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.
The main altar inside Notre Dame from behind
The main altar front, complete with floor cleaning.
Notre dame has many altars, the following photo is one of the side altars.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Notre Dame as seen from the left bank of the Seine River.
Architecture close up.
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 1. July 8, 2013.
The following photo, with Notre Dame in focus (perhaps almost in focus,) feels more grandeur.
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!