Thursday, 31 January 2013

City With A View


Paris iPhone Photo Chronicles
~ City With A View ~

City With A View by Paris Set Me Free
City With A View, a photo by Paris Set Me Free on Flickr.


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This particular picture is pleasing for one very good reason: you can't see the enormous bland panelled structure they've build on the square in front of Notre Dame to celebrate its 850th anniversary. It's hiding behind the buildings on the left.

It's a bit like the reason pictures of the Eiffel Tower taken from the top of the Montparnasse Tower are great because you can't see the Montparnasse Tower in them.

Talking of high-up view points, these are my favourites: the top of the nearest tower we can see in this picture, the top of the steps at Sacré Coeur, the roof of Galeries Lafayette (and in the past La Samaritaine), the top of the staircases of the Pompidou Centre, and the belvedere in the Parc des Buttes Chaumont.

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And what about low-down views, I think to myself. Well, I'm particularly fond of the ups and downs of the Père Lachaise cemetery, as well as the ups and downs of the Parc Montsouris. It seems like I have a certain something for ups and downs, doesn't it?

And for completely flat, I suppose I'd have to say the banks of the Seine around the islands, cliché that it is. And the Luxembourg and Tuileries gardens with their iconic chairs are always a pleasure, as is the much quieter Palais Royal garden. Not forgetting the classic Parc Monceau.

But perhaps my favourite thing of all is wandering around aimlessly between these places, keeping a look out for the odd new sculpture or statue or happening of some sort or another. Is your favourite place given above or somewhere completely different? Maybe you favour a lesser-known more local park to your neighbourhood like the Parc André Citroen, the Parc Kellerman, the Parc de la Butte du Chapeau Rouge, the Parc Georges Brassens or the mouthful of the Parc Clichy-Batignolles-Martin Luther King. Or perhaps you prefer one of the more modest squares or places too numerous to mention.

Then again, if you're one of the 0.1% of the population who consider the Montparnasse Tower one of the shining architectural Parisian accomplishments of the 20th century you'll undoubtedly appreciate the Jardin Atlantique, affording a splendid view over said edifice. Over to you!



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Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free - Contact me directly for photo tours, interviews, exhibitions, etc.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Black & White & Burnished All Over


Paris iPhone Photo Chronicles
~ Black & White & Burnished All Over ~



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You will let me know when you're starting to get really sick of Paris snow pictures, won't you? I only have about five left which I haven't commented on yet, and a Paris photo shoot is coming up this weekend, so hopefully new material will be on its way shortly.

Poor old Dalida must have had enough of it anyway, with her utterly inappropriate attire for the time of year. This shot is at the other end of my 'most popular shot ever' or something near it, taken from the other end of Rue de l'Abreuvoir - watering trough street - showing that cute little pink house, inventively known as 'La Maison Rose' - the pink house...

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Someone pointed out that one, well, two parts of her don't seem to be suffering from the cold so much, thanks to the continual caressing they receive from enthusiastic if disrespectful snappers from the world over. This is true, but because I seem to always end up getting to this point every time I publish a pic of her I'll stop the story there.

It's funny, though, with the help of a little post-processing, admittedly, that the picture is almost black and white, apart from the aforementioned rubbed bits.

I should probably focus a bit more on statues than I do. There are so many wonderful ones around the city. My problem, though, is always that I'm aware I'm simply recording someone else's art, with is practically anathema to me.

What I generally try to do is make the statue look like an actual person and try and record them as though I were taking a portrait of them. This doesn't quite work here, because for one thing you can see that her torso is stuck into a hefty piece of granite. And secondly she's utterly armless, which isn't the most flattering of characteristics for a diva such as her.

Anyway, enough waffling, I'll be on the lookout for other statues to personify in the near future, although in the 20th, where I'm heading on Sunday, it's more likely to be graffiti which catches my eye, and my lens. Watch this space.



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Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Yellow Red Blue


Paris iPhone Photo Chronicles
~ Yellow Red Blue ~

Yellow Red Blue by Paris Set Me Free
Yellow Red Blue, a photo by Paris Set Me Free on Flickr.


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This picture inspired a poem, look, here it is. I wouldn't rate it amongst my best, but the words needed to get out there, and so they did.

There was something about the colours. The red symbolising passion or perhaps anger. The yellow for cowardice. And the blue, although it doesn't look blue in the photo, for sadness. The blue bit, I think, is around the word Saint-Georges and the metro number.

The rhyming pattern is a bit unusual, as is my mood right now. It goes:

a a
- a
b b
c c

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It's probably been done before, but I can't remember having done so myself. It's nice to try something new. I tried to include heaps of things which shared the colour, either literally or metaphorically, in each verse. You'll have to see for yourself if it works or not, but I didn't want it to be too obvious. I don't want to treat my readers like idiots or babies, and it's nice to work stuff out for yourself too.

