Photo Challenge: Serenity – Part ll

A Pink Dawn Over Rioja
A Pink Dawn Over Rioja

I don’t know why I overlooked the most serene moment of my life when I started on my former blog about this subject.  Maybe it was because the images to go with it are not very spectacular; certainly they don’t convey the calmness of the moment, the sense of absolute peace and tranquility, and the near total silence we experienced.

The occasion was a balloon flight over the vineyards and fincas of the wine-growing area of Rioja in Spain.  We began our ascent as dawn was breaking bathing our world in a warm pinkish glow as we rose into the sky watching fields and houses below diminish in size minute by minute.  Initial trepidation dissipated as soon as we started our flight and the beauty and joy of the morning filled us with awe.  For once I felt at one with nature, not in the way I had done when out walking in the mountains or swimming with dolphins, but a feeling of really being part of this marvellous planet of ours.

Vineyards of the Rioja area
Vineyards of the Rioja area

Up and up we went right into clouds which deadened what little sound there had been up until then.  it was totally eerie, chilly and white.

Up, Up and Away, in my Beautiful Balloon
Up, Up and Away, in my Beautiful Balloon

Then the pilot motioned ahead and there it was, the photo I would have died for if I’d known when on the ground that I would actually see it, our balloon shadowed on the cloud in front of us, faint but very obviously there.  The moment was too precious to grab for a camera and start focusing, so in a sort of reflex action, I just clicked on the little camera I carry for emergencies like this, and here it is.  My only image from my time in the clouds when I really knew the meaning of Serenity.

My Beautiful Balloon
My Beautiful Balloon
Reflection of Balloon in Clouds
Reflection of Balloon in Clouds

What is Serenity? It’s what Makes me Happy

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Serenity.”

A Thai Sunset - Phuket
A Thai Sunset – Phuket

This is a different sort of Post – it is one in which I’m responding to the weekly photo challenge set up by WordPress.  This week the topic is Serenity so here are a few images that to me represent that scarce emotion in today’s world, serenity.

The first one, below, may not look like everyone’s idea of Serenity, but this Cretan man had an attitude to life that was calm and benign.  He was one of the happiest people I’d ever met: even his donkey seemed happy in the heat of the midday sun.  It was a harsh life up there in the mountains but Andreas told me he had everything in life he needed, his olive trees, a few animals, a family in good health and all living nearby, and most of all, he said, he lived on Crete.

What more can I say?

An old man on a road in Crete with whom I shared my lunch.
An old man on a road in Crete with whom I shared my lunch.

Next photograph is very different.  I did an Art Tour once in France where we stopped at various place where some of the painters known as The Impressionists had painted: their pictures were hung in nearby galleries or galleries of some note further away.  Rouen I remember very well, as it was one of the places where it rained incessantly during our visit, but luckily, Claude Monet had painted more than 30 pictures of the famous Notre Dame Cathedral (many in the rain) so we were able to see it just as the artist had seen it.

When the group of painters who came to be referred to as The Impressionists evolved their style of painting from chocolate-box interiors to naturalistic outdoor scenes, they were helped by two mid-19th century inventions.   One was pre-mixed paints in tubes (akin to today’s toothpaste tubes), and the other was the new vibrant hues like chromium yellow and French ultramarine that freed them from the chore of grinding up lapus lazuli and mixing dry pigment in linseed oil to make colour.

What it also gave them was a complete change of perspective.   With these inventions they could now paint “en plein air” (outdoors), capturing the momentary and transient aspects of light and the ever changing colours of the clouds and using ordinary subject matter.

Alfred Sisley (October 30, 1839 – January 29, 1899) was an English Impressionist landscape painter who was born and spent most of his life in France.  A very disciplined painter, Sisley is recognized as perhaps the most consistent of the Impressionists.  He never deviated into figure painting or thought of finding another form in which to express himself.  The Impressionist movement fulfilled his artistic needs.

Below is a photograph I took of a scene he painted (I think his painting hangs in the Gallery at Honfleur).  To me it is serenity itself.  I photographed it on a day when the Normandy sun was shining, dragonflies were chasing each other over the Seine, the village of Bouille was quiet as the people rested after lunch and I captured the scene on camera as I remembered it from the painting.

Serenity.

A quiet scene where the only movement was of butterflies and dragonflies.
A quiet scene where the only movement was of butterflies and dragonflies.