An Arles appetizer

As an amateur photographer I have lots of bad habits, but by far the worst is not looking at my photos after I take them.

Over time, the weight of all those photos becomes oppressive, as it can take hours to sort through my mostly crappy snapshots to pick out a handful of favorites. Eventually the task feels so daunting that taking new photos seems pointless, since it will only add to the backlog on my hard drive.

But over the past month I’ve begun to chip away at that backlog, by sifting through 15 years’ worth of family snapshots and sending the highlights to my loved ones.

And last weekend I turned my attention back to Arles. (Remember the weekly market I described some six weeks ago?) Here is just a small appetizer of the Arles buffet to come.

Arles Colosseum 1690958 CX BLOG
Roman ruins jut out of the ground all over town — like the remains of this enormous first-century B.C. arena, which could once seat 20,000 spectators.
Arles Overlook 1700757 BLOG
Thick fog only made this particular morning even more beautiful and peaceful.
Arles Street scene 1700471 lighter BLOG
I loved how the famous Provençal sun found its way into even the narrowest of streets.
Arles street view with cat 1710616 CR2 BLOG
This cat demanded to be pet — and then bit me. Ingrate! But I forgave him because he matched the scenery so perfectly.
Arles window 1700304 BLOGWhether it’s because of the sun-baked climate or economic downturns, much of the city seemed to be in a charming (but tidy) state of disrepair.

Well, there’s the appetizer I promised. Stay tuned for the full feast of sun-baked, Roman-ruined, cat-adorned photos, yet to come!


  1. Lovely color and composition! I wish I could click them to see them larger. Especially the first one; I’d love to stare into its detail for a while!

    • Thank you, Jim — I greatly appreciate the kind words! Though now I’m scratching my head about how to make the photos “embiggenable.” They used to do that automatically; wonder what changed in the code since the last release. Sounds like I have my next weekend project!

      • I’ll be dipped, it looks like they’ve taken away the ability to link to the file like you used to. At least in the current editor. If you go back to the old editor it’s still there.

        You can also do it the old-fashioned way by going into the HTML editor and wrapping an a href tag around that bad boy, where the href target is the address of the image that you find in the image link itself. But what a bother.

        • “I’ll be dipped.” Ha ha! It’s been ages since I heard that one, Jim — and it pretty much sums up my reaction to your discovery too.

          I just tried to edit the HTML myself and quickly discovered I have no idea what I’m doing. But I really *do* want to learn HTML, so I’ll make it a project to figure this one out! In the meantime, the workaround I discovered is to drag the image onto your desktop — then you can open it in Photoshop (or other photo editor of your choice) and gaze at it in all its 1.25 MB glory. 🙂

  2. That cat really did match! I love it when I per someone’s cat and ask, is he going to bite me? They say no and he always does.

    • I have the same experience! The cats’ owners always smile and say, “Oh, those are ‘love nips,'” but over the years I’ve become a bit wary of cats’ unpredictability. Though obviously not wary enough, as this feline proved! 😉

    • I often look at other people’s blogs and feel my photos are inadequate too. But the important thing *is* to keep at it, right? 🙂 Thank you very much for your kind words!

  3. Your photo’s are so vivid..can’t wait to see more.
    I do know what you mean by all the sifting, sorting, deleting etc that goes along with photo’s, even those of us who do it for fun and have no clue what we are doing 😜

    • It’s been really refreshing to hear that I’m not alone in my dread of photo-editing, Tipsy. So thank you for the reassurance on that score — and for your kind words, too.

    • 2013???!!!! Oh no, Alison. I may not even be *alive* in four years! I’d better devote two hours a day to the task instead of just one. 🙂
      Thank you so much for stopping by, and for your kind words.

      • Well, I haven’t exactly devoted a full time effort to it if that helps. I’m going through the trouble of scanning digitally and then tagging the photo with names, dates and places. Stupidly ambitious on my part. Alas. I’ve become the slide show expert for all weddings and funerals.

