measure of light on the animal. With a little bit of post treatment, the snow can still be overexposed to give an unreal and dreamlike effect.

The second privileged setting for this technique are the birds flying in the sky. With a measure of light to properly expose the plumages, the sky can become overexposed very easily. Skies are perfect backgrounds for high key scenes.

But scenes made of sand or savanna are also very good. During the overexposure, you will find details in the sets, but it is not embarrassing. The effect is even artistic. Just remember to have the minimum of contrast.

Post Processing is Essential

As we have described in this article, the development or post processing of a photograph is essential if an artistic approach is chosen. To obtain high key art photography with a lot of impact, development is mandatory.

First, we recommend shooting in RAW mode because it is possible to change the exposure easily. It is much more difficult and more uncertain in JPEG mode.

In addition, the RAW mode allows to adjust the white balance to the development. This is not possible in JPEG.

Most photo development software makes easy to create high key photos. Just increase the exposure without burning the highlights. The histogram in the development software should not touch the right side of the rectangle. You must keep details. A burned photo will not be printed properly because the printer will leave white marks because it cannot apply ink.

After overexposing lightly, just desaturate the colors of the photograph. Then, cool it a little the temperature of the colors.

High key and black and white photograph of mute swans in flight.
High key and black and white photograph of mute swans in flight.

Using Black and White: An Interesting Complement

Black and white is another creative technique in artistic photography. Using it with the high key technique is very interesting. Black and white significantly enhances the photographer's artistic style.

These two techniques produce ethereal and very dreamlike images that provoke the questioning of an observer.

We use this wedding very much in our photographs because it corresponds to the photographs that we like to create.

We insist on this last point because the high key is primarily a technique or a tool for a wildlife photographer. But this tool must serve the vision of the photographer. It's not a fad. It's not because some photographers use it that you must implement it. It must correspond to your state of mind, to your way of being. If this is not the case, you will not make good shots in high key because it will not be your sensitivity.

Try this technique in the field. Print some pictures. Let yourself be carried away by the magic of dreams. If you cannot escape by looking at your photos, forget the high key. It is not for you. You will be more tempted by the low key as we will see in a future article.


The high key black-and-white technique in wildlife photography makes possible to create artistic photographs that have a significant impact. It is suit for ethereal and dreamlike art photography. It is a complex technique that requires a lot of research and practice. It helps to affirm the photographic style of a photographer. For us, it is part of our panoply to create art photographs for our "around the mind" or "around the world" collections.


Why Creating Wildlife Photographs in High Key and Black and White - Part 1

The high key technique in black and white makes possible to create creative and interesting photographs. It allows you to make art photos different from common documentary photographs. It is perfectly adapted to wildlife photography if some rules are respected. The high key makes possible to create dreamlike and ethereal artistic photographs.

Photograph in high key and black and white of a pied kingfisher flying.
Photograph in high key and black and white of a pied kingfisher flying.

A Little Bit of Etymology

The term high key is the contraction of the expression "high-key lighting". As always, the technical language uses shortcuts and acronyms. Photography that is primarily a technical discipline is no exception to the rule.

In a general and technical context, "high key" means "elevated level". The word "lighting" refers to light. "High key lighting" means "elevated level of light". This expression is not poetic and does not make dreaming. We find this interesting reflection because the high key is a creative and very evocative technique. It is solely artistic photography.

A Little bit of History

The high key technique makes possible to create photographs that are very clear and that contain almost no areas containing shadows.

This technique appeared with the beginning of television when the scenes with a lot of contrasts were not well reproduced by the television screens of the time. To create a scene that was easily visible on a screen, the ratio between the main light and the secondary lights was kept to a minimum. All the exposure of the scene was homogeneous.

In photography, this technique has been used to create photos that have no shadows. The rendering of the lights is homogeneous.

When you want to make a studio photograph with very little modeling, you use three light sources. By reducing the modeling, we reduce the shadows and therefore the contrasts. There is the main light called "key light", the secondary light called "fill light" and the background light that is called "back light". The expression "high key lighting" came from the fact that for scenes with little modeling, we favor the "key light".

Photograph in high key and black and white of a jackal.
Photograph in high key and black and white of a jackal.

High Key in Wildlife Photography

The high key technique is not only reserved for the creation of portraits in studio. Now it its used in wildlife photography.

It is mainly intended to create artistic or creative photographs. It is not used in documentary photography because the shadows are absent, and the details are faded. The animal documentary photo requires precise, detailed pictures.

Animal photography in high key is a stylistic choice.

Fine art or artistic photography is intended to convey messages or to transmit emotions or feelings. The details of the subjects are not very important. Details of framing and composition are important. The high key is perfectly suited to art photography.

