Yes, we're back from Paris. I had meant to put up a few posts here with some pictures while we were away. Alas, the electrical converter that Monique and I brought with us didn't work with our laptop, so there was no photo editing or posting while we were there, and darn little writing of anything since I didn't have a keyboard. Instead we just had to settle for relaxing with family; taking long, leisurely strolls; and visiting the occasional museum.
Since this entire trip was conceived as a relaxing Thanksgiving week family visit with Monique's sister Michelle and her clan -- Max, Stella, Henry, and Malcolm -- relaxing around the apartment and taking the occasional adventurous expedition was just the right pace for us. It was a splendid visit.
The result of our non-photo-editing in Paris is that we've had a suspiciously 20th-century return from our trip, with the equivalent of 50 or 60 rolls of 24-shot film on a couple of little digital memory cards. And now that we have our home wi-fi working again (long story) yesterday was like the day on which all those rolls of film came back from the developer. Since I was home sick yesterday with a cold -- we brought that back from Paris, too -- I occasionally roused myself from the couch and did a bit of sorting of our photographic treasure trove.
If you want to see the big, basic photo album of the trip, your best bet is my Paris 2012 photo album on Facebook. Unfortunately, you'll need to be logged into Facebook to see it. You don't necessarily have to friend me, though. I leave my privacy setting pretty low over there rather than indulge the delusion that there's any privacy on FB.
Instead of replicating the album here for you non-Facebookers (for Pete's sake, just go create an ID/password and lurk, if you're that desperate to see the full slide show) what I thought I'd do over here on the ol' Patio Boat is to write a few posts in which I pick a few pictures from the trip, then talk about them in a bit more depth, either with a bit of the story behind the photo or maybe a bit about why I like that particular photo.
So, let's start with the photo of the Eiffel Tower that I posted first over on FB, mostly as a test of our newly restored wi-fi:
This photo was one of a batch of Tour Eiffel photos I took on the evening of our first Sunday as Monique and I strolled along the Seine. Incidentally, we didn't really intend to stroll along the Seine on Sunday night. We intended to go to Musée du Stylo et de l'Écriture, which we dug out of our Lonely Planet: Paris guide book, and which is only open on Sundays from 2 pm to 6 pm.
Or, I should say, I supposedly open on Sundays from 2 pm to 6 pm. Because when we arrived there at 4 pm on Sunday, this is what we found:
Yes, that's me standing indignantly in front of the shuttered museum. I'm not sure why it was closed, but it's really just a little museum and is probably a one-person show. Now we'll have to go back to Paris to see the world's greatest collection of pens and historical handwriting.
Since the museum was a no-go, we decided to stroll through the neighborhood down to the Seine, then along the Seine towards the Eiffel Tower. We're both quite fond of walking along the Seine in the evening after the initial plan doesn't work out, since I proposed to Monique on a stroll like that.
We eventually ended up at the Pont Bir-Hakeim, which is a nifty historic bridge ...
... with a great view up the Seine to the Eiffel Tower:
I like the framing of the first photo above because of the framing of the trees on the left and the broader sweep of the Seine in the foreground. But this one came out dandy, too. We actually took quite a few photos at this spot. Most of them didn't come out well because we were trying to get ourselves in the photo, so we either ended up with the foreground overexposed by flash or the foreground totally dim.
One of my favorite photos from my first trip to Paris was an Eiffel Tower shot like this, with the light of the tower reflecting off the Seine.
BTW, the phrase "took quite a few photos ... but most of them didn't come out well" is pretty much my key photographic strategy. I like to think that I have a decent eye for framing things in the shot, but I will gladly admit that my camera (a Canon Rebel EOS T3i) is generally smarter about light exposures than I am. So unless I have something very specific in mind (and the owner's manual in hand!) I generally let one of the automated settings do the heavy lifting. What surprises me is how often the first shot turns out to be the best shot.
I caught a couple more pretty good shots as we walked up towards the Trocadero:
The Eiffel Tower is, of course, so synonymous with Paris that it's become the ultimate tourist stereotype. Sometimes you feel really un-hip pointing at it or taking photos of it. But it's also a lovely symbol for the city, in great part because of how it manages to pop out over rooftops or on the horizon at unexpected moments:
Photographically, it's just hard to take a badly composed shot of La Tour Eiffel because of its lines and the way it sweeps to a peak while crossing the horizon. However it is possible to have photos of the Eiffel Tower go awry for a wide variety of other reasons, especially when you're shooting at night. One of our favorite views of the Eiffel Tower is from the window of my niece Stella's bedroom. For the first day or two we were in Paris it was too foggy to see the Eiffel Tower from Stella's window, but on our first Saturday night there it finally popped out:
This is one of a long series of nighttime photos through Stella's window that didn't work out quite as intended because of low light and hand shake. Next time we're in Paris I'll bring a tripod and just set it up next to her bed for the week. I'm sure she won't mind.
Even though none of the photos from Stella's window turned out crisply, some of them ended up looking pretty cool, anyway, especially since my zoom lens required such a long exposure:
This was one of a long series of blurry Tour Eiffel photos we took during the week. In the evenings the tower also "shimmers" for about five minutes every hour on the hour. It's a great looking effect that undoubtedly requires a bazillion strobe lights. It also led to these two funky looking shots, which I'm quite fond of:
In the end, a couple of my favorite shots we took of the Eiffel Tower were from the misty day Monique and I toured the Cimetière du Père Lachaise, which is fairly close to Michelle's apartment on Rue Menilmontant. As we climbed the hill, the fog lifted just enough for us to see it in the distance, keeping watch over all:
And that's how I think of La Tour Eiffel. Always there, keeping watch over all Paris, past, present, and future: