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Archive for the ‘Autumn’ Category

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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After I did the posting called Sunrise on the Seine earlier today, I realized that it did not truly give readers a sense of location. Yes, it was in Paris, and yes, it was on the Seine River. The image was pretty, but it didn’t really speak “Paris.”

I shot a lot of photos this morning as I walked and stopped on the paved pathway down near the water level of the river. I was hoping to be able to capture an image of Notre Dame at sunrise. The angles and timing did not quite work out as I expected. By the time Notre Dame came into view, the sun had already risen a little too high and was directly in front of me.

When sorting through my photos, I initially rejected this image because the bright sun created a hot spot in the image. Later today, I decided to revisit the image and decided I liked it. Why? It has Notre Dame in the frame, of course, but it also shows the effects of the early morning sun as the rays illuminate the boat on the right and the concrete barrier along the pathway.

So, I decided to break my normal pattern and post multiple images today. It’s Paris, after all—I am sure I will be forgiven if I feel extra inspired here.

 

Notre Dame at sunrise

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Evenings in Paris can be magical. Many of the buildings are wonderfully illuminated and it is easy to feel a sense of enchantment. The moon was moving in and out of the clouds yesterday evening as I walked past the Louvre, providing some natural illumination. I managed to capture this two second image of part of the traditional Louvre building by leaning my camera against a railing.

I am gradually getting used to the I. M. Pei glass pyramid that stands in the middle of the traditional courtyard. It was early evening and there were still a lot of people around, preventing me from capturing the simple geometric view I had in mind. In the end I settled for a somewhat closer view that cut off the lower corners of the pyramid.

The final shot is a view of the St Eustache church that is located not far from where I am staying. This church was built between 1532 and 1632 and, according to Wikipedia, its façade is in a Gothic style, while its interior is in the Renaissance and classical styles. I have not yet gone inside it, but definitely plan to do so. I also would love to be able to hear the church’s organ that has 8,000 pipes and is the largest pipe organ in France.

Louvre Museum

Louvre Museum

St Eustache

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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How do you photograph a structure like the Eiffel Tower that is so iconic and so well-known? The first choice is to decide which side of the Seine River you want to be on when taking the photos. You can get some good photos from the hilly area across the river called Trocadéro, or you can stay on the same side as the tower itself. I chose the latter option.

There are some real limitations, because the grassy areas leading away from the tower are fenced off.  If you get far enough away, you can get the traditional full-length shot like the second image below. I personally like to move closer and shoot upwards.

Unfortunately, my favorite angle is no longer available. In 2011 I was able to walk right underneath the tower and shoot direct upwards while standing in the middle of the four legs. Now there are plexiglass barriers surrounding the entire tower that are used to funnel visitors to a single entrance with fees and security checks for those who want to climb the tower or take the elevator.

The first show below is my favorite. I like the angle and was able to wait for the clouds to move into a photogenic position. I took the shot with a DSLR and a zoom lens. Recently, I bought my first real smartphone, an iPhone 11, and during this trip I am learning how to use it. I am still not used to the idea of taking photos with a phone and it feels so unnatural to hold at arms length to take a photo. However, this iPhone has a super-wide mode and I decided to use it to take the final photo. The perspectives are a little distorted, almost like a fisheye lens, but I like the effect.

As you probably have noticed, I am combining the roles of a tourist and a photographer, thinking a lot about my shots as I take them. Unlike most of the tourists I saw yesterday, though, I don’t plan to spend a lot of time taking multiple selfies.

Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I seem to be having problems recently getting unobstructed views of small birds. Although the leaves are falling from the trees at an increasingly rapid rate, there are still plenty of them to block my view. I have to admit, however, that the colors and texture of the fall foliage can sometimes provide additional visual interest to a shot of a perched bird.

I spotted this Gray Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis) last week at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The catbird’s direct look suggests that he had spotted me too. Normally I do no photograph birds head-on like this, but in this case I like the way that it gives the catbird a comical, almost cartoonish look.

I like to shoot whatever captures my attention and have a hopeful expectation that the images will turn out ok. I have found that most often when I shoot what I like, I like what I shoot.

Gray Catbird

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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It is normally hard for a male Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) to camouflage itself, but it seemed to blend in pretty well with the brilliant red leaves of these sumac plants last week at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

Northern Cardinal

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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I thought that the Great Egrets (Ardea alba) had already left our area, so I was pleasantly surprised to see this one on Tuesday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The egret was perched on the ruins of a duck blind sticking out of the water and spent most of the time that I observed it preening and simply surveying the surroundings.

As I moved about trying to compose the shot, I was fortunate to be able to get an angle in which the colors of the autumn foliage were visible in the background. The autumn colors in my area are somewhat muted, but beautiful nonetheless.

Great Egret

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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