        • “I’ve become the slide show expert for all weddings and funerals.” I don’t know whether to laugh on your behalf or cry, you poor thing! Well, regardless, hats off to you for your dedication in doing the job 100% with tags of names and dates and places. [Heide bows deeply with respect]

  4. Your appetizer did its job: My appetite is whetted for the rest of meal! Great photos. Glad you are sorting through your backlog. I can appreciate what a challenge that can be. I have lots of old photos from my parents that drain my energy and never quite allow themselves to be fully sorted and shared. Thanks for keeping at your “task” and sharing your incredible photos.

    • What a kind comment, Patti … thank you for your praise and encouragement! I will think of you as I will myself on this weekend to open yet another folder and continue my task. Best wishes to you with your parents’ photos as well! x.

  5. I spent just a few days in Arles in 1989, but never came close to capturing the beauty you’ve reflected here in your photos. They’re breathtaking. The upside of digital photographer is that we are free to take many shots, the downside is what happens when we’re back at our computer faced with so many choices. It think it’s hard, though, when you’re in the moment to step back and delete the rejects. It is time consuming for sure. I’m so glad you’re taking the time to work through your backlog. 15 years! I’m so impressed. Perhaps you can schedule a deadline for sorting and editing after each trip and even put it on your calendar. That sometimes helps my clients get things done. That way you can still be “in the moment” capturing these beauties. Every great photographer I know says they take 100 shots to get one good one. I think your aces.

    • Oh, dear Alys … you sure know how to make a gal’s week. THANK YOU! I do hope these and my future photos will bring back happy memories of your trip to Arles — and I’ll be eager to hear any comparisons you care to share between your own recollections and how I saw the city. It was a delightful surprise in many ways.

      And you’re right that digital photography can be a double-edged sword by making it so easy to take multiple shots of everything — but also making the subsequent editing a burden. When I used to shoot film I was by necessity much more disciplined about fully “seeing” and composing a frame before shooting. I’ve been trying to return to that mindset a bit.

      And your suggestion about scheduling a deadline for sorting and editing after each trip is an excellent one! I will take that advice to heart during my next sojourn to Florida.

      As always, thank you so much for your positivity and encouragement! xx

      • Good afternoon/evening, Heidebee. How’s summer treating you? We popped up to the high 90s again and dipped our toe, briefly, over the 100 mark. We now have a portable room AC in our living room window so we can all be together in one communal room with more reasonable temperatures. I wish I could remember more about Arles. I remember how hot and still it was in August of all things. Do you sense a pattern here. Heat (whine). Heat (whine). So…have a terrific week and keep those *cool* Arles photos coming.

        • Hello, lovely Alys! I’m so glad you were able to get a window AC unit installed — especially since it seems there will be no relief from the heat anytime soon in your neck of the woods, you poor thing. I imagine your kitties are especially grateful (as was our dear old dog when we did the same for him, many years ago). Have you had to abandon the garden altogether, or are you still able to get out there a bit early in the morning? For me that’s the worst part of the heat: looking out my window at the prostrate squirrels and torpid bunnies and panting sparrows and wilted hostas, and wishing I could bring them all into the cool indoors! In Minnesota so far we’ve been fortunate to avoid such extremes — although the storms this year have been quite wild. Still, nothing like the torrential rains they had in Paris yesterday. It seems the whole planet is going mad, doesn’t it? Well, I promise you I will return soon with some more tempest-free photos of Arles as a distraction. Big hug to you from the north! xx

          • It does seem as thought the whole planet is going mad. I know the critters are struggling, too, not only with the heat but the wildfires. I understand there are 100s burning in BC with no sign of letting up. We simply must endure, while fighting back against climate change deniers. I can’t even! 😦

            I’m happy to hear you are avoiding the extremes. My friend is moving away from Oroville (this year they had a failed damn, failed spillway and now the Wall Fire which destroyed 41 homes and forced my friend to evacuate. Anyway, long story short, she’s moving to Minnesota.

