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More photos from Paris and the Notre Dame cathedral in Reims

Wednesday, August 23rd, 2017

More images from my brief interlude in Paris and Reims, all taken with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II Micro Four Thirds camera hand held.

Paris

The morning jogger in Paris, makes me exhausted just seeing him work out so early in the morning when I am looking for a coffee to get me started.

Paris

A lone guitarist on the Seine.

Paris

One of my favourite images – Gucci man – a candid portrait.

Reims

Greg Tricker’s Lumiere Divine – Joan of Arc in Notre Dame cathedral in Reims.

Reims

Notre Dame cathedral in Reims.

The above image was taken using the Olympus mZD 25mm f/1.2 PRO lens at f/1.2, 1/30th sec, ISO 200.

Reims

The unsettling “Smiling Angel” statue near the front door.

Reims

Notre Dame cathedral in Reims.

Reims was once the capital of France, and the birth place of the Frankish Empire and catholicism in France, having evolved as the main Roman trade city. Most of the French kings were crowned here up until Charles X in 1825.

Sadly it was decimated in the World Wars, and its famous Notre Dame cathedral suffering major damage in each and requiring restoration, and now it’s main claim to fame is  being in the center of the champagne wine district.

It is only around 1 hour train ride from Paris, but unlike Paris, is not over-run by tourists and there are some nice AirBnB options – just don’t expect any Uber rides or eats, and its art gallery is quite small but still worth a visit if you love art.

A midnight stroll around Paris

Sunday, August 20th, 2017

It’s a stiflingly hot summer’s night in Paris – 37deg C during the day and not really dropping much by midnight and with little breeze to cool the apartments – the best place to be is out on the streets having a wander and exploring without the crowds.

Paris

My quaint hotel room decorated by famous designer Christian Lacroix at Hotel Le Bellechasse adjacent to my favourite art gallery, the Musee D’Orsay in Saint Germain. The staff at this hotel were always extremely pleasant and helpful, and the room clean and quiet, and thankfully was fitted with an air conditioner. There was a lift to avoid the common struggles of staircases and luggage, and a nice buffet style breakfast if one wished to partake.

As nice as it was, the streets of Paris at midnight beckons.

And thanks to my Olympus OM-D E-M1 II Micro Four Thirds camera, there is no need for carrying cumbersome tripods, just hand held image stabilized night street photography, discrete enough to hide it if danger lurked in the dark recesses along the Seine.

Paris

But in Paris, one is never alone, lonely perhaps, but not alone.

Paris

And though it was dusk, in a city where the threat of terrorism is ever present, being able to capture this lovely fleeting candid street photography style shot of these two ladies oblivious to the world and having a laugh is what brings joy to photography – Paris is not just the old buildings and art galleries – it is the people who remind us that humanity is not all that bad.

Paris

I am guessing you don’t need me to tell you this the the famous Louvre, but here are a couple of images before they turn the lights off at midnight and evacuate the square.

Paris

Paris

Paris

Paris

I can’t write a blog post like this and not include the Eiffel Tower at dusk – oh yes, the sun sets late in Paris, and dusk is around 11pm!

Paris

Or, for that matter, romance along the Seine – they are just too iconic to ignore even for me!

The beautiful Musee D’Orsay – a must see art gallery in Paris – part II

Wednesday, July 26th, 2017

Part II of my little exposé of the wonderful Musee D’Orsay art gallery.

Let’s go onto some more of my favorite artworks – the gallery boasts an incredible range of beautiful nudes which I will limit here to hopefully ensure viewing is not an issue in workplaces although there is a bold male nude as an allegory to war at the end of this post!

These were all shot with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 II Micro Four Thirds camera with the Olympus mZD 40-150mm f/2.8 pro lens.

Vincent van Gogh La Nuit étoilée (Starry night) 1888:

D'Orsay

Eugene Jansson Gryning over Ridderfjarden 1899:

D'Orsay

Edgar Degas Répétition d’un ballet sur la scène 1874, well we all know how much Degas loved painting and sculpting the ballet dancers, and he has left us all with his beautiful legacy of works such as this one:

D'Orsay

Edouard Manet La Dame aux éventails 1873:

D'Orsay

Pierre Auguste Renoir Danse à la ville 1883. one of my favorite painters who showed you don’t need the anatomic proportions to always be correct to have an aesthetic image (a yes, he often gets a bit of flack for this), and furthermore was brave enough to put blues and greens together without anything between in the majority of his works.

