Somewhere North of the Wall

Today, Candice and I drove to Torridon.

The drive up is insanely beautiful.  Our first stop from Cambridge was Glasgow, where we stayed in the YHA on Park terrace.  Pretty swanky part of town.  As we drove on Xmas day, we had a really good run up and made it in 5 hours.  We would have made it in less had we not entered the wrong address and ended up in the….uh….not so nice part of glasgow…lets just call it that.

Not wanting to waste the opportunity we went for a walk through the park and found the Kelvingrove Art Museum and Gallery…obviously not open but pretty impressive building!

Kelvingrove Museum
The Kelvingrove Museum

After this and with a hasty exchange with some locals (no idea what was said, they were both drunk and Glaswegian) we headed to the river.

River Clyde in Glasgow
River Clyde

 

Turns out Glasgow is quite a pretty city, even if the weather was a bit “Meh”.

 

 

Advertisements

Thames Barrier

The Thames Barrier in London is an engineering marvel but is HUGELY overlooked by many people. A short train ride out the Charlton from London bridge and you get an awesome view back into Canary Wharf.

River Thames Barrier

Swiss Cottage

Swiss Cottage tube station

I love the underground.  If you’re in London and need to go anywhere you just pop down some stairs, jump on a train and then pop back up for air at your destination.  It is so much quicker than trying to get a bus anywhere, and not too expensive.  Today I was at Swiss Cottage on the Jubilee Line (the silver line).  I found myself here after the England vs South Africa ODI Cricket match at Lords.  Normally you would get on a St John’s Wood, but getting thousands of people onto the train at the same time seemed ludicrous, so I walked the extra stop up the line.  These older stations are beautiful.

Swiss Cottage tube station
Remarkably, if you walk one stop from the busy St John’s Wood, you get to the less busy Swiss Cottage and can get on the train with no problems.

Paris in Early Spring

Frank Sinatra once sang about loving Paris.  And for the most part, it is easy to see why!

Our first day we arrived at Gare Du Nord about 11 am in full sunshine. After a quick check of the guide book, we headed off to the Montmartre quarter where we had booked our hotel. It was only about 20 – 30 minutes from the main train station we decided to walk it.  Candice having bought a new carry on sized suitcase having no troubles, and me lagging behind with a stupidly large bag of camera gear.

PAris2017Trip

We stayed at the Timhotel but did not opt for the “view” option, which would have cost an extra €200 on what we paid for a normal superior room (approx €700 for 4 nights with breakfast).  This by an large was our most expensive expenditure and I’m sure you can find cheaper hotels.  This trip being our honeymoon of sorts, we decided to splurge and get a nice place.  The check-in for the hotel was not open until about 2 pm but they have a bag storage room and so a quick shuffle of camera gear into my should bag and change into some shorts (or a dress with stereotypical french stripe shirt for Candice), and we were off into the city!

Taking advantage of the nice weather we decided to walk to the tourist information centre where we had pre-booked a 4 day Musée pass allowing us into most of the attractions we wanted to see.  I think it cost us about €60 each, but we definitely got our monies worth!  The Eiffel tower is NOT included in this pass, so as an aside, you will have to pay for that.

We then took a stroll along the River Seine we were found a nice Bistro for lunch, Where I had some Steak Aux Pomme Frites and Candice ate some form of Quiche. It was tasty, but because we were next to the river over priced.  After lunch, We took a stroll around the streets of Paris.  As we rounded a corner of a quiet back street that was where we saw it.  The giant structure, towering above the relatively low-lying building of Paris, The Eiffel Tower.

PAris2017Trip-2

Designed and Built by Gustav Eiffel as the show stopping entrance to the 189 World’s Fair this huge structure is so beautifully constructed it is not hard to see why this is the most iconic structure in France, if not the world.  We went the top using our summit pass, where if you were inclined you could purchase a glass of champagne for €13.  We were not. That isn’t to say that they were not doing a roaring trade.  Therein not much to report about the ET except that if it isn;t on your bucket list, then it should be.  Not just because it is anything more than a place to get panoramic views of Paris, but also because you don’t want to be that person who says “Nah we didn’t bother” when someone asks if you went up the Eiffel tower!

After leaving we walked towards the Trocadero where I managed to get one f my favourite images.

PAris2017Trip-4

And this obligatory forced perspective shot of Candice. Obvs.