          • Oh, no … your friend is moving for Oroville to Minnesota? But Minnesota is the very definition of “extremes”! Though we haven’t yet had a Wall Fire — so I suppose that’s an improvement. All joking aside, if she’ll be anywhere near the Twin Cities, please pass along my email. I would be delighted to meet her and welcome her.

            In the meantime, I hope things have finally moderated a bit near your home, dear Alys. We must indeed endure … and we must do whatever we can to help our beautiful blue planet survive too. xx

          • You are so dear. I would love to connect the two of you, and will as the time and details are firm. Her husband has family there so that is also part of the appeal. The wildfire season is upon us, sad to say. I heard this morning that the Mariposa fire has grown to 70,000 acres with 5,000 people evacuated. I’m grateful for my suburban living at times like this. I can’t imagine the stress and hardship these people face year after year. I’ve been thinking about you a lot these past few days. Sending continued love and good vibes your way.

          • Please do put your friend in touch when the time is right! Any friend of yours is a friend of mine, Alys. In the meantime, I’m sad and distressed to hear that it’s wildfire season again already. My heart goes out to the people in the affected area — just as my gratitude goes out to you for your kindness and support these past few days. xo

          • Thank you so much! I hope life is a bit easier this week. We’ve had a strong wind today, and it pushed all the smog out of the valley. It’s a rare treat. How is your weather? The local fires were all out within 24 hours. The Mariposa fire is a bad one and has been burning for a week. I think it’s now 40% contained. I can’t believe it’s only July.

          • What a relief to hear that the fires near you were contained so quickly, Alys! I can’t imagine how stressful those wildfires must be — they are truly as much a force of nature as tornadoes or earthquakes, once they get going. Speaking of forces of nature: We had some particularly violent storms move through last night, and I expected to find my garden shredded by hail this morning, but miraculously there was no damage. My working theory is that after all these summers, my hostas have learned to retract into the ground at the first sign of thunder. 🙂

          • Heidebee, your hostas are the smartest plants in the garden. Lucky you…and them. I’m glad your garden is no worse the wear from those storms. We’re heading to Colorado for a wedding over the weekend, and thunderstorms are in the forecast for all three days. I’m excited, as it is so rare here. After another day of 90 degree plus temps, I’m also looking forward to the high of 72! How is your garden fairing this week?

          • How lovely to hear that you’ll be getting away from the heat for the weekend — and that you’ll enjoy the thunderstorms too! 🙂 As a fellow lover of inclement weather, I’d be joining you at the window to watch the spectacle. 🙂 As for my garden … well, the Japanese beetles have arrived, alas, so there goes the foliage. But as my personal motto says, “Don’t worry; it’ll grow back.” Ha ha. A big hug to you, and safe travels!

          • It was hot and smokey when we arrived in Denver, but as we made it to Winter Park, the air cleared, cooled and delighted us at every turn. The predicted thunderstorm passed us by, but a second one is forecast this evening. Fingers crossed. 🙂 I’m sorry to hear about the Japanese beetles. I’ve just looked them up and read all the challenges here:

            You really have your hands full. I had a few summers of squash bugs and they are similarly parasitic and hard to get rid of. I feel your disappointment. Hugs back your way.

          • I am crossing my toes (because I need my fingers for typing) that you will be blessed this evening with a spectacular-but-not-truly-dangerous thunderstorm, Alys! And if nothing else, I’m delighted to hear you’re getting your fill of crisp, clean air. That does sound wonderful …

            And you’re right about the Japanese beetles, which are so abundant this year I can’t help thinking of Biblical plagues. The cottonwood tree in front of our neighbor’s house is so infested that the bugs were literally falling onto us like raindrops this afternoon. Needless to say, we cut THAT conversation a bit short! Alas, we’ve decided to just let the bugs do their thing because the pesticides that would be needed could be harmful to so many other critters. It’s always hard to find a balance in these things, isn’t it?


          • Oh my goodness that is *gross*. I can’t imagine such an infestation. Well, I can, actually, as I hearken back to those dreaded squash bugs. Eeeeeewwwww!