Indeed, this technique allows to create a certain atmosphere in animal photos. They are ethereal or dreamlike. The photographs are more romantic, more vaporous. They allow to escape.

Not all scenes are suitable for the high key. They must be selected and chosen with care.

A Very Difficult Photographic Technique

Let us not close our eyes to the facts. For us, the production of photographic works in high key is certainly the most difficult to achieve.

As professional wildlife photographers, our art photographs are intended to be printed for art prints that we sell or for exhibitions. But we also use them for books.

The problem with the high key is that the judgment of the result can only be done on paper. On the screen, the rendering is always correct with ethereal or dreamlike scenes. But on paper it's a different story. Overexposed areas do not get ink and they cause a very curious and greyish rendering.

That's why when we develop high key photos, we do a lot of testing with our photo printer. This is where we can see if we still have details in the clearest areas.

Photograph in high key and black and white of a whiskered tern flying.
Photograph in high key and black and white of a whiskered tern flying.

The High Key Principle

All wildlife scenes are not adapted to the high-key technique. The high key in the field is to lighten the midtones and the shadows by overexposing them. Therefore, be ensure that these two tones are not dominant in the scene. If this is the case, you will not be able to get a high key image but rather a low-key image as we will see in another article.

The technique of the high key is not only a question of overexposure of the scene, but it is especially a choice of exposure and light. To create a good high key photograph, always look for the most appropriate light. In general, and this is what you must remember: a low contrast scene will give excellent high key photograph.

By overexposing the photo, you will get a flat scene in terms of contrast and less saturated. What is surprising in this technique is that we obtain the opposite effect of what we are looking for in wildlife photography. Usually, in this kind of pictures, we are looking for contrasted scenes with a lot of details on the animals whether it is on the fur or the plumage or the skins. But do not forget that the high key is a creative technique for making artistic photographs. If you want details and contrasts, you must approach documentary photography as we have already discussed in other articles.

For us the technique of the high key is extraordinary because it is not only a question of looking for a décor set with potential animals, but it is also looking for the right light, especially the one that will suit this type of photo. It's a real challenge. Few photographers rub shoulders because the conditions are difficult to meet. Only those who are persevering and want to create photographs that are out of the ordinary will linger there. This is what makes all the charm and interest of this means of expression in wildlife photography.


Why Photographing Caddo Lake in Texas in Black and White

Caddo Lake is a huge wetland with an area of 10,300 hectares (25,400 acres). It is located on the border between Texas and Louisiana. It is the only natural lake in Texas. The lake is home to the largest bald cypress forest in the world. The black and white photographs are an ode to this beautiful natural region of the United States.

Landscape of Caddo Lake in Texas in United States.
Landscape of Caddo Lake in Texas in United States.

The legend

Caddo Lake was formed according to the legend in 1812 following earthquakes. It owes its name to the tribe of Caddo Indians who lived in the area before being expelled in the 19th century by settlers following the discovery of an oil field.

Since the mid-1960s, many people claim to have seen Bigfoot in the bald cypress forest. A TV report has even been made on this subject.

We must admit that the spectral forms of the bald cypresses when night falls, have nothing engaging. The imagination runs at full speed. Even we thought we saw strange shapes as we took photographs.

A unique place in the world

Caddo Lake is not only famous for the appearances of Bigfoot. It is home to the largest bald cypress forest in the world. It is a remarkable tree that adapts perfectly to wet areas. It can reach 30 to 50 meters (90 to 150 feet) high and the trunk diameter can reach 2 meters (7 feet). He can live from 300 to 500 years.

For landscape photography, Caddo Lake offers extraordinary opportunities at all times of the day. The trees have very evocative and they have majestic forms. When you spend several hours contemplating them, you end up having the impression of a herd of men from another world.

Photographing Lake Caddo takes time

To photograph Caddo LAKE, it is possible to walk along some banks that are still public. Most of the banks are closed because they are on private properties. The second way and it is our opinion the best, is to rent a boat. But be careful not to get lost in the labyrinth of bald cypresses. Nothing is more like a tree than another tree. GPS is essential.

When you walk in the winding meanders of the lake, you must take the time to immerse yourself in this forest and let your imagination work. A good advice is to take the time to let go and be engulfed by the gaps in the forest.

We chose black and white because the branches covered with Spanish moss give a gloomy, strange, timeless atmosphere.

To make these photographs, we made several stays of several days each time. We had a tough time cracking the mysteries of bald cypress trees and reporting their beauty. By dint of patience and self-sacrifice, we ended up finding a rhythm and the story to tell.

