Images of Paris

colorful paris street pompidou center
View of Paris through a rainy window of the Pompidou Center.

When you visit Paris, there are just so many images than present themselves. It probably doesn't make much sense to try to make some organic whole of them, unless you're going to spend a lot of time there and concentrate on the street life or the architecture or the churches, or whatever. So, here are a few images of Paris I made over the course of a few visits over a space of 10 years.

I shot this through a window of the Pompidou Center in Paris. I loved the color, muted by the rain, and the fact that looking through the window made the Paris rooftops look like something Pisarro or Monet might have painted. Very Impressionistic, ne c'est pas?

Musee d'Orsay Paris
The roof of the Musee d'Orsay, Paris

The Musee d'Orsay is my favorite Paris museum. Better than the Louvre, if you ask me. Mostly because it's full of the Impressionists, including their best work. Also there's a lot of paintings by Gustave Courbet, who is categorized by art historians as a “realist”, but I see as as “pre-Impressionist.” I don't know exactly why, but let's say he was an inspiration to his successors. He painted realistic subjects, but in a characteristic soft and low light that foreshadowed similar treatments by the Impressionists. At least, that's my story, and I'm going with it.

The view above, of course, is of the roof of the converted rail station that was made into the museum, and is another reason I love the place. If you get tired of the paintings, you can go onto the roof and gaze at Paris, which is a work of art in itself.

Sacre Coeur in the distance Paris, France
Sacre Coeur in the distance Paris

And here is one of those views of Paris from the Orsay roof.

I love the color of Paris, and the stark white Basilica of Sacré Coeur that tops it all. This shot was taken by a tiny point and shoot camera that I was carrying in 2007. The lack of resolution and the bright color of a sunny day lends a slight sense that is appropriate for a view from an Impressionist museum, non?

It's also said that the buildings stacked on the hillside is what inspired Picasso's and Braque's Cubism. What do you think?

eiffel tower paris france
The Eiffel Tower in black and white. It's sort of gray anyway, no?

I walked all the way from Notre Dame along the Seine to the Eiffel Tower. As I was walking in the late afternoon, it just kept getting darker, as it will late in the year. Just as I approached the tower, and came around a corner of Rue de Universite, bang there it was. You couldn't see the tower before that because of the four and five story buildings all around you, so it's quite a surprise when you take two steps from where you couldn't see it at all, and all of a sudden, there it is in all its well lit splendor. It's bigger than it seems from all the way across Paris, by the way.

There have been tens of millions of photos taken of the Eiffel Tower, and some of them are quite good, or as good as they can be when there are millions of other photos just like them. I suppose all you can really hope for is beautiful light at exactly the right time of day. If I lived in Paris, I'd wait for months to get just that shot and it would be great, or at least as as good as all the other best ones. But when you're only here for five days, and only one day do you get close to the tower, you try to find something different to do. And while I'm not sure that this is all that different, I like it anyway.

I chose to concentrate on the engineering feat that is the Eiffel Tower. I've read before how light the Tower is, relative to its height. It has that airy feel because of its brilliant support system which supposedly makes the most impressive structure out of the least amount of steel. At any rate, it's beautiful because of its simplicity and symmetry, and that's what I tried to get across here.

Tourists photographing the Mona Lisa Paris
Lining up to take a picture of a picture.

It's inevitable when you visit Paris's Louvre that you'll eventually be drawn to Leonardo's Mona Lisa. You won't actually be able to get close enough and linger long enough to get a good look at it, though. The room is full of tourists with cameras, and for some reason they prefer to look at a digital image later than the original now.

notre dame cathedral interior paris
The dark interior of Notre Dame

I well remember taking this picture inside the Notre Dame Cathedral way back in 2007. I had an early generation Canon point and shoot, with a digital zoom (which I hated,) not very good resolution, and whatever shortcoming you can think of that cameras had back then. But, I sort of liked the windows of Notre Dame, and the floor, and the random arrangement of tourists. So, I held my breath, made my elbows into a tripod, and this was the result.

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