            I’m with you on the pesticides. Better to let nature take its course. Do these beetles have a natural predator? We were at the Denver Botanic Gardens, and I saw what I’m sure is the same beetle. The leaves on the shrub/tree were either missing huge sections, or in some cases they looked skeletal. Colorado is also suffering a tree infestation from something they believe came in on a wooden palette from Asia. It’s amazing how something so small can wreak havoc.

            We did get to experience some lovely rain, though we missed out, for the most part, on thunderstorms. That said, there were a couple of thunder claps during the wedding ceremony and that was amazing. Just the cool, mountain air was welcome.

            Big hugs and thanks, Heidebee, for all your well wishes.

          • I’m sorry to hear you missed out on those Colorado thunderstorms, dear Alys — although the thunder during the wedding ceremony does sound quite dramatic. Well, if you want to come up to Minnesota next June I can pretty much guarantee you at least one spectacular hide-with-the-kids-in-the-basement-Marge tempest. Even better, the beetles won’t be here yet so you will be able to stand under the trees without worries about unwanted hair ornaments!

            As for your question: I’ve never tried them myself but am told those Japanese beetles taste awful, so the birds don’t eat them. No doubt some smart human will find something else that *does* consume them, though, import that thing in large numbers, and then we’ll be overrun by an entirely new pest! Yay! 😀

    • I’m so glad to have brought a smile, dear Dutchess! I left feeling grateful it wasn’t my cat; I’d be a nervous wreck if every day brought a new episode of “you must pet me … and now I will bite you.” 😀

  6. Lovely images – the tones and hues really shine through, particularly in the first couple of shots. I know what you mean about trawling through old images – it’s not always easy, and I’ve found myself having to be extremely disciplined about working through photos I have taken. I look forward to seeing more! 🙂

    • You’ve made my day with your kind comment. Thank you! I’ve vowed to bring more disciplined to my editing on future trips — but also to my shooting. With digital I’ve become much less thoughtful about composition, metering, etc than when I shot with film. See? I told you I was full of bad photography habits. 🙂

  7. I totally relate to this! The curse of being a photographer in a beautiful place is having to sort through the photos is much more work than people realize. Sure it’s totally a first world problem but still! I’ve been procrastinating for a few months with my photos of Prague. I imagine I’ll put that post up somewhere around 2022.

    • 2022. It’s a date, Corey — and one I will very much look forward to! But all kidding aside: Sometimes it’s actually good to let a bit of time pass, I think. At least in my experience it seems to help me judge the photos on their own merit, instead of compared to my memory of a moment or place. Anyway, thank you so much for stopping by!

  8. These pictures are stunning! I am not a photographer by any means, but even just the pictures on my phone (I recently deleted 5,000 😮 Eeeek!) can be overwhelming when I try to sort them. And I hate editing pics for my blog. I love the end result, but going through all of them ahh! Lol. ❤

    • OMG. You *deleted* 5,000 photos from your phone? How many were on there to begin with?!! I think I’d find the whole thing so overwhelming I’d just buy a new phone. 😀

  9. Oh, some of us love the digital mode of photography and some of us would rather be back to the old analogous ways where most of the time you took just one or two pics of an object and that was it. For me, the digital way is perfect, taking as many as I like of an object to be able to pick just one. And still, like you say of the sunlight in Arles, you never get the perfect picture to match what you saw. But – and that’s my view of the matter – isn’t this imperfection what continues driving an artist to go on trying and trying in a neverending quest for new pictures, paintings, sculptures, stories? And, to me who only visited Arles in my imagination, your pictures, Heide, are as near perfection as I think would be possible.

    • I am with you in appreciating “the digital way,” although I’d perhaps be wise to regain some of the discipline I had when I shot film.

      Either way, I do very much like (and agree with) your view that imperfection is a wonderful creative stimulant. I have yet to shoot an image that I’m 100% happy with — so your description of “near perfection” is as high a compliment as ever I could hope to achieve. Thank you so much for that, Ellington.

