Tag: “Paris”

Fountains, Place de la Concorde

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Fountain, Place de la Concorde, Paris

Following the French revolution in 1792 there was a need for a large public space in which to set up a guillotine. The largest square in Paris was chosen for this chore. And in the subsequent two years more than a thousand people were beheaded in this square, including King Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette. The square now serves a very different purpose and most people who visit it may never know that it was once a public execution site.

This public square is now known as Place de la Concorde. It is between the Louvre’s Tuilerie Garden and the beginning of the Champs Elysée. It is the home of the Obelisk of Luxor, a 3200 year old monument from the ruins of a temple in Luxor, Egypt.

The Place de la Concorde is octagon-shaped. At each corner there is a statue that represents a major French city. And near the obelisk there are two fountains.

The two fountains honor river and maritime navigation and the industries that depend on them. The fountains were completed in 1840.

What I like about this photograph is the pattern in the water flowing over the lip of the fountain. And I think the distant French flag helps to complete the setting.

I can still hear the pounding of the water falling from the upper fountain into the basin. It was loud enough to almost drown out the traffic noise of buses and scooters in this busy square.

It seems like everywhere that you walk in Paris you discover another timeless monument, sculpture, fountain, or garden. We haven’t read a lot about Paris, well except for Les Misérables by Victor Hugo. But that was fiction and based in another time. Now that we have seen most of the iconic sites, we prefer to walk and discover things and then read about them.

Even though the Metro goes all over Paris, it is easy to walk to most places. Along the way you will stumble upon public art and architecture on small sides streets that most cities would be proud to have. But the thing is that in Paris they are everywhere you look.

It is a great walking city. If you get tired, why not stop at the sidewalk café on the corner and watch the world go by?

Not So Secret Garden

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Luxembourg Garden, Paris

Where do you go for private conversations?

When you live in a small town you expect that there is always someone nearby who might know the people affected by what you are talking about. And if they hear what you are saying, they may not remember all of the background or the conditional statements that you carefully explain to your confidant. They will remember, and will repeat, the controversial and sensitive comments that you make about their friend, sometimes with added heat.

But if you live in a big city, say Paris for example, there must be millions of quiet, out-of-the-way places; cafés, stores, bars, museums, and public gardens etc.

Luxembourg Garden is one of my favorite places in Paris. There are so many little distinctive areas, it is like a large collection of specialty parks combined into one big park. In one back corner in the shade there are pétanque courts where men pass long afternoons throwing steel balls to see which team can end up closest to the cochonnet. Of course, there is a crêpe truck nearby.

There are long alleys of grass separated by gravel paths that are used by schools nearby for running tracks. And you can find all kinds of vendors; ice cream, snacks, gifts, toys, and naturally, wine. There is an open grassy area near the old chateau with sculpture and walking paths. And wherever you go in Luxembourg Garden you find the comfortable heavy green steel chairs. There are thousands of them.

Within the Garden there are many quiet little alcoves. These are perfect for reading, napping, or for a private conversation. The two women in this photograph were carrying on a spirited conversation while eating their lunch. I did not eavesdrop and there was nobody else around.

But even in this secret little niche in this massive public garden you may still want to be careful what you say. You never know when someone is lurking in the bushes. If you need to discuss confidential things it is always prudent to look over your shoulder to see if anybody is nearby.

You can see more Parisian photos in the France gallery by following the Photography link above.

Inside or on the Terrasse

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Eating on the Terrasse, Paris

Eating on the Terrasse, Paris

A warm evening in Paris. The air is filled with the sounds of conversation, the subtle ringing of glasses, and the clatter of dishes.

As you walk by another restaurant the hostess tries to get your attention and a cook calls for a waiter. The smells are enticing. The menu looks promising, but also produces anxiety. The language is still a challenge.

Walking along the busy narrow streets you pass many restaurants. Each one presents itself along the sidewalk. A colorful awning and crisp white tablecloths. A neatly lettered menu board and a warm greeting in French and maybe also English. The busiest places don’t need someone on the sidewalk to call you in, you have to wait to be noticed and seated.

The first decision is whether to eat inside or on the terrasse. Eating outside on a warm evening is pleasant and provides  people watching entertainment and the street musicians are close at hand to serenade. But you are also on display and you are a ready audience for street vendors. It is also the smoking section. But perhaps that has changed with new laws.

