Tag Archives: Paris

Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris

The third installment in my impressions of Paris series. This time: the cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris.

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We worship with our iPhones

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Impressions of Paris – II

This is the second installment in a series of images of Paris. I post them here as a way to pause and mark events that have thrown the city into turmoil.

Graffiti sticker of skull on side of bench

Graffiti sticker of skull on side of bench

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Impressions of Paris

In light of the Charlie Hebdo killings, I thought I’d devote the next few posts to Paris just as a way to hold the people of Paris in mind. First, the cartoons that drew ire from fundamentalists. Most mainstream news outlets haven’t got the balls to reprint them for fear of giving offense. Not even Fox. AP went so far as to remove images of Andres Serrano’s Piss Christ after the conservative rag, The Washington Examiner, complained about AP’s apparent double standard. In the circumstances, it makes Christian fundamentalists look like opportunistic dicks. (I’ve written about the Piss Christ here if you want to learn more.) Nevertheless, some outlets have posted the offending images. You can view them at Huffington Post, for example. I guess it’s harder to attack an online media outlet.

Now for a few photographs of life in Paris when people aren’t being terrorized:

Break Dancing

Break Dancing on the Champs Élysées

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Competition Results

I’m a relatively new member of the Toronto Camera Club which has been operating continuously since 1889 and is one of the larger camera clubs around. There are advantages to being big. One is that it draws decent speakers for its lecture series. Another is that there is a large pool for its internal competitions. A lot of the members are really good which pushes people like me to work at improving our craft. The last competition was in the Assigned Topics category. This time, the assigned topics were Food and Night in the City. I submitted four shots to the Night in the City topic. Two did well. Two, not so well. As long as I sometimes get positive feedback and feel that, overall, I’m making progress, I don’t mind being told that a particular shot is lousy. It motivates me to work harder.

Here are the shots that did well. The first is one of the new TTC streetcars running on Spadina Avenue, Toronto. The second is of the spotlights shining off the Eiffel Tower.

Streetcar on Spadina Avenue

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Wedding Photos of Strangers

When it comes to weddings, I’m kind of pervy. Maybe pervy is too strong a word. I’m a wedding voyeur. When I see a wedding party during that in-between time after the ceremony and before the dinner, it piques my curiosity. What do they look like? Does the marriage stand a chance? What are they wearing? Are they victims of cookie-cutter celebrity culture? Or are they showing something of themselves here?

The first in this series is one of the first photos I ever took with a DSLR camera – an Olympus E-1. I was on holidays in Quebec City and passed a church in the old town as a wedding was spilling out of the doors and onto the street. The girl on the left looks supremely bored.

Wedding in Quebec City

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Street Photography in Paris

Stencil on Rue GabrielleNot long ago, I found myself standing on the curb of the Champs Élysées being an annoying tourist. I had a big honking camera (Canon Mark III) hanging from my neck which made me the opposite of inconspicuous, and I was doing what I always do when I have a big honking camera hanging from my neck. I was looking for a shot. Actually, I was looking for THE shot. In one of the most photographed places in the world, I was looking for something different. Something that would reflect my unique personal vision. Or … [stick your favourite cliché here _______ ]. Two big black cars pulled to the curb where I was standing. A professional-looking woman got out of the first car and went to the rear door of the second car which she opened while an older gentleman got out. Meanwhile, a handler got out of the first car and came around to my side where he stood in front of me. He looked like one of those computer generated goons from The Matrix who wears an earpiece and is itching to lecture you about how you’re not really human; you’re just a virus. The handler saw my camera and waved a finger at me: no, no, no. I smiled and nodded to indicate that I understood. Continue reading »

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Photos of People Taking Photos

Paris is a great place to take photos of people taking photos. The place is teeming with tourists most of whom spend a lot of their time documenting their time. If they spend so much time documenting, then a true document of their visit would also document the time spent documenting the time spent… ad infinitum. In the last photo, I document an art installation as it documents me documenting the art installation documenting me.

Peace at Arc de Triomphe, Paris

Peace at Arc de Triomphe, Paris

Child on the Eiffel Tower posing for an iPhone

Child on the Eiffel Tower posing for an iPhone

Modelling by the Seine

Modelling by the Seine

Bride posing on the Pont Alexandre III

Bride posing on the Pont Alexandre III

Tourist using iPad to take photos at the Louvre

Tourist using iPad to take photos at the Louvre

Tourists taking photos at the Louvre

Tourists taking photos at the Louvre

Tourist taking photo at the Louvre, Paris

Tourist taking photo at the Louvre, Paris

Self-portrait in Pistoletto installation, Paris

Self-portrait in Pistoletto installation, Paris

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Regarde Le Ciel

Graffiti on a wall beside the Seine, Paris

Graffiti on a wall beside the Seine, Paris

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Ansel Adams, Graffiti

Ansel Adams ExamplesIn Examples: The Making of 40 Photographs, Ansel Adams gives accounts of how he produced some of his most famous photographs. When I picked up the book, I noted that he had written an account of graffiti he shot at an abandoned military installation north of San Francisco. I anticipated reading the piece as an endorsement of graffiti as a legitimate visual expression, or as the trace of political or cultural marginalization, or as a meaning-laden signifier that demands interpretation. But that’s not what he wrote. Adams delivers exactly what the title promises and no more. It is a technical how-to statement.

I have mixed feelings about the piece — about the whole book, in fact. On reading it, you wouldn’t know that Adams didn’t have Asperger Syndrome. I’m sure he has an emotional investment in his images, but he doesn’t record that here. He offers no insight as to intentionality except as it relates to camera settings, lenses, film, retouching, paper, etc. and how these will help him achieve his visualization. Meanwhile, I want to know why he selected that subject in the first instance. What did he hope for it to communicate beyond its aesthetic considerations? Did he intend for the resulting image to carry political weight? Was he aiming for something subversive? Counter-cultural? Was he offering social criticism?

Or maybe he thinks there is never anything beyond aesthetic considerations. He dispassionately presents the image and leaves it for us to add the layers of meaning. But I wonder if such dispassion is even possible.

Bench on the Champs Élysées, Paris

Bench on the Champs Élysées, Paris

Sacre Coeur, overlooking Paris

Sacre Coeur, overlooking Paris

Face on public bathroom - David Balfour Reservoir

Face on public bathroom – David Balfour Reservoir, Toronto

Parking lot on Church St., Toronto

Parking lot on Church St., Toronto

Nothing excites me anymore

“Nothing excites me anymore…”

Column of old Women's College Hospital, Toronto

Column of old Women’s College Hospital, Toronto

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