Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Choranche Circus

At the Choranche Circus, don't expect to see any clowns... apart, maybe, from me. I shouldn't really have to make an excuse of that kind, because tourists who drop in on Piccadilly Circus won't normally see too many clowns. In the everyday language of the Ancient Romans, known as Latin, a circus is a round ring. And the mountains and cliffs around my adoptive village of Choranche do indeed form an oval.

Critics might point out that the Cournouze mountain, on the southern side of the Bourne, is located on the territory of Châtelus, not Choranche. They would be wrong, in fact. The upper surface of the mountain lies within the commune of St-Julien-en-Vercors, in the département of the Drôme. But what the hell about administrative boundaries. For me at Gamone, the Cournouze—as I've often pointed out—is my own sacred mountain: my mythical Uluru... which happens to be the first magnificent specimen of godless Creation that I witness every morning, as soon as I look out of my bedroom window.

In my recent article entitled Second look at iPad weaknesses [display], I evoked the immensely rich Flash approach to website creation... which is not reflected, unfortunately, in either the iPhone or its miserable big half-brother iPad.

Admittedly, at Gamone, this is the wrong time of the year to get involved in landscape photography. The lighting is minimal, and everything looks uniformly grayish. But, this afternoon, I had a sudden urge to wander up the road with Sophia to take a few photos, which I then patched together with Photoshop and inserted into a Flash context. If you click the above winter photo of the Cournouze, you'll see the resulting website: a sweeping half-circle panoramic view from Gamone towards the Vercors plateau, the eastern edge of the French Alps. To stop the horizontal scrolling, move the cursor to the middle of the image. I would hope that this modest Flash exercise might have the merit of providing you with an approximate visual idea of the mountains and cliffs that enclose and enthrall me. Nothing, of course, beats being here with me and Sophia.


  1. Very nice. I am indeed impressed with your skills.

  2. Badger: I'm pleased to see that you appreciate this kind of panoramic presentation. The most difficult part of the process consists of finding a high spot to pose your tripod, as horizontally as possible, so that you can take a series of half-a-dozen overlapping shots covering as wide a scene as possible... maybe through a complete circle. My friend Jean Boudoul once sent me a full-circle panoramic image of the basilica of Notre-Dame de la Garde at Marseille which I used in this demonstration. Your camera must be operated in manual mode, otherwise the visual parameters of the shots won't be constant. The actual Flash code is quite simple. You merely have to adjust a few numbers to make sure that the movement is as smooth as possible, and that the display doesn't extend beyond the extremities of your panoramic photo. I can send a sample of the Flash ActionScript code to anybody who wants to use it in their personal websites. To exploit this code to create such a panoramic presentation, you must of course have the Flash developer tool installed on your computer. Getting back to my presentation of the Choranche Circus, a spectator will notice that (a) my camera wasn't perfectly horizontal, (b) I couldn't obtain a full-circle view from the spot I had chosen, because there were hills, trees and direct sun rays behind me, (c) I forgot to turn off all the automatic settings of my camera, which means that the color of the sky was not constant, and I had to make some ugly patches with Photoshop, and (d) it's a pity to attempt to take decent photos of such a magnificent landscape on a damp afternoon in the middle of winter. Not everybody has the photographic skills and experience and the artistic sensitivity of our friend Merisi!