You make your choices and hopefully get what you thought you were asking for, but regardless it is reliably tasty. After a long dinner, coffee and dessert you are ready to walk on. Now you are free to ignore the invitations of the restaurants that you pass. You are just looking now but perhaps planning for tomorrow night.

The neighborhood in this photograph is on Rue Saint-Séverin near Boulevard Saint-Michel. There are many restaurants, perhaps too many. It takes on a carnival atmosphere on a busy summer night as crowds stroll along past the pleas of the restaurant hosts and tourist shop owners. But it is located very near the river so it is central for walking most of downtown Paris.

There are more photos of Paris in my France gallery. Follow the Photography link above.

Travel Thoughts

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Simple Travel Excitement

Simple Travel Excitement

Dreaming about travel. Savoring travel. Remembering travel.

Decent and kind people who you don’t share a common language with. Unexpected challenges. A smile. Patience. A comfortable seat at the window on a long train ride deep into the Alps. Curiosity with rewards. Quiet narrow country roads. Wind rustling the leaves of trees along a river whose name you can’t pronounce. Sheep bells in the Pyrénées. A muddy river in spring flood flowing out of a Mexican jungle. Birds with impossible colors.

Menus, mysterious and stressful. The enjoyment of getting what you thought were ordering and discovering that it is so much better than you dared imagine. How do they make it taste so good? Not sure exactly what was in that, but wow. A walk along the beach after sunset in the safety of rural Brittany.

Villages with two names. Road signs. Changing trains, reading the departure board, making the next train with only seven minutes between arrival and departure, trains that are on time, deciphering conductor announcements. Returning the rental car without damage, whew. Base jumpers landing in wildflowers at the base of the canyon wall. Hundreds of football and volleyball games mixed in with the Sunday crowds stretching for miles on Copacabana Beach. Soft white sand, gentle waves, warm humid air. The music of Portuguese or French or … conversations.

Glaciers, waterfalls, stone houses, slate roofs, startling soaring cathedrals, ancient art, life-like sculptures, bigger than life, lines for tickets, listening to animated but unknown languages on the Eiffel Tower observation deck. Watching out for pick pockets and keeping a hand on your luggage in the train station. Trying to tell the taxi driver the location of your hotel. Favelas and community refuse burning piles. Riding the bus to the beach. Riding the tram to the Mediterranean. Riding the bus from the airport, bleary-eyed, tired, disoriented, not understanding the conversations around you.

The Metro stations. Long walks across Paris. TGV. Beach vendors trying to sell horrible looking fish on a stick. Authentic fajitas in a beach restaurant. Traveling by cable car and electric train in the Bernese Oberland. Walking up the hill from the train station through the village to your hotel. Learning about Austria and The Netherlands from the hotel staff. Trying to figure out the street map in Nantes. Failing. Trying the hard cider of Brittany, but not the ‘moules et frits’. Sorry.

Looking down through three floors from a balcony watching samba dancers on a crowded floor. Watching (in person) the televised sheep-shearing contest during the celebration of the return of the sheep from the high mountain pastures in Luz-Saint-Saveur. Seeing the streets lined with piles of plastic wine cups the next morning. The marching group with giant bells on their backs. The brass band marching through town and into a living room and playing inside a tiny stone house. Running for cover from a downpour in Rennes and finding shelter in a brasserie with other storm refugees. Seeing the evil but intact German blockhouses built on the rocky shoreline of Brittany.

Arriving at the Swiss border at Geneva on the train from Chamonix and finding out we had to get off and find our way to another station  across town. The end of the line. Looking in vain for art in Geneva, but stumbling onto a choir performance inside the cathedral. Discovering that those white kitchen garbage bags that we packed fit perfectly over our rolling luggage while waiting in the rain for the ferry across Lac Léman. The banners and flags in Bern during the Euro 2008 football competition. The fiddle player and guitarist standing in the bank doorway below our hotel window waiting for customers to emerge with refreshed funding. Their three songs never got tiresome. The organ grinder and his cat who played there in the mornings. Far Breton breakfast treat and espresso. And all that new music and those weird movies.