D'Orsay

Paul Cezanne Les Jouers de cartes 1890-95:

D'Orsay

Edgar Degas Danseuses bleues 1893:

D'Orsay

Claude Monet Femme à l’ombrelle tournée vers la gauche 1886:

D'Orsay

Edouard Manet Sur la plage 1873:

D'Orsay

Pierre Auguste Renoir La Liseuse 1874-76:

D'Orsay

Berthe Morisot Le Berceau 1872:

D'Orsay

Pierre Auguste Renoir Bal du moulin de la Galette 1876:

D'Orsay

Paul Cezanne Louis-Auguste Cezanne – the artist’s father 1866:

D'Orsay

Paul Cezanne Dominique – the artist’s uncle 1866-67:

D'Orsay

Luc Olivier Merson (1846-1920) La Fortune:

D'Orsay

Henri Camille Danger Fléau 1901, an allegory of war and a rather bold recent acquisition by the gallery to expand their late Academic period works – turn away now if you cannot cope with a full frontal male nude:

D'Orsay

Just Becquet L’Abîme marble 1901 (This apparently translates as the abyss):

D'Orsay

The beautiful Musee D’Orsay – a must see art gallery in Paris – part I

Tuesday, July 25th, 2017

The Musee D’Orsay has to be one of my favorite art galleries with its art works primarily from the late 19th century and early 20th century, dominated by beautiful sculptures, and paintings from the Romanticism, Pre-Raphaelite, Symbolist and French Impressionism movements to name a few, and set in the wonderfully transformed train station.

It does have a rather strange lack of toilets though, and the only one I found had a long line of ladies queued up and forced to stand outside the open door of the men’s room with full view of the line of urinals – well when in Paris, you just have to not worry about these things – although I suspect it was more awkward for the ladies who are not used to such experiences!

But let’s go onto some of my favorite artworks – although the gallery boasts an incredible range of beautiful nudes which I will limit here to ensure viewing is not an issue in workplaces.

These were all shot with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 II Micro Four Thirds camera with the Olympus mZD 40-150mm f/2.8 pro lens.

I had to adjust the lights a bit for this one :)

D'Orsay

Amaury-Duval Madame de Loynes 1862:

D'Orsay

Ernest Hébert La Lavandera ou Jeune lavandiére songuese 1869:

D'Orsay

Honoré Daumier Crispin et Scapin 1864:

D'Orsay

Maxwell Armfield Faustine 1904:

D'Orsay

Edward Burne-Jones Princess Sabra 1865:

D'Orsay

Ford Madox Brown a pioneer in the Pre-Raphaelite movement – Haydée découvrant le corps de Don Juan 1878:

D'Orsay

Edgard Maxence La Légende bretonne 1906:

D'Orsay

Ferdinand Hodler Madame Valentine Godé-Darel malade 1914:

D'Orsay

Gustave Moreau Orphée 1865 (Moreau continues the myth of Orpheus, with the vision of a girl dressed in Oriental finery rescuing the poet’s head which rests on his lyre, and the girl is gazing at him with a melancholy air. The diagonal compositions suggests a playing card, in which the musicians in the top left corner are balanced by the turtles, lower right, whose carapace, according to the myth, was used to make the first lyre – Moreau counts as a decisive figure in the Symbolist movement):

D'Orsay

Gustave Moreau Hésiode et la Muse 1891:

D'Orsay

Henri de Toulouse-Laetrec Rousse (La Toilette) 1889:

D'Orsay

Henri de Toulouse-Laetrec Femme de profil Madame Lucy 1896:

D'Orsay

Philipe de Laszlo La comtesse Anna de Noailles 1913:

D'Orsay

Pablo Picasso La Buveuse d’absinthe dit aussi Buveuse accoudée 1901:

D'Orsay

Henri de Toulouse-Laetrec Au Nouveau Cirque, Papa Chrysantheme 1894:

D'Orsay

A. Carrier Belleuse 1873:

D'Orsay

Denys Puech Sirene 1889:

D'Orsay

Gustave Courbet L’Atelier du peintre 1855:

D'Orsay

Jean-Francois Millet Femme nue couchée 1844-1845:

D'Orsay

It is indeed a privilege to be able to view these works in reality, and it is not something to be taken for granted with the world going crazy yet again and destruction of culture rampant.

