2011 Photo Calendar

Click on any of the small images below to see a larger version!

So I finally got around to making a photo calendar... I had already made one a few years back, but it was smallish and I had not been too happy with the print job. Then, last December, I received an ad from a photo lab I had previously used for prints: a reduced rate on their vertical format A3 calendars (that's approximately 11.7" by 16.5") plus a buy two get one free deal. I decided to check out if calendar printing had gotten better since the last time I had tried it and was thus faced with the task of coming up with a dozen photos. I immediately discarded a theme-calendar, i.e., one that features only photos of a particular topic. There was simply not enough time to do that. Instead, I ruled that as long as an image was taken in a given month, it would qualify for that month's calendar page.

I use Apple's superb Aperture software to catalog my photos, and it took it substantially less than a second to sift through the over 13,000 photos already cataloged and display only those that were taken in January of any year and were in portrait (vertical) format. I quickly selected a few images, then repeated the exercise for February and the rest of the months. Finally, I chose the final images from the group of selected ones, uploaded them to the photo lab, and assembled the calendar on-line. Here are the images I included, along with some information on when and where they were taken (note that you can copy and paste the coordinates shown into Google Earth; this will take you to the shooting location):

January: Mediterranean

January: Antibes

Sunday, January 6, 2008: The Mediterranean     (7.129596° E, 43.583698° N)

In the center of the old town of Antibes, there is a small, sandy beach from which one has an excellent view of the old ramparts that were built to protect the city against pirates. No matter what the season, there are almost always people on that beach, if not to swim then to stroll. If one follows the harbor wall for a few more paces, one finds an archway through which one has a great view on the Mediterranean.

There are hardly ever any people here, most likely because pebbles and rocks are a great deal less comfortable than sand. Passing this archway during a Sunday walk through the harbor of Antibes (there are yachts berthed less than ten yards behind me), I was intrigued by the feathery clouds and the greenish appearance of the sea, so I stopped to take this picture. This is definitely not a typical Antibes shot, and that is probably one of the reasons I like it as much as I do.

February: Precariously Perched

February: Bonifacio

Friday, February 15, 2008: Precariously Perched     (9.161219° E, 41.386875° N)

On February 14, 2008, Vicki and I drove to Marseille where we boarded the SNCM ferry to Corsica. We spent the night on the ship, arriving in Bastia around 7 o'cock the following morning. We then drove down the eastern coast of the island, arriving in Bonifacio on the southern tip just before 11 AM.

Though we've been to Corsica many times, we usually stay in the northern part, mostly around L'Ile Rousse. Many years ago, during a rare trip to the south of the island, I had already attempted to take this shot: David and I had climbed the cliffs opposite the old town, and I had taken several photographs with my Minolta Maxxum 9000, only to discover later that the film had broken and that I didn't have a single photo of the houses perched on top of the limestone cliffs.

Naturally, I had to remedy this situation, and our visit to Bonifacio on this sunny Friday provided a welcome opportunity.This time, everything worked out. The D300 performed flawlessly, there was no film to break, and I was finally able to capture an image I had literally waited years for.

March: Seashore Flowers

March: Cassis

Sunday, March 30, 2008: Seashore Flowers     (5.535208° E, 43.213009° N)

Our friends Carolyn and Stan from North Carolina were going to be in Marseille on May 1, 2008. Since we wanted to spend the one day they were in the South of France with them, we were looking for a spot not too far from their cruise ship where we might spend a day admiring beautiful scenery and eating good food. We thought Cassis might fit the bill, but since neither one of us had ever been there, we decided to visit the area beforehand to see if it was as nice as everyone said.

On a Sunday in late March, we set out to explore the place. It was windy, the sky was a color between blue and gray, and while visiting the "calanques" (inlets surrounded by towering limestone cliffs), our little tour boat was bouncing up and down on the waves and we were repeatedly sprinkled with salt water. Back in town, things calmed down a bit, and while strolling along the walkway bordering the sea, I saw these flowers braving the wind and the salt water. I am not sure why this is my favorite of the few pictures I took that day, but the fact that it is warranted its inclusion in the calendar.

April: Old Tavern

April: Rhodes

Friday, April 23, 2004: Old Tavern     (28.229198° E, 36.442966° N)

In April of 2004, we went on a Mediterranean cruise, our first vacation of this type ever. We sailed from Venice and stopped in Bari, Katakolon (near the site of the original Olympic games), Santorini, Mykonos, Rhodes, and Dubrovnik before ending up back in Venice. We spent Friday, April 23 in Rhodes; for once, we had chosen not to reserve a shore excursion and explore the city on our own. At some point, I glanced into a doorway in the ancient part of town and saw this amazing combination of colors and rounded, vertical, horizontal, and diagonal lines.

A counter with a wall full of bottles and an ancient coffee machine off to the right revealed that it was a tavern, but there was absolutely no one in sight, neither attendant nor patrons. After my tentative "Hello?" went unanswered, I quickly stepped inside and snapped this picture, trying my best to get the exposure just right. Sometimes, photos come out exactly the way I hope they will when I take them; this is one of those times, and this is why I chose this photo for the April page.

May: Meadow with Poppies

May: Fayence

Sunday, May 21, 2006: Meadow with Poppies     (6.689558° E, 43.645656° N)

On a beautiful Sunday in May of 2006, David and I took a drive through the back country. We passed Grasse, Saint Vallier de Thiey, drove up the mountain to Thorenc with its small lake, and eventually drove down to Mons, Fayence, and then home from there. We made countless photo stops on the way; after all, that was the primary purpose of this outing.

Towards evening, as we were heading down the curvy and narrow mountain road from Mons to Fayence, I added an unexpected stop to our itinerary when I spotted this meadow with a bunch of poppies shouting for attention. Poppies are my favorite flowers, so I just had to take a few shots.

As far as landscapes go, this is probably as typical a May scene as you can get in our area's hinterland: the terrain is uneven, there are olive trees, and yes, there are poppies. Looking at this scene brings back the sweet fragrance of a May evening and the memory of a fun day spent with David.

June: Grand'Rue

June: Tourrettes-sur-Loup

Sunday, June 22, 2008: Grand' Rue     (7.059236° E, 43.716171° N)

Tourrettes-sur-Loup is one of the villages in our area we know best. It's perched on a narrow spur of land amid rocky cliffs and features medieval houses, including some that form a wall around the oldest part of town. All this makes it a most picturesque place, and we seldom fail to bring foreign visitors to Tourrettes.

I don't remember if on this occasion, we had come up alone or if we had dragged friends or family members along; suffice it to say that the trip yielded quite a few usable photographs. Here, we are standing at the very beginning of the "Grand' Rue" that goes around the entire old center to emerge on the opposite side of the main square. Many artisans and artists have set up their shops and ateliers along this street (if one can call it that), so it is not at all unusual to return home having made a purchase.

To me, this is probably the most recognizable view from inside the village of Tourrettes-sur-Loup

July: Evening Sun

July: La Bastide d'Engras

Thursday, July 14, 2005: Evening Sun     (4.474241° E, 44.088988° N)

On Bastille Day 2005, I drove to La Bastide d'Engras, a small village near Uzès in the South of France. I was to pick up my friend Doug Hofstadter who had been staying at the vacation home of another friend of his, Frank Bloch. Frank had kindly invited me to spend the night so I would not have to drive back the same day. I got there mid-afternoon, and Doug and I had a lovely chat by the pool while Frank ran a few errands. Later, the three of us sat in the huge kitchen of the beautifully restored farm house, sipping an apéro and waiting for the food to be cooked.

Shortly after 8 PM, I noticed the warm light of the lovely summer evening coming through the kitchen window, and I took this picture right from where I was sitting, zooming in slightly to get just the portion I wanted. The next day, Doug and I drove to Valbonne where he stayed with us for a couple of days before flying to Italy to join his two kids who were staying with friends. I did take a few photos at Frank's house, but this one is my favorite by far as the camera captured the light in just the right way.

August: Old Town Street

August: Nice

Sunday, August 27, 2006: Old Town Street     (7.27715° E, 43.696267° N)

The old town of Nice is a maze of narrow and winding streets, unfit for automobiles (though some drivers do try) and usually teeming with people, especially in the summer.

All the more surprising, then, that in the middle of the afternoon on a sunny August Sunday, this street should have been so empty. As I recall, I had but a couple of seconds to take this shot: a bunch of tourists had just disappeared out of sight in the distance, and there was a whole other group immediately behind me.

