Paris in October – Part 1

My apologies for the very long delay in writing. Did you all miss me? Part of it was just a general busy-ness and part of it was that I was traveling to Paris for ten days, then waiting for my color film to come back from the lab, and processing and scanning my black-and-white work. Paris was a blast – I have to say it was an orgy of great food – I did not have a single bad meal, or even a humdrum one, in the entire 10 days. Well, ok, the breakfast at the airport on the day of the return flight was, well, airport food, but that doesn’t really count. I’d say the meals on Air France made up for it. I’ll save the rest of the food chat for another post – I took pictures of most of my meals.

I took only one camera with me on this trip, the Rolleiflex. It has only one focal length, and is entirely manual. I know to some folks, shooting their entire vacation with a normal lens would be heresy. I found that in actuality, there were perhaps a half-dozen photos that I took that in retrospect would have been better with a different focal length, and another half-dozen to ten that I didn’t take because they wouldn’t work with the focal length I had. This out of almost 400 frames (33 rolls of 120, 12 frames/roll). I kept my film palette largely restricted to two films – Kodak Ektar 100 for color (with two exceptions) and Tri-X for black-and-white. I did make the mistake of dragging along with me a whole bunch of additional film that I didn’t need to bring (way too much alternative black-and-white film, like some Ilford Pan-F and FP4+). The color exceptions were some Portra 160 for long night-time exposures and some Portra 800 for low-light where I could only hand-hold the camera.

I’ll start this series of posts off with a pair of highlights: the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame Cathedral.

The Eiffel Tower:

Eiffel Tower Shadow, Clouds
Eiffel Tower Shadow, Clouds

This was a happy catch. I saw the shadow of the tower and the clouds passing overhead reflected in the glass of the security partition for the queue to enter the Eiffel Tower. I took a chance that it would work, and voila! (Tish, that’s French!!!) I was afraid that it would come out fuzzy because I was trying to focus on two different things that were not actually on the plane where they appeared (the security glass partition) and the color balance would be impossible to get right because the anti-shatter coatings on the glass created a bit of a prismatic effect. There’s still a touch of yellow in the clouds I couldn’t eliminate but otherwise it wasn’t too bad.

Here’s a shot of Notre Dame Cathedral, taken from a different perspective.

Towers, Notre Dame Cathedral
Towers, Notre Dame Cathedral

Notre Dame is actually a challenge to photograph because it has a very direct east-west orientation, so for much of the day, the facade that you want to see represented is facing west and in shadow/backlit. I was able to time this photo in the late afternoon so it was well illuminated.

The Rollei made for a perfect travel camera – phenomenal image quality, very easy to handle, and because it is so quiet (no mirror slap, the leaf shutter just makes a little ‘snick’ when it fires) it is great for candids. Thinking of which, I did grab a couple portraits of friends of mine who came over from London to visit. They recently moved there from Singapore. The last time we saw each other in person was 2003, so almost exactly a decade apart. Gosh have we all changed, but it was so great to see them again.

Mirza and Peter
Mirza and Peter
Mirza, Cafe Le Progrès
Mirza, Cafe Le Progrès
Peter, Profile, Blvd St. Martin
Peter, Profile, Blvd St. Martin

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