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DECONSTRUCTING THE EIFFEL TOWER IN PARIS WITH IMAGES

July 03, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

LOOKING ACROSS THE SEINE RIVER AT THE EIFFEL TOWER This was our first real view the Eiffel Tower. We were walking through Paris and reached the point Alexandre 111 Bridge that travels over the Seine River when we saw this view. The tower is such an Iconic structure that I've seen thousands of images in print and movies. When I first saw this view, it was hard not to just gawk at it, to forget I'm a photographer and just look. Which is just what I did. I sat absorbing the fact that I was truly in Paris looking at the Eiffel Tower as it towered over the city! Then I started photographing this historic sight, loving very moment.

When we arrived at the tower this is the first image I made. As I walked under it, I thought how many photographers have photographed this view. After all, when you're close to it like this, the natural point of view is UP.

At that point I decided to try and take images that were not atypical although I doubt that you can make any image of the Eiffel Tower that has not been made millions of times before.

Before moving on let me give you some facts about the tower.

The Eiffel Tower (French: La Tour Eiffel, is an  iron lattice tower located on the  Champs de Mars in Paris. It was named after the engineer Gustave Eiffel, whose company designed and built the tower. Erected in 1889 as the entrance arch to the 1889 World's Fair, it was initially criticized by some of France's leading artists and intellectuals for its design, but has become both a global cultural icon of France and one of the most recognizable structures in the world. The tower is the tallest structure in France and the most-visited paid monument in the world; 6.98 million people ascended it in 2011.The tower received its 250 millionth visitor in 2010.

The tower is 324 meters (1,063 ft) tall, about the same height as an 81-story building. The tower has three levels for visitors, with restaurants on the first and second. The third level observatory's upper platform is 276 m (906 ft) above the ground,[2] the highest accessible to the public in the European Union. Tickets can be purchased to ascend by stairs or elevator to the first and second levels. The climb from ground level to the first level is over 300 steps, as is the walk from the first to the second level. Although there are stairs to the third and highest level, these are usually closed to the public and it is generally only accessible by elevator.

There was work being performed on the tower the day we were there which is why you see scaffolding.

The arches are beautiful and I started isolating them as best I could. Look at the craftsmanship put into each one and remember it was built in 1889! That's just amazing to me...

 

​Here are some of the 72 names of French scientists, mathematicians and engineers that are engraved in recognition of their contributions. Eiffel chose this 'invocation of science' because of his concern over the protest against the tower. The engravings are found on the sides of the tower under the first balcony. The engraving was painted over at the beginning of the twentieth century and restored in 1986–1987 by Société Nouvelle d'exploitation de la Tour Eiffel, a company contracted to operate business related to the Tower. The Tower is owned by the city of Paris. The letters were originally painted in gold and are about 60 cm high. The repainting of 2010/2011 restored the letters to their original gold color.

You might ask why would anyone protest against this Iconic structure. The protest started before it was built.

The projected tower had been a subject of some controversy, attracting criticism from both those who did not believe that it was feasible and those who objected on artistic grounds, whose objections were an expression of a longstanding debate about the relationship between architecture and engineering. This came to a head as work began at the Champ de Mars: A "Committee of Three Hundred" (one member for each meter of the tower's height) was formed, led by the prominent architect Charles Garnier and including some of the most important figures of the French arts establishment, including Adolphe BouguereauGuy de MaupassantCharles Gounod and Jules Massenet: a petition was sent toCharles Alphand, the Minister of Works and Commissioner for the Exposition, and was published by Le Temps.[6]

"We, writers, painters, sculptors, architects and passionate devotees of the hitherto untouched beauty of Paris, protest with all our strength, with all our indignation in the name of slighted French taste, against the erection … of this useless and monstrous Eiffel Tower … To bring our arguments home, imagine for a moment a giddy, ridiculous tower dominating Paris like a gigantic black smokestack, crushing under its barbaric bulk Notre Dame, the Tour Saint-Jacques, the Louvre, the Dome of les Invalides, the Arc de Triomphe, all of our humiliated monuments will disappear in this ghastly dream. And for twenty years … we shall see stretching like a blot of ink the hateful shadow of the hateful column of bolted sheet metal."

 

Gustave Eiffel responded to these criticisms by comparing his tower to the Egyptian Pyramids: "My tower will be the tallest edifice ever erected by man. Will it not also be grandiose in its way? And why would something admirable in Egypt become hideous and ridiculous in Paris?" A great argument, don't you agree?

