Flight: France: Mediterranean Coast, Camargue Delta

I was going to provide lavender photos, and there are too many pretty pictures of the French coastline on the way, so I am going to break this one up. This post contains images along the Mediterranean Sea from Perpignan, France to the Rhône River, and a few north as I head to Carpentras to refuel. The lavender will come next.

As mentioned in the last post, the wind the day before was screaming, so I ran off to the Spanish desert instead. On this day, it went from “screaming” to, I don’t know, something like “maximum an idiot would fly in,” though it meant the air was quite clear. Both the Tramontane and Mistral winds were raging, which are funnels between the Massif Central and either the Pyrenees (Tramontane) and Alps (Mistral), making for an incredibly rapid weather transition zone in the South of France, dry air, and just plain angry wind.

Fortunately, the wind has a bit of a shadow, sometimes, in between the two events. Therefore, I chose fueling stops near Montpellier and east of Avignon, out of the line of fire. Wind during flight can be disconcerting, though it’s the landing that really matters. I did break my record for slowest groundspeed in the Cub: 37 knots at cruise power, which means I was hitting a 30kt to 35kt headwind for a period of time along the Rhône River, though it was oddly free of turbulence.

La Perche Pass, France. Ground elevation roughly 5,000 feet.

Leucate, north of Perpignan.

Marshes and salt ponds, infrared.

And in color….


Windsurfers in action. I was barely passing the guy on the right due to how hard the wind was blowing.

Note how hard the wind is blowing from shore to sea. The ripples are quite strong for such a short fetch. 

For some enigmatic reason, the wind was creating lift, and I was under a military no-fly zone at 800 feet, so I head to power back to only 1800RPM to not go up any higher.

Pervert in a Piper Cub? No naked French people here, though I doubt the lady with exposed cleavage and large breasts (left, center) anticipated anyone directly overhead….


Agde, infrared.

Here I go invading privacy again, though no nudity. There is a lady reclining in the bow of the boat, again probably not anticipating an airplane when arranging beachwear.


I don’t know enough about the French to understand their proclivity for strange architectural experiments.


A markedly different way to memorialize the deceased. Sète again.

Frontignan, infrared.

Frontignan, in an almost horrifying juxtaposition to visible spectrum.

Carnon Plage, Aéroport de Montpellier Méditerranée in the back left.

Le Grande-Motte

Etang d’Or, final approach to fuel stop in Candillargue.

Salt ponds, Camargue Delta.


Not infrared.



Plage de Beauduc

Reminds me of the Outer Banks of North Carolina, except for the ocean color.

Self-evident statement: lighthouse.

Heading inland….

Rhône River, at 40 miles per hour. Note the ripples indicating wind.

Chateau, south of Paradou. No name on Google Maps, so it must be private.

Massif des Alpilles. It was rather….warm.

Durance River. Color is authentic, not doctored. I believe it comes from rock silt off the alps, as the Rhône looked similar in Grenoble a year prior. Avignon airport in the background.

Book: American Texture: Canvas from the Sky

Number twelve is the first of a new project style: a national focus. I started gathering images for this one back in 2011, when I first discovered that zoom images without a horizon could be compelling and interesting. Over the years, I kept snapping pictures here and there of textures and patterns that I stumbled across while flying across America. Now that I am in Europe, the time finally came to put the American images together in their own work.

Since coming to Europe, I have been focusing perhaps a bit…obsessively…on textures and patterns as found here. Book #12 is really the opening act of this subject, as I have enough images already to write a few more. I am still figuring out how I want to put those together, so stand by while I keep hoarding thousands more….

Cover: Great Salt Lake, Utah



Flight: Spain: Mequinenza, Monegros, Central Catalonian Depression

I was going to fly to Provence to photograph rolling fields of lavender, and the weather bombed out. Winds were extreme in the South of France, though it was otherwise pretty in Spain, so I decided to head west and see a sliver of the Catalonian Central Depression and Monegros Desert that I had missed before. It turned out to be a long flight with 4,000 photos taken, so I was good and worn out for my binge flight I took the next day to Provence. Stay tuned for those pictures.

El Pedraforca (2.506m), from below.

Pantà de la Llosa del Cavall, Infrared

Pantà de la Llosa del Cavall, not Infrared

Solsona in the center left, Montserrat on the left horizon.

Wheat field – is this how crop circles start?

Harvested wheat with a squiggly road.

Intersection of drylands and irrigated farmland, Catalonian Central Depression. Note aqueduct.

La Fuliola

Vineyards or something. Whatever it is, its dry and hot.

Peach orchard.

Road through peach orchards.

Peach orchards, Aitona. I photographed these full of purple flowers in March.

Embalse de Ribarroja, Ebro River. Happens to be Catalonia left, Aragón right.

Same thing, not in infrared.

Mequinenza Reservoir.

Arroyo de Valcuerna

Monegros. I truly love this place, even if its a scorned hellscape. 

Bujaraloz, with irrigated corn. Quite a contrast.

Somewhere in Aragón.

Near Lleida

Reservoir near Santa Ana. It is more or less the Catalunya/Aragón border again.

Serra del Montsec

Pantà de Camarasa

Embassament de Terradets, infrared.

Serra del Monstec, infrared.

Riu Segre, infrared.

Flight: France: July Snow & Surfing the Wave

It has been said that it can snow in this neck of the woods 12 months out of the year. For a semi-arid Mediterranean area, that is a paradoxical assumption, and this post has some evidence that it can snow in July. So far, I have provided photographic proof in every other month of the year on the blog.

I don’t really know where the cold air comes from, per se. It is usually a north wind that causes the summer events, though to the north is the broad surface of France, with water to the west and north of that. Summer ocean temperatures alone do not explain sufficient cooling to allow for snow to fall here at only 9,000 feet. While Russia can provide a distant conveyor belt of cold air, that is a rare phenomenon. I suspect there is something to do with evaporative cooling or general characteristics of Western Europe that allow for seemingly disproportionate amounts of cold pooling to occur in the upper atmosphere, which occasionally get brought down to earth during strong high pressure events.

Anyway, there was a strong mountain wave with this north wind event, and I said, more or less, “Screw it!” and decided to fly up into the wave. Perhaps because there was not snow all over the Pyrenees, I felt like punishing winds would be softer on the airframe? Who knows what drives these ambitions.

Mountain wave drying out in Chinook effect. Infrared.

July Snow (1 of 9)

Approaching the wave. Enigmatically, it is raining beneath me with no clouds….
July Snow (3 of 9)

Descending and drying air off of Pic Carlit. Infrared.
July Snow (4 of 9)

What did I expect to see above the clouds? The satellite told me it is overcast in this direction all the way to Paris.
July Snow (5 of 9)

12,500 feet or so. Note lenticularis clouds high up and in the distance. It was….breezy.
July Snow (6 of 9)

La Cerdanya
July Snow (7 of 9)

Puigmal (9,554′ / 2.913m) with a little bit of snow from the prior night. For some reason, I cannot remember mountain peak heights in meters, whereas I can autistically remember an absurd amount of peaks in America.
July Snow (8 of 9)

Hike later in the day at 7,500 feet. Who doesn’t love horses? Depending on your perspective, this is either the tender and moving image of equine maternal love….or a horse’s ass.
July Snow (9 of 9)