  10. I don’t think people who only read blogs realise what effort goes into them! And the photos drive me insane – choosing and editing – and I am not even an amateur photographer. What’s worse is now I tend to replicate o phone/camera and end up with gazillions pretty much the same but myself convinced some must be much better than others. Sigh. You’re so right, they sit there in the background, dragging along behind you like Marley’s ghostly cash registers in A Christmas Carol.

    • I *adore* the idea of all those unedited images dragging along behind us like some Dickensian ghost, taunting and accusing us! But in spite of my whining I still find it worlds preferable to the old way of having to process and print my photos. Back then photography was an *expensive* hobby for me, so I should be grateful for all these “free” photos I can take now, eh? Thank you so much for stopping by!

  11. Exquisite visual appetizers! I feel quite satiated =))) Thank you for all the beauty! Looking forward to the next “meal.” That cat’s face does look a little grumpy ; p

    • Thank you so much for stopping by, Lara! I will do my utmost to serve up the next course before week’s end. 🙂 As for that cat … I’m glad your kind-hearted self also read him as a bit grumpy. I was worried I maybe hadn’t given him enough of a chance!

    • “Charming decay” is the perfect description! Thank you … for stopping by, and for your lovely comment.

  12. You need a glamorous personal assistant, Heide. Or a Warhol Factory style team of photo sorters. Expensive to house and feed, though.

    I can’t imagine how you begin to judge which photos to use and which to cull. Words are easier to judge than images: either they sing or they don’t. But photos, as direct records of the real world, don’t they each have something worth saving: the light or a tiny detail in the corner of a clumsy shot? Not trying to complicate your choices, but having seen the beautiful photos that you publish here, I can’t imagine that their cousins are dreadful creatures. How do you choose?

    That naughty, naughty French cat. So pretty, too. It looks too proper and self-contained to be biting friendly visitors. Like being bitten by a butler.

    • I don’t know if even a Warhol Factory-full of photo sorters could help, dear Elaine, because I’d still insist on seeing every photo … and would then agonize over its merit-to-flaw ratio. (Though, contrary to your kind belief, many of my photos are indeed “dreadful creatures” that should never be released from their hard-drive cage. I’ll send you a couple privately just to give you a laugh.)

      As for that naughty French cat … your phrase “Like being bitten by a butler” will keep me in stitches for the rest of the day. My goodness, you can turn a phrase! Thank you for brightening my day by doing so here …

  13. Hey there! The collection of images are simply stunning indeed. The shot of the window with what looks like burglar proofing in front of it has got to be my fav for sure 🙂 It’s lovely to connect with you again 🙂

    • How wonderful to hear from you, Sóla! I’ve missed you … but was thrilled to learn the reason for your absence these past few months. CONGRATULATIONS! It is indeed lovely to connect with you again, and I very much look forward to seeing more of your beautiful images on your blog. Cheers to you! xoxo

  14. Beautiful post Heide. I’m sorry it passed unnoticed after so many weeks that I kept coming back to your blog. I haven’t been there in hmmm 40 years at least I think, I need to plan a trip to Arles.

    • Selfishly, I would LOVE it if you went back to Arles and posted your photos, Yann. With your keen eye for interesting compositions and beautiful light, I think you’d come away with some really stunning images. By the way: Thank you for your patience in awaiting this long-promised post about Arles. Another is in the works, although work obligations may postpone it until the weekend …

    • Pues sí, hablo Español, pero como vivo en los Estados Unidos y la mayor parte de mis lectores son Americanos, escribo en Inglés. Pero aquí te vá una sinópsis: Mi esposo y yo fuimos a Arles (en Francia) y nos encantó. Aquí presento algunas fotos para mostrar la belleza del lugar, y prometo que regresaré pronto con más. ¿Eso ayuda un poco? 🙂 Si quieres encontrar más blogs de lengua Hispana, te recomiendo que hagas una búsqueda en WordPress para palabras o frases relacionadas a temas que te interesan; ojalá verás que hay muchos blogs en Español también. ¡Saludos!

    • It absolutely makes my WEEK to know that something I found beautiful was inspiring to someone else, too. Thank you for your very kind comment, Fatima!

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