Season’s Greetings

As we enter the twilight of another year, I just had a quick trawl through my archives to find a suitable ‘drawing to a close’ image.  So here’s wishing everyone a very Happy Christmas and a great 2016 from me and from Jill

The Best Laid Plans of Mice & Men – Super-Moon Total Eclipse

DSC_2343-fbNikon D810 – 1 second @ f8  –  800 ISO  –  Nikon 80-400mm    –    Trees lit with LED torch

Firstly, this is one of only two successful shots of the totality that I achieved last night (at 03:30 CET to be precise). Living close to the Canal Latérale and the River Garonne, as we do, we get a lot of early morning mist at this time of year. As the eclipse developed, the temperature fell and the camera and tripod were really quite wet with condensation (although with the Nikon D810, that’s not an issue). However, I had terrible problems with the front element of the lens constantly fogging. And then, to cap it all, whilst I was wiping the moisture off the lens, I inadvertently moved the focus ring – I was using manual focus – and, of course, by that time, the image was so dim that refocusing was impossible.

Secondly, as many of you will know, we have a ruined 13thC church across the way from our house and I wanted to take the photo from behind that so that I could have the belfry as my out of focus ‘Earthbound anchor object’ (to give some context to the shot and to make it more unusual and interesting). However, the field behind the church was full of maize and I found that there was nowhere for me to set up the tripod that would give me a clear view of both the church and the moon. So, in the end I shot it from our lawn, using our poplar trees as my ‘Earthbound object’.

Ho hum.

Still, there’ll be another chance in 2033:-)

New Advanced Week ‘Action Photo’ Venue

This evening, Pete finally got the chance to spend some time on his own at our new ‘Action Photo’ venue, courtesy of Mathieu Tallec, his wife Katia, and daughter Laurie (pictured below).  Lovely and extremely hospitable people and beautiful horses. What more could you want!


At last, but…..

2015-07-10 22_17_41-WATER LILY DUST JACKET (4).pdf - Adobe Reader

Finally, 4 years after it was first discussed, the book on water-lilies, for which Pete was commissioned to supply photos, is going to print. He agreed the picture content of the book and the jacket photo with the publisher today. The book will be available in the autumn from the usual book-sellers worldwide – ISBN: 9781870673839. That’s the good news.

The bad news is that he’s disappointed with it; instead of the coffee table book we thought it was going to be, with lots of beautiful photos of water-plants accompanied by explanatory text, it’s become a book for water-lily purists specifically about Bory Latour-Marliac’s hybrids, which means loads of text accompanied by some photos. It’s a shame. But never mind, it’s Pete’s first commission ever to be published worldwide in all markets simultaneously – which is nice – and it’s good PR for us anyway.

New seating area at PPF

Tranquility base :-)

New paving, table and chairs under the vines and honeysuckle. Created for those that would like a little privacy, on occasion.


New to Advanced Photography Weeks for 2015


Those guests who have been on previous Advanced Photo Weeks with us will recall photographing our speedy ‘Tour de France’ cyclist neighbour, Rowland Cockin. Unfortunately however, Rowland has now sold his property here which means that we’ve had to search for a suitable ‘action’ alternative.

We’re happy to announce that we have today finalised arrangements with a local equestrian centre and, as of June this year, horses and riders will be the future subjects for our action photography sessions:-)

We attend the 70th VE anniversary commemoration in our village

VE day is a public holiday in France. Jill and I attended the 70th anniversary commemoration held in the village at 10:30 this morning. Thanks were given to, and a minute’s silence held for, the members of the French and Allied Forces who lost their lives during the conflict.

Afterwards we retired to the village hall for an apéritif. We were amazed by the number of people asking us about yesterday’s election in the UK.


(Nexus 5 smartphone photo)

Sad news this Easter

We are very, very sad to have to tell everyone who knew her that our lovely Labrador and great companion, Holly, died suddenly yesterday, Easter Saturday.

We took some friends to Bergerac airport at 14:00, leaving Holly fit and well in the garden. When we arrived back home at 16:00 we found her collapsed on the lawn unable to move and having breathing difficulties. Our retired French veterinary friend, Georges, came over straight away to examine her and confirmed that she was almost completely paralysed. We took her immediately to the vets in le Mas d’Agenais where, thankfully, they had someone working an Easter rota.

However, after examining her, the vet told us that Holly had suffered a massive brain haemorrhage, and that she was already, by that time, almost dead and could not be saved. To prevent any further suffering we agreed that the vet should put her to sleep and we stayed with her through that process. The vet is arranging for her to be cremated and we intend burying her ashes here in the garden she considered to be hers as much as ours.

As all our guests discovered, Holly had a quirky, individual, but loveable, character and, even at just over 11 years old, she was still a remarkably fit and active dog. She has been with us through every single one of our Painting & Photography seasons and every guest will recall how she was always there in the car park, waiting for us, tail wagging furiously wanting food and a fuss (usually in that order), when we all returned from our days out.

We know that many of you who came back to us for repeated visits got to know Holly particularly well, some of you often taking her for early morning or late afternoon walks along the canal, so we know that you’ll miss her too.

you lookin' at me

Pete and Jill
Lagruere, 5th April 2015

Some people get all the luck!

Well, just a hour or so after our last post, I received an email from David Parker, a photographer who was with us here at Painting-Photography-France in June 2010, together with his lovely artist wife, Valerie. David and Valerie live near Nottingham in the UK and the following shots were taken by David from his balcony this morning.



Thanks for that David!  (I’m not jealous or anything)

Eclipse? What Eclipse?

09:00 CET this morning, camera sitting on tripod out on the terrace, 400 mm lens attached, VR switched off, 12x neutral density filter in place,  camera in live view, remote at the ready, testing various shutter speed and aperture combinations, hoping to get some great time lapse shots of a fairly good ‘Super-Moon’ partial eclipse. Even this far south it should have been around 75% at its maximum, as per this graphic:

2015-03-20 11_10_53-Eclipses visible in Bordeaux, France - 20 Mar 2015 Solar Eclipse

And what did we see here in lovely southwest France?  Rien, nothing, nada😦

This image was taken at 09:10 CET, just after I began testing, and it turned out to be the best sky we had! It just got worse and worse from this point on.


By 10:20, the time of the maximum eclipse, that thick cloud you see here was everywhere. Unbelievable! It was a beautiful day yesterday and it’s forecast beautiful again tomorrow. That’s Sod’s Law for you.

So, unless there’s some great advance in medical science pretty soon, I guess I’ll miss the 2090 one too (but it’ll probably be cloudy anyway).


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