Trying for a record-breaking long café lunch in Paris but only making it to 52 minutes. Must learn to savor more. An awkward semi-French/semi-English conversation with the family who owned the Gite that we rented at the beach in Brittany. We and they understood each other enough to know that we liked each other and had a lot in common. They had a loving family with two daughters and had a sense of humor. They were kind to us and tried to help us feel at home. We did.

History, geography, literature, art, and humanity are all enriched with travel. They are given context and life. Days are filled with planning and anticipation, then adventure and new experience, then memories and a new outlook and broader view of the world where you are-because of the world that you saw, the people, and the culture that made sense to the families you met. Their culture may be different but they built it because of their history and resources. It works for them.

The challenges of travel encourage growth and reflection. I know that is not an original thought. But it sums up how I am feeling today. I have reduced my travel and use a bicycle for local transportation. But when I do travel I intend to learn as much as I can. I look forward to the next trip with excitement. Although, I probably wouldn’t have the nerve to wear the propeller beany cap.

Pétanque, Bocce, and Horseshoes

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Pétanque in Luxembourg Garden, Paris
Pétanque in Luxembourg Garden, Paris

A warm afternoon in the shade.

In a quiet back corner of the park. The bird songs mix with the background traffic sounds of Paris.

You have the last throw. Your teammate is depending on you to find a way to get closer to the bright orange cochonnet.

(You can see the silver ball near the middle of the photo below the outstretched hand. It has just been thrown in the traditional pétanque motion. The orange cochonnet is in the distance surrounded by the previously thrown balls.)

Each team has a specialist in placement (pointing) and another who can drop their shot onto an opponent’s boule (ball) and knock it out of the way. The skilled ‘shooters’ have an amazing success rate of blasting the other team out of the way and leaving their boule near the target.

Pétanque is a popular French game. It is recreation that doesn’t require multi-million dollar sports stars and can be played by almost anyone. It is also known as boules, which is the plural form of boule-the French word for ball. It is played on whatever native soil is at hand in the village square, restaurant courtyard, or park.

The competition and the good-natured teasing are both rich. Since it is a sport that can be played for life old friends spend countless hours trying to beat each other building rivalries and stories. Pétanque is played in tiny villages and in large cities. The throwing balls are steel and weigh ~700 g (1.5 lbs.) and are about 7.5 cm (3 inches) in diameter. Weight and size depend on the style of the player and what their role is on the team, pointing or shooting. The cochonnet is wooden and is about 3 cm (~1 inch) in diameter.

Pétanque is something like a cross between the Italian game of bocce and the American game of horseshoes. Bocce is ideally played on packed, crushed oyster shells. The object is to roll your ball down an enclosed lane to end closest to the target ball, the pallino. Sometimes the bocce ball is thrown in an arc also. Horseshoes are thrown (underhanded) in an arc, sometimes spinning, toward a target stake. The pétanque ball is thrown underhanded, but with the palm down, with a back spin, in a high arc. And pétanque is played without a defined field. The cochonnet is thrown across the patch of dirt and the players aim towards it wherever it falls. Sometimes more than one pétanque match is played at a time on the same ground.

In all three games knocking the opponents out of the points is an honored skill and a key strategy, as it is in shuffleboard and curling also.

These players in the back corner of Luxembourg Garden in Paris appeared to be old friends. They probably pass many hours together in this spot. And their matches make a good spectator sport for people walking through the park.

There are more Paris photos in my France gallery. Please follow the Photography link above.

Traveling by Art

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The Great Hall, Musée d'Orsay, Paris

The Great Hall, Musée d'Orsay, Paris

The incomparable Musée d’Orsay in Paris.

Many voyages started and ended in this former railway station on the banks of the Seine. The station was the hub for the rail system serving southwest France from 1900-1939. There were 16 underground tracks with the main station, great hall, and hotel above. Eventually the newer electric trains became too long for the platforms and the station evolved through several other uses including postal services and film set. It was opened as a museum in 1986  (http://www.musee-orsay.fr/en/home.html).

Now travel from this station is imaginary but still transformational. The art collection is from the period of 1848-1914. Many of the impressionist masterpieces are displayed in this museum. There are side halls and alcoves off of the great hall pictured here. The floorplan is intricate and it is easy to get ‘turned around’ in the rooms which are on several levels.

