Lessons from Paris

Jeanne d'Arc, listening to her voices

Jeanne d'Arc, listening to her voices


Well, I’m about halfway through scanning my best negatives from a week’s visit in Paris (some pictures in the post below this) and it’s time for a reconing.

Things I liked:

  • The authorities let you take photos in the museums. On the other hand, in the Louvre, bags you want to take into the exhibition are x-rayed as in airports. Supposedly film-safe, and even the Fujifilm 1600 made it through several of those unfogged.
  • The photo opportunities inside the museums are endless, and I’m not only talking about “copying” artwork (see below). Everyone snaps away with their digicam at their beloved in front of the Mona Lisa, so they don’t realize or even mind you doing “street photography” in the exhibition halls. How do our American brethren say? Shooting fish in a barrel.
  • The F6, a 35 mm lens and Fujifilm Neopan 1600 inside worked well for that.
  • Of course, you don’t visit the Louvre to only go people-watching. More serious involvement with the artworks is encouraged. I tried my hand at sketching (and was nary the only one), my son wrote musical score inspired by what he saw, but with pen and paper we had chosen fairly compact hardware. There were copyists working in oil on canvasses nearly as large as the original humungous works. They must have used the freight elevators or streched the canvas on the frame in loco.

Things I found curious:

  • A japanese tourist in the Musée d’Orsay methodically going from picture to picture copying them with his DSLR, occasionally checking colour and sharpness on the back screen. Hard at work, hardly feeling the pictures.
  • The goldring scam performed on us four times, three times by the same woman that lingered around the Louvre in gypsy-ish looking clothes. Some people have a bad memory for faces.
  • Our hotel in the Montmartre quarter. It could as well have been the set for the last scenes in “The Matrix”, only in a peach colour scheme. You allmost expected Agent Smith to come around a corner with pistol drawn. And the rooms had all the spaciousness of a sailingboat’s cabin. Go above three stars next time!
  • Scooter drivers have all the fun in Parisian traffic. And no regard for red lights, impossible gaps and pedestrians. Don’t get run over by them!

Things I didn’t especially like:

  • Picking up a gastrointestinal infection from our first night’s dinner at a restaurant. The facilities in the Louvre are top-notch, though. I’ve visited them all …
  • Scannning the best negatives from 14 rolls of film I shot in 5 days. My Konica-Minolta film scanner is slooooow and on his last legs, I guess, but it helps to be critical of every image on the contact sheet and cull them rigorously. I’ve yet to print the best in the darkroom, another whittling-down selection process comes before that. Note to self: the next shiny thing is to be a faster film scanner.

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