Valensole Plain 2012

Lavender Fields, Valensole Plain by Phyllis D. Peterson, 2012

I’m up to day three of my photographic journey through the Provence area of France.  It wouldn’t be a trip through that area of France without the obligatory photograph of the lavender fields of the Valensole Plain. (I just love writing those words. I think it conveys the specialness of the place.) But don’t be fooled. These lavender fields bloom for only 2-3 weeks. Our visit was specially timed to be at the lavender field when they were in bloom. This is an important cash crop for the French. As we found out when we visited the town of Sault, they sell the lavender blossoms and scent in their markets and worldwide.

As photographers we are all aware of the popular scene of neat, clean purple rows stretching into the horizon. How do you capture the scene without being boring? First of all, not all the rows were neat and clean. You had to find rows that were mostly purple. It was difficult because we were at the beginning of the two week period of bloom, so there were distracting green and white plants mixed in. We were lucky in that there were field of bright green fields to break up the color, and bordered by fields of wheat.  The trick is to shoot down the rows to show the perspective of converging lines in the distance. And, because it is a landscape shot needing focus in the distance you have to plan to set your aperture small (larger number) like f/16 or f/22. If you use Aperture Priority, the shutter speed will adjust and you just need to tweak it with the Exposure Compensation. Focus into the scene about 1/3 of the way in and you will get good focus, front to back.

We went to the market at Sault and took pictures of the lavender that was for sale. Of course, I brought home some lavender fragrance bags for my drawers at home. The fragrance brings me back to that place and time.