#hasselbladfriday, roll #18: the eiffel tower, redux


Back at Hasselblad Friday Roll #13, I mentioned that it was next to impossible to get a shot of the Eiffel Tower that truly showed how massive and impressive the structure really is.  At the time, I held high hopes that the final roll that I shot in Paris, this roll, would magically illustrate the true awe-inspiring nature of the tower.  In my little blogging fantasy, you would gasp in amazement as the images slowly revealed themselves on your computer screen.  In fact, you might even be forced to wipe away an awe-struck tear or two.

Yeah, so that's not going to happen.

It turns out that if you're trying to capture the height and majesty of the Eiffel Tower while standing practically underneath it, an 80mm fixed telephoto lens is exactly the wrong lens to have on your camera  -- but whaddya gonna do, especially when that's the only lens that you have for your Hassie?  You make do, is what you do.  And so I did, and while these images don't convey how immense this edifice really is, it does show some of the intricate detail.   And it also allows you re-live what one of our last nights in Paris was like, more or less, and it was a lovely night indeed.

I had wanted to see if I could grab an evening shot of the Eiffel Tower with my camera, and we were coming up to the last days of our trip.  We'd spent most of the day sightseeing, and as it was approaching about 6 o'clock and the sun was high in the sky, we remembered that the lights on the Tower don't actually come on until nightfall -- and in June, near the summer solstice, "nightfall" doesn't happen until around 10:30 p.m..  This, my friends, is way past Alex's bedtime, and, frankly, damn near past mine. Also, the Eiffel Tower is near the centre of Paris and our apartment, near Sacre Coeur, was on the edge of town, which meant trying to get home late at night ...

... but I was adamant.  So we decided to eat somewhere nearby the Tower, and then just wait it out.  We took the Métro to the nearest station to the Tower that we could find on the map, and then ducked into a little sidewalk café for dinner.

And several kir. Always me with the kir, in Paris.

After we hung out at the restaurant for as long as we could stand, we figured we get up and wander around, to see if we could even find the Tower.  The Métro stop we'd used opened in the heart of the city, and so we couldn't see the Eiffel Tower at all when we had arrived -- until suddenly, we passed the tiny alley, above, and there it was.


We walked down the alley and toward the Tower, surprised (and thrilled) to discover the alley ended in a little park, right underneath the Tower.*  Even better?  There was hardly anyone there (the crowds were behind the trees you see above), so it was easy to pick out a grassy spot all to ourselves.

Alex was smart enough that she had brought along her book for the day. So she settled in.


Marcus and I, however, weren't as smart:  we hadn't brought any books with us, or even more tragic, a bottle of wine.  So we just sat there, playing with our cameras, and me occasionally singing Cee-Lo Green's "Forget You" inappropriately loudly.

(Don't judge me, man.  Watching Alex roll her eyes at me is one of the simple joys of my life.  Also? There was a guy in the park about 20 feet away, and when he heard me, he started singing back-up, to the horror of his girlfriend.  It was awesome.)

Finally, dusk came -- at about 10:30 p.m. -- and the first of the lights switched on.


The actual sparkly Christmas-y lights didn't turn on until 11 p.m.


Now, see?  This is what I'm talking about:  when the lights started sparkling, the tower was magical -- sparkly lights everywhere.  But they were so fast that I was only able to catch what, 8? 9 lights, in that photograph?  Thoroughly disappointing and completely does not capture the beauty of the tower.  I was crestfallen when I saw this shot.

But luckily for you, Marcus had his little Blackberry Playbook with him, and he captured some video (notice how Alex was silent until near the end):

See? They were EVERYWHERE.

And with that, the sharing of all the shots I took in Paris has finally, mercifully, come to an end (I can almost sense your eyes glazing over, and honestly, I don't blame you a bit).  Thanks for your patience, everyone -- it was such a great holiday.  Next major travel:  Ethiopia in October with the ONE Campaign -- I can't wait to share the photos with you.

* If you're in Paris and want to find the alley and the park, it's just off the Avenue de Suffren, between Avenue Octave Gréard & Quai Branly.  I strongly recommend this spot for perfect, uncrowded viewing of the Tower at night.

SongLa vie en rose, as performed by Cyndi Lauper.

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Just a reminder that registration for the Chookooloonks Path Finder is now open! There are already tons of people from all over the world who have registered for this fall session, and we'd love to have you.  Read all about it here, and register for it hereRegistration closes Wednesday, August 22nd, and the course begins Monday, August 27th.  I hope you'll join us.