Sunday, 9 June 2013

What I See, Part 4 - The Streets Of Paris Redux

Photos from my "walk-a-block" post of a stroll through Paris were certainly not my only street shots from my last visit to Paris. Here are a few more cobbled together in a rambling post.

In my previous post, I had a shot of a Dad helping his son pee. But Parisian Dads are good for more than just that. For example, here is a Dad helping his son put a shoe back on.

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One day, I saw this little guy out (alone) with his scooter and a huge bag.

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He wasn't particularly keen on me getting too near when I moved in for a close-up. You can see how his smile (above) changed to a look of apprehension (below).

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When I made to leave, he was all smiles again. I forgot to ask him about the bag, but he was so obviously happy to see the back of me that I didn't return to pose my question.

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The stone work of many Parisian bridges can make for great tones and textures. The stone steps in this photograph lead up from the river to a bridge and provide a nice structured background as a little girl takes on the challenge of climbing some stairs with only her Mom's hand to help her.

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I like getting down low. There is a very different take on what is happening around you when you are low. It's like being a kid again. At the Porte de Versailles Métro stop, I saw two people rushing in the same direction - coincidentally on two separate train platforms.

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I was taking the Métro to Trocadéro to take in a modern dance performance by a Canadian, Paul-André Fortier. He called his performance Solo 30 by 30, for the 30 days of performing solo for 30 minutes. When I arrived at the site, I saw that he had marked off a large square for his performance and ringed it with guards.

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I hadn't been there very long when I saw what the guards were for.

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The stonework at Trocadéro is incredibly slippery when wet, and I guess he wanted to not worry about added risk, like cigarette butts or gum.

Despite the rain, a crowd began to gather, and I saw people who obviously did not want to miss the start of the performance.

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I glanced at my watch and saw that it was time for things to begin. I looked up and saw Paul-André, right on time.

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To me, dance is about moving to a beat. Which means that dance requires two things: movement and music. Take away either one and you no longer have dance. Close your eyes while watching a dancer and suddenly you are not watching dance; you are listening to music. Cover your ears while watching dance and suddenly you are not watching dance; you are watching gymnastics, miming, or martial arts.

In the case of Paul-André's show, I saw all three, with a liberal sprinkling of tai chi. On the right side of the stairs was a little girl imitating his moves. You may have to click on the image to see a larger version of it before you can pick out the girl.

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No matter what form of dance: modern, ballet, or jazz, dancers are incredible athletes. I was impressed with Paul-André's physical ability. Watching him, it was not long before I realized that despite his older age, he had much better speed and flexibility than me.

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It rained for the whole duration of Paul-André's performance. Rain means rain clouds, and rain clouds are clouds with substance and texture. The Voices love rain clouds. Using rain clouds, they thought that they could make an un-touristy composition of a very touristy icon. I turned around from the dance area and looked back at la Tour Eiffel. They were right.

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Rain also means a great opportunity for further street shooting. Rather than take the Métro back, I decided to walk and see what I could see.

Unfortunately, I had left my camera rain cover behind and was making do with a shopping bag. A plastic bag is not an ideal rain cover, but in light rain it is workable. But when the rain gets heavy, it is time to take cover. While waiting out a particularly heavy bout of rain under a store's awning, I looked up and saw large drops of rainwater dripping from the canopy.

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While waiting for the rain to let up, I saw a guy as perplexed as I was about the relationship between fashion and lobster pots.

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But maybe that was the purpose of the lobster pots - to catch your attention enough so that you come over to look at the clothes.

After several retreats out of the rain and not a lot of shooting, I decided to call it a night. But The Voices demanded I haul my ass out of bed before dawn's first light to continue shooting.

Grumbling, I agreed and was out before dawn to shoot. Thankfully, the rain had finally stopped and the pavement was starting to dry.

When shooting in the dark, I find I am sensitive to images with contrast. On this side street, I saw three rectangles with alternating contrasts: two white rectangles with black cores on either side of a large black rectangle with a white circle inside it.

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I was making my way towards la Seine for a sunrise session when I saw a café getting ready to open, and I stopped to shoot the activity.

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I don't know what the owner thought of me shooting him from the other side of the street, but he seemed intent on telling the other guy in the café.

I also do not know what it is about very early morning street shooting, but I run into the most interesting people when I am out. It is very counter-intuitive: it is dark, I don't know these people and they do not know me, and the weather can often be wet or cold, or both.

Maybe it is the camera that sparks people's interest and gives them a reason to stop and chat. For example, while I was shooting the café above, a man came up behind me and started talking to me. He claimed to have known Henri Cartier-Bresson. I was quite skeptical, but when the owner of the café behind us came to let him in for his morning coffee and croissant (outside of opening hours I might add), she quickly agreed that he was who he said he was.

They agreed to pose for a picture. In it I see a guy in love with life and who is not afraid to show it.

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Leaving my new friend to his morning ritual, I walked the rest of the way to the Seine where I saw the sun quickly come up over the Louvre and reflecting on the contrails of the day's first flights.

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As I turned to go back to the hotel, I saw some more wonderful colours.

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No trip to Paris is complete without a visit to my favourite museum, the Musée d'Orsay This museum is the 10th most visited museum in the world, which is incredible given its small size. They had just opened a new exhibit called Impressionism and Fashion, which I just had to see. I turns out that Impressionistic painters were among the first fashion photographers, but since taking photos inside the museum is frowned upon, I cannot tell you this story.

However, I can provide an update to the clock photo I made of Anne when we lived in Paris. Back then, there was a catwalk going to the clock and the area around the clock was open. Perhaps this dates back to the days when it was a train station and passengers needed to see the clock?


The open area is now filled in with a floor.

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In some lounge-chairs nearby, I saw some people catching a catnap while others, presumably those more interested in art, took in the remarkable paintings by a who's-who of the Impressionist school.

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And on this sleepy note, another street tour comes to a close.

Other posts about France are here. Use the "Older Posts" and "Newer Posts" buttons and the bottom to scroll through the list. The last installment from this trip is about the Paris Auto Show and is here: The Paris Auto Show.

Other posts in the "What I See" series are here:
What I See. Part 1 - The Streets of Oslo.
What I See, Part 2 - Snap!
What I See, Part 3 - A Short Walk Through Paris
What I See, Part 4 - The Streets Of Paris Redux

My photographs are for sale as fine art prints and fine art greeting cards on my web gallery.

1 comment:

JayM said...

Walking up the stairs, Porte de Versailles metro, the Cloudy Tower, and the clocks rule.