The Palace at Versailles – Part One.

architecture, Black & White, Photography, Travel

Above: The private cathedral at the Palace of Versailles.

Chateau de Versailles is unlike anything I have ever seen. Enormous, gaudy, deluxe, extravagant, historical, overwhelming and beautiful, all barely begin to describe the centerpiece of the Paris suburb of Versailles. 

Originally built as a hunting lodge for King Louis XIII, the Palace at Versailles was the official seat of power for courts and the government from 1682 until the French Revolution in 1789. Indeed, Chateau de Versailles played a large role in the anger French citizens had directed toward the aristocracy – and the resident King Louis XVI and his wife Marie-Antionette were forced to flee the palace, before both being executed. 

Louis XVI was preceded by his grandfather, Louis XV, who allegedly foresaw the revolutions, as legend says he proclaimed “Après moi, le déluge,” which translates to “After me, the flood.”

This is first in a series of three posts with pictures from the Palace at Versailles. 

Beginning the tour of the Palace, July 12, 2013.

Beginning the tour of the Palace, July 12, 2013.

Every square inch is decorated, and ceilings become canvases for colorful paintings. As well as the cause of a sore neck.

Every square inch is decorated, and ceilings become canvases for colorful paintings. As well as the cause of a sore neck.

Statues and busts fill any available spot, often portrayed in classical greek style.

Statues and busts fill any available spot, often portrayed in classical greek style.

Statue, Palace of Versailles.

Statue, Palace of Versailles.

Inside Notre Dame Cathedral

architecture, Photography, Travel

Above: The ceiling of Notre Dame Cathedral

I’ve been blogging about travels in Europe last summer – since my objective is to go mostly chronological  this is one of my last posts from Paris, save film shots or missed images. This is also my last post from Notre Dame Cathedral. Today we travel inside. 

With anything so grandeur it’s impossible to capture to the feeling of being there. Indeed that could be said for any photograph. 

Arches and chandeliers inside Notre Dame Cathedral

The main altar inside Notre Dame from behind

The main altar front, complete with floor cleaning. Notre Dame Cathedral, July 10, 2013.

The main altar front, complete with floor cleaning. 

Notre dame has many altars, the following photo is one of the side altars.

NotreDameSideAltar

Side altar, Notre Dame Cathedral, July 10, 2013.

Photographing inside Notre Dame Cathedral does require a somewhat advanced digital camera. The lack of light means shooting at ISO 1600 minimum.

Arches and a chandelier.

Arches and a chandelier.

Paris Street Photography

Photography, Street, Travel

Above: A kiss and some butt grab in Paris, July 10, 2013.

A quick post for today, some various street photography from Paris, France. Be sure and check out tomorrows halloween post, when we’ll visit the Paris catacombs, the world’s biggest.

I talked previously about my struggles with street photography, mostly blurry images. Some of these would benefit from being sharper.

What caught my attention for the first image – aside from the rich, wafting smell of tar – was the nearly archaic buckets these workers were using to patch street asphalt.

Using old wooden buckets to transport tar

Using old wooden buckets to transport tar.

I wanted to capture the contrast between simplicity and depth for the next image. The elements all worked out, starting with the hair, to the face in the mirror, and unexpectedly the pedestrian crossing the street with a lawn chair.

Mopeds, pedestrians and tour busses.

Mopeds, pedestrians and tour busses.

Finally: I loved seeing people reading newspapers, always trying to get a decent photo.

ParisStreet-3

Paris from the top of Notre Dame Cathedral

Photography, Travel

Above: A gargoyle looks over Paris and the Seine River, with the Eiffel Tower far in the background.

Scaling the skinny 400-step spiral staircase in the west buttress of Notre Dame Cathedral is not easy. It is a fascinating, historical experience, and well worth the wait in line.

First stop is the chimera gallery – chimera meaning animal – which features an array of mythical creatures. At 46 meters, or 151 feet, above the ground you’re already above much of the Paris skyline.

The Chimera gallery is the same height as the Cathedrals main roof. The bronze statues visible are some of the 12 apostles.

The roof of Notre Dame Cathedral and apostle statues, July 10, 2013.

The roof of Notre Dame Cathedral and apostle statues, July 10, 2013.

After crossing the gallery more stairs are in store. The top of the belfry is an impressive 69 meters, 226 feet, above ground. Here a full 360 degree view of paris is attained, as well as a feeling of helplessness if there were to be an emergency.

The roof of the previous picture can be seen leading into the cathedrals spire with the apostle statues. The Seine river winds out of the frame. The only thing more impressive then the view is realizing the tower is roughly 800 years old!

The very top of Notre Dame Cathedral looking west.

The very top of Notre Dame Cathedral, looking west.

More Cluny Museum – Stained Glass

Photography, Travel

Above: Visitors take in the colorful array of stained glass, July 8, 2013.

Once again the weekly photo challenge lends itself nicely to the Cluny Museum in Paris, France: Saturation. Saturation is a pretty simple concept, the intensity of color relative to brightness. A vibrant flower or dramatic rainbow would be saturated. Completely unsaturated would be black and white.

My last post dealt with lines and pattern of Musee De Cluny architecture. There is also a small stained glass room inside the museum. The nearly pitch black ambiance dramatically increases the vividness of the centuries old glassworks.

Storytelling was the main function of these colorful creations. Most depicted people, many seemed to deal with religious or revolutionary subjects, and more then a few dealt with violence.

ClunyStainedGlass-2

The overthrow and subsequent beheading of a king.

