Chasing Light

What do you do if you want to go somewhere and your family and friends don’t want to or can’t get away when you can? Deciding to explore the world on your own can be a daunting prospect. Thoughts of the drawbacks may cycle through your mind: having no one to rely on should problems arise, planning the trip all on your own, being a target because you are solo, table for one most of the time, or the possibility of being lonely.  The perks of being able to do what you want when you want wherever you want look attractive but will it be right for you. It takes a leap of faith to take on the challenge. As with most things — you don’t know what you don’t know. With a “you won’t know until you try it” attitude I took that leap of faith to France a couple of years ago and in the process learned a lot and among many memorable experiences a long afternoon and evening taking in the changing light of Mont Saint-Michel stands out.

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At first sight, the Mont is an impressive and awe-inducing structure. Its size dwarfing the people and vehicles on the bridge. This area is known for extreme tidal fluctuations and upon my arrival the tide was out and the light was muted from the gray sky.

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Boats become stranded on the sand and people can walk in the silty sand, with caution, during low tides.

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I walked up to the Mont on the bridge, explored the town and toured the Abbey taking my time admiring and capturing the almost 360-degree view from the top.

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The afternoon was turning into evening and the sky with billowy clouds was ever-changing. The golden hour was beginning. Different times of day bring different light to subjects. At sunrise and sunset the sun is near the horizon which creates a golden hue and cast long shadows. In the time before and after sunrise and sunset the light changes hue quickly. From blue to pink to gold in the morning and the reverse in the evening.

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The late afternoon sun added a beautiful golden tone to the walls.

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The surrounding countryside isn’t immune to the sun’s rays.

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The sky wasn’t the only thing changing, suddenly, I became aware of the sound of rushing water. The tide was on its way in, and when that tide comes in it surges in. The boats are once again floating on the water as the gold turns to pink.

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The speed of the incoming tide was creating waves.

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Engrossed in the phenomenon, I hadn’t noticed the sky beginning to darken when a drop of water hit my cheek. Then another and another and suddenly I was in the middle of a rainstorm. Not yet ready to leave this show of color and water, I pulled out my umbrella and went back to the demonstration of mother nature’s extremes. During the rain the lights on the Mont were lit, illuminating  the walls.

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Slowly the golden hour gave way to the blue hour.

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I left to grab some dinner and since I was staying nearby went back to get the full nighttime experience.

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The tide was completely up by this time and the water surrounding the Mont was reflecting the lights.  I said good night to the Mont-Saint-Michel and returned to my hotel. Contemplating my afternoon, I felt blessed and grateful for having taken that five thousand mile leap which landed on the distant shore that day. Being alone allowed me the unscheduled time to linger. If I had waited to go or been with somebody who wasn’t willing to stay and let the moments unfold and watch the light change, I would have missed out on the events that October afternoon. I never would have come to the conclusion that the Mont- Saint- Michel is a beautiful subject in all lighting.

Cheers,

Susan

 

Love Locked Up

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Love lock on London’s Millennium Footbridge

Love can drive people to do crazy things. This seems to be the same the world over. The similarities among different peoples often takes me by surprise. Wandering the streets of a city, ready for discovery, is one of my favorite ways for unravelling a place. So, upon noticing locks bearing names and dates on bridges and chains around many towns; my interest was piqued, which translates to a click of the shutter.

Love locks on bridges, and just about anywhere a lock can be affixed, is a phenomenon spreading across the world. This expression of love involves affixing a lock, usually with the couple’s name and a date on it, to a structure and throwing away the key. Therefore locking one’s love in place for eternity. A romantic sentiment, indeed!

Paris was the location of my first encounter, on the Pont des Arts bridge. Click!

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Back in 2008, the pedestrian bridge was just beginning to see the effects of the love spreading. Click! In for a closer look …

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The practice became so prolific the bridge was becoming compromised by the excess weight and the locks were removed in 2015 and replaced with Plexiglass panels. In 2017, Parisians came up with a clever use for the removed locks. They auctioned off some of the lock clusters using the proceeds to benefit migrant charities, which you can read more about in this article.