We first visited the Musée d’Orsay after spending a few days in Juan les Pins, France on the Mediterranean coast. While in Juan les Pins I had found a somewhat quiet route for running from the small town toward Cap d’Anitbes. South of town the seafront homes were large beautiful villas behind stone walls. On a sunny morning as I was running along I noticed a particularly impressive villa and stopped to look at it and enjoy the view across the water to the harbor. It was a beautiful and memorable spot.

Later when we visited the Musée d’Orsay as I was walking through one of the side halls I noticed an old painting that looked familiar. After a moment I realized that it was a painting of that same villa on Cap d’Antibes. The painting was made in the mid-1800′s so the road looked different, but the stone wall and the villa looked almost identical and were painted from the same location where I had stood. I went to find my wife to show her. I walked around for quite a while trying to find her. By the time I found her I had forgotten how to get back to the room where the painting was. And I never did find it again. But maybe next time….

The Musée d’Orsay is certainly a place that you can visit repeatedly. But there is also good news about the collection itself.

From May through September 2010 there will be two exhibitions of 220 pieces from the collection on display at the de Young Museum in San Francisco. The exhibit is called ‘Birth of Impressionism’. We look forward to it but I am amazed that they would move that artwork.

Maybe I will find that painting of the villa when they are on display in the de Young. Photo: 1/60 s at f/2.8.

There are other Paris photos in the Photo Gallery at my website: www.earthmapphoto.com

A Good Book in the Garden

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Solitary Reader, Luxembourg Garden, Paris

Solitary Reader, Luxembourg Garden, Paris

You don’t hear the rustle of the leaves on the gravel path or the scooters in the distance.

The long warm afternoon is fading but the autumn leaves still provide a reflected glow. There is enough light in the opening under the trees. You are still caught up in another time and place.

It is a good book. Time has been forgotten. Your mind is filled with vividly imagined villages, laughter, arguments, passions, fear, danger, and music. You are challenged to follow intricate manipulations of strong characters. Or you are fascinated with the details of the real people involved with major historical passages.

Everyone else is leaving Luxembourg Garden. They are heading home to start getting ready for dinner. Or they are walking to a nearby café to relax for a few more minutes. But you are still with the people in your book. You have found a quiet perfect bench for reading. There are no disturbances. You are on your own island in the bustle of Paris.

It is a good book. A real book. No battery to run down. No advertisements. No brand loyalty. Just the author and your imagination. The heft of the book and the feel of the paper. The tradition of turning pages.

We were also leaving Luxembourg Garden when I saw this little tree-lined path and the solitary reader out of the corner of my eye. We walked on to the exit gate and were about to leave when it sunk in what a beautiful situation that little path was. I asked for my wife’s patience while I walked back and tried to tell that story without interrupting the reader. I know that I crunched leaves but I tried to walk quietly. He didn’t look up.

We had spent many hours in the garden that autumn day. The gardeners moving full-grown trees, the Gendarmerie on patrol, crêpe vendors, runners and walkers, statues, and pétanque players were all interesting. Maybe you have now spent a few moments in the garden on that afternoon also. I hope that you enjoy this photograph which I call, Solitary Reader. Photo: 1/500 s at f/2.8.

This photo is currently on display in the Juried Photo Exhibition ‘Northwest Eye’ at the Morris Graves Museum of Art in Eureka, California through May 9, 2010. There are many interesting photos in the exhibit. I hope you can visit it, if you are in the area.

There are other Paris photos in the Photo Gallery at my website: www.earthmapphoto.com

Math Homework

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Main Pyramid, Musée du Lovre, Paris

Main Pyramid, Musée du Lovre, Paris

What if he hadn’t done his math homework?

What if playing a video game like Grand Theft Auto had been more important?

Ieoh Ming Pei certainly did his homework. He completed architecture degrees at MIT and Harvard. Then he designed and completed buildings around the world. Architecture is an interesting mix of art, science, and math using both sides of the brain.

“One has to persist, and not give up principle. But there  are many ways of persisting, many  ways of trying to convince a client to do certain things. There’s a polite  way; there’s an impolite way,…but that doesn’t mean I’m  less insistent, less demanding, …not at all.