Perhaps symbolizing the temptation from satan.

Perhaps symbolizing temptation from satan.

Cluny Museum: Lines and patterns.

Photography, Travel, Uncategorized

Above: Cascading light and rough masonry from Cluny Museum architecture create lines and patterns.  I like how the busts on the left and lady on the right direct the eye toward the smaller lady nearly dwarfed by rock.

Located in Paris, France, Musee de Cluny occupies two gorgeous buildings, the 1st century Gallo-Roman baths of Lutece and the  15th century townhouse of the abbots of Cluny.

The highlight for me was the amazing architecture of the building, one ceiling in particular.

The the many triangles with inlaid s-patterns are perfectly suited to the  Weekly Photo Challenge: “From lines to patterns.” The following photo uses a simple tactic. Setting the camera flat on its back, to get as much of the roof as possible.

A ceiling in the Cluny Museum in black a white. July 8, 2013.

A ceiling in the Cluny Museum in black and white. July 8, 2013.

The ancient busts have long seen wear and tear.

MuseeCluny-7

Jardin du Luxembourg

architecture, Photography, Street, Travel

The Luxembourg Gardens: The second largest public park in Paris and home to Luxembourg Palace, where the French Senate convene. A popular place in Paris to spend a sunny day. Be careful where you walk, most of the grass is off limits to pedestrians, resulting in quick intervention by a security guard.

Fountains and flowers occupy the central area, backdropped by Luxembourg Palace.

Enjoying sun and scenery at Luxomberg Gardens, July 6, 2013.

Enjoying sun and scenery at Luxomberg Gardens, July 6, 2013.

2013 marked the 100th anniversary of the Tour de France, the iconic bicycle race which traverses France. To commemorate the milestone large photos of the race from every generation were mounted on the fence surrounding Jardin du Luxembourg.

While they were all very lovely to look at, creating a visual snapshot over a century of change, I found the most interesting photo involved what hid behind.

Sharing a kiss behind a Tour de France photo dated  July 29, 1950.

Sharing a kiss behind a Tour de France photo dated July 29, 1950.

Notre Dame Cathedral as seen from the left bank Seine River.

architecture, Black & White, Photography, Travel

On the right bank of the Seine River that splits Paris in half stands Notre Dame Cathedral. The first stone of this ancient and enormous house of worship was laid in 1163 by Bishop Maurice de Sully. Built of limestone from nearby quarries, Notre Dame, or “Our Lady,” took almost 200 years to complete and today is the most visited site in Paris.

While Notre Dame seems hidden until relatively close due to surrounding structures, once in eyesight it immediately dominates the skyline. In cool morning air and soft light with the flowing water – before crowds arrive in the hundreds – the scene is calm, relaxing.

Something as simple as circling the cathedral is astounding. It radiates history. Everywhere hand-carved statues and motifs overwhelm the eyes. One can’t help but imagine simple peasant farmers in the early days seeing Notre Dame and thinking  they had seen part of heaven.

A jogger makes his way along the Seine River with Notre-Dame Cathedral in the background, July 8, 2013.

A jogger makes his way along the Seine River with Notre-Dame Cathedral in the background, July 8, 2013.

Notre Dame as seen from the left bank of the Seine River.

Notre Dame as seen from the left bank of the Seine River.

Architecture close up.

Architecture close up.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Focus, on the Notre Dame Cathedral and roses.

architecture, Travel, Uncategorized, Weekly Photo Post

Focus – a powerful concept that applies to so much more then photography. Naturally, when thinking of focus I think equally of the opposite, unfocused. The difference is apparent as black and white. Sharp or fuzzy. Crisp or cloudy. Clear or muddy. Focus is a powerful tool to draw the eye and attract attention. Focus is necessary in all aspects of life – from reading and writing to work and sports.

In photography focus is fairly straightforward. Often my first question when editing a photo: What is in focus? Little is more disheartening then finding a lovely composed and well-timed shot, then realizing the subject matter is out-of-focus. Worse, nothing in focus.

The following two photos are Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris in the background and roses in the foreground. The different focal point and shallow depth-of-field provides a dramatic difference in the images feelings.

With the roses in focus the image feels soft, almost delicate.

Roses and Notre Dame Cathedral. July 8th, 2013.

Roses and Notre Dame Cathedral 1. July 8, 2013.

The following photo, with Notre Dame in focus (perhaps almost in focus,) feels more grandeur.

Roses and Notre Dame 2. July 8, 2013.

Roses and Notre Dame Cathedral 2. July 8, 2013.

These are two images from six weeks I just spent traveling throughout Europe. I will continue to post images of my travels, many with history about the subjects. So please stay tuned!

Weekly Photo Challenge: The Golden Hour, Versailles, France.

Photography, Street, Travel, Weekly Photo Post

The golden hour is the current weekly photo challenge. Around sunrise or sunset the sun’s low angle causes more diffusions in the atmosphere and casts long shadows. The result can be spectacular light. I used to strictly time my photography around this time, until one day a teacher asks when the best time to take a photo was. I replied “the golden hour” to which he responded, the best time to take a photo is anytime. While I still prefer catching the dramatic and soft lighting prone to the golden hour, that piece of advice has stuck with me and greatly influenced my photographing habits.

These two images were recently taken in the town of Versailles, France.

Apparently weary of my camera, a dad plays with his son during sunset.

Apparently weary of my camera, a dad plays with his son during sunset.

Pedestrians cast long shadows walking by packed cafes.

Pedestrians cast long shadows walking by packed cafes.