Photographing Caddo Lake is not just about photographing trees. It's also playing with reflections and shapes. All the details are important. Wide shots are as revealing as tight shots.

Photographing Lake Caddo is a real challenge because you do not have to go into the simplicity of travel photography. When we walk in the woods, we can feel a strange rumor and strange sensations. The Caddo Indians have lived for hundreds of years in this region. They had to have their reasons. They certainly did not leave without leaving behind a trace of their passage.

That's what we tried to do with these photos. Show that Caddo Lake is more than just a lake for boating. He truly has a soul. Photography is certainly the best way to show it.

Click on a thumbnail to enlarge the image.



  “The Grand Canyon”: A Collection of Fine Art Photos in Shades of Blacks and Whites

The landscapes of the Grand Canyon in the United States cannot leave anyone feeling indifferent. When you contemplate for the first time the Colorado River that meanders more than 1,600 meters (5250 feet) below, you are literally captured within in the spectacle that awaits before our eyes.

We have always been fascinated by these unique scenes in the world. To create our art photographs, we spent weeks wandering the north and south shores of the Grand Canyon. These fine art photographs were not created during a single trip. They are the result of deep research and demanding work that has taken a long time.

To contemplate the Grand Canyon is to relativize our life and rediscover the essentials. Admiring the forms that have been dug for thousands of years, we say that finally, we have plenty of time to complete our personal projects. There is no point in rushing. We understand better than anything that we must turn away from those who say that time is accelerating with the rise of the digital world. Some people try to make us believe that the digital world is a way of being and living. This is a mistake and an illusion. The digital world is just a set of tools that help us live differently. These are just tools that improve the quality of life; they are nothing else.

The landscapes of the Grand Canyon show us what the reality of life is: it takes time to create the foundations of a life. Everything is just a question of experiences and learning. The colorful geological layers are the image of a life: layers that form upon each other to finally create a well-made and well-balanced life.

Time is not accelerating in our modern societies. This is because many have become accustomed to flitting and moving from one occupation to another via the computer, tablet or phone that they think everything is accelerating. It is a mistake.

The Grand Canyon shows us how to build a rich and solid life.

This collection of black and white photographs was created with our theme "shades of blacks and whites". We wanted to show ethereal, dreamlike scenes by highlighting the variety of shapes, structures and textures. Black and white allows us to create artistic photographs where the superfluous has no place.

Contemplating the infinite horizon from the cliffs of the Grand Canyon is an invitation to relativize our actions, our lives and the events of the world. Imperturbable, the river continues to meander and dig its bed in the most friable relatives. Nothing can stop it. It is the image of life that continues whatever happens.

Click on a thumbnail to enlarge the image.


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The Grand Canyon I
The Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon XI
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The Grand Canyon II
The Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon XXXI
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The Grand Canyon III
The Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon XIX
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The Grand Canyon IV
The Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon XX
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The Grand Canyon V
The Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon XII
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The Grand Canyon VI
The Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon XIV
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The Grand Canyon VII
The Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon XV
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The Grand Canyon VIII
The Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon XVI
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The Grand Canyon IX
The Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon XVII
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The Grand Canyon X
The Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon XVIII
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The Grand Canyon XI
The Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon XXII
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The Grand Canyon XII
The Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon XXIV
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The Grand Canyon XIII
The Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon XXV
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The Grand Canyon XIV
The Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon XXVI
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The Grand Canyon XV
The Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon XXVII
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The Grand Canyon XVI
The Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon XX
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The Grand Canyon XVII
The Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon XXVIII
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The Grand Canyon XVIII
The Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon XXIX
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The Grand Canyon XIX
The Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon XXX
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The Grand Canyon XX
The Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon XXIII

Why It Is So Difficult to Judge A Fine Art Photograph

Judging or evaluating a fine art photograph is difficult. It is possible to establish a scale of values or levels to determine a value. But the criteria remain subjective. No photo will ever be unanimous.

Photographie artistique d'un arbre au Kenya.
Fine Art Photograph of a Tree in Kenya.

Two Levels to Judge

To evaluate a fine art photograph, we think there are two possible levels:

  • The message and the content that are a rational and an emotional interpretation.
  • The level of the conception that is based on all photo techniques: framing, composition, balance, colors, contrasts, geometric shapes, etc.

To judge an artistic photograph, an observer does not refer to its aesthetic qualities but to the information it contains and the interest it has in it. It is remarkable that the content of an image remains identifiable despite a bad technique.

The technique itself is only intended to support the process of identification. The techniques of designing a photo are only intended to improve the reading of the message and the content.