 I’m probably as demanding as any creative person. But  you have to identify the important things, and then  press  for them, not give up.” –I.M. Pei   (http://www.barth.lib.in.us/IMPei.html)

My educational background is in the earth sciences. But for some reason I have been hanging around math people also. I think that is partly due to running friendships on the track at the local university, Humboldt State. Many of the math faculty are runners. But it is also due to working on scientific papers with a statistician at Humboldt, Dr. Yoon Kim. I have always been rather weak at math and the graduate courses in statistics gave me some understanding, but could not create the foundation that I avoided by not doing my math homework when I was younger. OK, really, I hated math when I was a kid.

Dr. Mark Rizzardi was patient with me and helped me struggle through a graduate class on generalized linear models. But as he filled chalk boards on three sides of the lecture room with formulas, I questioned what I was doing in a graduate math class. After making it through that course I have teamed up with Yoon on several papers and scientific posters for national and international conferences. I never thought I would enjoy math, but they have helped me to work with it effectively.

Yes IM Pei somehow stimulated that math confession. I don’t know why. And that all grew from the beautiful Louvre pyramids that IM Pei designed. There is a connection there somewhere. Really.

One connection is the crazy geometric combinations that IM Pei brought together to make an exquisite and artistic entrance to the Louvre. Math creating art.

The escalators and stairs under the main pyramid in this photograph lead you below the immense Louvre courtyard and into the museum itself. (You can see the location of the pyramids in the courtyard by looking at the photo in yesterday’s posting.)

I enjoy the contrasts in this photo. The contrast between the people underground and the outside courtyard; the contrast between the 1989 pyramid and the centuries old palace visible through the glass; and the contrasts between the spiral staircase and the escalators and the rigid geometry of the pyramid itself. And I’ve always been fascinated by the two workers standing at the upper railing watching the people below. Photo: 1/125 s at f/3.4.  For other Paris photos please visit the Photo Gallery at my website: www.earthmapphoto.com 

It’s never too late to learn. Now I’m doing my photography homework.

An Oasis and Pyramids, No Camels

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Pyramids of the Louvre, Paris

Pyramids of the Louvre, Paris

You can’t ride a camel to these pyramids. These are timeless pyramids, but not old.

This is a true oasis. An oasis from the pettiness and routine of daily life.

It would be easy to wander through the passageways and hidden alcoves for days. There are royal treasures and icons of ancient religions.

This view is only a portion of the singular Musée du Louvre. This former palace is a fitting and daunting home for 500 years worth of art collecting. The 13th century fortress, rebuilt in the 16th century, was converted into a national museum in 1793.

The IM Pei pyramids form an impressive entrance to the museum. There are a group of pyramids with fountains within this vast plaza.

The first time we visited the Louvre we were on an early morning walk without a goal. We were just walking. We had wandered into what we thought was a municipal courtyard. We noticed huge statues along the balconies of the upper stories of the buildings all around the courtyard. As we walked around we looked through an archway and saw these pyramids in the distance. We hadn’t known that we were entering the Louvre from an adjacent courtyard. We “discovered” the Louvre, without intending to. It was a weekday morning and the lines were short. “Let’s visit the Louvre, OK?”

We spent many hours and got lost a few times. It is a place that you could return to many times. Soon I will post a photo from inside the main pyramid that shows more of the artistry of IM Pei.

I have been working on a large remote sensing project on a contract with a short deadline. It requires spending long days editing training course material about image processing of satellite scenes and other kinds of digital terrain data. It feels very good to take some time away from that and return to this creative work. I enjoy the remote sensing work and the people that I am working with. And it is worthwhile work. But this few minutes working with this photograph and telling you about it is fun for me. I hope that it is a nice escape for you also.

Travel keeps on teaching, even after you return. Photo: 1/500 s at f/4

You can view more Paris photos in the Photo Gallery at my website: www.earthmapphoto.com

Fifth Floor, Impressionists

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Escalators and Stairs, Musée d'Orsay, Paris

Escalators and Stairs, Musée d'Orsay, Paris

It is easy to get lost, or at least disoriented, in large art museums.