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Love locks can still be found in Paris, however. Click!

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Couples have gotten creative in expressing and immortalizing their love throughout the city.

 

Finding all sorts of places to lock their love for all time. Click, click!

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Even locks upon locks.

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The phenomenon isn’t unique to Paris. It is spreading around the world, to the dismay of some. Many cities have made an effort to discourage the practice due to the negative effect on the structures. I witnessed the spread while in London and Aguas Calientes, Peru.

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Aguas Calientes, Peru

It has even spread to a bridge in my hometown. I think crazy or not this love thing isn’t going away any time soon.

Love ya~

Susan

 

 

 

Low Light, High ISO

Traveling, for me, involves evening and night time strolls around cities and visits to museums and cathedrals. All these have one thing in common, the available light is very low. When strolling after dinner and exploring a city, I don’t usually want to carry a tripod and prefer the natural light as opposed to using a flash. So, turning the ISO up helps me get the shot. After arriving late one evening in Oklahoma City, I went straight to the Memorial and arrived as the sun was setting. As night fell and the lights turned on, I turned my ISO up to 1600 and tried to do justice to the solemnity of the location.

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Walking around the city of Paris one night I pulled out my camera and set my ISO to 800 and snapped this image.

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A night time stroll about Rome lead to this famous fountain and it’s night time appearance. I used an ISO 800 here so I could use a slower shutter speed and let the flowing water blur.

trevi fountain iso This fountain is no less popular at night.

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Many museums and cathedrals don’t allow flash photography. At the Centre Pompidou, I turned the ISO up to 1600 which allowed for a shutter speed of 1/60 with an f4 to capture this intriguing work of art.

centre de pompidou isoThe Art Institute of Chicago is the home of many works of art and  I was able to view one of my favorites, Paris Street; Rainy Day by Gustave Caillebotte. Seeing this up close and personal meant I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to capture it. ISO set to 800 for this one; you may find that the lighting in a museum allows a little lower ISO setting to be used.

art institute iso The Museo dell’Opera del Duomo Is the location of the Florence Pietà and after having just seen the St Peter’s Pietà I wanted to see this version, the ISO set to 1600.

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In Europe, the cathedrals are just as full of art work as the museums and flash photography is often frowned upon or not allowed.

The statue of the Madonna and Child, in the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, captured my attention by their outstretched hands and the way they seem to be welcoming and greeting so peacefully.

madonna and child isoRemember to look up in cathedrals for the ceilings are usually very impressive also.

St Peter's ceiling isoThis ceiling from St Peter’s Basilica with the shaft of light shining down is an example of the details given to every inch of space.

Newer cameras’ ISO capabilities have grown tremendously. My Canon 5D original version high end ISO is 1600 expandable to 3200. Last holiday season, I had the chance to use a Canon Rebel T4i with a high end ISO capability of 12,800 which is expandable to 25,800. I took it out in to my neighborhood and shot some Christmas lights hand held and was very impressed with the quality of the results.

Christmas lights isoUsually, I need a tripod when shooting the Christmas lights in my neighborhood but here I used ISO 10,000 and was able to capture this scene.

Sometimes, a high ISO is necessary to get a low light shot.

Try turning off that flash and raising your ISO and see what you think.

~ Susan

 

when sentiment meets photography

Photography has a practical side. Sometimes, I need help remembering details and pictures have been my prompter; helping fill in the blank spots of my memory. Taking a walk down memory lane via one’s photos reveals all kinds of long forgotten moments. From one’s fashion sense through the years to the small details of a trip, photos can capture, freeze and help one trigger memories of events.

At the Musée Rodin in Paris. . .

look-a-likeThe photo, although overexposed, brings a smile to my face as I recall spotting the “look-a-likes” that day.

man waving Spanish flag

Without this picture to jog my memory, I undoubtedly would have forgotten our dinner at this restaurant in Alcala de Henares, Spain. It was taken the night Spain won the Euro cup in June 2008 and the people took to the streets to celebrate. Seeing the flag waving owner of the restaurant sparks memories of the throngs of people coming out into the streets to celebrate the victory with cheers, chants and national pride. I am swept up in the excitement of the victory once again.