 

The Tower hovering over a carousel across the way from the tower, I saw this and placed myself in position to make this image.

 


SEDONA, ARIZONA THE BEAUTY OF THE DESERT PERSONIFIED

June 30, 2014  •  1 Comment

  Cathedral RockOne of the most beautiful of the Red Rock formations

 

In April of 1976, I moved to Arizona and fell in love with it immediately. We moved to Phoenix but when I really fell in love with Arizona was when I traveled to Sedona. Sedona is north of Phoenix in the Verde Valley. The  main attraction is the beauty of the desert especially the array of red sandstone formations. The formations appear to glow in brilliant orange and reds when illuminated by the setting or rising sun. Sedona was named after Sedona Arabella Miller Schnebly, the wife of Theodore Carlton Schnebly, the city's first postmaster.

The Schnebly name is affixed to a road you will want to travel when you visit Sedona.

The road starts right out of the town of Sedona and provides jaw-dropping vistas as you ascend nearly 2,000 ft on seemingly countless switchbacks.

 

Shortly after you leave town, the road becomes gravel and can be quite bumpy in spots.  You should be fine driving the road to the summit in a passenger vehicle but you will want to drive carefully and keep your eyes peeled for giant 'potholes'.  From along the road you will have some amazing views of the desert in all its beauty with Sedona in the background, as you can see in these two images.

The View From Schnebly Road

            As you drive around Sedona you can view the Red Rock formations around each turn in the road.

Court House Butte Looms over the desert

Courthouse Butte (seen above) is very close to Bell Rock and you are allowed to walk right up close. On Bell Rock you can even walk on it.

The Sun rises over Bell Rock

Courthouse Butte with Bell Rock to it's right If you venture out into the desert, never very far from a road or your car if your careful, you will see amazing views of this truly beautiful landscape. Many people jog in the shadows of Bell Rock and Courthouse.

Jogging around Bell Rock

All of the images were taken right around sunrise or sunset, the golden hour of light, which I will write about in a post very shortly.

At this point, I will let Sedona speak for itself through my images. Just look at the colors! Are you surprised by all the green? Many years ago, I was. Look at the dramatic skies and overall light that makes up this palette of natures colors!

  Taken from on Bell Rock See how close the road is.

                  Cathedral Rock

RAIN CLOUDS OVER CATHEDRAL ROCK RAIN CLOUDS OVER CATHEDRAL ROCK

ON BELL ROCK


THE BEAUTY OF LAKE LOUISE IN BANFF, ALBERTA CANADA PLUS STUPID PEOPLE TRICKS

June 25, 2014  •  1 Comment

 

Lake Louise is called, Canada's 'Diamond in the Wilderness' and the 'Hiking Capital of Canada'. This area offers a vast diversity of recreational and sightseeing opportunities. Many would say that Lake Louise is the home of one of North America's finest downhill ski areas and has many, many hiking and walking trails. This region has an amazing amount of spectacular scenery from glaciers to waterfalls. A Quick Trip Tip for anyone thinking of visiting the area; this is one of the last outposts of man or woman in the area. The next nearest city/town three hours away is Jasper, the town just before you head to Alaska. DO NOT expect to find a booming nightlife like you might find in Vail, Colorado.

The Village of Lake Louise (originally called Laggan) is thirty five miles from Banff on the Trans-Canada Highway. It is named for the nearby Lake Louise, which was named after Princess Louise Caroline Alberta, the fourth daughter of Queen Victoria. It is separated into two communities. The main community, referred to as The Village is at a lower elevation adjacent to the Trans-Canada Highway. It consists of a small shopping area, Samson Mall, which includes a park center, grocery store, bakery, deli, grill, bar and sporting goods store. Another Quick Trip Tip is that The Trailways Cafe makes great breakfast wraps (besides other meals) and hot coffee. It's very inexpensive about $6-$9 and very delicious.

The second community is at a higher elevation and is centered-around the Chateau Lake Louise (which I wrote about in an earlier article), adjacent to Lake Louise. Another important fact is that Lake Louise experiences a subarctic climate. IT'S COLD especially in the winter and this year in May, the average temps were about 30F-40F in the morning and 50s later in the day.

The image at the top of this post was taken about 20 years ago on our visit in August. It was taken on film and converted to digital file and not as good as our photography usually looks.

