go to the top of the Eiffel...
go to the top of the Eiffel tower! See the Louvre (but don't get lost!) and VERSAILLES!! Probably... my time in the Eiffel Tower. It was gorgeous! Or maybe, my 3 hours of strolling the Champs Elyss. Wow. Talk about a cultural experience! ;)
A place of Beauty
I love the endless array of Gargoyles in Paris. I have never been here when it has rained hard so have not seen the Gargoyles spewing water as their use intended them to do. They line many of the old buildings but none are probably as famous as those on Notre Dame.
I'm talking about movies about Paris, set in Paris to set the mood & tone for the trip & keep you hyped up about your upcoming vacation/holiday while at the same time reminding you why you're going. Please click on the links below to see a full description of each movie. Some of the obvious choices are:
A French foreign film in sub-titles, set in Paris with the most wonderful Parisian scenes (many Métro spots, scenes of Sacre Cœur, you get the idea). It’s one of the best movies I've seen in a while! Such a cute & charming film with many funny spots. Even the guys in the theatre (I'm sure they were thinking beforehand that this is such a chick flick) were laughing. Very, Very Funny!
An American in Paris
Another one of my absolute favorite Paris movies because it shows Paris off to perfection.
The Bourne Identity
Breathless (A Bout de Soufflé)
The Last Time I saw Paris
Based off of an F. Scott Fitzgerald short story called Babylon Revisited starring Elizabeth Taylor who was once married to my cousin, Richard Burton.
For the kidlets, consider watching the following:
Rugrats in Paris
Photo: April 2003 Before my very first trip to Paris, I started a movie thread on fodors.com which produced a great many interesting responses. Maybe you'll see some of your favorites listed there. Click on the title to read the Fodor's thread called:
ok last questions - Paris movies?
IT PAYS TO LEARN ONES LESSONS!
Of course these observations are coming from the point of view, of one American, suggesting the direction of some of our differences and are meant to help a novice traveler rather than make a definitive statement.
You may have heard others complain, that the French, especially Parisians, are rude, snobbish, or arrogant. I'd say such comments reflect more the complainant than their subject.
In my experience, the French—in general—are a gracious people, they are passionate, like to debate, and speak their mind openly. They, are not quick to smile perfunctorily, so when you do get a smile, you can be sure that it’s meant.
Ask before taking pictures of people, even of French friends.
Once while taking a picture of friends at a workplace coffee bar, I noticed that they were laughing as if hearing a joke. I asked what was so funny and they told me that other patrons in the room had asked why I was taking their picture. Rather than explain that I was a 'common' tourist, they said that I was a journalist! How’s that for a promotion?
I learned my lesson and later when I wanted to take a picture of three policemen near Place de la Concorde, I asked.
One imposing officer stepped up and refused my request. For a second I was about to retreat, but saw at the corners of his lips, a small upwards turn. Encouraged, I pleaded my case. They relented and I got my picture taken with all three.
What ever you do, don’t try to get after dinner coffee and desert at the same time.
It won’t happen!
Photo Lesson - the banks of the Seine
"All In A Mood"
There's something special about days when people just lie down on the ground in the middle of a public place and snooze.
I was reading a funky book recently where the guy recommends just suddenly lying down in the middle of the street for ten seconds then getting up and carrying on, as a way of gaining confidence and not caring about what others think. Must try it someday. In the meantime I'll content myself with photos of those who do.
Maybe it's the long shadows, or the arm thrown lazily across the eyes or the presence of water... but whatever elements go to make up this gentle scene, there is a definite mood, and conveying a mood is an important concept in photography...
Angles & Echoes
I'll start with a specific aspect of composition here: angles. As it happens, this picture nicely illustrated a couple of interesting points.
There are basically two parts to this picture: the water and the river bank. This creates a strong diagonal separating the bit where things are happening (the bank) from the bit where things are not (the Seine). Don't forget that if I hadn't tilted the camera this wouldn't have been an angle at all, but simply a straight line going horizontally across the shot, so this was a definite creative decision on my part.
