on landscape The online magazine for landscape photographers

My Own Nature Reserves

Christophe Noel

Christophe Noel

Christophe Noel

I’m a passionate french photographer living in the northeast of France, in an area that lacks most of the features traditionally looked for by landscape photographers. Maybe this is why artists searching for the surprising details of intimate landscapes, rather than the obvious scenic views, are the ones I connect with the most. For example, I find the work of photographers like Theo Bosboom, Sandra Bartocha, or Hans Strand particularly inspiring.

When I’m not outside photographing, I work for an IT company building tools for the eLearning industry.


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I feel lucky I live in an area with several nature-protected areas. Within a radius of 20 km from my home, I count at least three nature reserves that I want to pay homage to in this selection. I took the liberty of calling them “my own” since, after so many hours spent photographing them, I have yet to meet another landscape photographer or find any significant body of work created in those areas.

The first nature reserve is a former sandstone quarry within walking distance from my house. It is also the smallest one: you can walk around it in less than 10 minutes and miss most of its beauty when in a hurry, as I did initially. It became my photographic playground during the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020, and I now have a whole portfolio dedicated to it. It’s incredible how much you can discover in a landscape when you immerse yourself in it long enough.

I’ve selected two shots of it. The first is a small area of backlit pioneer grassland. I took many photos of it, but only once was I lucky enough to witness a sunrise with morning frost. The second one is a hornbeam tree in all its blooming glory, bent in front of the old quarry working face.

I lived in the area for almost ten years before discovering the second reserve, known as “calcareous grassland.” Maybe it took me so long because it is not that well maintained or promoted. It’s a pity, given the biodiversity there; I found amazing trees and beautiful patches of colors during autumn, as in the shot presented here. It took me forever to organize the chaos of colors and shapes into a cohesive whole, but I’m thrilled with the result. Please view in full screen to enjoy all the details.

Finally, I must cross the Luxembourgish border to reach the third reserve, a former quarry as well. It is the biggest of the three and has multiple hiking and mountain bike trails, making it a popular weekend destination. The reserve is full of birch trees and pioneer grassland that thrives in these rough conditions for vegetation. The group of birch trees in this photo is a favorite spot of mine that I’ve returned to at various times of the year: here, they are portrayed in early autumn.

These nature reserves allow me to practice landscape photography all-year round; they are my go-to locations when attractive conditions present themselves. I find it very rewarding to create images I’m proud of in those places since they are so personal.

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