After a long days photographic shoot in the Aude hills I saw this huge plume of smoke along the distant coastline. Naturally, I had to investigate and take pictures. People were pulling up all along the narrow country lanes, Staring up in awe. It was like something from a Ray Bradbury story, 'Rocket Summer'. Where the heat from Rocket plumes change an icy winter's day into a warm summer, albeit a short lived one.
Driving closer the plume, we could see it widening by the second, fanned by fast changing winds, it was the maritime pine forest burning along the Massif Fontfroide.
Eventually I came to a village called St Andre de Roquelongue, where a huge garrison of fire fighters were preparing to engage the fire. Red fire trucks were filling their water tanks outside the huge wine co-operative and leaving in groups of a dozen or so. A helicopter relayed information. It was a massive undertaking. Strangely, the country lane up to the fire wasn't blocked, so, I drove up, only to be turned back by a group of serious looking French police at at another junction. Before leaving I took a few more pictures, which I'll upload later.
Today, reading the local paper, I see that 130 hectares of Corbières maritime pine forest were consumed by the flames, along with two fire engines.
One hundred and thirty firefighters, six Canadair firefighting planes were employed plus two water planes and four trackers. It still burns, virulently. The cause, unknown.
I just had to stop the car on the edge of Beziers and capture this strange golden netting.
The sunflowers are normally planted after an old, spent vineyard has been grubbed up, as they have to plant other crops for 4 years or leave the fields fallow.
The netting is there because we get huge flocks of migratory Starlings that can and do strip a field in just a few hours.
The wine harvest has already started, mechanized grape picking machines will be working night and day for a few weeks, thus most grapes are already gone by the time the Starlings arrive. They do however, get the very sweet, over ripened grapes that are left on the vines, and boy do they love them!
This one was a hard one. Firstly its a redo of a simple image I made two years ago. I started this version last year and got bogged down with too many people facing the void! So, on re-discovering it just yesterday on my external hard drive, I could see with my fresh eyes that it needed a pruning, so, out came the other three people and in went the sky. Taken the other night from Beziers Bull ring.. after the fight, thankfully, but they had left their iron doors open, and it was a lovely moonlit sky.. Fitting really, after the modern day pagan horrors!
Whilst having lunch this weekend, Martine and I talked to the owner of this little outdoor restaurant in Capestang.
She was telling us about a particular visit to a mutual friends chateau swimming pool. She'd fallen asleep under the shade of trees at the edge of the pool, but was surprised on awakening, to see a clump of leaves she'd not noticed floating on the surface that seemed to have come from no-where, so, being the good visitor she got out the pool skimmer and started skimming the leaves.
Suddenly, a huge wasp stung her on the cheek, it must have been drinking from a floating leaf and was pissed off at being disturbed. Her attacker continued her assault (she called her a she) buzzing around her face and so she put a towel over her head and ran up the steps to the chateau doors. The maid answered and let her in, thus locking the still angry she-devil outside.
The maid shrieked when she saw our victims face, which was by now hugely swollen. Our friend then decided that it was probably a good time to depart, through the back doors. She mounted her bicycle and headed for home, unfortunately she could no longer see clearly as her eyes were streaming and so she failed to see a rock along the drive which she hit, causing her to unbalance her bike into the deep drainage ditch full of very spiky brambles.
She eventually managed to get out, but her arm was now bleeding badly as she'd cut a blood vessel which was spurting blood down her arm, so she kept flicking her hand to be rid of the blood, unfortunately thus occupied, not seeing a low branch, struck her just above the eye, swiping her off the bike, yet again!
Then, whilst freewheeling down into the village, she managed to swallow a fly..
Upon finally entering her village she saw a circus sign saying they were opening that same night, so, she ran to her house and locked the high iron garden gates behind her, her neighbors, also in their front garden noticed her state and all the blood and asked what was wrong? She said, "If the Circus lions escape today, it will be me they will be eating"!
We used to live under the low flightpath of the Concord aircraft in the south and afterwards in north London. I suppose we were just lucky..