To echo this line is a tiny bit of the wall I was leaning on, in the bottom left of the shot. This is almost insignificant, but it does balance the pic a bit and acts as a frame for the walkers' shadows.
In contrast to these static angles are the shadows of the walkers and the mooring post in the river. These are at almost the same opposing angle as the edge of the path, creating a pleasing 'V' shape at the top of the picture and filling in that bit of water with something.
The echo in this case comes from the fact that the two walkers' shadows are perfectly mimicked by the shadows of the two mooring posts in the river. Don't think this is negligible - it all goes to making the shot hang together nicely (even if I did notice this only about ten minutes ago!).
Apart from the above, what else is there to say about the composition? Well, you know me... there's plenty - always plenty!
The dude up top-left is both a pain and a blessing. At first I thought, oh no, he's far too much stuck in the corner. But then I thought, no, he nicely frames that part of the shot, adds to the balmy atmosphere, and balances that block of shadow bottom right.
Funnily enough, the sprouts of greenery clinging to the river bank are perfectly echoed by the smaller blobby shadow of the leaves on the bottom. Another example of how repetition, however subtle, can make a shot stronger.
The people walking are not there by accident. Well, I didn't actually tell them what to do, but you can bet I waited quite a while to have the right sort of passers-by filling in that vast void of empty cobblestones as a more animated counterpoint to the lazy sunbathers.
And of course on a day like that (21st June, longest day of the year, during the Fête de la Musique in Paris) they come with their shadows absolutely free of charge.
So in the end we have a sort of harmonious triangle formed by the lying woman, the sitting man, and the two walkers. The whole thing nicely framed by bits of wall, tree shadows, greenery and river architecture, all going up to make a pleasing shot.
Atmosphere & Mood
These are created by a combination of things: the weather, the position of the photographer, the poses of the subjects, the angle of the sun and the texture of the surfaces.
Here the poses suggest tranquillity and relaxation - even the walkers are clearly strolling, not hurrying.
The long shadows and the texture of the cobblestones (which I emphasised later on the computer) add to the idea of an indolently sinking sun warming the banks of the river Seine on a long summer's day.
Looking down on the subjects not only gives an interesting point of view but also suggests a bit of intrigue or even envious voyeurism! Maybe the photographer would actually quite like to be himself lying down next to that supine and scantily clad young lady, listening to the gentle lapping of the ripples against the Seine's mossy moorings...
Look for stark angles such as the edges of modern buildings or lampposts or chair legs - anything - and do something original with them. Twist and turn your camera - it won't mind, honest!
Put yourself up high somewhere - maybe on a bridge or a walkway over a busy shopping precinct or business area - and take pictures of the busy little ants scurrying around below you. Make patterns with them and let your imagination run wild. People look so funny from above! (watch out for lens flare from fatties' balding heads like mine!)
On a balmy summer's day, or alternatively a chilly winter's morning, go out looking to create an atmosphere. People wiping their brows, blowing into their hands, clutching their coats about them or taking off their pullovers - it's up to you to tell the story.
Then comment on this lesson in the Photo Blog with a link to your best result - we all want to see them!
angles & echoes - make angles where there aren't any by tilting your camera and see what you can create out of the ordinary. Play different angles against each other and look for several angles going in the same direction which can be used to dynamic effect
composition - think carefully about every element of the photo and try to make them complement each other. Think about the shapes the subjects create between them, and don't forget to frame your picture with what's available, even if it's only a bit of a scruffy old plant or a wavy shadow
atmosphere & mood - you, the photographer, have two jobs: one is to find a mood, and the second is to enhance it! Reality is rarely as wonderful as we would like it to be, but don't worry, we have a whole bag of tools to help us - be they in your imagination as you set up the shot or in your tinkering afterwards - there are no rules!