Monet’s water lilies and the Musee D’Orangerie in Paris – some of my favorite artworks from the gallery

Friday, July 21st, 2017

The Musee D’Orangerie is adjacent to the Louvre and is a wonderful art gallery mainly of late 19th century and early 20th century art works, but in particular, Claude Monet’s water lily series.

These were all shot with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 II Micro Four Thirds camera with Olympus mZD 7-14mm f/2.8 pro lens such as the above and below image, and the Olympus mZD 25mm f/1.2 pro lens.

Here are some of Claude Monet’s famous water lily paintings:

Monet

Monet

Monet

Monet

Monet

Despite their dominance in the gallery, there is far more to see such as these:

Claude Monet’s Argenteuile 1875:

D'Orangerie

Pablo Picasso’s Femme au tambourin 1925:

D'Orangerie

Paul Cezanne’s Arbres et maisons 1885-86:

D'Orangerie

Henri Matisse’s Les trois soeurs 1916-17:

D'Orangerie

Marie Laurencin’s Danseuses espagnoles 1920-21:

D'Orangerie

The unmistakable style of Amedeo Modigliani and in this case, Femme au ruban de velours 1915:

D'Orangerie

Maurice Utrillo (1883-1955), who even in his early life was plagued with mental illness, was essentially raised by his grandmother, and was the son of an 18 yr old artist’s model with speculation that his father may have been Renoir or one of the other artists she had modeled for. He was born in Montmartre and like many artists, lived a very bohemian life style. His mental illness was exacerbated by alcoholism and he spent some time in mental asylums.

I am guessing these ladies walking with a painter made Maurice Utrillo’s world go round after the war ended – La Maison Bernot 1924 – the bell tower of the Sacré Coeur basilica which was completed in 1912 was cropped when I took the photo and is not shown:

D'Orangerie

Gustave Moreau’s La Toilette 1885-90:

D'Orangerie

Pablo Picasso’s Saltimbanque aux bras croises 1923:

D'Orangerie

And, for something completely different – Hans Hartung’s T 1963 K7 1963:

D'Orangerie

Berlin’s Bode Museum – sculptures and paintings from 11th to 18th centuries

Wednesday, July 19th, 2017

It seems the Bode Museum is one of the less frequented stops for tourists in Berlin – perhaps because it is hidden down the back part of Museum Island, perhaps because most tourists have had enough of museums by the time they have seen the Pergamon, Neues Museum and Alte Nationalgalerie, or perhaps they have just had enough of religious and mythological artworks which dominated their experiences in Florence.

And yet, I was pleasantly surprised by the museum and it’s grand entrance hall boded well for a nice quiet experience (pardon the pun):

Bode

and yes, I think that was Frederick the Great on his horse again!

These were all shot with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 II Micro Four Thirds camera with Olympus mZD 7-14mm f/2.8 pro lens such as the above and below image, and the Olympus mZD 40-150mm f/2.8 pro lens.

The rear staircase with various statues including a central figure of Frederick The Great:

Bode

Frederick the Great:

Bode

Adam and Eve by Lucas Cranach (1472-1553) 1533, hmm check out the expression on the lion!:

Bode

Mars, Venus and Cupid by Peter Paul Rubens c1636:

Bode

The Prophet Isaiah by Jacob Cornelisz Cobaert 16th C, alabaster:

Bode

The Three Graces in alabaster by Leonhard Kern 1650. In Greek mythology, the Three Graces or Three Charites were usually regarded as being the minor goddesses Aglaea (“Splendor”), Euphrosyne (“Mirth”), and Thalia (“Good Cheer”) although there were other Graces too – we could all do with more mirth and good cheer!

Bode

Adam and Eve by Georg Pfrundt 1650:

Bode

Two Female Figures by Leonhard Kern 1650:

Bode

Boy as Fountain Figure by Andrea della Robbia of Florence 1490:

Bode

You see how early humans learned to light portraits – this one shows a lovely loop lighting (note the loop like shadow beneath the nose) in shortlit style (the face is lit from the rear side so the shadow side is closest to the viewer making the face look narrower) – we still use this flattering studio lighting today in portrait photography! Portrait of a Young Man by Alessandro Allori (1535-1607) of Florence.

Bode

German tribute to the Italian Renaissance which I believe was originally housed in Berlin’s Basilica built in 1904 but destroyed in WWII:

Bode

A Christian altar piece, I felt at times I was in a Get Smart scene with all these doors about to close on me as I approached – but they didn’t.