At one end of the Musée d’Orsay in Paris there are five stories. When we were last there, the impressionist paintings were on the fifth floor. But they had been moved since we visited previously. We had spent some time wandering and marveling at the current exhibited works, but had started to wonder if the main collection of impressionists had been temporarily transferred to another museum or placed in storage. We finally found them though. The collection is amazing!

The museum itself is impressive. After I feasted on the paintings I took time to look at the building interior. I found this interesting collection of lines, shapes, and colors. I stood at the railing looking down into the stairwell and the escaltors for about an hour. I tried different compositions and exposures. It took longer to finish all the combinations I wanted, because each time someone used the escalator I had to wait for them to pass. I didn’t want any people in the photograph. I wanted only shapes and colors.

Many people passed by while I was standing there. I am sure they wondered why anyone would spend time taking a photograph inside a museum. Well, this photograph is why. Photo:  1/25 s at f/4.5

There are more Paris photos in the Photo Gallery at my website: www.earthmapphoto.com

Where Do You Start Your Day?

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Pre-dawn Café, Paris

Pre-dawn Café, Paris

Do you walk down the block to a café in Paris every morning to watch as the city wakes up?

Most people have a morning routine. Sometimes it is dictated by family responsibilities, such as making breakfast and getting ready for school or work. Other people choose to start their day in a public place. Their routine includes reading the newspaper or talking with friends who share the same routine. It is a place to discuss events and make plans, or just tell jokes with your buddies.

Starting the day in a café must be more common in an urban setting. And it is probably more common for people who don’t have children in the home.

One of my favorite times to photograph is just before dawn and in the short time right after dawn. I am not interested in the dawn sky itself. But the dim natural light gives each feature a chance to stand on its own. The photograph is exposed for one small scene and the surrounding area is dark, which helps emphasize the main object.

Strolling the pre-dawn streets of Paris with a camera is an interesting way to start the day. The sounds, smells, and sights are different than during the busy daylight hours. You get to see café workers set up the outside terrace seating, the cleaners power-washing the sidewalks, people walking and bicycling through dark streets on their way to work or school, small store owners setting out their produce tables, and watch ancient cathedrals emerge from the black of night, all without crowds of tourists. And you can sit alone in a café sipping espresso and know that you have even beaten the morning regulars to the prime terrace table.

Photo:  1/125 s at f/2.8   You can see more Paris photos in the Photo Gallery at my website:  www.earthmapphoto.com

Time Behind The Clock

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Pedestrians Behind Ornate Clock, Musée d'Orsay, Paris

Pedestrians Behind Ornate Clock, Musée d'Orsay, Paris

Time is different in an art museum.

For some, it drags on forever, while they wait for the art lover they are accompanying. Others lose track of time as they imagine the setting and ideas of the artists, tens or hundreds or thousands of years ago.

This ornate clock in the Musée d’Orsay in Paris calls attention to time. But the artwork throughout this converted, cavernous train station is timeless. The clock and the building themselves are works of art. The clock is certainly more than is required for industrial efficiency.

How much time has been spent absorbed in the imagery of Monet, Renoir, and others? The time has been too short for me. I am just learning the impact of these artists. The collection of impressionist painters in the Musée d’Orsay is worth every moment spent there.

The people walking behind this clock were going from one wing of the museum to another. When you walk through these passageways, you are not always aware that you are behind the clock.

Ahhh, Paris. We need more time there. Photo: 1/6 second at f/16.

You can visit my online galleries to view more of Paris photos. Click the Photography link above.

Do You Have Time for Art?

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Manequin and Lighting Display, Department Store, Paris

Mannequin and Lighting Display, Department Store, Paris

This is a department store. We are trying to sell socks and batteries. Is there really time and space for art?

Department stores can sometimes be crudely efficient. They are made up of straight aisles of merchandising tables and displays. This is not true in Paris.

My wife needed a small item for her camera. So we walked to a nearby department store. It was a chain store, not an exclusive shop. We went up the escalator to the right floor and she walked to the back. I got interested in this lighting and mannequin display. There were three shiny silver mannequins arranged around the railing. They were posed as if they were looking down to the floors below. Anyone walking by this opening would be drawn to the railing to look down, just as the mannequins were doing. They were wearing current clothing that was for sale nearby, so they served an artistic and a marketing function.

