Thursday, October 28, 2010

Crazy charming chimneys, France

And... texture, texture, yummy texture...

Inside of a sunset cruise boat, Phuket, Thailand

This photo was taken with a Panasonic instantmatic camera with a Leica lens that I had on me at the time.  I like this photo for all the combination of textures and the odd alignment of fabrics next to metallic nuts and bolts, stamped on roughly hewn planks of wood, strung with wiry metals.  If only I had a pro camera (and a smoother body of ocean), I think this pic might have a chance to really stand out. 

Fishing boat, Phuket, Thailand

Had some help with the post processing of this photo. 

M for Marais, Paris 2010

Le Madeleine sublime

Corinthian in architecture, 52 columns to be exact, each 20 metres high, all wrapping around the building. Le Madeleine is a Roman Catholic church in Paris consecrated to Mary Magdalene that stands stoic, built to glorify the prowess of Napolean's army in 1763.  Am wondering what gentle Mary would have though about that?! More suitable if if was built for Joan of Arc, but anyway, I digress...

Today, the Madeleine play host to many stylish Parisian weddings. By day, it is quite grey, cold, silent and just massive to be frank, towering over a section of Paris that is dotted with world famous food stores and eateries like Fauchon, Hediard and Maison de Truffles. By night, warm lighting renders it more welcoming.  The French definitely know how to light their monuments!

I shot these pics with a 135 mm zoom lens. Again, not as tack sharp as I like, but it's some images.

The real windows of Place Vendome, Paris

Place Vendome is a famous square, lauded for its architecture in the 1st arrondissement of Paris, north of the charming Tuileries Garden.  It used to be the luxurious residence of many famous people, including Coco Chanel (Number 15), Frederic Chopin (Number 12) and the mistress of Napolean III, Countess di Castiglione who lived in seclusion for over 20 years at number 26. Nowadays, it is home to a glittering circle of the world's top brands of couture jewellery including Van Cleef & Arpels, Piaget, Chaumet, Cartier and Bvlgari.
And while I like a shiny bauble as much as the next girl, as you can see....what really caught my eye and imagination were the windows a few stories up from the shop entrances that provided brief glimpses into what could be the drawing rooms of well heeled Parisians, or the private room to host VIP clients of these jewellery makers. The lights are always so warm, richly yellow and beckoning, and there is always a chandelier to cast shadows on nearby ornate walls.  One can't help but wonder what kind of whispered conversations or glass tinkling peals of laughter goes on behind these windows.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Scrooge's book shop, Marais

After I took these two photos, the book shop owner returned from an errand with a face that has lived a thousand years. His gait evoked the character of "Scrooge" from Dickens' "A Christmas Carol". If only I was brazen enough, I would have asked him right there and then as he slowly unlocked his shop to let me take a pic of him. However, being truly "Scrooge" like in both vibe and visage, I hesitated and the moment passed. Missed opportunity indeed.

Art du jour, Rue de Rivoli and Marais

Sculpture by Bruno Catalano
Artist: Unknown, regretfully.

Friday, October 22, 2010

The most photographed city in the world?

It would have to be Paris.

Normally, I can put away my camera after a few shots in a foreign city, but even on the third day in this metropolis, I would still find myself walking around with my camera lens cap permanently off, ready to snap at anything beautiful or unique, any second of the clock, around any bend.

Paris, said a friend of mine, was built for the world to visit.  So, you got to give it to the French for playing permanent global host with an even keel, often with grace, humour... and not losing it with so many tourists invading their city!;)

If you look carefully at the above photo, you will see there's about four photos being taken at the exact same time, my photo being the fourth capturing the three.:)

There is definitely a profound connection between Paris and photography.

Bicycles in the Marais...

If you only have time to do a few shops in Paris...

....make sure you duck in here to see the most amazing display of designs and style expressions ever gathered in one shop. Colette is simply one of the most amazing platforms for any designers, upcoming or established to be stocked at. I was totally blown away by the goods in here and the merchandising skills.  Art seeped from every corner. Every item carefully selected and displayed.  Hermes even has presence in here, which apparently, is rare, hence... a huge endorsement for this high end retail outlet.

