Loire Chateaux – Chinon

| November 12, 2011
loire chateaux: chinon village

Chinon, France on the Vienne River

Loire Chateaux Series: Chinon

I thought I would have a bit of fun with today’s images of one of the Loire area chateaux in Chinon, France, by processing a few of them in a way that makes the town look miniature. These photographs were taken while Donna and I toured the Forteresse Royale du Chinon last September. The images overlooking the town are particularly well suited for miniature processing. Basically, if you have an image with a high point of view, like looking down on a model, you can apply a few processing techniques that fools the brain into thinking it is small. I will talk about that later in the post.

Chinon’s castle is perched up on a hill next to the Vienne river. There has been a castle on the site since the 10th century, when Theobald the Trickster, Count of Blois, built a tower there. In 1154, Henry II Plantagenet, Count of Anjou and King of England, set the fortress on a course to its present grandeur. The castle recently underwent several years of restoration work, which included a complete rebuild of the roof. The project, per the castle’s website, cost $14.5 million Euros, which is about $20 million US dollars. Portions of the chateau remain in ruin but that is part of the charm and serves to amplify its heritage and historical importance.

loire chateaux: chinon

Château Chinon

Vienne and looks down on the old town of Chinon. I was fascinated by the visual impression of the town and the cluster of steeply pitched rooftops. In the photo below, you can see the glorious random arrangement rooftops attached to perfect little French houses. I am sure scenes like this have inspired animators for years since the view reminded me of something right out of a Disney movie. I really love the unspoiled look of this town from above. No satellite dishes or annoying remnants of modern day to be seen anywhere. A photographer’s dream!

loire chateaux: chinon village

Chinon’s village as seen from Château Chinon

Above and below, you can see the difference that miniature post processing makes. Just click the images to see larger versions. If we fake the look of macro photography on a full scale image, the brain believes the objects in the image are small. This is an interesting exercise in fooling the brain by exploiting what it already knows. If you think about it, this can be a very powerful concept in painting as well. We are used to seeing small things photographed in a certain way so, when we process an image in that way, the brain interprets what it sees with that bias in mind. No pun intended!

Chinon village without miniature processing

I used a Photoshop plugin called OnOne FocalPoint to process the miniature effect seen in the images of the town. You can download a free trial if you want to give it a try on your own image. You can also achieve the same results manually in Photoshop but the FocalPoint interface makes it very easy to get the effect right out of the box.

Miniature post processing with OnOne FocalPoint 2.0

Basically, all you have to do is use the “Planar” version of the Focus Bug in the application to blur the foreground and background of the image. The amount of blur is adjustable. You can experiment with different settings to achieve maximum fakery. The processing mimics the the shallow depth of field of macro photography, which is used to photograph small objects. It is also a good idea to pump up the saturation of the final image a bit to make it like more like a model than real life. I did not go too far with these because I wanted to preserve some the natural details.

loire chateaux: chinon countryside

Château Chinon and the French countryside

Above, you can see where some of the castle still in ruin. You can also see the beautiful French countryside and the Vienne river. We could also see vineyards from the castle. Per Wikipedia, though typically thought of as lighter wines, reds from good producers and strong vintages can be full bodied and well structured for aging. Chinon inspired whites are composed primarily of Chenin Blanc and are typically described as dry, soft, light, and clean.

loire chateaux: chinon castle

A vineyard as seen from the Chinon castle grounds

I have been buying French reds and whites since our trip and they are fabulous. I have heard and confirmed that 2009 was a very good year for French wine. I rely heavily on our local wine expert to help me pick good wine. It has been fun to pick up wines from the areas we visited on our trip to France.

loire chateaux: chinon rooftops

Clustered rooftops as seen from Château Chinon

I hope you have enjoyed this Loire Chateaux Series. I also hope I am not trying to cover too much ground in these posts. As you may have guessed, I am passionate about travel, art and photography and want to drop something in these posts for everyone! Have a great Sunday!

Other Chateaux in this series

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Category: France, Photography, Travel

Comments (3)

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  1. These shots are fantastic Lee – gorgeous looking clouds certainly help the overall aesthetics of the photos!

  2. A.Barlow says:

    Wow that place looks awesome! You did a nice job with these shots. Grats.

  3. ConservativelyBohemian says:

    Just stunningly beautiful! If I could afford a place like this, and the staff, oh what a glorious place to live! Can’t even imagine it, but those helix staircases are gorgeous!