Archive for January 2012

Behind The Clock   2 comments

Unlike the Louvre, the Musee d’Orsay does not allow photography of its art objects.  This museum on the left bank in Paris is located inside a beautiful Beaux-Arts railway station and  specializes in impressionist and post-impressionist art (Monet, Manet, Renoir, Cezanne, Van Gogh).  Much smaller than the Louvre, it is nonetheless spectacular in terms of both its architecture and its art collection.

Despite the photography restriction, this museum provided what may be my favorite image from our trip to Paris.  The building has a large exterior windowed clock that overlooks the city.  The moment I walked into the “clock room” I knew it was just a matter of waiting for the right subject to silhouette in the window.  It took maybe 15 minutes of patience as a parade of Mickey Mouse and “I Love Paris” sweatshirts marched by, until this lone individual with curly hair and black wool coat finally presented himself.  I had time enough to make one vertical and one horizontal image before the Euro-Disney onslaught resumed.  I converted the image to monochrome in Topaz Black & White Effects software.


Posted January 31, 2012 by ~ Bruce in Europe, People, Travel Photography

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The Louvre   2 comments

After a brief diversion caused by Joe Paterno’s passing, I wanted to return to posting a few more photos from our Paris trip.  In particular, a few photos from the Louvre, a place that I found to be both fascinating and a bit overwhelming.  Musee de Louvre is the most visited museum in the world, and one of the world’s largest. It contains somewhere around 35,000 paintings, sculptures, and other art objects, and covers more than 650,000 square feet.  It is in a word, intimidating.

Unlike many museums, the Louvre allows visitors to photograph most of its art collection, without flash of course.  As I have already posted photographs of the museum’s exterior in my Paris at Night post, I will focus this post on some interior shots along with a sampling of the works of art found there.  We spent a fascinating five hours there and only brushed the surface of all there is to see.

Note:  Unless the works of art are really famous (like the Mona Lisa) you will not find any notes as to artist or subject in the photos below.  My apologies, but it is simply not an area of expertise, and I did not slow down to take notes as we walked through the galleries.  I took photos of whatever struck me as interesting and beautiful.

(Above) The Louvre:  The main lobby, below the glass pyramid.

(Above) The Louvre:  A spectacular staircase, worth skipping the escalators just to walk the stairs.

(Above) The Louvre:  Staircase closeup.  This also happens to be the 5000th photo that I’ve taken with my Canon 50D since I purchased it 18 months ago.


(Above) The Louvre:  One of the first rooms we entered in (I believe) the Denon wing.  The room was so large that it dwarfed 15 foot tall statues.

(Above) The Louvre:  Hannah checks out one of the works in the large hall.

(Above) The Louvre:  The somewhat homely likenesses of a King and Queen.  Sorry, I didn’t write down the names.

(Above) The Louvre:  More attractive humans are depicted in this work.  I am amazed that a sculptor can take a large block of marble and create something so lifelike.

(Above) The Louvre:  Oooh, I know this one.  Venus de Milo.  Thought to have been sculpted between 100 and 130 BC.  (Yeah, okay, I had to Google the dates).

(Above) The Louvre:  Give me a rock, a chisel, a truckload of sandpaper, and a lifetime . . . and I could not create a perfectly round orb like that, much less the hand, arm, and figure holding it.

(Above) The Louvre:  There were even statues on the ceilings.

(Above) The Louvre:  I don’t remember ever holding my kids this way.  (With one hand, or au naturale.  Take your pick).

(Above) The Louvre:  The flowing dress made of stone.  This was one of my very favorite pieces.  I had to resist the temptation to reach out and touch it.

(Above) The Louvre:  For those of you who have watched Monty Python And The Holy Grail, remember the guy in the dungeon at Camelot?  Yeah, I know, I should have my museum privileges revoked for life, but that’s what this reminds me of.


(Above) The Louvre:  Melanie and Hannah in the Denon wing.

(Above) The Louvre:  And the reason so many people go to the Denon wing first — the Mona Lisa.  Da Vinci’s work is behind plexiglass as you can tell by the reflections of other tourists at the bottom of the painting.

(Above) The Louvre:  Religious works were very prevalent from the Medieval and Renaissance periods that comprise this wing of the museum.

