Photography Excursion – Lourdes

Last week I travelled to Lourdes in France with a band of local pilgrims.  I went along as a) it was the sort of thing I would never do and I want to push my boundaries, and b) I was generally just curious to see it.

A bit about Lourdes…

Lourdes is a small market town lying in the foothills of the Pyrenees. It is part of the Hautes-Pyrénées department in the Occitanie region in south-western France. Prior to the mid-19th century, the town was best known for the Château fort de Lourdes, a fortified castle that rises up from a rocky escarpment at its center.

In 1858 Lourdes rose to prominence in France and abroad due to the Marian apparitions claimed to have been seen by the peasant girl Bernadette Soubirous, who was later canonized. Shortly thereafter the city with the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes became one of the world’s most important sites of pilgrimage and religious tourism. Today Lourdes hosts around six million visitors every year from all corners of the world. This constant stream of pilgrims and tourists transformed quiet Lourdes into the second most important center of tourism in France, second only to Paris, and the third most important site of international Catholic pilgrimage after Rome and the Holy Land.

I took along my trusty Canon E0S as I knew there would be interesting photo opportunities, and although I wanted to respect the privacy of people there I knew I could get some good documentary type shots.

I am a born and bred ‘intermittent’ catholic, (although my local priest calls me a ‘have a go catholic’ – i.e. I just pick the bits of doctrine which I like and ignore others), so I went with some scepticism if I am totally honest.  But I can convey that is a great place to visit, and not a bastion of the Catholic Church itself in terms of rules and regulations, but one of Faith, pure and simple.  The atmosphere was amazing, and what I liked most was that ill and disable people were treated with the utmost respect and courtesy.  They were not the invisible as in so many places, but instead the most focused upon and respected.

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The town is set at the foot of the Pyrenees, and I went up the funicular on the Pic du Jer to get a birdseye view.  This is a very high hill overlooking the town, and the funicular was so steep I had to shut my eyes going up, but once up on the top you can see snowcaps in the distance even in the summer.  It is simply beautiful.

Around the Basilica and Grotto in the town were a multitude of people;  Religious, Medical Staff, Pilgrims and Volunteers.  I loved just watching them all go about their business, whether it was praying, talking or just moving through the town.

The town has stations of the cross set on two levels, low and high.  I climbed up to the high ones which are life size and cast in bronze, to get a set of photos for a pilgrim I was with who could not make the steep walk.

The statues of Saints and Angels around the Basilica are amazing.

It really is an inspirational place and I recommend a visit for anyone, religious or not, to see such kindness to the sick and disabled.  I bathed in the waters at the Grotto, and it was an incredibly experience and very humbling.

There are bits of Lourdes that have lots of shops selling religious souvenirs, some tasteful and some very garish, but it’s all part of the experience just to see how many different statues and types of water bottles you can count…!

So if you are ever in that part of the world, I really recommend a visit.  It puts life into perspective a bit more and was a very calming experience.

Instagram Challenges

Or how the # has become second nature…

It is a fact that I love Instagram, and I am always amazed and delighted by the creativity out there that I can peruse… from nature photography to food to clothes to interiors.  It means I follow so many people that it takes ages to scroll through daily feeds, but it’s worth it!  It also seems that there is a colony out there of similar minded people who like me are obsessed with interiors, it’s like having a mini village of people right on your doorstep.  Everyone shares ideas & tips, and are incredibly friendly.

From there come the Instagram challenges, which tend to be people setting up a hashtag and the rest of us posting pictures including it, usually within a timescale.  One that I have been doing is #myhousethismonth this February.  It’s a daily shot with a title, so things like #storage, #bestbargain, #love (Valentine’s day of course) and so on.  I love doing it, but WOW! it takes some planning.  Especially when you have to photo something everyday that passes muster.

Anyhow, here are some offerings I have been posting this mont.  My teenage daughter has trained me in various editing methods for photos as she said I needed to up my ‘instigame’ – thanks daughter, that made me feel ancient!  So I sometimes use Whitagram and VSCO to tweak shots before they are posted, although I do like to use Instagram as it was intended if possible and just shoot and edit on it directly.  So here are some shots posted while I tried to keep up, and it’s only mid month!  And this is the challenge set….

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This is #favecorner
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This is #window
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#metallic – a lovely silver leaf
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#lightit up – a very un pc lamp!
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#handmade – my upcycled cupboard
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#storage – my favourite huge cupboard
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#workspace – my desk where I ponder the universe

Once I get into doing it I then start taking other photos, so they go up as well as the challenge ones:

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And so it goes on… now off to shoot today’s picture which is #can’tlivewithout…. that will be my coffee maker then…?  Or maybe my cats…. ?  Hmm, it takes ages to decide…

More Starbucks Pumpkin Heads….

As mentioned previously in an older post, I had to source pumpkin heads for a shoot for Starbucks’ Instagram UK stream for Prescription Agency.

The campaign is now rolling out and here are more of the pictures, I think they are hilarious.

in coffee shop

How no one in the background looks bemused I do not know….

in park

That is my friend’s dog, he is a lovely French Bulldog.

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“Oh no!” said the pumpkin head to her friend when he told her the latest gossip.

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No one seems at all suprised to find such a traveller in their midst.

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Love these art gallery ones.

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Autumnal Walks & Sloe Gin

Autumn in all her glory

Today I went on a magical walk with my family in some Berkshire woodlands and captured some stills of autumn looking amazing.  We had a family lunch for my husband’s birthday and then headed out for a long walk.  Here are my beautiful girls who happily pottered with me and also took photographs.

The clocks changed last night, and it really felt like we are heading for winter with a nip in the air and clear skies.  This year the leaves are magical; holding onto the trees for as long as they can and turning the most amazing colours.

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IMG_1394 Continue reading “Autumnal Walks & Sloe Gin”

Ice in photography

This morning I woke up very early to a huge frost, everything was blanketed in it and looked fuzzy with ice, and then the sun started to shine.  It looked amazing.  So I rushed outside, (coat over dressing gown plus hat etc – probably made my neighbours wonder what on earth was going on if they did see me crawling around in the flower beds), and I took some pictures.  Here is one:

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I could not really go any more macro on shots with the basic camera and lens I was using, so decided to investigate what lens would work.  Along my googling journey I came across these stunning close ups of Ice by Oystein Johnsen.

I also found a large collection of ice macro shots by various photographers on Gizmodo, all amazing.  This page is also really handy for lens information as the photographers discuss how they took the shot and with what cameras and lenses.