This tree on the Valensole Plateau is probably one of the most photographed trees in the world because of its symmetry and its lonely position in the middle of this well-kept lavender field. Wanting to avoid the crowd of photographers, I got up at 3:00 am, packed up my gear, and headed out to the field in total darkness. Being there early was worth it because I was able to set up before any other photographer arrived. Later, as the sun rose above the horizon, I was rewarded with the pleasant surprise of a hot air balloon taking off, and I was able to capture it at the same moment the sun hit the mountain ridge in the distance, grazed across the lavender in the foreground, and illuminated the tree.

A short time later, the cool air began to warm and the bees started getting to work. The gentle breeze that picked up started spreading the scent of lavender through the air, and Provence slowly came to life once again. Later, I had the great opportunity to speak with the farmer who makes his living from these fields. He was very welcoming but wanted to make sure everybody was not abusing his land and was, therefore, very appreciative of our efforts to respect and not damage the plants or the land.

This 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 sharp from the rocks and flower blossoms in the foreground to the mountains in the distance.