The Cirque de Navacelles is a unique geological feature nestled in the heart of the Vis River Gorge separating the limestone plateaus of Blandas (Gard) to the north and Larzac (Hérault) to the south. At 300 meters (984 feet) deep, the cirque is a dried-up oxbow river meander, left as the Vis forged a more direct route through the land and created an eight-meter (26-foot) high waterfall in the process. The heart of this natural amphitheater offers an unsuspected change of scenery between the limestone plateaus and semi-arid shrubland, an unexpected green oasis at the center of it all. Looming out of the center of the cirque is the Rocher de la Vierge, also known as “the oyster rock.”
Located around this green oasis is the tiny hamlet of Navacelles, whose origins date back to the 5th century when monks cleared the land and built an estate with olive trees, fruit trees, and grapevines. While the estate offshoot of a local abbey has been replaced by a hamlet, this farming continues today with local farmers using the fertile ground of the oxbow for their fields. The top of the waterfall that can be seen in this image at the v-shaped intersection of the ridges and oxbow is the same waterfall captured in “Emerald Flows I” and “Emerald Flows II.” This kind of terrain is something that I think most tourists don’t think of when they think of France, especially the south of France. People typically think of the rolling hills of lavender or perhaps the blue waters of the seaside towns along the Côte d’Azur, but farther west and inland lies this greatly diverse territory that includes beautiful river gorges and semi-arid landscapes.
This time-blended VAST image was created by combining tilt and shift optical movements on a medium format technical camera with panorama stitching. The result is an image that is not only sharp from the leaves in the foreground to the trees on the ridges in the distance but a perspective that is unachievable with a normal lens and camera.