Capturing the Loire Valley’s Fairy Tale Castles with an Infrared Drop-In Filter

My name is Pierre-Louis Ferrer, and I am a professional French photographer specialized in infrared and ultraviolet photography for ten years now. I spend a large part of my free time experiencing and testing new filters and equipment to see behind the visible. My work is mostly divided between artistic photography, dermatologic photography for cosmetic brands, and infrared photography workshops in Paris.

Using a modified Canon RP for some months now, I discovered the potential of the Canon EF-to-RF Drop-In Filter Lens Mount Adapter for infrared photography: this system allows you to use a single filter for all the lenses, including specific ones like 17mm TS-E, and helps reduce the impact of halos, which is specific to the use of wide-angle lenses for infrared photography.

Being in touch with the team of Kolari Vision for some years now, I was informed in July that they were working on a full infrared drop-in filter, finally announced some days ago. At that time, I was planning a trip to Loire Valley, a touristic French region full of famous castles and gardens. So, I decided to start with my own homemade drop-in filters, putting a Kolari 720nm infrared filter into a Canon clear drop-in filter frame. This temporary solution allowed me to test this system before ordering Kolari’s official filters in the drop-in mount.

I was then ready to go on a trip full of fairy castles. I only took a Takumar SMC 24mm f/3.5 with me to use with my infrared Canon RP. Let’s go!

The Castle of Chambord and Its Garden

Let’s start with my favorite castle, no more and no less: Chambord, and its vast forest. I have always been fascinated by its architecture and by the view offered from its terraces and turrets. Add to that an extraordinarily rich natural environment, French gardens, and the reflection offered by the Cosson river, and you have the recipe for a castle with great photographic potential.

Even if the visit of the interior of the castle is very interesting and is full of impressive and richly decorated rooms, the spectacle is on another level as soon as you enter the terraces: the panorama is then breathtaking.

The walk along the Cosson river allows you to finish the visit of the domain in peace in nature and to benefit from the natural belvederes scattered here and there.

Blois and its Rich Heritage

Chief town of the Loir-et-Cher department, the city of Blois has a very rich historical and natural heritage. Let’s start in the east of the city, on the banks of the Loire, with the Gardens of the Bishopric and its rose garden overlooking the city. The terrace in this garden also overlooks the Town Hall and the back of Saint-Louis Cathedral.

Let’s continue our visit to the heights of Blois, with an obligatory stop at the top of the Denis-Papin staircase, where the statue of its architect Jules de La Morandière sits. This staircase is best known for the monumental frescoes that decorate its steps, and visible from the bottom of the street. Here the emphasis is on the vegetal vanishing lines on either side of the staircase.

Let’s approach the Royal Castle of Blois through the Parc des Lices and its sculpted bushes. Here again, the view of the city from the terraces is impressive, revealing the north-west facade of the castle.

We have finally arrived at our last destination: the walls of the Royal Castle of Blois. The main courtyard allows you to admire the four wings of the castle, and in the evening hosts a sound and light show as beautiful as it is fun to understand its history.

The highlight of the show: the Foix terrace, offering a panorama of the north facade of the Saint-Nicolas church and its impressive towers.

The Chaumont Garden Festival

The last stop of our trip to Chaumont-sur-Loire, sheltering a unique plant area around its castle. The castle itself and its stable are worth a visit, housing a selection of contemporary works of art.

Visiting the estate is on a whole new level, and what a level! The Chaumont-sur-Loire estate is indeed home to the International Garden Festival, an ode to plant creation along a route leading from groves to bodies of water, passing through greenhouses. The theme for this year is: “Return to Mother Earth”.

Here we are at the end of our trip, I hope you have enjoyed discovering the gems of the historical and plant heritage of the Loire Valley beyond the visible thanks to infrared photography.

About the author: Pierre-Louis Ferrer is a professional infrared photographer who aims to reveal the world beyond the visible. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. To learn more about infrared photography, you can take his infrared workshop in Paris. You can find more of Ferrer’s work on his website, Facebook, and Instagram.