As you can see the water and sky is blue with green trees lining the mountains on either side and the glacier in the top middle.

This year when we arrived about 8AM, we had a much different view in front of us.

This time, there were no blue skies or water but instead, a frozen lake covered in snow. The green trees were looking more grey and the glacier was hidden from view behind the clouds.  The funny thing was that it was still a beautiful sight. I stood there just gazing at this white wonderful winter landscape in front of me. It was really an awesome sight!

As I started getting my equipment ready to photograph this great landscape, I was trying to get as close to what I perceived was the edge of the lake. In the first image you can see the rocks leading into the lake, but not this time. There was a slight incline of snow and then a flat surface where the lake started somewhere. Then I noticed the boat house to my right and decided to use that as a guide. The lake house in the summer had colorful canoes lined up on and along side the dock that was in front of it. At this time of year, there was just the cabin with the snow covered trees jutting up behind it.

I knew this was going to be one of the views I would focus on this morning. Many times I will 'work' an image, shooting it from different perspectives. I will walk around shooting from the left, right and in front. But as you can see in the image, that would not be the case today. Not walking on a frozen lake that I was not familiar with was much too dangerous. There was no image to be made from the back and I was not hiking over and through 3 or 4 feet deep snow to get to its right. No, I would need to shoot from here using different focal lengths and cropping in camera and in post production.

​As will happen when you're out in nature, we struck up a conversation with a man walking around the lake. He asked if we had seen the avalanche warning signs as we began to walk into the area. We said yes we had but that we had no planes of hiking into any area closer to the mountains then where we were standing. He said we were smart because in the previous two weeks, four people had died up on the mountain to our right. He said that temperatures were going up and the ice under the snow was melting which would cause the avalanche. He had told the hotel to put up more than one sign and he was walking around to see that they did. I asked about the lake and if it was safe to walk on. He stated emphatically that it was not safe but to look at the footprints on the lake. Shaking his head he said another accident was ready to happen. We bid our goodbyes and he left to check on the signs. He was a very nice man.

A few days later, we decided to visit later in the day hoping to get blue skies. What we saw was that part of the lake closest to the area where we had stood before, now had a pretty good size area melted. This time, there was an avalanche sign right where we had stood plus a sign warning of melting ice on the lake.

   What we also saw (as you can see in this image) were people walking on the ice! Stupidity knows no bounds!!

Our cousins, who were on the trip with us, were there another afternoon without us and saw a women pushing a baby stroller on to the ice. This all helps me believe my theory that if you want stupid tricks, people are the ones for you!!


HAS FACEBOOK BECOME A GROUP MASTURBATORY MEETING PLACE ?

June 24, 2014  •  3 Comments

 

 

What I mean by masturbatory is in the stroking of egos on a quid pro quo basis. Let me explain!!

When we attend any group event there are certain protocols to which most attend. As you walk by people at the event whom you know but not really, I mean you've seen their face, recognize that you have seen each other but that's about it, there are certain social conventions that need to be met. If the event is a large event, maybe a high school's 25 year reunion or family event, you might know that you know this people but not enough to have a long conversation. Truth is you could not care less about any conversation with them but social convention states we need to acknowledge them. You shake hands, give the head nod and ask " How are you?". They give the same head nod but add a shoulder shrug and answer, "Great just wonderful and you?" You keep walking but answer, "Great just great. Have a great day". Both move on happily that both understood the rules; be polite but keep moving. We are satisfied that we gave the other the least acknowledgement possible but did acknowledge them really. You might do that 10 to 20 times a day.

​That handshake and question is the equivalent to the 'LIKE' on Facebook: quick, easy, no big commitment and only the expectation of a return handshake. If they do not acknowledge this simplest of social convention, next time you look the other way. Sometimes happy to not extend this faux friendship any longer but resentful that they dictated this mini breakup. It's the same thing on Facebook. They don't LIKE your post (the handshake) then you don't like their post. 

Let me change the location of this meeting. You are at a meeting of like minded people, maybe a business meeting, a place to exchange business cards. You meet a person, you stop hold the handshake a little longer, look them in the eye and truly have a conversation. Maybe the conversation starts out about your business or theirs, you both listen attentively and one may ask for a few more of their business cards to hand out to some people you know that might be interested in their services. That is the equivalent to the Facebook 'SHARE'. You both part with an implied agreement to look into each other's business a little more,  visit their website and explore their business. Some will and some will toss the cards when they get home. This is the equivalent of people on Facebook that always 'like' but don't take the time to leave comments and never visit blogs.

