Archive for the ‘Europe’ Category

Evolution of a Photo #2   Leave a comment

I enjoy low-light photography, especially when the subject is something as inviting as a cobblestone street and lamp.  Below are the before and after versions of one of the photos I took outside of La Basilique du Sacre Coeur in Paris.  All adjustments were done in Adobe Lightroom 4 and took about 30 minutes to perform.

The photo on the left is straight out of the camera except for some basic cropping to an 8 x 10 format.  The greenish-brown color is what happens when you photograph a scene lit by fluorescent or mercury vapor lamps.  If you photograph in RAW format (which I always do) you can adjust this later on the computer.  However, I didn’t bother adjusting the color balance because I knew I wanted to process the image as a black and white photo, making tone adjustments unnecessary.

Even as a black and white the image would have been flat and dull if I had done nothing more than click on the b&w conversion button.  To get the final image on the right I instead applied a red photo filter and then adjusted contrast to push the darks to pure black.  Highlights were backed off to reduce intensity and flare, and I then used the brush tools to dodge (lighten), burn (darken), and add clarity (mid-tone contrast) to selective areas of the sidewalks, cobblestone street, and wall.

Thirty minutes of effort to turn a “blah” image into something a bit more compelling.


Posted July 8, 2012 by ~ Bruce in Architecture, Europe

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Paris Cityscapes   Leave a comment

The last of the photos (I think) from Paris — a half-dozen images taken from one of the Notre Dame towers on a cold but beautiful winter’s day.

Posted February 10, 2012 by ~ Bruce in Architecture, Europe

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Versailles   2 comments

One of our day trips was to the palace at Versailles on the outskirts of Paris.  Not much needs to be said about this ornate chateau, last occupied by Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.  It is definitely a let-them-eat-cake sort of place.  The morning we were there was very crowded, and I frankly felt a bit indifferent to taking photos in the mayhem.  Following are a dozen shots where I managed to avoid the crush of the crowd.

(Above) Versailles:  Palace gate.  Tourists come in through a side entrance.

(Above) Versailles:  Exterior detail.

(Above) Versailles:  The understated architecture continued inside.

(Above) Versailles:  Exterior view from inside, through old glass panes.

(Above) Versailles:  One of the better images in my opinion.  I’ve always liked to photograph repeating geometric shapes like these columns.

(Above) Versailles:  More ornate columns.  I liked the warm light entering from the window.

(Above) Versailles:  Not your everyday ceiling.

(Above) Versailles:  Louis XVI, in happier times.

(Above) Versailles:  Chandeliers.  Electrified now, but candles in the palace’s heyday.

(Above) Versailles:  A hall of busts.  That I was able to photograph the entire length of the hall without a tourist in the frame is a small miracle.

(Above) Versailles:  Gardens.  This would be classified as “photo art” because I over-saturated the colors by a huge amount, and then heavily diffused the background.

(Above) Versailles:  Another highly saturated and diffused image, this time with the palace wing as a backdrop.

Posted February 5, 2012 by ~ Bruce in Europe, Travel Photography

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Sitting by the Seine   Leave a comment

“It’s a rainy night in Paris and I’m sitting by the Seine . . . “

Well, not exactly.  But I cannot think of the Seine without Billy Joel’s lyrics coming to mind.  In this case it was a cool and sunny day in Paris.  The woman in this photo had walked past us, taking an empty bench about 100 feet away and placing her pack of cigarettes beside her.  I don’t know if she was happy or sad or somewhere in between.  A photograph doesn’t always capture the real emotion of its subject.  To me this is a melancholy image that conveys a sense of isolation, from her decidedly non-Parisian clothing to the unnoticed, young joggers passing by.  She smoked her cigarette while gazing blankly across the river.  And the world went about its business, taking no notice of her.

I truly hope that she was happier — more content — than my emotional response to the scene.  I hope that I did not invade too much of her private moment.

Posted February 2, 2012 by ~ Bruce in Europe, People, Uncategorized

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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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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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