Watching Paris From Notre Dame

Paris (France). I posted a similar photo some days ago: in that case the lens – my beloved Nikon 105 mm Defocus Control – was on the so called “gargoyle”, one of the bizarre sculptures decorating the Notre Dame Cathedral. The image posted here has been taken from the same place, but with a wide angle Zeiss lens to capture a wide landscape of Paris under a beautiful cloudy sky.

I have been desiring to go to the top of the Notre Dame Cathedral for years, but every time I was discouraged by an incredibly long queue, with waiting times of some hours! When recently I finally had the opportunity of being in Paris on a Monday morning, I did not hesitate one minute and I went straight to Notre Dame around one hour before the opening. I wasn’t the first of the line – some Japaneses arrived earlier than me, of course! – but I could enter 20 minutes after the opening: still it was a success! “Such a long waiting time must be compensated by a gorgeous landscape”, I was thinking when I was climbing the tower’s steps: so getting closer to the top I was more and more nervous, because my expectations were very high and the biggest risk was to be disappointed.

However, at the end I can say that it was a successful experience: the landscape of Paris from Notre Dame is something of breathtaking, especially when the light is not too sharp. The entrance is regulated, so the downside is the long queue, but the upside is that on the top it is not too crowded and everyone can find the time to concentrate and shoot. One last but important advice: it can be bloody cold and windy over there, so bring an extra layer and be prepared…

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Parisian Sky

Paris (France). “Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky”. Rabindranath Tagore, Indian poet (1861 – 1941). This is how I’m trying to feel today.

This photo has been taken from a building’s courtyard at Le Marais, in Paris. Time ago.

Parigi (Francia). “Le nuvole giungono fluttuando nella mia vita, non più per portare pioggia o per annunciare la tempesta, ma per aggiungere colore al mio cielo al tramonto”. Rabindranath Tagore, poeta indiano (1861 – 1941). Oggi cerco di sentirmi così.

Questa foto è stata fatta dal cortile di un palazzo nel Marais, a Parigi. Tempo fa.

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The Euler Hermes Building (Paris – La Défense)

Paris (France). I always bring at least one camera with me and normally, unless I know I will have the opportunity of dedicating half an hour to shooting around (and then I will bring a dedicated camera plus some lenses) I use the Ricoh GR: fast, precise and perfectly fitting in my pocket.

Some days ago, I was again staying at the Melia Hotel La Défense (here there’s another photo taken from the hotel’s sky bar) and my room was facing the back of the Euler Hermes head quarter’s building. Since it was around 7 PM, lights in the building were still switched on and the offices were fully illuminated, although there were very few people inside. Attracted by that sort of modern “honeybee farm”, I darkened my room and I staid several minutes watching an unusual “landscape”.

Two things were hypnotizing me. The first one, its geometries (it’s pretty normal in my case). But the second one was represented by all the possible stories nested within that context: how many stories of success, of failure, of career, of ambition, of frustration have been told in those offices? Not to mention private life stories, loves, jealousies, friendships and so on. In a certain sense – I hope I’m able to explain myself and make my thoughts clear – I found this glassed wall, especially if combined with the illuminated interiors, like a sort of disclosure to my eyes of the “office life”: something that from inside, with all those walls and doors, cannot be perceived.

Maybe I’m too romantic. Or probably, I was a bit stressed for the day and I just wanted to relax a bit, thinking about something else and disconnecting my mind from business affairs. In any case, I found in the interiors of the Euler Hermes offices an interesting subject: before the lights were off, I took my camera and photographed the scene to share it here.

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Love is (not) dead

Paris (France). Photographing around Le Marais, in Paris… I’m afraid that the 2015 will be remembered for the horrible terrorist attacks in Paris. First in January, then in November: for two times the heart of the city was taken hostage by armed men, and several people were killed.

But still I want to to think that with just a couple of words properly positioned, it’s still possible to declare that “love is not dead”…

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RER B at Drancy (from Charles de Gaulle Airport to Paris)

Paris (France). I have been using the RER B between the Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) and Paris downtown for some years. Every time I try to find a window seat because I like watching the city’s “banlieu” (the periphery), how it progressively changes getting closer to the heart of Paris, how people live and work in those neighborhoods, so different from the city I’m approaching. It gets easily something like a movie, being the window a large screen…

Sometimes through the window I like to shoot some photos: just random captures of stations and people – if any – waiting for their train, talking each other, playing with their phones or listening to some music. There isn’t a specific idea behind this action of photographing something which is totally decontextualized (does this word exist?) from my usual style. Or maybe the reason is exactly this: trying to describe the unknown, eventually working with my fantasy to build a story behind each situation.

The result is a set of just random shoots of what I see, linked each other only by the fact that they have been captures on the RER B from Paris, Aeroporte Charles de Gaulle and Paris Chatelet des Halles.

Here I was stopped at Drancy station, for example. I like people the architecture of the station, with its geometries, and the man climbing the ladder to leave this place. Everyone is free to find her own story behind this situation. I already have mine…

I will consider shooting some more photos in the future.


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Catching the Last Minute of Daylight (from the EDF Tower at La Defense)

Paris (France). Paris, Le Defense, watching out of the window at five minutes to six P.M. There is the very last minute of daylight out there, and I can’t resist from preparing my camera for a long exposure photo – through the thick window glass, though. The quasi-tripod I have built seems sturdy enough to keep my small and light Ricoh GR camera unmovable in the same position for some seconds and no matter how I’m dressed, I’m on my knees to check the composition and the final settings adjustment.

My colleague sitting in my office is laughing at me in that bizarre position … 3 – 2 – 1 – click! This photo is dedicated to her.

Parigi. La Defense, guardo fuori dalla finestra mentre mancano cinque minuti alle sei di sera. Fuori c’è l’ultimo bagliore di luce, e non resisto dal preparare la mia macchina fotografica per una foto con un’esposizione lunga, sebbene ci sia di mezzo uno spesso vetro. La specie di treppiede che ho costruito sembra abbastanza solido da mantenere la mia piccola e leggera Ricoh GR immobile nella stessa posizione per alcuni secondi e – non importa come sono vestito – mi metto in ginocchio per controllare la composizione e gli ultimi settaggi.

La collega che siede nel mio ufficio ride di me in quella strana posizione … tre – due – uno – click! Questa foto è dedicata a lei.

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