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Archive for November, 2019

Swans seem almost angelic in their beauty and I was thrilled to spot this pair of Mute Swans (Cygnus olor) yesterday as I strolled along the Seine River in Paris. I had the impression that the swans wanted to swim nearer to the middle of the river channel but were unable to do so because of the numerous boats filled with gawking tourists.

Periodically, as you can see in the second and third photo below, the swans had to deal with the waves created by the passing boats. However, they did not complain out loud—they are mute swans after all. The swan in the first image may have been signaling its displeasure, though I believe it was merely trying to dry its wings after being doused by a high wave.

Mute Swan in Paris

Mute Swan in Paris

Mute Swans in Paris

Mute Swan on the Seine

Mute Swans on the Seine

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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We had crazy weather yesterday, with two big rainstorms, intermittent blue skies, and  thunder and lightning. The biggest surprise for me, though, was a hailstorm that dropped a coating of pea-sized hailstones everywhere.

There was such an accumulation of hail that in the first photo it looks almost like snow had fallen on the outdoor seating of the cafe. When I arrived at my apartment, however, I examined the small table on the balcony of “my” apartment up close and could see the individual, spherical hailstones. Wow!

I carefully tried to avoid the patches of hailstorms when walking after I nearly fell—hailstones on cobblestones are a treacherous mix.

Hail to Paris

Hail to Paris

 

Hail to Paris

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I think the spiky protrusions were intended to keep birds from perching on this post along the Seine River, but somehow this gull did not get the point.

gull on the Seine

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Paris inspires me to try “artsy” shots. On a recent early rainy morning, I was struck by the elongated shadow of this bicycle on the wet pavement and captured this image. The light seemed to be coming from two different sources, with different color temperatures and directionality.

bicycle in Paris

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I did not plan to make birding a focus of my trip to Paris, but I can’t help but take shots of them when the occasion arises. I’ve seen lots of gulls and pigeons, some mallards, and a few swans, but so far have not gotten close enough to get shots of them—I have relatively modest telephoto lenses with me on this trip.

The first image shows a crow, what I think is a Carrion Crow (Corvus corone). I am not at all certain about identifying birds in Europe, so please correct me if I am wrong. I photographed this crow and the other birds featured in this posting in the Tuileries Garden, which is located in between the Louvre and the Place de la Concorde.

The second bird is a Common Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus). Several other moorhens were swimming about in a small pond, but this one decided to boldly look for food. Perhaps it was looking for a handout from tourists.

The final birds are Common Starlings (Sturnus vulgaris). This small flock of starlings flew about from place to place. I did not detect any signals, but all of them seemed to take off and land at the same time.

If you have followed my blog for any length of time, you know that I like to photograph anything that catches my eye. Even in a place like Paris, where there appear to be famous landmarks in every direction I turn, I am just as likely to be spending time photographing these modest little birds. I think it would make me a maddening travel companion for a more normal person.

Carrion Crow

Common Moorhen

Common Starlings

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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All of the Avenue des Champs-Élysées was blocked off today to permit French President Macron unimpeded access to the Arc de Triomphe, where he laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and made a speech in honor of Armistice Day. I did not make it all of the way down to the Arc de Triomphe, but captured a few photos of the ceremonial guards as they made their way past my vantage point on the Champs-Élysées.

Armistice Day 2019

Armistice Day 2019

Armistice Day 2019

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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I got up early yesterday morning, hoping to get some photos of the sun rising over Paris from the steps of the Sacre Coeur Basilica, the highest point in Paris. Unfortunately it rained on me the entire walk there and while I was there. The sun did not cooperate and it is tough to take photos in limited light when it is windy and rainy.

I hope to try again when the weather is better. In the meantime, here is a composite panoramic shot that I took earlier in the week that gives you an idea of the view from that spot. I am curious to see how WordPress handles a panorama shot and encourage you to click on the image to see some of the amazing details.

I took a series of eight shots and stitched them together with the Photo Merge feature of Photoshop. Only later did I come to realize that I might had been able to achieve a similar feature with my new iPhone, but I am still so unaccustomed to it that I have not even used the phone (or camera in it) in several days.

It was a bit cloudy and dark the day that I took these photos and it is a bit hard to pick out landmarks. One of the most notable landmarks, the Eiffel Tower, is not visible in the image—it is off to the far right, hidden by the trees. As I was walking away, I caught a glimpse of the tower and by climbing on a wall and leaning against a railing, I was able to capture the second image below. You can definitely see how much the structure towers over the surrounding buildings (pun intended).

Panorama of Paris

Eiffel Tower

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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