One of my current favorite authors, Edith Wharton, was a New Yorker by birth, but spent many years traveling and writing about what she learned. She felt that “…the French are a race of artists: it is the key that unlocks every door of their complex pyschology [sic]…” (French Ways and Their Meaning, 1919). Perhaps this sounds like an overly generalized stereotype. But I think that it is hard not to see the justification for the statement if you spend time in France, especially Paris.

Walking through parts of Paris you can see artistic planning and composition. The streets, the buildings, the Metro stops, and cafés add to these scenes, rather than detract. Everywhere you look the views have the impact of a well composed painting.

Many stores work hard for interesting displays, not just the French, of course. And there are plenty of inartistic stores in France, to be sure.  But this display is a good example of making the space and taking the time to include an artistic display in a commercial setting. To me, they were aware that not everyone who comes into the store needs to be looking for merchandise, and even those who are shopping can also take time to appreciate art on their way to the battery racks. This display certainly gave me something to do while I waited.  Photo:  1/250 s at f/5.6

Why Not Savor Life?

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Warm Afternoon, Luxembourg Garden, Paris, France

Warm Afternoon, Luxembourg Garden, Paris, France

A warm sunny afternoon stretches out ahead. The trees in Luxembourg Garden in Paris are just starting to change color. Why not spend some time and savor life?

We don’t all get to lounge in the sun and enjoy reading in this beautiful garden. Our lives are different and complicated. We have different challenges or lack opportunties for this kind of leisure. But maybe we can escape to this place and let our imaginations hear the birds and the quiet conversations. Perhaps we can feel the warm air with our feet up on a chair, shoes off. There are no deadlines, just pleasure reading, or relaxation, thinking, and watching. Time passes. We have been in Paris. We have placed ourselves in another time and place. Our worries did not exist, for a time.

That is my goal as a photographer. I am trying to tell a story. A story about what it is like to be in that place, in person. The photograph provides most of the details, but each time you view the scene you add your own imagination. Each time you escape and savor that place it is your time to be there. You add the sounds, the smells, the emotion. Maybe you bring different emotions each time you are there. It is your place. You might hear the crunch of footsteps on the gravel path, the scraping of a metal chair being moved closer to be a footstool, the leaves rustling, a distant siren, or a muffled snore. The smell of cut grass might mix with the too prevalent cigarette smoke, or perfume, and a nearby crêpe vendor. You become part of the story. And your day has a new episode not available by looking out the window.

Luxumbourg Garden is an interesting place to photograph. It is beautiful and varied and very large. And while I was working there, I also took time to savor life. Photo: 1/400 s at f/4

You can visit my online galleries to view more Paris photos. Click the Photography link above.

Afternoon Sashay

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Walking in Luxembourg Garden, Paris

Walking in Luxembourg Garden, Paris

Luxembourg Garden in Paris is an entire world unto itself.

In the autumn it is filled with people basking in the last warm days before winter. There are readers collected in groups in the sun or isolated in distant corners in the shade. People meet to talk or just sit quietly and watch what others are doing. There are ice cream and crêpe vendors. The pétanque players are intense but have fun (more about pétanque in a another post).

Luxembourg Garden is a large public space that is well maintained. The garden occupies former palace grounds. It also figures prominently in Victor Hugo’s famous story Les Misérables.

It is an easy walk up Boulevard Saint Michel from the Seine. The garden’s wide tree-lined paths are artistically arranged. The landscaping is dramatic and accented with sculpture. There are benches and surprisingly comfortable steel chairs scattered throughout the garden. It is a place to savor life. This is something that Parisians know how to do.

The woman in this photograph was walking slowly toward a nearby street. She seems to be very relaxed. Perhaps she had a long lunch and then did a little shopping before spending some time in the garden. Her purchase was small. To me she looks light-hearted or even defiant. Perhaps this is what a sashay looks like.

The landscaping provides interesting lighting. The shallow depth of field from this telephoto shot shows her in sharp focus, along with five feet or so in front of and behind her. The brightly lit trees in the background are softly out of focus keeping the attention on her. Photo:  1/250 s at f/4.

You can visit my online galleries to view more of my photos of Paris. Click the Photography link above.

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