Any person, with the possible exception of an obvious (and preferably elderly) local, would have ruined the picture for me, and so I was grateful that the camera did a perfect job of capturing the light of the summer afternoon sun. I certainly would not have had time to set up the shot manually.

September: Footbridge over the Cherwell River

September: Oxford

Wednesday, September 28, 2005: Footbridge over the Cherwell River     (1.2453° W, 51.75075° N)

At the end of September 2005, I went to visit Eric who had begun his London stint a few weeks earlier. One of my goals was to help him move from his temporary digs at Evelyn Gardens to his Linstead Hall dorm room.

While I was in London, Eric and I took the train to Oxford. We spent the entire day there, walking around in the old town, admiring the many gorgeous colleges, climbing up Carfax tower and enjoying the view from the top, and generally having a great time. Walking down High Street, we crossed Magdalen Bridge from where I saw this lovely white footbridge that crosses the calm waters of the Cherwell River. The scene conveyed a sense of peace that was strangely at odds with the sounds of traffic immediately behind me.

I only visited Eric one more time in London, and that was in March of 2006. Less than a year after this picture was taken, Eric left the UK for North Carolina.

October: Captain's Rest

October: Villefranche

Sunday, October 14, 2007: Captain's Rest     (7.31263° E, 43.702965° N)

Because we had booked two cruises with them, our travel agency in Cagnes-sur-Mer invited us to visit a cruise ship near Villefranche-sur-Mer, undoubtedly in the hopes of selling us a third cruise.

Since there is no provision for large cruise ships to dock in Nice, most liners who stop in this area anchor in the bay of Villefranche, sheltered by the Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat peninsula. From there, tenders are used to ferry the passengers to and from the shore. For visitors like us, a slightly larger boat had been chartered; it was supposed to take us to the "Century", a ship belonging to Celebrity Cruises. "Don't be late," we had been told, "your transport to the cruise ship leaves at 11 AM sharp."

As can be gleaned from this photo of our captain, photographed at 11:01 AM through the open door of his command post, the term "sharp" is somewhat ambiguous in France when used in conjunction with time. We did eventually leave about five minutes later.

November: Canal Saint Martin

November: Paris

Sunday, November 9, 2008: Canal Saint Martin     (2.367114° E, 48.869282° N)

On a gray and drizzly November morning, Vicki and I were walking along the beautiful Canal Saint Martin in Paris. The trees were almost bare, and looking around, this fragment of Rainer Maria Rilke's poem "Autumn Day" popped into my head:

     Whoever has no house won't build one now
     And long will remain so, he who is alone
     Will read, write long letters, and wake on his own
     And in the alleyways up and down
     Restlessly wander as the leaves are blown.

An hour later, the skies had cleared and the sun was out for the rest of the day, albeit tentatively. Of all the pictures I took during our Parisian weekend, this is the one that most effortlessly takes me right back to those two days.

December: Trevi Fountain

December: Rome

Friday, December 24, 2004: Trevi Fountain     (12.483517° E, 41.900983° N)

This photo was taken on Christmas Eve during our holiday visit to the Italian capital. Vicki, David, Eric, and I had flown to Rome from Nice on December 20, and we had almost four whole days to explore the city and sightsee. That same evening, we were to take a flight back to Nice, but Alitalia canceled it because the four of us were the only passengers booked! Instead, they flew us to Genoa and brought us to Nice in a chauffeur-driven Mercedes. Pretty classy...

To me, this picture of the Trevi Fountain is most representative of our Roman Christmas trip, possibly because a poster-sized copy of it hung in my office for two or three years.

After New York (1999), London (2002), Rome (2004), and Amsterdam (2008), it seems doubtful that our Christmas-in-major-cities series will be continued. All the more reason to enjoy the memories rekindled by images like this.

So was I happy with the result? Let's say that it was way better than my previous effort. The printing quality was very good, and it seems that the color profile included in each file had been meticulously respected. In general, the colors came out exactly the way I had intended. On the other hand, I was not too happy with the paper quality: not only was it too glossy, but it had a tendency to curl away from the wall. Still, the end result was not bad at all and a definite improvement over what I had observed in the past. The purpose of this page is to present the twelve photographs along with a description of how and where they were shot. It's really just another photo page, except that not all images were shot in the same place or on the same occasion.

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