Tag Archives: Metro

Commuter Diary

I’ve been playing around with this idea for a while. I don’t know that there’s anything particularly new about what I’m doing, either subject-wise or with technique. But I’m doing it as an exercise in freeing myself up creatively, forcing myself to be open to happy accident, and not getting hidebound with notions of what photography “should” look like. Photography is capable of recording and compressing time into a single frame, and I’m interested in exploring how we react and respond to seeing that. It’s not what we expect when we look at a photograph- we expect very short “frozen” moments, 1/250th of a second, blur-free, movement-free, sharp, literal. These photos are NOT that. They’re shot in B – long exposures made by my pushing the shutter button and letting go when I’ve decided I’ve captured “enough”, anywhere from a couple of seconds to closing in on a minute. So much can happen in just one minute.

Metro Passengers
Ignoring the Map

I’m trying to capture the experience of being a regular commuter on public transportation. It’s an impressionistic approach to the concept, recording the passage of time and the movement through space of the vehicles and people in a public transit system. Rail system maps are in every car on every train in every city in the world that has a public rail system. It’s easy to separate the tourists from the commuters as the tourists are pouring over every detail of the map, and the commuters are doing their best to ignore it and everything and everyone else around them.

Foggy Bottom Metro
Foggy Bottom Metro

This is the view of the platform with a train at the station at Foggy Bottom, looking down the Up escalator. With the train relatively stationary, the zig-zaggy lightning-bolt forms of the station lamps captures the movement of my breathing as the camera hangs against my body. Even when standing still, movement is all around you, but that’s the nature of public transit, isn’t it? It’s all about constant movement, circulating people from one end of town to the other.

Metro Passengers
Pole Hanger

Every rail system (and bus system for that matter) has a means to support people who are standing while riding. The poles are a terrific convenience while riding, and a terrific obstacle when trying to exit. They grow near doors like chromed branchless brambles that collect passengers who are ready and waiting by the door for THEIR stop, transforming to boulders in the current throwing eddies and whirlpools in the tidal flow of commuters on and off the carriage.

Paris in October – part 30 –

So I FINALLY got around to developing the last roll of black-and-white from the trip today. Here are some odds-n-ends from the Palais de Justice. These are from the courtyard through which you exit after you visit Sainte Chapelle (you can see the spire of the chapel in the background of the lantern photo).

Not only did the lantern appeal to me, but the absolutely crazy Escher-esque layers of the building behind it just begged to be photographed. It’s like many different buildings collided and transformed into another entirely new one.

Lantern, Courtyard, Palais de Justice
Lantern, Courtyard, Palais de Justice

This is a fencepost on an iron railing around the Palais de Justice building. I thought the sunlight passing through the outer fence casting a striped shadow on the wall behind this iron fence had an ironic feeling of multiple layers of prison at a place of justice.

Fence, Palais de Justice
Fence, Palais de Justice

These windows also had an Escher-esque quality to them because they have balance but not symmetry – again lots of angles that mimic and overlap without being truly parallel.

Windows, Palais de Justice
Windows, Palais de Justice

On the way out of the courtyard you pass by what seems to be an entrance to the Metro, all closed up. This is a block and a bit from the main entrance to the Cité metro, so it is possible this was a direct entrance to enable workers at the Palais de Justice to go directly to and from their offices. Or it could just be an underpass or an entrance to a tunnel system connecting multiple buildings in the neighborhood. I’m voting for subway entrance even though it doesn’t have the nifty bronze art nouveau surround because the lamps above the gates look like the lamps over the Cité station entrance. Any Parisian readers are more than welcome to chime in and correct me.

Abandoned Subway Entrance, Palais de Justice
Abandoned Subway Entrance, Palais de Justice

Paris in October – part 6 – transportation – Planes and Trains

Whenever you travel, of course it involves transportation. I suppose I could call this post “trains, planes and automobiles”, although cars were the least feature of this trip for me. Starting off with planes, the return flight from Paris was on an Air France Airbus A380. I had wanted to see what one was like since they were announced back in the late 1990s. Thanks to my dad splurging on our plane tickets, we had seats in the premium economy section, which put us on the upper deck of the plane. Perhaps because of its size, the A380 was the smoothest riding plane I can recall flying in.

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Here it is at the gate at Charles De Gaulle airport.

One other neat feature of the plane is that in the entertainment console in the headrest, one option is to view the tail cam. They have a camera somewhere near the top of the tail rudder that has a view of the aircraft and the landscape below it. Here it is, on the approach to Dulles International Airport:

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Most of my travels within France were train based. I took the Metro within Paris, a commuter train to Versailles, and a TGV to Chalon. The TGV to Chalon was not the famous super-fast train that goes to Marseilles in 3 hours, but nonetheless, it’s a fast, smooth, quiet train that pivots as it goes around curves.

Paris Metro scenes:

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The Monnaie station (the Mint) had these large ceramic replica coins flowing up the wall, over the ceiling and on to the wall of the opposite platform. The platform also had this giant antique coin press on display:
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I wish they would do things like that here in the Washington DC metro.

Here’s a take on the same station in black-and-white.

Paris Metro-Pont Neuf
Paris Metro-Pont Neuf

And another view of the Metro in motion:

Speeding Metro
Speeding Metro

I took a TGV from Paris to Chalon-sur-Saone to go visit the home of Nicephore Niepce, the original inventor of photography. To say that my train trip was an adventure would be fairly accurate – my first train, which was supposed to take me directly to Chalon, instead took me to Besancon, which is a scant 60km from the Swiss border. I had to take three more trains to end up in Chalon, two and a half hours after I was supposed to arrive there.

It all worked out ok in the end, and the return trip was far less adventurous. Here is the Gare D’ Lyon, my starting (and ending) point in Paris:

TGV, Gare D' Lyon
TGV, Gare D’ Lyon

Clocks, Platform, Gare D' Lyon
Clocks, Platform, Gare D’ Lyon