PAris2017Trip-5

The Trocadéro is chocked full of people, Hawkers, and presumably other people willing to part you from your money, both through legitimate and nefarious means. Seriously, keep an eye on your belongings in France, there are ALOT of pickpockets and scammers. In fact, whilst we did;t have anything stolen (at least not anything that either of us has noticed yet) we were accosted many times asking if we spoke English and were then presented with some form of petition to sign.  The first time this happened I was intrigued as to why they would want a foreigner to sign on a french petition, especially as it was all she could say was “sign for deaf people”.    Now obviously I didn’t sign anything, but could not for the life of me figure out what scam they were running.  It certainly was no Albany ham scam (obligatory Simpsons reference).  After some sleuthing back at the hotel, it turns out that once you sign they try and hit you up for money.  A few of them will crowd round demanding payment and if it gets very crowded there is also the chance to pickpocket you too.   I guess this leads me to the the biggest con of Paris.  The scammers, the cheaters and on a separate note the beggars.  Not being able to delve into the intricacies of french domestic politics I will say nothing about the homelessness as I genuinely don’t know who is or isn’t homeless.  However, the level of people who are begging on the streets, either because it is lucrative or because they have to is really remarkable and a stark reminder that Paris is also a city of the haves and have-nots.  All I’ll say here is whilst you’re wandering the streets and hanging in the tourist spots, keep and eye on your belongings and ignore anyone trying to get you to sign something.  Also, if you want to buy a tacky Eiffel Tower, by all means do, but know you’re also legitimising the thousands of hawkers selling all the same tacky stuff.

We then wandered down the Seine again and back up towards the hotel to check-in.  The first night we decided to stay close to the hotel for dinner and as luck would have it, a beautiful Bistro was located out the front!

PAris2017Trip-7

A long dinner and some wine and cheese ( oh God the cheese os so good!) we wandered up to the Sacre-coure to identify a spot for some early morning Parisian Cityscape shots.  This led to my first disappointment.  The Sacre-coure, whilst a beautiful (albeit new) building having views of the city, does not allow you to see the Eiffel Tower.  Well that isn’t strictly true, but I couldn’t get the composition I wanted.  In addition, a check on the weather showed that an early sunrise shot would be pointless as no break in the clouds was expected until the followingWednesday. So I settled for this instead!

PAris2017Trip-76.jpg

PAris2017Trip-69

The next day was Museum Day and off to La Louvre we went!  Slightly later than planned but none the less early by French standards.  Activating the Museum Pass was easy, you just write your name and the date on the back.  It also allowed us to beat the ticket queues which is the longest part of most of the queueing in Paris.

Paris 2017-10

The Louvres is massive.  You can’t do it in a day properly.  If early history through to renaissance painting is your thing, then the Louvre has you covered.  Some pretty amazing pieces in this place including the French Crown Jewels and of course the Mona Lisa.  I was surprised by the Mona Lisa but not because of what people say about it (The size of a postage stamp etc..) but actually because of the complete opposite.  It is larger than other people had led me to believe.  Still, trying to view it is always going to be a fight to the front.  One thing you will notice is the number of artists recreating works all over the place.  Many of them ask to not be photographed but some seem ok with it.

PAris2017Trip-17

One thing you will notice is the number of artists recreating works all over the place.  Many of them ask to not be photographed but some seem ok with it.

PAris2017Trip-15

After the Louvre we headed to Notre Dame Cathedral to see the Gargoyles.  Notre Damn is huge and Whilst we were there a Mass started.  This Catholic church has all the bells (pun intended) and Whistles and is free to enter.  The tower tour to see the Gargoyles is not though, but it is included in your museum pass.  It is a long wait though and the last access is about an hour before sunset, If you want some great photography, get there at the end for the sunset sky.  You can even go inside to see the giant bells that Quasimodo would have rung…

PAris2017Trip-19PAris2017Trip-22

After the gargoyles, we ventured further onto the smaller of the two Seine Islands where Candice got the ice cream she wanted all day.  I tried in vain to get a good city landscape of the Notre Dame and unfortunately we were too late to visit the Holocaust memorial.  We did, however, stop for a quick bier in a nice little cafe by the Ponte de la tourmelle. Friendly staff, worth a beer sitting out watching the people go by before heading back to the Louvre for a night time shot.  After I had got this I met Candice back inside who had searched for a great place to get another shot from (thanks, Candice) and she found this awesome spot inside the Louvre (again Museum pass to the rescue).  Also as the Museum is open late on a Friday it is the perfect day to get this sort of shot!

PAris2017Trip-25PAris2017Trip-26

Friday Night we then headed back to Montmartre for a bite at the Jean Cafe near the Abyssess station.

The next morning we woke slightly later having walked Paris for two days straight, the tiredness was getting to us. We decided to visit the Musée d’Orsay.  This was my favourite of all the Museums as a whole.  The impressionist exhibit was amazing!  I also got a chance to try out my Zomei 10 Stop filter inside.  A 17-minute exposure got me this beauty enabling me the (mostly) erase the tourists leaving just the sculptures.

