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If you are planning to visit Lavender fields in Provence, this guide is for you! Check out the best photography spots in Valensole by Jabi Sanz, a photographer from Spain specializing in travel and landscape photography and one of our Skylum Brand Ambassadors.
Lavender fields in Provence are becoming more and more popular not only for photographers but for tourists and especially for Instagrammers. The Provence region of France is glowing in the summertime from mid-June to mid-July. This is when you can see infinite rows of purple blooms getting lost on the horizon, going down and up the hills into the sunset.
If you are planning to visit this amazing and beautiful place, this guide is for you. I will cover the best areas to photograph (in my humble opinion), how to get there, shooting times, settings, etc.
If you really want to enjoy the experience, I suggest you rent a car and drive around because there are a lot of fields. It’s also very hot in July, so you don’t want to be on a bus waiting for other people or walking miles to get to the fields. And if you do, you probably will see only the most popular ones.
This year, farmers have had a lot of trouble with disrespectful people who just want to take pictures and don't realize how much damage this does to the farmers’ fields and businesses. So please make sure to ask the farmer for access to get into the field.
How to get here: Valensole is located around 100 kilometers from Marseille. You can rent a car at the airport and drive along the A51 till Manosque, where you will turn right to Valensole. This first spot is just before you arrive to the town of Valensole, along the D6 road. The GPS coordinates are 43.837831,5.965667.
When to shoot: The best time to shoot this spot is sunset or sunrise. I suggest sunset because there’s better light, and the sun goes down just behind the field. You must be at this location early. Due to its proximity to the road and the beauty of the field and the trees at the end, this spot is very popular. You can use a telephoto lens or a wide-angle.
This photo was taken with the Sony a6500 using the 16-70mm lens and edited in Luminar 3.
How to get here: From Valensole, you have to take the D8 all the way to the end. You will see this house right away from the road. This is probably one of the most beautiful fields in the whole Plateau de Valensole for its immensity and quality of lavender. You must park your car outside on the road because this is a private property. Make sure to ask the farmer for access to get into this field.
When to shoot: The best time to shoot is at sunset, as the sun goes down just behind the house. Place the house on the side or in the center of the image to create a nice composition. You can also shoot at sunrise; the light comes from the side and is also very beautiful. You can use a wide-angle lens if you are not too far from the house. It is also interesting to shoot with a telephoto lens from a location far away – for example, from the road if you can’t get access to the field. Tip: It sometimes is very windy in the fields, so if you want to freeze the lavender so it’s sharp, you should use a high ISO – don’t be scared.
This photo was taken with Sony a6500 16mm 1/10 f/16 ISO 640, edited in Luminar 3.
How to get here: You can access this location only by foot; it is not far from the previous location. Around this field, you will see many single trees. Choose the one you like best. You can park your car at the junction of the D8 and D953, then walk till you find what you like. GPS coordinates: 43.8948078,6.1288673.
When to shoot: This is a good location to shoot at sunrise, but for me, the best time is at night. Try to be there at sunset to walk and make your composition when there is still sunlight. Then wait for night. Make sure you take some food and plenty of water, because there are no shops in most of these places and it is very hot.
This photo was taken with Sony a6500 12mm 20 sec f/4 ISO 5,000, edited in Luminar 3.
How to get here: From Valensole, take the D15 till you arrive at GPS coordinates 43.820389, 6.000861, where you can park your car. This is normally a busy place and there is not much place to park. You may need to leave your car a bit far at the top and walk.
When to shoot: This is probably one of my favorite spots for many reasons. It is just next to – a few meters away from – one of the most popular spots for photographers on the whole Plateau de Valensole, but people don’t really see it. Actually, the day I took this shot I was with Fabio Antenore, a great photographer from Switzerland, and he couldn’t believe it when I showed him this spot. At first, he told me, no, Jabi, it is not that great of a composition; the tree is not looking good. But the day after he texted me and said, Jabi, you were right, it is amazing. And now he calls this spot Jabi’s trees. I took this photo at sunrise, but it is also great at sunset. I recommend using a 50mm or telephoto lens. Try different compositions: from far away, one tree, or just walk to where all the people are 50 meters to your right. You will see one of the most popular images with all the trees, about 12, in the foreground. It gives you infinite possibilities for compositions.
This photo taken with Sony a6500 17-70mm 1/125, focus stacking f/11 ISO 100, edited in Luminar 3.
Why not? Try something different in your photography. Right after sunrise or sunset, you can also take this type of photo. I suggest you do backlighting, get close to the lavender, and use the biggest aperture to be able to get a good and beautiful blur in the background. The lenses that work best for this type of photo are 50mm, 100mm, 85mm, or 135mm, but you can also get great results with a 70-200mm.
Photo credits: Jabi Sanz.
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