Using photography to document something as trivial as the time I bought store brand cotton swabs instead of Q-tips has helped me remember why. . .

store brand cotton swabsI will only buy Q-tips brand from now on. Come to think of it, I should frame this and hang it in my bathroom so I can be reminded every day.

Another way to put photography to use in the memory making process is to document an item you want to remember but don’t have enough room to store. My parents recently found and returned a keepsake of mine; a bread dough sculpture one of my elementary school friends made for me as a going away present, on the occasion of our moving out of the area.

I had forgotten this cute little guy. Even though, I must admit, I don’t remember who gave it to me anymore; it still holds a special place in my heart. Now it will be memorialized in pixels forever and I will stash it in my albums to be rediscovered some day in the future; when I will be transported once again back to, not only the original gifting, but now also the time this gift re-entered my life and the photo shoot and fond memories it ignited.

Join me on memory lane,

~ Sue

I lost my fear of heights on the Eiffel Tower

A commercial I saw recently featuring a little girl who dreams of flying prompted a memory of my own dreams of flying as a little girl. Since I haven’t yet acquired either the skills or ability to fly, I have found, in my opinion, the next best thing – aside from flying in an airplane – searching out the tallest structures or mountains and ascending them to take in the world from up high.

Paris is especially fun to experience from a vantage point far above the city. One obvious choice for this is the Eiffel Tower.

Eiffel Tower, Paris

This required my putting aside my feeling of skittishness when looking down from great heights. I share a kindred spirit with a young girl I overheard as I was descending the Eiffel Tower. She declared, “I lost my fear of heights on the Eiffel Tower!”

It is hard to be nervous while gazing at such a captivating view. Cars and people are so tiny, almost toy-like.

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When one travels a few hundred feet up, an orderliness to a city becomes apparent.

Paris, France from Eiffel Tower

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Often, the tall structures are evident from great distances and invite, almost taunt, me to visit.

Toronto skyline

Toronto Skyline

The views can be magnificent, even at night.

View from CN Tower, Toronto

View from CN Tower, Toronto

The CN Tower in Toronto has an outside observation deck which is lit up at night with changing colored lights creating an interesting hue to photos taken through the lights.The view from above also allows one to see things which can’t be seen from ground level, like the maple leaf on the rooftop.

Toronto city lights

View from CN Tower, Toronto

A funicular ride to the top of Monte Igueldo in San Sebastian, Spain made this view possible.

San Sebastian, Spain from Monte Igueldo
Here’s to seeing things from a different perspective and the joy of beauty trumping any fears holding you back.

May we all, “lose our fear of heights on the Eiffel Tower!”

And maybe I will learn to fly someday, baby steps.

~ Sue

The Streets of Europe

A year ago, I was wandering Europe captivated by the streets. Yes, the streets themselves caught my eye. Their cobblestones and narrow corridors leading to hidden places or large squares and cathedrals. I imagined all the activity that has taken place on these streets in the hundreds of years they have been in existence.

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From Paris to London

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They all have their own character. Partly due to the architecture and automobiles but also because each city and country has its own unique essence. Which is evident in the streets.

Rome

In Rome, there are countless motorcycles and scooters. The streets of Zurich are lined with buildings adorned with shutters of angled patterned wood.

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Chester, England near the border with Wales is a bustling medieval town.

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Nice

The old city of Nice’s narrow streets are lined with shops and cafes.

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Every city had the green cross sign advertising the location of the pharmacies in town dotted throughout.

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At night they are just as intriguing. Especially when the streets are damp from a recent rain; adding a beautiful reflective quality.

I am sure it was spending so much time walking on these streets exploring the different neighborhoods which piqued my interest. It seemed around every corner was another street compelling me to capture its essence for that moment!

~Sue