PAris2017Trip-29

It was here that we were also interrupted by the visit of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (Will and Kate for the tabloid readers).  To be honest, I was more annoyed by the babbling tourists lining up to take photos and getting in the way of the Art, but then I’m not a Regiphile.  After the disruption, we went to the top for coffee and an Eclair selection before continuing on to the main Impressionist exhibition showcasing works by Monet, Manet, Degas, Van Gough, Sisley, and Renoir.  Such beautiful works.  My two favourites where by Claude Monet.  The first being something I have wanted to view since I was a child and probably his most famous…The Bridge and water Lillies.  The second is his impression of London Parliament.  For an Image that has little to no definition, it really captures the atmosphere of the late 19th Early 20th century London with its smog and drizzle.

After a long lunch at Laudee (man that one got a little expensive), we then headed back through the streets towards the Rodin Gardens and museum.  I didn’t realise but the “Thinker” is situated here…very near “The gates of Hell”.  Once again, the Museum Pass let’s you in for free.

PAris2017Trip-36

At nightfall, we headed back the hotel for a quick shower and rest stop before wandering the night streets of Montmartre To get the classic shot of the Red Windmill…(Moulin Rouge).  I’m not entirely sure of the significance of windmills in this region except maybe that they were used for irrigation when the Montmartre region was mostly farmland, prior to its inclusion into Paris but there is only one original Moulin left near the top of the Hill.

PAris2017Trip-39

We then went to a lovely Bistro where we had the BEST food of the trip, Candice having roast duck, and me a Babette steak with bearnaise sauce.  The food was simple, but clean, cooked perfectly and to die for.  This is why we came to France!

PAris2017Trip-38.jpg

Sunday we decided to hit up the markets.  Filled with amazing fresh food from bread, cheese, and meat to fish, flowers, and old knickknacks this market was a great place to experience the parisian culture.

PAris2017Trip-45PAris2017Trip-44PAris2017Trip-53PAris2017Trip-54PAris2017Trip-47PAris2017Trip-48

People bustling and buying their weekly fresh produce, charity orchestras playing covers of Nirvana on French Horns or Choirs singing for people in need it was our heaven for almost all the senses.  Candice getting in the french mood and deciding to hone her french speaking skills wandered the market ordering 2 different types of cheese, a lovely french baguette, and some French cured meat which we would later eat for lunch. After browsing the market we decided to check out the highland walkway that is built upon a disused highland railway.  Currently, the trees are starting to bud with only a few blossoming.  Give it two weeks though and in early April this will be one of the most spectacularly beautiful places in Paris.

PAris2017Trip-50PAris2017Trip-51

After Lunch overlooking a small park, we wandered back through the streets and towards the Centre Pompidou which houses Modern art.  Filled with Picasso and Matisse as well as other exhibitions we were treated to some post-revolution Russian Art.  In addition in the photography

PAris2017Trip-59

Filled with Picasso and Matisse as well as other exhibitions we were treated to some post-revolution Russian Art.  In addition in the photography Gallery one of the most amazing photographic exhibitions I have ever seen was on display by Josef Koudelka.  Born in Czechoslovakia and exiled once the communists took over, his Exiles photographic exhibition was superb.  With very little else except his Watch, a sleeping bag, and his Camera he travelled Europe documenting what he saw.  We wandered the galleries and marvelled at the parisian views before heading back to the hotel for a shower and a change, for we had booked into dinner at the Eiffel Tower!

PAris2017Trip-61

After we wandered the galleries and marvelled at the parisian views we headed back to the hotel for a shower and a change, for we had booked into dinner at the Eiffel Tower!

Dinner was good, with some great views (glad we didn’t pay the extra €90 each for a view of the Champ du Mars, probably not worth it).  I will say one thing though, I wasn’t particularly impressed with the “Photo” service they provided.  They came round and took our photo but neglected to inform us that this was an extra for which we needed to pay.  They were then annoyed when they showed us the photos (of which we declined to buy)  and asked us why we didn’t want to buy one.  Apart from the fact that neither of us like our photos, I found it annoying, and rankly quite rude, in the way they went about dealing with our refusal.  Please inform your guests that you will be providing this service at an extra charge and if they refuse, just move on!

Still, after dinner Candice indulged me with taking a few photos at the Bir-Hakeim bridge or as you may know it “That bridge from Inception”.

The Bir-Hakeim Bridge, or as others may know it "That bridge from Inception"PAris2017Trip-64PAris2017Trip-67

On the last day, we climbed the stairs of the Arc de Triompf and wandered up the Champ Elysees before heading back to the Train to take us back to London.

PAris2017Trip-6PAris2017Trip-72PAris2017Trip-73

Image

Lloyds of London

London is known for its financial district.  One of the most notorious well-known companies to reside here is Lloyds of London.  Now without condoning some of their past insurance-based practices, I’d like to present their outstanding building!  Completed in 1986 this “Inside out” building houses the majority of its services such as lifts, stairwells and ducting on the outside, allowing for an unencumbered space inside.  A similar building exists in Paris called the Pompidou centre housing the Musée National d’Art Moderne.  We are hoping to visit Paris Museum of Modern art next week on our Paris trip.  As it was a Sunday I was unable to look into the Lloyds building…and I’m not even sure I would have been allowed.

