Paris in the – Summer

I love photographing Paris! I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of going back there to shoot. In fact, I’ve already been over there, say, about, well, exactly one time when I actually took serious photos, but that’s not the point. The point is that it’s an amazing city, a photographer’s dream in fact, and I can’t wait to get back. And I will! Eventually.

But in the meantime, I can reminisce about my last trip there a couple of years ago. I was on my way to a workshop in Provence, but I couldn’t justify going all that distance without shooting in Paris first. And I wasn’t going to let the fact that I speak no French whatsoever stop me.

I’ve already talked about the interesting challenge I faced on one of my first “assignments” there, the issue with the half-lighted La Conciergerie building.

Well, one morning I had the bright idea that I would try to see if I could recreate a scene that had been captured 60 years prior by the the famous photographer and postcard creator Albert Monier. Since Paris is such an old city and many centuries old buildings still remain, I had decided to make a sort of game of seeing how many old photographs I could find where the scene was still more or less intact to this day. I had used Google Maps with Street View to do my recon and I knew this location was virtually unchanged. The image had been taken first thing in the morning, so I got up and out early enough to watch the station attendant arrive to open the gates to my neighborhood Metro station, and I took the first train to the Quai d´Anjou along the Seine River. This is a glorious time of day in Paris, when all you hear is the singing of the birds, and the conversations of the drunk kids packing up their riverside parties and heading home.

I knew exactly where Monier’s photograph had been taken and had no problem finding the location. And then it hit me. I didn’t have a copy of the image with me, and couldn’t for the life of me remember how he had composed the photograph. So I took a bunch of different compositions, but in the end I didn’t even come close.

Summer Morning on the Quai d'Anjou

Summer Morning on the Quai d’Anjou

It wouldn’t have mattered, anyway, though. Monier’s image was taken when the trees were much smaller, and in the autumn when the sun was at a much better angle to throw shadows on the cobblestones of the street. Well, guess I’ll need to go back in fall and try that one again!

The morning wasn’t a total bust, though. I wandered down to the edge of the Seine and immediately spotted some curious hardware attached to the retaining wall along the bank. I didn’t know what they were at the time, but it turns out that these are mooring rings, used to tie up river boats back in the day. And I knew exactly what I wanted to do with them. I couldn’t get my tripod wedged close enough to the wall, so I turned on the image stabilization feature on my lens, stood up on my tippy toes, and aimed through the rings so they lined up in a seemingly never ending pattern of ring within ring. Mooring rings along the Quai d'Anjou, Paris, FranceWell, they would have if the river hadn’t curved! Anyway, this is one of my favorite images and also one of my best sellers. (Incidentally, while writing this post I came across this image by Monier taken through a mooring ring. It appears to be two down-and-out men with Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris in the background. Very nice, Albert!)

I did run into one interesting old gentleman that morning. He noticed me photographing a grated portal along the edge of the Seine, and decided to come strike up a conversation – in French. Well, I explained that I didn’t speak French, but that didn’t deter him. He proceeded to explain that the portal I was photographing was at one time an outlet that discharged sewage from the city into the river.

Sewage outlet along the Seine, Paris, France

Sewage outlet along the Seine, Paris, France

Then he went on to explain how the city was designed to replicate the shape of a snail, with ever expanding arrondissements. Yep, we had a grand time talking about the good old days in Paris. Uh, did I mention I don’t speak French? Maybe it’s time to learn!

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4 Responses to “Paris in the – Summer”

  1. Honey says:

    C’est tres bonne! Je voudrais allez au Paris!

  2. Dan Taflin says:

    Very nice picture of the mooring rings. And you didn’t even include my favorite picture of yours from Paris! (The one on the steps). That’s OK, save it for the next Paris post.