Lil' enfant Red Riding Hood, dancing to Verdi, Rue St. Honore

Not as 'sharp as tack' a photo as it could be; I need a steadier hand or a tripod. 

Mixed patterns in a Parisian hotel lobby

Freemason's Hall of the United Grand Lodge of England, London

If I am not wrong, this is the mothership for those who know the secret handshake

I entered the Hall thinking there might be interesting things to photograph in there, only to be told to leave, very quickly. Guess it's definitely not open to women, or they were concerned about the size of my Canon lens. :) 
I guess a Knight of the Templar is still entitled to a smoke break! 

Arches and hall ways, Place Des Vosges

And to think that Victor Hugo has once upon a time ago, strolled under these arches... if only these pillars can talk! 

Cafe Angelina, Rue Rivoli

The cafe was jam packed with tourists! 

Escargot with basil sauce and butter, Paris

Thursday, October 21, 2010

People VS pension reforms, St. Michel, Paris

"Do you hear the people sing? 
Singing a song of angry men?
It is the music of a people
Who will not be slaves again!
When the beating of your heart
Echoes the beating of the drums
There is a life about to start
When tomorrow comes! " 
                                    - Les Miserables 

Wow, this guy staring right at my camera in above pic could well play Javert in Victor Hugo's amazing tale, Les Miserables! :)

The Chanel - out of the box, experience

This post is dedicated to all my female friends who understand and appreciate the thrill of FINALLY owning a classic Chanel hand bag.  My visit to Paris recently was not only to soak in the French beauty and be inspired by the art de vivre of this amazing city, but to also take back home some of that inspiration, so that I may breathe life back into a personal project, long forgotten.

And I did just that, and in the process, not only found unabashed joy in the pastries, wines, the steak tartares, museums, and the countless cafes, but also in the way Parisian people carry themselves, not to mention the grace in every corner and crevice of every ornate building in what is, IMHO, the most beautiful city in the world.

Incredibly, my moment of reckoning with the French's style and artistic influence on the world was never greater than that first moment when I walked across the hallowed turf of THE Chanel store on Rue Cambon, where Coco Chanel herself used to live in an apartment above.  My mission - to purchase and own my first ever Chanel bag.

Et voila!  One beautifully made, jumbo size, black, with gold chains bag later, and it seems like a life long love affair has been born.

Notably, the service at this store was first rate, but the wrapping of my purchase was something else altogether inspiring! Here now, is a photo by photo look of the Chanel bag in an "out of the box" (and an out of this world) experience.

To my friends who care... Enjoy babes, this one is written for you!! ;)

Shakespeare Bookstore, from the very cool movie "Before Sunset"

Hark! a book store, so beautiful and so rare! "Be still my beating heart...!" This was the Paris set of the opening scene of Before Sunset, one of my most favourite movies ever, staring the deeply talented and thoughtful bohemian that is Ethan Hawke and the tres chic et charming Julie Delpy.  I was beside myself from finding this place enroute the Notre Dame. Amazing!

Rue Cambon, at night

Where Coco Chanel used to keep an apartment

Androgyny at its best

This is one of my favourite people shots in Paris. I don't think this guy was aware that I took a photo of him. For me, what made him special was that he was just the perfect picture of stillness. He seemed oblivious to all around him, including the way I was looking at him through my lens, like I would examine an art painting I was drawn to.
I imagined that he was standing there in the Tuileries Garden, waiting for a friend, a guy or a girl it was immaterial. That I found him very beautiful...melancholy but youthful and heartbreakingly stylish; made me feel so pleased with myself that I managed to capture this image in the first place!  I can't help but think that one of my favourite street fashion bloggers - The Sartorialist - might also approve of this shot.  I am obviously very inspired by Scott Schuman's work:)   I also like the back light of this pic; the sunset was sinking behind this vision of androgyny you see.  It also underpins a question I have... are French men on the whole, quite feminine looking? And is that necessarily not as desired as some alpha males in the US and Australia as some of my friends have alluded to?

Foliage and side glances

One of my favourite photos that I took in Paris.  I like the composition (by chance no doubt!) and the colours in play in this image.