Bode

St Mary Magdalene by Henrick van Holt c1530:

Bode

St Mary Magdalene by Henrick van Holt c1530:

Bode

Reclining boy in alabaster by Niederlande 17thC:

Bode

From here on it gets a bit more violent with abductions, betrayals, etc:

Delilah cutting Samson’s hair
without consent while he slept and destroying his strength – by Artus Quellinus 1640:

Bode

Rape of Proserpine by Pluto – Adrian de Vries 1621 in bronze. It seems Venus wanted to bring love to Pluto and sent her son Amor (Cupid) to fire one of his arrows at him. Pluto, the god of the underworld, then came out of Mt Etna’s volcano with four black horses and abducted the goddess Proserpina who was having a good time in Sicily staying with some nymph friends. Pluto’s intention was to take her to the Underworld and make her his wife. Her mother, Ceres, the goddess of agriculture got very upset with this and tramped the world looking for her and in her anger stopped the growth of fruits and created the deserts, starting in Sicily. Pluto’s brother, Jupiter, became worried so sent his son Mercury to order Pluto to free Prosperpina, he obeyed but made her eat six pomegranate seeds which forced her to spend 4-6 months of the year living with him – hence when she comes out into the living world in Spring, the flowers bloom, and when she goes back to the Underworld each year, Winter ensues. Seems a fair explanation of the seasons and why there are deserts!

You might be wondering what rape has to do with it – well in ancient times the word rape actually referred to abduction not the sexual violence per se, but I am guessing most suffered sexual violation too.

Bode

The Rape of the Sabine Woman – Adrian de Vries (1556-1626) in bronze.

I guess I better tell you their story as well!

When Rome was founded by Romulus, he had a problem, lots of male followers but few women. You can’t start an empire like that! Thus the first Romans tried unsuccessfully to negotiate with the surrounding tribes (the Sabines) for their women to be wives. The Romans decided to have a festival and invite people from neighbouring towns including the Sabines. Romulus gave the signal and the Sabine women were abducted and their menfolk fought off and the women were made to marry the Roman men albeit with betrayal of promises made to them.

Bode

Screaming woman by Sudliche Niederlande 16thC – not sure why she is screaming although the loss of her arm may have something to do with it!

Bode

Salome receiving the head of John The Baptist in the Dungeon after she had requested his beheading. Georg Schweigger Werkstatt 1648:

Bode

An 11th century Oliphant (Ivory horn for signalling the end to this post):

Bode

East Side Gallery – street art on the remnants of the Berlin Wall

Sunday, July 16th, 2017

These were all shot with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 II Micro Four Thirds camera.

East Side Gallery

East Side Gallery

East Side Gallery

East Side Gallery

East Side Gallery

East Side Gallery

East Side Gallery

East Side Gallery

East Side Gallery

East Side Gallery

East Side Gallery

And a bit of a surreal post-processing for this one:

East Side Gallery

Potsdam and the Sanssouci Palace of Frederick the Great

Saturday, July 15th, 2017

Whilst in Berlin, one should make sure they take the 45 minute or so train to nearby Potsdam and then a longish walk or taxi / bus to the Sanssouci Palace (Schloss Sanssouci) and its gardens.

Entry to the gardens themselves is via coin donation, but if you wish to book a time to see inside the palace, you need to go to the ticket centre where you may wish to purchase the option of being allowed to photograph the interior (but not publish the photos) – in retrospect, one probably does not need to photograph the interior unless you have a special interest.

Unfortunately, the Neues Palace was not open the day we went, and we were running short of time, only having an afternoon there.

It is a gorgeous way to spend a gentle summer’s day walking through the extensive gardens and then back to the Potsdam train station, stopping by the old church and then grabbing a lovely dinner at the cafe on the corner.

Unless specified otherwise, these were all shot with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 II Micro Four Thirds camera with Olympus mZD 40-150mm f/2.8 pro lens

Sansouci

This one was shot with the Olympus mZD 7-14mm f/2.8 pro lens

Sansouci

If only the statues and gargoyles could talk – what a history they have seen!

Sansouci

Sansouci

No, it’s not Napoleon but Frederick The Great:
Sansouci

Sansouci

A young lady posing on the steps of Orangerieschloss as a jogger passes by:

Sansouci

Sansouci

And if you like to people watch, the wonderful ambience and lovely angles of the sun make for some nice imagery if you are in the right frame of mind to look for them.

Sansouci

Sansouci

Sansouci

A beautiful image of a father taking his son for a walk:

Sansouci

When you walk back to the station there is an awesome old church (Friedenskirche) one can explore:

My friend Luigi posing for me.

