The heat is oppressive today. We feel like taking a shower every 15 minutes. Despite this we battled our way to the largest chateau in France, Chambord.
As you can see from the map above, Chambord isn't far at all from Blois where we were staying for some 10 days. The map shows where a couple of hundred chateaus are situated in the Loire Valley. That's why we chose Blois as our base.
Francis I began this enormous project in 1519. He only spent 15 nights in total in this chateau and died when it was only half finished. It was only when Louis XIV was on the throne was building resumed. It was plundered during the French Revolution and it was not until 1930 when the State bought it that restoration work began. Today, nearly a million tourists visit the chateau every year. I hope that the images at the end of this post will impress you as much as Chambord impressed me. I've tried to show the splendour of this most impressive of buildings and I can count it as one of the most impressive building projects I have had the pleasure to see in person. You can feel the pomp and splendor when you enter the building. If you really want to see all there is to see here, then one day isn't enough. Plan for two.
In 2016 the rear gardens were relaid, showing how the gardens would have looked when first completed in the 16th century. There will not be a time to get people free images of these chateaus (unless you get special permits to shoot when they are closed - good luck with that).
For the photgraphically minded:
The choice of lenses today were the Olympus 12-100 f4 mounted on the Olympus E-M1 and the Panasonic 7-14 f4 mounted on the E-M5 II. The Panasonic TZ101 is so small and light it will always fit into a side pocket so that came along too. It has become evident that the 12-100 f4 and the 7-14 f4 have become indispensable for this type of visit. I'm afraid that my primes will be relegated to second place and will be used when time permits. In fact, I will go as far as to say that my decision to take the Olympus 12-100 f4 and the Panasonic 7-14 f4 was spot on. Perfect for this type of shoot. If you have these two lenses with you when doing this type of photography, you will be covered 99% of the time. Yes, primes are faster but you can't always zoom with your feet. At times I wish I had something a little wider but apart from a fisheye there's not a lot out there. I never wished for anything longer during this visit.
There are quite a few images contained in these posts and some are very similar. The reason being I took many images during each day with different cameras/lenses. For those not interested in the photographic side of these posts can go directly to the images. Hope you enjoy them anyway.
The first set of images were taken with the Panasonic TZ101. They show that under good lighting conditions, this camera is capable of taking excellent images. I know they are only 1200px at the longest side but I'm sure you'll get a taste of what these systems are capable of today.
Click on image for larger version.
Chambord: Panasonic TZ101
An example of the fine detail the masons created
during the construction.
One of over 300 staircases to be found at Chambord.
One of the huge towers at each ond of Chambord.
They may not look like it, but they are enormous.
Again, a nice detail shot of the central tower.
A rear view of Chambord. The central keep is symmetrical. See next image for a clearer view. Impressive isn't it.
A nearer shot of the central keep showing the symmetry
The following images were taken on the way back to Blois. We just stopped at a layby to watch the Loire River flow by. As you can see there is another Chateau on the oppsite side of the river. It became a standing joke towards the end of our holiday. It seemed that which ever way you looked, there was another chateau.
Panasonic TZ101 - taken towards the long end.
Panasonic TZ101 - taken at the wide end.
Looking toward Blois in the distance as the river flows by.
You can see here how wide the river is, but it's very shallow.
This little girl was so engrossed in "Tales of King Arthur",
she never looked up once going up and down the street.
We must have watched her for some time. In the end her
father just took her and walked away.
Chambord: Olympus E-M1 - Olympus 12-100 f4 Pro
A perfect location for swallows to nest.
The central double-spiral staicase, designed by
Leonardo da Vinci.
There was/is a small exhibition on the first floor and this piece of art impressed me. Depending on the angle you look at it, you see something completely different. Images were taken from left to far right. Impressed me anyway.
Olympus E-M5 II - Panasonic 7-14 f4
These wide-angle lenses gives a completely different feel
for things. The Panasonic 7-14 f4 lens is equivalent to
14-28mm in FF terms.
This is inside the double-spiral staircase, looking up.
I've taken a few of these shots but depending on the lens
used, they are all different images.
A wide angle lens is ideal for these types of shots.
I love doing them as you'll see throughout the following posts.
Possibly my favourite image of the whole trip.
The child running towards me and the dynamic perspective.
I just love it.
These are the gardens that were finished in 2016.
From old drawings and documents, they have been
recreated as they were in the 16th Century.
As you can see from the image above, the estate seems
to go on for ever. As a matter of fact, they offer bikes and
gold carts to see all the grounds. It's that big.
Looking through thedouble-spiral staircase.
The staircase as seen at 7mm.
During a little evening walk around the town I mounted the Panasonic 42.5 f1.2 on the E-M1 and the Olympus 25 f1.2 on the E-M5 II. After using these two lenses I've actually warmed to them. Both are very good indeed and I love the effect you get when using a fast lens wide open. Bokeh has it's own charm. I think that's why I love my Samyang 135 f2 lens on my Sony system so much.
There's not a lot to report about the two cameras so far. Both have been working as expected and no problems were encountered. Battery life is pretty good on both and I've only changed one battery on the E-M1 so far. The original is still in the E-M5 II and it's still going strong.
I also used the Panasonic TZ101 just to compare the results with the other systems. I think this has one of the fastest focusing systems I have ever used (named DFD by Panasonic - Depth From Defocus). It's fast and it's accurate. Brilliant!
Here are some images from the Panasonic 45.5 f1.2 and Olympus 25 f1.2.
Olympus E-M1 - Panasonic 42.5 f1.2
The reason I visit a lot of churches is for the
stained glass windows as shown above. To me they are
simply works of art and you never find two that
are the same. I'll be posting a few during this
Liberte - Egalite - Fraternite
I wonder when that got thrown out the window then?
Tack sharp. Very pleased with this lens.
Can be used for many subject, not only for protraits.
Extreme shallow depth of field.
Shallow DOF with the seeds very sharp.
Extremely sharp lens.
Joan of Arc.
You just can't get away from her in this area.
Cathedral gardens in Blois.
Olympus E-M II - Olympus 25 f1.2 Pro
I attempted to get some similar images as those from the
Panasonic 42.5 f1.2.
Extremely sharp and contrasty image. Colours
are spot on. Great lens.
I love old doors.
Modern Galleries? Hmmm...
And finally some images taken in Blois with the Olympus E-M1 mounting the 12-100 f4 Pro lens.