The Photographer and The Observer

Knowing the photographic grammar allows to a photographer to judge photos in an enlightened way but also to produce quality photographs. The application of the rules must not become an end.

Even if the photographic grammar must invest the photographer's mind or even his unconscious mind, he must only devote himself to the shooting, to the enhancement of the photographic elements as well as to their content.

For the observer of a photograph, the recognition of the content and the reaction that it provokes are the most important of the experiments.

The quality of the composition favors this process and sometimes makes it very pleasant. Sometimes certain elements of composition are so dominant as to disturb the observer's perception. For example, the point is one of these dominant or disruptive elements. In a composition, the point is a photographic element that is small, tiny. It is distinguished by its light, its contrast in the scene, its color. The point is static. It shows no tendency to move in a photo. A single point occupies a preponderant place in an image: it dominates the composition.

Creativity is Crucial

If a rigorous design quality helps to enhance the message or content of a photo, a good dose of creativity is essential to produce quality content.

The photographer's creativity is expressed in the content, the message and the design.

At the time of the shooting, the photographer must dwell on the content and the message to interest an observer.

It's a bit like a book. When you read a book, you are passionate about the story because of the content and the message delivered by the author. You will focus on the conceptual side, paying attention to spelling, grammar, paragraphs and chapters.

The Construction of a Photograph

To build a fine art photograph, the photographer must use reading reinforcement elements such as the point, visual lines, surfaces, details and structures. It must also consider masses and balances.

He must take care of the original plan. It is a material surface intended to carry the photographic work. It allows tonal and color values to cover part or all a photo. It can be the background or a shape.

The photographer must manage his negative space and his positive space. The positive space consists of the centers of interest of the image. The negative space is what supports the visual impact of the positive space.


Judging a fine art photograph is not an easy exercise. A photographer must practice doing this with a conceptual and message in mind. He must learn the grammar photography. When he becomes a good judge, he will become a good photographer.


“Leaving” – A Collection of Fine Art Photos in Shades of Blacks and Whites

Leaving. This word causes people to dream.

Who would not want to leave for a few days or weeks to experience different cultures? Who would not want to disconnect from everyday life in order to discover new horizons? Who would not want to leave home on a foggy morning to meet someone on the other side of the earth?

Leaving requires courage, sincerity, and ambition. Few people can leave their current state to fulfill their dreams and chase their destiny. Saying it is so easy but doing it is the real challenge. Fear is the main obstacle. What will we find when we leave? How will we get there when we decide to go? This is a common but ironic attitude because “to forget” our daily routine is precisely why we intended to leave in the first place.

Leaving is to agree to abandon everything for at least one period of time. Leaving allows one to see that the grass is not greener on the other side. Leaving makes us realize that we have everything we need, perhaps we just did not pay attention at first. Leaving is to seek and find our own destiny. Leaving is to construct the foundations of our life. Leaving is having no regrets upon the arrival at the destination. Leaving is choosing to pause and recognize the goals we have achieved. Leaving allows us to take paths that we thought it impossible. Leaving is to climb mountains to better see the horizon in front of us. Leaving is to say that we are the only judge of our life. Leaving is to say to our self that we do not have to undergo the escapades of the others, of those who think they know what is good for us.

In our case, we chose to leave. The winding path was challenging and chaotic. We had not planned anything, and time seemed to pass slowly. Since then, we have achieved some of our goals. Now everything seems infinite. Our dreams are even bigger.

This collection of black and white artistic photographs shows roads that symbolize the action of leaving, making a real choice in a lifetime. These photographs represent the emotions that we felt in tough times during which we doubted. The clouds represent those periods of unrest where fear has taken over our courage. These fine art photos show that paths can be winding or straight.

When we leave, we must never go so far as to forget where we came from. Our roots are essential. They are the ones who shape our consciousness and allow us to relate to reality. They are at the core of our being. Sometimes our roots try to force us on the ground by preventing us from going further in our quest. But roots are only the bedrock of our life. The antlers and foliage that we build over time is the most important for us.

To choose to leave is to choose freedom.

Click on a thumbnail to enlarge the image.


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Leaving I
Death Valley
Death Valley XLIX
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Leaving II
Death Valley
Death Valley L
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Leaving III
Death Valley
Death Valley LI
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Leaving IV
Death Valley
Death Valley LII
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Leaving V
Death Valley
Death Valley LIII
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Leaving VI
Death Valley
Death Valley LIV
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Leaving VII
Big Bend National Park in Texas
Big Bend in Texas XV

“Maze” – A Collection of Fine Art Photos in Shades of Blacks and Whites

A maze is a place where you can go astray. A maze is a complicated, inextricable place. Life can be considered as a real maze.

