Squatter in the marina

coot preening
I captured this coot on the back of a motorboat last summer while walking around a marina on Lake Geneva. Judging by the greenery behind the coot, it appeared to me that s/he had set up housekeeping there.


Waiting at the gate


I featured this adorable donkey foal in a post last summer. Here’s a different image of her with her dam. They were waiting at a cattle grid/gate when we arrived half way up the mountain in the Haute Savoie region of France, fairly close to Geneva, Switzerland.


View from the top

Last winter while staying with family in the French alps we visited Chamonix and Mont Blanc. Newly opened was the Pas dans le Vide (Step into the Void), a glass box suspended off the Aiguille du Midi with a looooong straight drop underneath. The Aiguille du Midi is a peak adjacent to Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in the Alps, which stands on the border between France and Italy. It is as close as you can get to Mont Blanc without hiking/climbing it. At just under 4,000m in altitude, the Aiguille du Midi takes two cablecars and an elevator to reach. From Chamonix at the bottom of the mountain, the top looks like a little dot (as seen in the first image).

I captured a lot of images while I was up there, today I’ll just focus on the eastern flank, where skiers negotiate a knife-edge of a ridge to a staging area where they can put on their skis in order to ski back down the mountain. I could barely take my eyes off all the peeps who were sidestepping along the ridge and then becoming tiny dots before disappearing from view. And check out the sheer drop off to the left of a group of skiers getting ready to go… Yikes…

•Aiguille du Midi, yep that little pimple on the top!
•Aiguille du Midi from Stage 2. You can see the glass cage on the right side, there’s actually a person in it.
•Two photos showing the bridge leading from Stage 2 to the Aiguille du Midi, accessed via elevator in the middle of the rock, with skiers hiking down the ridge in the background.
•Stage 2 with Chamonix way down in the bottom of the valley.

The following images show the area accessed from Stage 2 where the skiers negotiated the ridgeline down to the staging area before skiing the rest of the way down the mountain.  Italian and Swiss alps in the background.

And yes, I stepped into the void… 🙂


Working dog

Hard working farm pooch catching a few zzz’s in the farmyard. This dog has been seen before on my blog last summer, in a post entitled Lunch on the Col de la Colombiere.

shaggy dog sleeping against barn wall

This time, I have used this image as this week’s Monochrome Madness entry. Everyone’s submissions can be seen at Leanne Cole’s blog, click here. I selected this image for monochrome because I felt it really emphasized the eyeful of textures.



Chamonix valley, France

While I was in France this summer, one of our day trips was to the Chamonix valley where we took a cablecar up to Planpraz in the Aiguilles Rouge mountain range, on the opposite side of the valley from Mont Blanc, at 4807m the highest mountain in the Alps, and also the highest mountain in the European Union.

Chamonix is a year-round resort, with skiing in winter and hiking and climbing in the summer. Each year a number of people die during activities in the Mont Blanc range, in fact the day these images were captured 6 hikers died on the Aiguille d’Argentiere which is one of the peaks near the Aiguille Verte (4122m) area of the Mont Blanc range, the really pointy peaks in these images. The weather changed very quickly while we were there and it’s thought the climbers were caught in it and fell to their deaths. The second to last (less colorful) image shows the Aiguille du Midi, 3842m. Not possible to see it in the size of this image, but at the top there’s a viewing area with a glass box that extends out over a straight drop-off (on the right of the mountain in this image) that people can step into…I did it shortly after it opened last winter. I’ll post images captured last winter later in the year.


Fairytale Swans – Monochrome Madness Week 34

monochrome image of two mute swans swimming under treesClick on image for larger view.

At the beginning of August I featured the color version of this image, which I’ve included again below, but since it lent itself so well to black and white I decided to submit it to this week’s Monochrome Madness Challenge on Leanne Cole’s blog (click here to visit this week’s eclectic collection of great images).

While visiting the grounds of a small French chateau that was being restored, we found these two swans swimming at one end of a pond, where a a group of very old cedar trees leaned over the water, draping their branches close to the surface and obscuring most of the light. But a few small shafts of sunlight succeeded in penetrating the gloom, spotlighting the swans and reflecting some of the  light onto the tree trunks. I fired off a couple of quick shots before the swans moved out of the light, but I wasn’t optimistic about the results as my camera really struggles with low light situations, and I didn’t have time to set up a tripod even if I’d had one with me. But when I saw the image on my computer I was enchanted, and I found myself wishing I’d spent more time trying for different angles, just to see what might have come out of it. In any case, I love this shot. I love the green glow in the color version; the spotlighting of the swans; the reflected light; the way both swans appear to be checking out their own reflections; the serenity of it… I don’t think I could have designed the scene more perfectly, and I absolutely didn’t manipulate it in post processing, which was minimal — just minor, very basic Lightroom on a RAW image stuff. Well, okay I did pop the green a tiny amount in the color version, but really very little. I can’t decide if I like this one or the color one more. I really like the effect of the green from the moss and foliage which enhances the glow in the color image, and the pop of color of the swan’s bills, yet I think the black and white version works well, too. The emphasis in each feels different to me…possibly more about the swans in the monochrome, and more about the whole scene in the color one? Any opinions?

Two swans swimming in the dark

Above the clouds

Besides the images of our trip to Alsace once I’ve processed them, I’ll also be featuring more images of Geneva, Switzerland as seen from the lake, and some trips up into the mountains in the Haute Savoie region of France. And when I say up, I do mean UP! Today’s image was captured near the top above the clouds on our way to a delicious lunch at a little mountainside restaurant in the middle of nowhere. Access was on foot or 4×4. More from that day’s outing are included in the bulging folder of images waiting to be processed…

Click on image for larger view. ddonkey foal grazing in alpine meadowThe road was blocked by this donkey foal with her mom, so we all piled out of the vehicles to say hello to them and take advantage of the magnficent photo op.