Did I mention how lucky the northern Europeans are with their gentle angled summer sun in contrast to our high, harsh midday sun – when the sun is out in Berlin, beautiful sunlit images are easy!

Sansouci

A spy in the church with their iPhone:

Sansouci

My traveling band:

Sansouci

At the end of the day, dinner at the local Weiner Cafe on the corner of the Square with a view to the Potsdam Brandeburg Tor is a wonderful way to complete the afternoon. The main issue here is that the men’s urinals are obviously designed for tall Germans requiring tip toes for the height challenged!

Potsdam Brandenburg Tor:

Potsdam Brandenburg Tor

Weiner Cafe and Beer Garden:

Weiner Cafe

Berlin’s mixed architecture

Friday, July 14th, 2017

Berlin is a city of rapid change, dilapidated old communist styled austere buildings are rapidly being demolished to make way for modern developments – much to the chagrin and protests of locals, while 19th century buildings destroyed in WWII are still being re-built such as the palace near the Berlin Dome and the Kaiser Wilhelm Church.

Don’t forget to bring a rain coat, it does seem to rain often there and it is frequently very overcast – and I was there in late June – I did get absolutely drenched one day, but fortunately I was wearing quick dry shirt and shorts which had to be wrung out before I could allow myself entry back into the hotel in Potsdam Platz – I stayed at the Scandic Hotel which was very serviceable, clean and convenient with very friendly and efficient staff – only a hundred metres or so to train stations with their very regular train services (every 3-5 minutes or so) or the Berlin Mall shopping centre.

If you have not been to Berlin, here is a brief taste:

First we need to cross CheckPoint Charlie to get to the former East Berlin – this guy is just busking there posing as an American Soldier:

Berlin

Berlin

Berlin

The rebuilding of the Kaiser Wilhelm Church in West Berlin:

Berlin

Communist styled Berlin Philharmonic Centre in Potsdam Platz:

Berlin

The TV Tower which the East Germans built to dominate the city, but ironically, in their effort to marginalise the churches and religion, if you are lucky like me, in certain sunlight, their tower reflects a cross for miles which is said to be the Pope’s revenge:

Berlin

St Thomas Church:

Berlin

Berlin

A slice of the old Berlin Wall in Potsdam Platz taken with the Olympus mZD 8mm f/1.8 fisheye lens:

Berlin

The rebuilt Berlin Dome church:

Berlin

The wonderful old buildings in Berlin’s Museum Island – some lovely art galleries and the history of Germany museum, all well worth seeing – buy a Museum Pass and you get 3 days to access them for free – but don’t buy it on the weekend as they are nearly all closed on Mondays:

Berlin

Outside Alte Nationalgalerie with its late 19th century and 20th century art works:

Berlin

Outside Bode Museum with its older art works – mainly religious works from 17th century and earlier:

Berlin

The Amazon with Nefertiti which is housed in this Neues Museum, next door to the Pergamon Museum:

Berlin

East Berlin was known as the capital of Spies, and today there are thousands of them:

Berlin

Unlike Paris, you don’t really need to dress up in Berlin, the tourists and locals dress very casually, so these two caught my eye, and there is something about this cool guy that reminds me of a young Bruce Willis:

Berlin

Don’t forget to head down towards East Side Gallery area, as there are some great little spots on the way such as this dilapidated building:

Berlin

And a riverside bohemian bar which I am sure would be closed down due to safety concerns elsewhere, but it was a cool spot to have a beer:

Berlin

Last, but certainly, not least, one can’t forget the great Brandenburg Gate or Brandenburg Tor which has a fascinating history relating to Napoleon’s invasion of Berlin and his desire to take the horse statues back to Paris:

Berlin

Berlin

Postcards from Berlin: reflecting upon the holocaust

Friday, July 14th, 2017

My little trip to Berlin wouldn’t be complete without taking time out to reflect on how men can behave so inhumanely and yet we still have not learn’t the lessons of where fear takes us to the dark side of absolutes and persecution.

Here are a few of my take on the horrors of the holocaust in World War II – the memorial to the Murdered Jews in Berlin is a must see just to spend some time reflecting and to read the many stories.

Berlin

Berlin

Berlin

And, don’t forget the Jewish Museum and walking on these metal anonymous faces:

Berlin

Despite the sadness, Berlin is a wonderful, friendly city to visit which reminds me of my home town of Melbourne – perhaps it is the grunge and graffiti.