(Above) The Louvre:  Naturally the church had the deepest pockets 400+ years ago and commissioned most of these works.

(Above) The Louvre:  I have no idea who this person is or who painted the portrait, but just the beard alone is a work of art.

(Above) The Louvre:  This painting glowed like it was backlit.  That — along with the fact that the people weren’t being killed in battle or persecuted — made it unique.

(Above) The Louvre:  And — no surprise — there were even paintings on the ceiling.

(Above) The Louvre:  And finally, no trip to a museum in France would be complete without a portrait of Napoleon.

Posted January 29, 2012 by ~ Bruce in Architecture, Europe, Travel Photography

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Joseph Vincent Paterno   8 comments

Today I returned to Penn State to pay my respects to coach Paterno.  Joe has been a constant presence in my life, and in the life of my broader family.  I will miss him forever.


(Below)  Outside of the sanctuary the lines stretched on as far as the eye could see.  A local radio station estimated that it extended for nearly half a mile.  I got in line an hour and a half early, and it still took three hours before I was able to say goodbye to Joe.  These are the photos that I took when I exited around 2:30:


(Below) The media was everywhere.  Since I have not been a fan of the media lately, I figure one photo of them is more than enough.


(Below) Signs downtown and on campus


(Below) Near Beaver Stadium, the Joe Paterno statue has become a shrine.  It was somber, respectful, and crowded.


(Below) As I headed for the car I looked up at the stadium and saw Joe looking out over all of us.  God speed, JoePa.  We Are . . .

Posted January 24, 2012 by ~ Bruce in Uncategorized

Winter Barn   5 comments

When we lived in Virginia we had an old barn on our property.  I came across this photo tonight and couldn’t resist working on it a bit.  It made me a little nostalgic and made me realize that I’d actually miss living in a climate without snow.

Posted January 19, 2012 by ~ Bruce in Landscapes, Nature and Wildlife

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Pere Lachaise Cemetery — Paris   1 comment

Doesn’t everyone visit cemeteries while on vacation?  Okay, probably not.  Certainly my daughter thinks I’m strange — for that and probably a few other reasons.  But as I mentioned in an earlier post, Pere Lachaise claims the title of world’s most visited cemetery.  So when in Paris . . .

Covering 110 acres, Pere Lachaise requires a map to navigate if you are looking for a particular gravesite (like Jim Morrison’s, Oscar Wilde’s, or Frederic Chopin’s).  Otherwise, you can simply wander the meandering cobblestone paths that snake past acre after acre of graves, some simple and some grandiose.  Several websites place the number at more than 300,000.  There is some dispute as to the actual number of persons buried here due to the custom of burying multiple family members in the same grave.  Plots can be purchased in perpetuity or leased for periods of 10, 30, or 50 years.  So yeah, if the lease isn’t renewed . . .

Some of the graves have deteriorated over the centuries (or to borrow a line from one of my favorite movies, they bear “the patina of a bygone era”), while others are freshly maintained. Formerly magnificent monuments in a state of deterioration add an aura of spookiness that, to me, emphasizes death as the “great equalizer”.

Or maybe it’s just the wine that I’m drinking while I work on this post.  In any case, enough macabre philosophizing.  Here are some images from this unique place.

(Above) Location: Pere Lachaise Cemetery, Paris.  To many Americans these look like mausoleums.  They are actually small “chapels” (for lack of a more precise term) where family members can come to offer prayers, leave flowers, etc.  Remains are below ground.

(Above) Location: Pere Lachaise Cemetery, Paris.  A view inside one of the deteriorating “chapels”.  On the wall is a likeness of one “Nicolas Perducet”.  I have no reason for relating that information other than that it appears his name and his monument are slipping into oblivion.

(Above) Location: Pere Lachaise Cemetery, Paris.  There is little wasted space between the 300,000+ grave sites.

(Above) Location: Pere Lachaise Cemetery, Paris.  It is easy to forget that the cemetery is in the midst of one of the world’s major cities.

(Above) Location: Pere Lachaise Cemetery, Paris.  Bright colors of nature, even in December.

(Above) Location: Pere Lachaise Cemetery, Paris.  Oscar Wilde’s grave — as flamboyant as the man himself.  The plexiglass was recently added to discourage women (and maybe some men?) from the popular practice of leaving red lipstick kisses on his tombstone.  The lipstick was apparently causing damage to the stone.

