14th July

This year the 14th July fell on a Saturday. The same weekend we had the final of the World Cup, which, by a strange freak of chance, was France versus Croatia.

I foolishly chose to go up onto « my » hill which overlooks the city – foolishly because the shots are pretty much identical to last years ones…

If you enlarge the picture, you can see people lining the « escalier monumentale » – just under the left hand edge of the fireworks.

Then on Sunday evening I went out again, after the triumphal win of France 4-2 over Croatia, as I had a sneaking suspicion that the town hall might be lit up with the national colours.

And I was right! The whole of the top of Auch was cordonned off and there were quite a number of people out – these girls were having a wonderful time in the illuminated fountains!

However, the image that I thought summed things up, for me at least, was taken by a French Airforce photographer, standing underneath the Arc de Triomphe.

I can imagine the photographer, after having had the idea to do the shot, getting himself lined up under the archway as the Alphajets screamed along the Champs Elysées, opening his left eye to line up the leader with the centre of the arch as they closed in, simply moving backwards and forwards across the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, hoping that the wind would blow the flag out of his way, then firing shot after shot as the jets came into shot. Fantastic – I don’t know who you are, but this is a terrific shot – well done.

Note: although this image is presented on the web facing in this direction, I’m pretty sure the original image has been reversed – firstly, the Alpha Jets of the French Airforce fly North-West/South-East (from right to left with the sun in this position) along the Champs Elysées, and secondly the sun would not be as far to the right (West) at 12h when the planes overfly the parade. Lastly (and after much research) the French Victories  « Mantou » and « Tagliamento » are amongst those engraved on the Southern pillar. Therefore this image is facing the correct direction.

Bronze Age

I’ve recently been hunting around for an artist to help with a project we’re putting together here in Auch.

Thankfully  I found one – Laure BELLION , and while we were discussing the project, she mentionned the fact that she was involved with another project in Auch which was all about a couple of artists from Burkina Fasso and making bronze sculptures.

This sounded interesting from a photographic point of view, so last Saturday I visited the Atelier des Berges du Gers (Gers Riverbank Workshop) and this is what I saw:

The previous week, various budding artists following the course, had made wax sculptures which they had then covered in clay. This week, Ibrahim and his father Bamadou made a fire in an old oil drum and heated up the clay molds to melt the wax.

Once the molds were empty, another fire was lit, this time inside a circular drum made of refractive (heat resistant) bricks. On top of the charcoal used to create the heat was placed a crucible containing brass taps, bits of copper pipe – anything and everything that would melt and create the ‘bronze’ alloy. Air was blown into this ‘furnace’ by the simple expedient of an electric fan and a piece of old motorbike exhaust pipe!

Fresh charcoal was added every few minutes and after about an hour the crucible was glowing with the molten metal inside. Ibrahim then lifted the crucible out of the ‘oven’ …

…and poured the molten bronze into the molds.

The molds were left to cool down for about three hours before they were broken apart with hammers and chisels to reveal the bronze statue inside.

After a fair bit of chiseling and thumping, Ibrahim then attacked the sculptures with an angle grinder to remove the excess metal.

The black material is simply the carbonised clay which came into contact with the molten metal, at 1500°C – fine work with a small brush and a screwdriver will be needed to get everything clean and ready for polishing.

A really interesting workshop – surprising by it’s contents. With any luck they will be coming back next year!

Last but by no means least, here’s a portrait of Ibrahim and his ‘magic’ glasses!

Getting back into the saddle

After Déclic and organising various projects, it was really nice to pick up a camera again and do something for ME!

Initially I photographed a Belgian company here in residence – this was all in the large studio and even though the lighting wasn’t perfect, I managed some reasonable images.

Alexander Vantournhout « Screws »

This last week a company I’ve known for 4 years are back in residence and this is a lot more dynamic – The Philébulistes are known for their exotic structures – and this is no exception! I photographed them in 2014 when they were in Auch with « Halili »

Cie Les Philébulistes « Halili »

This year they’re back with « La Tangente du Bras Tendu » which involves doing anything and everything on an even larger structure than before;

Les Lendemains & Les Philébulistes

The Caserne Espagne,  empty since 1993, provides the space, and an intriguing backdrop, for the structure. The company are giving a presentation of the project on the 28th of June – until then, I’ve been invited to visit whenever I want, to document a little of the development of the project.


This is a group photo which I was able to organise – one of the tableaux uses a lot of ladders so it seemed obvious to me that we should include them as props… they seem to like the result!

Marathon Photo Déclic 2018

I have to admit, I’m knackered. It’s actually surprising just how much effort is involved in organising these things! Anyway, the hardest bit is now over…all that’s left is the jury and the prize giving.

This is someone trying desperately to sell the themes – without any success – to passers by.

The morning started well with 86 participants in the BIJ waiting for the ‘off’ at 10h. I have to do a little speech, explaining things etc. etc. (which apparently that went ok) and at 10h the first theme was splashed up on the video-projector.

Everybody had to meet at the Cathedral in Auch so we all set off and climbed up to the top of the town – and at 10h20 I divided the 86 participants into 2 groups – one group disappeared with a guide, and the other group were given information to follow a little ‘parcours’ at the top of the town to visit things they might not know even existed. What the second group didn’t know initially was that the first group were having a guided tour of the inside of the Cathedral.

At 11h30 the two large groups changed and the whole thing started again – with people moving back towards to BIJ to download their images and eat (very important!) at 13h

We all ate together in the concert hall – we provided the drinks (we even had a keg of beer!) and the participants brought their own lunches.

At 14h the third theme was announced on the video-projector and they all went off out again. Everyone had to remember to meet at Ciné32 at 15h20 – where I announced the fourth and  final theme – « Follow me » I said, and they did…into a circus tent where I had organised a demonstration by a group of local circus artists. This went down very well and at 16h30 we were all back at the BIJ for the last round of downloading.

After the last images had been transfered, we started the diaporama which showed all of the 559 images, one after another.

Everybody seemed to enjoy what we had organized – which of course just makes it more difficult for next year (!) – but I’m happy to say we had the most participants (86), the broadest age range (7 – 77years old) and the most images – 559.  Looking at the initial albums there’s a lot of good work….I can’t help thinking the jury is going to have it’s work cut out tomorrow!

Backblaze – first 3 weeks






I decided to use Backblaze to keep a copy of my image files on a Cloud server. Their offer is reasonable – 50$/year for unlimited space – so I signed up on the 15th of April and started my initial backup.

Things chugged along ok for a couple of weeks, and when I checked, 777Gb of data had been copied (I have 4,7Tb to copy in total…)

Then on the 2nd of May my iMac restarted itself when it installed an Apple update (Like an idiot, I forgot to ‘uncheck’ the ‘automatic install’ of updates.)

When the machine restarted, so did the backup – but for some strange reason there were only 146 Gb of data on the Backblaze servers.

I sent a message to their help desk – the reply (from a certain ‘Christopher’) bore no relation to the question I had asked. I had simply restated the details (above) and received a mail explaining why files were marked for copying etc.

No Christopher – first, read the f****g question.

I wrote back, asking whether or not they had actually read my original mail, only to receive another unintelligible mail.

I also downloaded the IOS app for Backblaze so that I could check on progress on my telephone. It should allow touch recognition to start the app (instead of having to type in the e-mail address and password each time) and asks if you want to set this up when you install the app. This doesn’t work either.

So after my brief experience with them, I’m very disappointed – if only I could get a REAL response to my (simple) question – frankly I cannot recommend a system where the A: users questions are ignored, and B: bits don’t function.

Sadly I’ve paid my 50$ and I doubt I’ll get that back, but I am looking around for an alternative backup system…


In fairness to Backblaze, I’ve just had an understandable answer (took a while guys…) were ‘Robert’ (AKA ‘Christopher’) informs me that they seem to think something on my computer is generating ‘extra’ files which are being uploaded. I can’t imagine where they come from, or indeed what they are – and of course, there’s STILL no explanation for the sudden DECREASE in the file count. They suggest restarting the computer and seeing what happens…

…so I have.


Welcome in Tziganie 2018

Well of course, after a weeks sun, this weekend it’s wet – but we expected it – it’s the weekend for Welcome in Tziganie, the Tzigane music festival here in the Gers – wouldn’t be the same if there wasn’t any rain…

After having complained to the organiser (a friend of mine, luckily!) that there wasn’t enough animation on stage  (I mean, a fanfare (group of very static musicians playing for an hour) is all very well, but it would be SO much better with a dancer)  this year we’ve had dancers with most of the artists.

The festival lasts from Friday evening to Sunday evening, and the very first group was, for me, one of the best as it featured Nuria Rovira Salat, a singer/dancer I met a few years ago and who lights up any stage!


She was the high-light, for me at least, for Friday – yesterday we had a group of Rajasthanis called DHOAD

Tonight will be interesting…

Bye bye flickr

It’s been fun (sometimes) but I think it’s time to stop giving away my images for free, or worse, letting someone somewhere decide what they want to do with my work, and this without even letting me know…

Flickr started as a free, independent platform for file (image/video) sharing a few years ago and seemed quite a good idea – a number of web-based photographic fora didn’t allow uploading of images, so it was easier to use Flickr to stock the images and simply give a link to the image in a forum post.

Flickr has two basic modes – ‘free’, with an unlimited number of uploads, but a limited file size, or ‘pro’ where the file size is unlimited too, but costs $22/year. In terms of security, the user can limit access to his files to a list of family (‘friends’) but people rarely do this, which means that pretty much anything visible can be copied, downloaded and then used by anyone.

On April 19th 2018 Flickr was bought by the people who run SmugMug another file hosting outfit – that I’m not at all familiar with – and the current users of Flickr have until the 24th of May to copy/download/destroy the contents of their accounts if they don’t want it migrated to SmugMug.

I don’t, so I’m off – (as it happens my account renewal is on the 3rd of May, which is convenient) – and like Facebook, this will have little or no effect on me – the few people who ‘follow’ me and get regular updates when I post something won’t have the pleasure of seeing my work, but I think it’s important not to freely distribute my stuff, or at the very least, have an idea of what’s happening to it.

Like I have said on numerous occasions, if you want to know what’s going on, look at my website..


Sunday Morning Sunrise

The predicted weather for today was not brilliant – sure, it’ll be warm but overcast – super for portrait photographers, but I wanted a nice contrasty sunny day.

The sunrise period looked promising however, so I grabbed a wide angle and drove over to l’Ilse de Noé, a small village about 15 klm away. I know a tree there – strange how things can ‘grow’ on you – and it often inspires me. This is what I made this morning – can’t yet figure out which I prefer…

(The second and last images are not the same)

This last image is from a week go – lovely misty start to the day


The Eye of Photography

This is a French site, also available in English, L’Œil de la Photographie is one which just has to be visited!

I signed up to the newsletter a few years ago – this is a mine of information about current work, artists portfolios, exhibitions etc. and I strongly recommend people to visit and read. There’s a staggering amount of work that goes on ‘behind the scenes’ (I know, I’ve tried!) to bring new artists to the fore, and also to catalog what is going on generally, in the photographic art world.

In addition, at weekends, the site is given over to anyone who wants to send in a selection of their personal work – a marvellous way to ‘expose’ new talent to a larger audience. There’s even one of my photos….from a long time ago…

There’s even an IOS/Android web app available for your phone to keep track of events etc.