On Facebook often the only time people will truly get engaged with your business (web site or blog) is if you visit theirs, quid pro quo. If one party does not have a blog with which to interact, they revert to the like button with a few "great, just wonderful" over and over again. You like me and I'll like you and we all feel wonderful to have given the least acknowledgement possible but it's a small ego stroke. 

If you belong to a group of artists, the whole relationship is usually more supportive, more honest and at least the equivalent of the 'Share' on Facebook. Most times, they are much less worried about stroking each others EGOS and more about being supportive giving and taking constructive criticism  (comment section on blogs) or sharing ideas, a meaningful exchange of ideas!

I am wondering if involvement in Facebook, in an artistic or business sense is worth the time. I see a decision coming real soon on my part.

By the way, if you're still reading, I freely admit that the quality of content helps drive participation.


WHY DO PEOPLE ENJOY LANDSCAPE IMAGES? I SAY IT IS IN OUR VISUAL DNA!

June 22, 2014  •  4 Comments
 
                          Above is the Town of Amalfi in Italy. What first drew my eye to it was the clouds.
 
As I was looking over my travel images from the Canadian Rockies, I realized one reason I enjoyed the trip so much was the landscapes I viewed and photographed. I started thinking back to when I first seriously started on my quest of photography as a lifelong obsession and how I shot mostly landscapes. I honestly thought I liked landscapes because unlike people and animals, I could take my time. After all, the mountain range was not going to move. Plus it was safer. I never have a seascape complain about the picture I took of it. I now realize those were the thoughts of a young person/photographer who really did not 'see'. The mountain might not move but the light does. The seascape might not dislike the image but deep inside yourself you know it is lacking. 
 
As you grow as a photographer, you learn about the single most important element of photography, in my opinion, is the LIGHT. I am not going to give you the old adage that photography means 'painting with light'. The actual interpretation is writing/drawing with light not painting. That fact does not dismiss the fact that light is what we look for and the more natural, the better our images will be. I am not saying there is not a place for flash, there is, in the studio or as fill in nature. I feel that flash should only be used as a fill light and that once it becomes the main light, the quality of the image in nature photography diminishes. Remember I wrote it is needed in studio. I am saying that in nature, other than using as 'fill" when photographing an animal in dark surrounding, you loose the quality inherent in natural light. So what photography is the most natural, the purest form of photography? I would argue it is landscape and that is why we enjoy landscapes so much. We instinctively 'see' the natural light. It calls out to our human beginnings, it is built into what I would call our visual DNA: what we humans first saw thousands of years ago, the natural light on which we gazed when seeing a new area to explore or a sunrise or sunset where we lived.
 
                     The first two images below are from Venice, Italy: one's a sunrise and then a sunset. The third in Rome is also a sunset.
 
As photographers, we love making these images because we are recreating beauty as well as we can. We become almost as powerful as nature, in those moment when others view our images. Just as nature opens up our eyes to the beauty of the world as we travel, we do the same for others that might never travel to these places. We become givers of beauty and wonderment. We make our images and see the beauty as we saw it and share it with others. When another person views our images and likes them, we feel the power of giving light and beauty, pretty strong emotions for anyone. Is there any wonder why we enjoy making these images? I do not mean to say that we hold the power of nature in making these images, not even close. All we are doing is reproducing what we saw in our eyes and imagination. We are mailmen delivering the mail, just couriers of natures wonderment and beauty.
 
                                  The three images below were made at Boneyard Beach on Big Talbot Island in Amelia, Florida.
I now understand why I like to photograph landscapes. It's not because their easier, actually it is just as difficult but for the pure light I can reproduce and share. To make sure that I, and hopefully others, never forget the beauty of this amazing planet.
 
                  The four images below were taken in Venice, Italy.  Including people in landscapes can help give a sense of scale to the surroundings.      
 
 
                                             These next four images were taken in the Canadian Rockies. Black and white can really look great in landscapes.
 
                                                                                             
 
                                  These next four images were taken on the Amalfi Coast of Italy.
Landscapes usually taken in a horizontal format can also be made as verticals, as you can see in the next two.
 
I photograph all subjects and love making all types of images but I do admit that landscapes are still my favorite. I'll enjoy being a courier as long as people keep accepting my images.          
 
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