It seems like the average Parisian would rather eat cheese whiz than step onto the streets before 9 in the morning. The city doesn’t come to life until after 10. It’s a distinct pleasure to walk through the city around 6 in the morning. The light is strong and directional, the streets are empty, the sky is blue and wind is cool.
I went for a stroll along the Seine, over to the Left Bank, Notre Dame, and finally Rue de Rivoli back to the hotel. Along the way, I shot about 60 images.
When you begin taking photographs, your well intentioned uncle will remind you to always shoot with the sun at your back. It’s a safe way to photograph, as the subject and environment are equally illuminated. You avoid the surprises of backlit silhuoettes and blown out skies.
These images are safe but boring. Flat lighting hides the texture of your scene. Try shooting towards the sun instead. The light will skim across flat surfaces and cast shadows on the vertical surfaces facing your camera. Streets and rivers begin to glow, cobblestone streets are filled with texture, and your images are more interesting than the original scene.
If your subject is facing you with the sun at their back, you may have to set the exposure yourself. Simple cameras will try to compensate for the bright sun and make the image too dark. Use your manual settings to add enough light. I like to take an exposure of my hand in front of the camera. This mimicks the shadow sides of your subject and landscape. This will give you detail in the shadows. I also like to turn on the flash, to fill in the shadows and balance the lighting. You’ll still get the dramatic textures, but also see your buddies grin.
The hills of Montmartre have great views to the city. These great views come with a price, namely hordes of tourists and the resulting horrible restaurants and junk shops.
I dragged Jim up the hill to see the hidden part of Montmartre that I am fond of.
Walk past the Sacre Cour, the cartoonists, the t-shirt shops, and galleries full of art that makes even Thomas Kinkade look original. Just past the water tower, a small cobble-stone street takes you down to the Musee Montmartre. We hit the street at the perfect time. The setting sun backlit the cobblestones and plants, creating the ever-popular postcard images. At the bottom of this street sat La Maison Rose.
This small restaurant sits alone, like the geeks in the back of the class reunion. Only, this wallflower is truly a sweet-smelling rose. The food was simple and affordable and the setting was very pleasant.
To visit this part of the city, I’d recommend grabbing the montmartrobus from the Pigalle metro/bus stop. You’ll take the short bus up the hills and avoid the crowded funiculaire.
Last year, I found a great coffee shop with free wi-fi. I jumped on the metro and sallied on over to Coffee and Friends only to find it shuttered. C’est la vie, I thought as I walked over to another café that offered free wi-fi last year. This too, was not having any of it.
I plopped my ass on the curb and opened the laptop to see if someone around had a signal. Sure enough, I came across hotcafe.fr, a provider for internet cafes. After some sleuthing on their site, I found a familiar café near the hotel, Café Benjamin that serves the signal du jour.
Café Benjamin is a bit fancier than my trustee coffee and friends, but it did give me a chance to upload yesterday’s images, do a blog post, check email, etc. I’ll probably head back in the morning to upload this highly fascinating piece of something.
Tomorrow I am off to Yahoo! Paris office to check in on the team, go through email, and do some general schmoozing. I’ll probably also carry my portfolio and try to hit a gallery or two. Wish me luck.