This image is inspired by several things, firstly the German art house film by Wim Wenders; "Wings of Desire" In the opening scenes the recording angel, played by Bruno Ganz, stands sentinel like on a broken spire of Berlin church ruin looking down upon human life.
Children passing, notice him but not the adults. A baby in a pram looks up at a passing aircraft. We are then inside the aircraft with the angel listening to various passengers thoughts. He smiles at a child. Moments later we drift through gray European clouds, back to the black stained walls of the ruined city, the story continues..
The other element arrived when I heard about the airline company who were proved to be responsible for their metal aircraft parts being left on the Paris airstrip, are being sued by the German families of the victims who perished in the Concord disaster.
Bullfighting season arrives.. Its here again, high summer and the onset of the bullfighting in our local area. I'm famous for my outspoken anti-bullfighting beliefs, so, I'll not bang on about it here.
This huge, permanent Ferier ad is on the Narbonne hill overlooking that stormy valley. I just snapped this whilst driving past other day, through the windscreen. I'm not too sure about the cross and the heart, but I like to think its a Christian anti-bullfighting symbol?
I've been so Baad! I went and bought another camera in the local outdoor flea market, its A Rolleiflex! The guy wanted 350 euros but I played it cool, though I was bursting to buy it in reality, I'm sure my eyes were as big as plates! O_O
After he told me the price I put it down and started looking at his little lens parts for sale, just to show my interest had moved on.. He then asked me; "Well, what do you think about the Rolleiflex?" I just said, dismissively, "Too Much" He came right back and asked; "Well, what were you thinking? I said "200euros", He thought about it and said; "280"? I came back with 250e, the original price I was willing to pay and he said; "Yes, its a deal", Voila, both happy!
So now after seeing the quality of the image on the frosted glass, I have to say it was worth every penny. I later found out on the net that this is a pre-war model made between 1934-1938 It has a great Carl Zeiss lens and in its original leather case.
I've yet to use it as I need to find a users manual. "Hints?"
Whilst visiting Montpellier, here in the south of France yesterday, I came across a huge Weegee exhibition at the Pavilion. Inside they have a mock-up of Weegee's famous car boot developing studio!
For more info, here's a short history from the net:
Fellig's nickname was a phonetic rendering of Ouija, due to his frequent arrival at scenes only minutes after crimes, fires or other emergencies were reported to authorities. He is said to have named himself Weegee
He is best known as a candid news photographer whose stark black-and-white shots documented street life in New York City. Weegee's photos of crime scenes, car-wreck victims in pools of their own blood, overcrowded urban beaches and various grotesques are still shocking .
He maintained a complete darkroom in the trunk of his car, to expedite getting his free-lance product to the newspapers. Weegee worked mostly at night; he listened closely to broadcasts and often beat authorities to the scene.
He had no formal photographic training but was a self-taught photographer and relentless self-promoter. He is sometimes said not to have had any knowledge of the New York art photography scene; but in 1943 the Museum of Modern Art included several of his photos in an exhibition. He was later included in another MoMA show organized by Edward Steichen, and he lectured at the New School for Social Research. He also undertook advertising and editorial assignments for Life and Vogue magazines, among others.
His acclaimed first book collection of photographs, Naked City (1945), became the inspiration for a major 1948 movie The Naked City, and later the title of a naturalistic television police drama series and a band led by the New York experimental musician John Zorn.
Weegee also made short 16mm films beginning in 1941 and worked with and in Hollywood from 1946 to the early 1960s, both as an actor and a consultant. He was an uncredited special effects consultant credited still photographer for Stanley Kubrick's 1964 film Dr. Strangelove His accent was one of the influences for the accent of the title character in the film, played by Peter Sellers.
In the 1950s and 1960s, Weegee experimented with panoramic photographs, photo distortions and photography through prisms. He made a famous photograph of Marilyn Monroe in which her face is grotesquely distorted yet still recognizable. For the 1950 movie The Yellow Cab Man, Weegee contributed a sequence in which automobile traffic is wildly distorted; he is credited for this as "Weegee" in the film's opening credits.