(Above) Location: Pere Lachaise Cemtery, Paris.  Unsurprisingly, the plexiglass surrounding Oscar Wilde’s grave now bears the lipstick-laden kisses of devoted visitors.

(Above) Pere Lachaise Cemetery, Paris.  Another monument succumbing to neglect and nature.

(Above) Location: Pere Lachaise Cemetery, Paris.  We found Jim Morrison’s grave near the top of this path.  More people were visiting Morrison’s final resting place than Chopin’s.

(Above) Location: Pere Lachaise Cemetery, Paris.

Posted January 17, 2012 by ~ Bruce in Architecture, Europe, Travel Photography

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Cathedrale Notre Dame de Paris — From Inside and Above   2 comments

Notre Dame was, of course, a must-see in Paris, and it didn’t hurt that the apartment we rented was less than a ten minute walk from the cathedral.  There is no charge to go inside the main sanctuary area, although there is a fee to climb the stairs to the top of the towers.  This was fortunately covered by our all-museums pass (a bargain that quickly paid for itself).  All we had to do was wait outside in freezing, windy conditions for 45 minutes . . . and then climb a total of 387 steps to reach one of the best views you will find in Paris.

Fortunately, the climb is broken into three separate phases.  This allows your legs to stop shaking and oxygen to return to your brain.  Seriously, don’t do this if you aren’t in at least reasonable physical condition.  And if you are a bit claustrophobic be forewarned that the stairs are narrow, steep, and circular.  With all that said, it is a compelling view from the top.  Do it if you are able!

(Above) Location: Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris.  There was a mass going on while we were there.  Tourism doesn’t stop for church activities, but it is a place that requires respect.  Men are requested to remove their hats, people speak in low voices, and photographers — no flash!

(Above) Location: Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris.  The statues and other art work is beautiful, although I must confess (pun intended) that I am not up to speed on my Saints and other persons of historical religious importance.

(Above) Location: Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris.  You can use headphones and a portable player for a self-guided walking tour which probably explains each bit of artwork.  I learned a long time ago that I can either listen to the history or take photographs — but not both.

(Above) Location: Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris.

(Above) Location: Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris.

(Above) Location: Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris.  Most of the inside shots were taken at 800 ISO and with an image stabilized lens.  Tripods are not permitted.

(Above) Location: Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris.  Notre Dame’s gargoyles have been around for centuries, obviously preceding both Victor Hugo and (ugh) Disney movies.  This is the first one that I came to after climbing the stairs for what seemed like forever.  It took at least four or five shots before my heart rate slowed down enough to hold the camera steady.

(Above) Location: Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris.  I used fill flash for most of the gargoyle shots.  A young British guy nearby asked why I was using flash, so I offered a brief explanation and we compared images on the camera backs.  Later downstairs he showed me his with-flash shots, clearly pleased.  Glad I could help!

(Above) Location: Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris.  I used a shallow depth of field to blur the background.  I think it helps to separate the gargoyle from the “jumble” of the city.  I took a lot of photos both ways — city in-focus and city blurred.  It can be difficult to decide which works best while I’m shooting.  I prefer to make that decision back home in front of the computer.

(Above) Location: Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris.  This is probably my favorite shot from Notre Dame.  The domes of the distant church (sorry, I don’t know the name) and the blue-roofed buildings below — all with this gargoyle standing guard from above, as he has been doing for hundreds of years.

(Above) Location: Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris.  The color of these statues caught my eye, but they also raised a question.  Considering Notre Dame dates back to the mid-1600’s, how exactly did the workers get them in place?  Considering that I’m not a huge fan of being in high places I’m not sure that I would have wanted to watch . . .

(Above) Location, Notre Dame Cathedral (front courtyard).  As usual I was the last one down, and Melanie and Hannah had to wait for me.  By now they’re used to it, but I was still happy to see them enjoying the time while waiting for the photographer in the family!

Posted January 16, 2012 by ~ Bruce in Architecture, Europe, Travel Photography

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Texture Layers — Something New   Leave a comment

Thanks to some new software that my son, Eric, gave me for Christmas here is a first attempt to add texture layers to an old photo.

Posted January 15, 2012 by ~ Bruce in Digital Art