For some people, life is made of entangled paths that do not seem possible exit. It is an endless erring way. Every day is seen as a fight against regulations, laws, and rules that must be overcome.

For others, and this is our case, everything is very complex because we see that this is how human nature has been constructed. But it is always possible to find an exit then to go to other horizons. We believe that we must always be positive to look for and to find outlets for every unforeseen situation that arises.

We think that not seeing the positive side of things does not always help us to move forward and feel happy. As human beings, we are each very complicated when it comes to making choices. This is our strength and it is a trait of what makes each of us so genetically unique. At first everything seems simple. We feel that make the decision is easy. When we begin to analyze the facts, however, we quickly realize that the cross roads are numerous. The road will not be as straight as we thought. Making a major decision requires navigating through a maze of considerations that we may not be able to see all at once.

It is when we have found the outcome and we turn back on the road we traveled that we realize that nothing is easy. And yet, the outcome is often happy and full of satisfaction.

To illustrate the maze that arises when we have decisions to make, we have chosen to create artistic photographs in black and white with mineral landscapes. They imposed themselves. These are places we went to walk with the impression that we would never go out. We felt like we were lost forever. And yet, we ended up discovering a way out. Each time we found our way, we returned to hope. We created new projects in which we passionately and completely involved ourselves. We found the energy to move towards the unknown, towards others, towards new mazes.

Click on a thumbnail to enlarge the image.


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Maze I
Zabriskie Point - Death Valley
Death Valley XXXI
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Maze II
Zabriskie Point - Death Valley
Death Valley XLVIII
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Maze III
Zabriskie Point - Death Valley
Death Valley XXX
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Maze IV
Zabriskie Point - Death Valley
Death Valley XXXII
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Maze V
Zabriskie Point - Death Valley
Death Valley XXXIII
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Maze VI
Zabriskie Point - Death Valley
Death Valley XXIX
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Maze VII
Zabriskie Point - Death Valley
Death Valley XXVIII

“Divagations” – A Collection of Fine Art Photos in Shades of Blacks and Whites

To ramble is to wander from here to there, removing the focus of where one’s body is present.

Rambling is also the action of a mind that goes astray and wanders at the whim of its reverie.

This collection of black and white photographs symbolizes what it means to ramble. Most of us search in our dreams for answers to some of the fundamental questions that have been driving humanity for thousands of years. Where do we come from? Where are we going? Does life have a purpose?

Modern technology gives us answers to certain questions or at least allows us to approach possible solutions. This is particularly true for issues regarding aging, time passing, or social behavior. But nevertheless, the essential questions of life continue to remain unanswered for us.

Today, the development of transportation allows us to quickly and safely interact with other cultures. We can look elsewhere for answers to life’s deepest questions. We still hope that the distance will give us solutions to our ethical and moral problems, but unfortunately, we often return empty handed. We begin to wander again. Our mind meanders our memories, our lost illusions, and our dreams of success.

When our mind wanders, it is because we seek out the abstraction of our unconscious responses to our anxieties.

The realization of our desires to travel often motivates us to search beyond the boundaries of our garden. It is when we return to our roots that we become aware that the answers to our questions were merely beneath the tree we had been leaning against for years without noticing what we were doing.

We are satisfied for a few days or even for a few weeks. Then the time to work returns. We forget. Then we ask ourselves the same questions. We wander again on the sinuous roads of our thoughts. This is an eternal recommencement.

Ultimately, the ravings of our mind provide us with a way to live in harmony with others. They allow us to escape whenever we want. They allow us to dream about another place that may be superior and different than our current situation. But all this exists only in our imagination.

Click on a thumbnail to enlarge the image.


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Divagation I
Grand Canyon - Arizona
Grand Canyon XIX
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Divagation II
Grand Canyon - Arizona
Grand Canyon XX
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Divagation III
Grand Canyon - Arizona
Grand Canyon XX
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Divagation IV
Grand Canyon - Arizona
Grand Canyon XXII
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Divagation V
Grand Canyon - Arizona
Grand Canyon XXIII
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Divagation VI
Grand Canyon - Arizona
Grand Canyon XXIV
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Divagation VII
Grand Canyon - Arizona
Grand Canyon XXV
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Divagation VIII
Grand Canyon - Arizona
Grand Canyon XXVI
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Divagation IX
Grand Canyon - Arizona
Grand Canyon XXVII
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Divagation X
Grand Canyon - Arizona
Grand Canyon XXVIII
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Divagation XI
Grand Canyon - Arizona
Grand Canyon XXIX
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Divagation XII
Grand Canyon - Arizona
Grand Canyon XXX
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