hasselblad friday, rolls #12 & 13: paris, day 1, and some gratuitious eiffel tower shots

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When I was a young girl and my family went on vacation, my father was generally the one who took all the photographs.  Back then, of course, there weren't digital cameras, and my father went through a phase where all he ever shot was slide film.  When we returned from our holidays, and my dad got his film developed, at some point he would invite friends over, pull his large screen and projector out of a rarely-used closet, and make his buddies sit through every slide he shot.  I'd watch as everyone's eyes would slowly glaze over, and wonder why my father would put people through these interminable showings.

Well, it turns out the apple doesn't fall far from the tree (or, as we say in Trinidad, "cow don't make goat").  I got my 8 rolls of film back from the processor, and there's something about the feel of vacation photos in film that has me so excited, I feel compelled to share them with you.  I hope you enjoy them, but if you want to skip the Hasselblad Fridays over the next few weeks because you're a bit tired of the Paris shots, I won't be mad at you. I remember those glazed faces of my dad's friends all too well.

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Our first full day in Paris was Sunday, June 17th -- Father's Day, as it happened.  Alex and I agreed that since it was a special day, Marcus should choose our itinerary.  As we had breakfast in our little rented apartment in Montmartre that morning, Marcus studied a map of the city.

"There's a beautiful park not far from here," he said.  "The weather's supposed to be decent today -- why don't we just take a leisurely walk down there?"

Now, after 10 years of marriage, you would've thought that I would be skeptical of this suggestion for a few reasons:

1.  Marcus has never taken a leisurely walk in his life.  His general gait is less "leisurely walk" and more "merry trot"; furthermore, Marcus is 6'4" tall:  his normal stride is about twice the length of an average adult's.

2.  Marcus is also a triathlete, whereas I am closer to "slug" on the athletic spectrum. Our definitions of "leisurely" therefore tend to diverge.

3.  In my world, the phrase "not far from here" means "5 or 6 blocks away."  In Marcus' world, that phrase could be used to mean anything from "5 or 6 blocks away" to "5 or 6 counties away."  I, stupidly, failed to clarify.

Still, Alex and I did agree that the day was his, so off we went.  After 15 minutes of cantering at a brisk clip down some startlingly steep hills, it began to dawn on me that we still weren't anywhere near our destination (and we were practically sprinting past sites that I thought looked particularly photogenic, but we were moving too quickly for me to get my camera out of my bag).  Besides, Alex was beginning to mumble "are we there yet?" under her breath.

"Um, Marcus?" I asked.  "Where exactly are we going?"

"Oh it's not far from here," he responded cheerfully.  That "not far" again.  It was at this point I started to get suspicious.

A few more questions, and I finally learned that the "beautiful park" was the Jardin des Tuilieries, the large garden next to the Louvre Museum, and a good 2 miles from our apartment.  Which, granted, isn't that far of a walk, but when you're with an 8 year old who has never run two miles in her life (remember, running was required to keep up with Marcus), and there's a perfectly good subway system that could've gotten us there in half the time ...

... well.  Let's just say that by the time we arrived, coffee and hot chocolate was definitely in order.

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Admittedly, the view was worth the walk, and after a couple of delicious beverages our heart rates had returned to normal, and we were ready to set off again.

"Where should we go next?" I asked.

"Oh, it doesn't matter to me," said Marcus.  "I just wanted to see these gardens."

"I know!" exclaimed Alex, whipping out her little travel guide. "We should go to the Pompidou Centre!"  Her book informed us the Pompidou is a modern art museum, and Marcus and I rarely turn down an opportunity to see modern art.

Marcus consulted his map.  "It's just on the other side of the Louvre," he said.  "Sounds good to me.  Let's go."

So off we went, walking through the grounds of the Louvre.  On the way, Marcus got conned into giving away an embarrassing amount of money (don't ask), but the beauty of the Louvre somehow distracted us from our naiveté.

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As we approached the Pompidou, Alex exclaimed, "Look!  There it is!"

"Should we get tickets and go in?"

"Yes!" shouted Alex.  "Yes, let's get tickets!"

Marcus and I exchanged a smug smile.  Look at this, communicated our shared look.  Our daughter is already passionate about modern art at such a young, tender age!  We are truly perfect parents.  We strode inside and promptly purchased three tickets to see the Matisse and Richter exhibits, eager to watch the delight in our daughter's eyes as she saw these original works of art for the first time.

Turns out, Alex couldn't give a whit about any of the art in the museum.  She just wanted to ride the external escalator up and down length and height of the entire building.

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We let her do it once.

Afterwards, we went to see the exhibits (Alex was very patient), and then we wandered outside, to a courtyard near the museum.

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"Next?" I asked.

"Well, I'm pretty finished with what I wanted to see today," said Marcus.  "How about to take a leisurely walk back to the apartment?"

"Oh HELL no," I said, having learned my lesson.  "We're taking the Métro.  But first?  A drink."

This was our view at the outdoor cafe where I had my kir. I have no idea what this building is.

This was our view at the outdoor cafe where I had my kir. I have no idea what this building is.

We hung out for some time, journaling, taking photographs (see above), and just generally watching the world go by.  After a while, we decided it was getting close to dinnertime, so we headed back to Montmartre (via the Métro, thankyouverymuch) for dinner.

By the time we had eaten, it was approaching the golden hour.  So before we returned to the apartment, Marcus and Alex let me wander up to Sacre Coeur to grab a couple of shots:

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A pretty perfect first day.

(And we never let Marcus define "not far" or "leisurely" again.  Amen.)

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The second day, we decided it was time to check out the Eiffel Tower -- so I popped another roll of film into the Hassie, and we headed out.  I must admit that I am less pleased with myself with this roll -- the light was flat, my focus was off, and once I got the processed film back, you would not believe how much tilting and cropping I had to do in Photoshop to get the Eiffel Tower to look completely vertical in these shots.  Seriously, had I left them the way they were, you would've thought we'd ended up in Pisa instead of Paris!  Nevertheless, I thought I'd share the best of the images of roll #13 here, just to get it out of the way -- because I'm really pleased with how roll #14 turned out.  But you'll have to wait until next week to see those shots.

But for now, roll #13.  On the second morning, we took the Métro first to L'Arc de Triomphe:

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Is it me, or does the woman on the bench in the foreground look seriously unhappy to have her picture taken?  She's looking at that guy the same way Alex looks at me whenever I beg, "Please? Just one more?  Please???"

Bless her heart.

Anyway, we then wandered on to check out the Eiffel Tower.  It turns out the Eiffel Tower is like the Grand Canyon.  Or, so I assume.  I mean, I've never actually been to the Grand Canyon, but every time I speak to someone who has, they always say, "It's so much more amazing than you think it is.  The pictures don't even begin to show how huge and beautiful it is."

It's exactly the same with the Eiffel Tower.  You see pictures, and you think, "Huh. Nice," but then when you actually see it?  You straight-up make that Keanu Reeves "WHOA" sound.  Not only is it incredibly intricate and stunningly beautiful, but this puppy is HUGE. It's just so tall.  It's just immense.  It's ...

... well, trust me, it's something to behold.

It's also really frustrating to photograph, because it's so impossible to capture that whoa-ness (not to mention hold the camera so that it's vertical).  But here is my meagre attempt:

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(Incidentally, the eighth and last roll of film I took when I was in Paris was also of the Eiffel Tower, except at night.  I haven't looked at that roll yet, so it remains to be seen if I managed to capture its whoa-ness a little better.)

With that, have a great weekend friends.  More Paris shots to come next Hasselblad Friday.

SongWalk this way, as performed by Run DMC, featuring Aerosmith