LloydsofLondon
The Lloyds of London building. 

This post also makes up my entry to the weekly post photo challenge with the theme of “Wish“.  My wish is that these posts will start to inspire others to pick up their camera, get out there and take some great photos to share with the world!

We are going to Paris…Next week

Next week we are going to be in Paris.  This trip is supposed to be our honeymoon of sorts as we got married in November but due to moving countries all honeymoon ideas had been put on hold.

We will be staying in the Montmartre area which is about 5 minutes from the Sacre-coure, and so hopefully I’ll be able to get some great sunrise photos!  This brings me to todays post topic:

Planning the trip!

Planning Paris

My wife isn’t a photographer and as such has no want to get up before sunrise, thankfully booking the hotel close to the Sacre-coure means I’ll be able to nip out of bed  early, get to the view point take my image and then get back for a delicious French breakfast.

To plan for sunrise or sunset images I normally use the Photographers Ephemeris which allows you to look at the sunrise and sunset data for any GPS coordinates in the world.  This has told me that sunrise will be about 7am, so I need to be at the view point by about 6:30am.  In addition to the PE, I like to use Flickr and other blogs to find images that have previously been taken at these places to get an idea of what I can expect.  I’ll most likely scope out the area the evening before for the best vantage point meaning I won’t have to get up too early and do this on the day!  As for the other sites: The Eiffel Tower, The Louvre and the Arc de Triomphe, I am looking to be a bit more fluid with their time of day.  The Louvre I’d like to get around blue-hour, and the Arc de Triomphe at night with some light trails.  The Eiffel Tower on the other hand, is a whole new kettle of fish, and I really don’t know what would be best.  I anticipate that I will have to do a few long exposure shots, or at least blend a few concurrent shots to try and remove tourists for the images.  As we are away for 5 days I shall take a wide variety of lenses as well as my tripod and filter system.

Candice has been researching the different quarters and museums and has an idea of where she would like to go, which also gives me the chance to partake in some street photography too.

How about you guys out there in the blogosphere?  Any tips on photographic and locations that are must see’s? Should I shoot the Eiffel Tower during the Day or the night?

Image

Tower 42

The building Tower 42
The building Tower 42
Tower 42

Taken in London on a solo photo walk.  Entered into the Dailypost  weekly photo challenge .

Walking around London is a great way to get shake yourself from the creative slump.  This image was an after though, I had just finished at the Leadenhall Market when I saw this colossal glass lobby.  Standing on the other side of the road I was able to get the whole lobby.  The tower it self stands back and rises high above.  Be Careful taking images around th city in London that you stay on the public footpaths, or you may be trespassing.

Image

Charing Cross

Charing Cross Station

London is full of train stations. It took me years to realise that the colourful building at the other end of the Jubilee bridge over the river was in fact Charing Cross Station.  What makes that even more stupid is that I’ve walked over this bridge and into the station many times!  I hope you enjoy this long exposure of Charing Cross and the river Thames.

Charing Cross Station
Charing Cross Station and the Jubilee Bridge.
Image

Leadenhall Market – Diagon Alley

Diagon Alley

Taking advantage of cheap train tickets, I spent Sunday in London.  Wandering the streets of the City of London I initially walked past Leadenhall Market and just couldn’t see the image.  On my way back round about an hour later I decided to suck it and see.  Using a polariser and a 10 Stop filter this was the image I managed to capture:

Diagon Alley
Leadehall Market, the setting for Diagon Alley

Whilst I was here I met two other photogs.  There is something nice about meeting others from the community and exchanging stories and places to visit.  One guy showed me his homemade Lens baby.  I think I have a project I need to start!

Image

Melbourne City

Melbourne City

A friend was leaving Melbourne and as a gift my Image of Melbourne from the VCCC was given to her by our old work colleagues.  This sparked me to go through some old images and reprocess one or two now that I have developed better skills in Lightroom and Photoshop.  This one is of the city of Melbourne from Albert Park, back in 2014.

Melbourne City
The City of Melbourne from Albert Park Lake
Image

South Side of the River

Bankside in London

I never really took much notice of the lamp posts in London, but these ones have fish on the bottom of them!  I was thinking of naming this image Carp-ey-Diem but then I may loose followers due to the pun….

Bankside in London
Bankside and Bokeh!
Image

Tower Bridge

London’s famous Tower Bridge is often mistaken for London Bridge.  Constructed in the late 1800s it is still used as a major road to connect Tower Hamlets in the north to Southwark in the south.  A London icon, this bridge is famous throughout the world! A long exposure of about 1.5 minutes.

Tower Bridge in London