Mind you, I didn't write about letter boxes or metro signs either, so the influence of the picture on the poem is purely symbolic with those three primary colours. It's a shame the blue didn't come out. But then in the processing of the photo I was going for an over-saturated, constrasty, 60s or 70s type of feel. That works except it should probably have been a bit more washed out after the over-saturating, if that isn't a contradiction in terms. It's all good. Just got to keep on producing. That's the discipline.



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Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free - Contact me directly for photo tours, interviews, exhibitions, etc.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Nonesuch Nonsense


Paris iPhone Photo Chronicles
~ Nonesuch Nonsense ~

Nonesuch Nonsense by Paris Set Me Free
Nonesuch Nonsense, a photo by Paris Set Me Free on Flickr.


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Imagine you receive a letter. You open it. Inside is another envelope, stamped and addressed to someone who is unknown to you, of the opposite sex. There is no message inside, no return address, and you don't recognise the writing, but the second letter clearly contains something. And it's marked 'URGENT' and 'CONFIDENTIAL'. Would you send it on? Or open it. You could not open the letter without it being obvious you had done so.

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Another thing I can offer you is the chance to discover Spell and O Children by Nick Cave or the equally sublime Let England Shake, The Glorious Land and On Battleship Hill by P J Harvey. And if you're listening P.J... well, you know.

Don't say I didn't warn you. Don't say anything; words are such sorry soldiers... (all hail the minor chord)

And finally, back by popular demand, well, err, just me, like, y'know. Me and my dog, doing me and my doggish things. Found a bone. Fixed the printer. Scratched my balls, despatched my scrawls... Now there's a post for the anthology!

Consider it a snapshot I let slip out. I'm done with coherence - what's so great about coherence anyway. I think there should be more totally incoherent posts like this one, the world would be a less coherent but immeasurably happier place, I'm convinced of it.

By the way... did you open the letter? What was inside?



And why not...
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© 2013 
Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free - Contact me directly for photo tours, interviews, exhibitions, etc.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Human Foibles & Frog Heads


Paris iPhone Photo Chronicles
~ Human Foibles & Frog Heads ~

Human Foibles by Paris Set Me Free
Human Foibles, a photo by Paris Set Me Free on Flickr.


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In a little ridge on the plastic base of my computer screen are three items: a spring, a shell and a stone.

Without realising why I put them there, I'm now starting to see a certain subconscious reasoning.

The spring represents the resolutely man-made, the manufactured, the utilitarian, the prosaic.

The shell is the wonder of unthinking creation, the living world, the marvels of the natural planet and life upon it.

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And the stone, a little polished piece of pink quartz as it happens, stands for cold, unrelenting chemical processes, and why not the beauty which can stem from them as perceived by us, 'God's' little creatures.

You can probably tell I'm not the biggest fan of crystal therapy, can't you? Although there's something nice about turning that stone between finger and thumb. I'm just thinking it would be even better if man hadn't tampered with it as it now, in its shiny state, represents a bridge between the inert and the all-too busy.

My picture, curiously, represents the self-same things. The chair is the spring; the birds are the shell, and the totally whited-out snow is the stone. I've even tampered with the rendering of the white stuff so that it really is, pure, white. A bit like the person who 'tampered' with the rough rock, turning it into a candy box representation of its rugged origins. Like a product shot. Everything perverted by man and his devices.

I also have a pink pig picture holder, two china tortoises from my childhood and a green fluffy pen with a frog's head on top on my desk. What this says about me is anyone's guess. And you?



And why not...
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© 2012 
Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free - Contact me directly for photo tours, interviews, exhibitions, etc.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

The Snow Must Go On


Paris iPhone Photo Chronicles
~ The Snow Must Go On ~

The Snow Must Go On by Paris Set Me Free
The Snow Must Go On, a photo by Paris Set Me Free on Flickr.


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This pic got 500 people 'Liking' it and 50 comments about how nice it was when I posted it on Facebook. That's very gratifying, especially considering I didn't rate it so highly, either when I took it or afterwards, although I did like it a lot.

There must have been something about the combination of snow, and muted colours and perhaps the rather aimless-looking people and the overall atmosphere which pleased and caught people's imaginations.

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There are quite a few corners like this in Paris, but getting the right combination of elements, including what not to put in the pics - bright green rubbish bins, the back of tourists' heads, white vans... - is not at all easy.

In the end it must have been the snow that did the trick. I'm simply annoyed I didn't spend more time than I did trying to get more pics like this. In fact I was fairly breezing past all these wonderful spots in an effort to complete a north-to-centre Paris hike in record time. Not that I'd done it before. It took me an hour and a half in the end. But in the end I was foolish not to have slowed down and done more snapping, especially considering I was alone in my endeavours.

What is it about a covering of the white stuff which charms people so? I mean, it's cold, slippery, messes up the transport system and prevents us from going about our daily grind in our usual efficient manner. It must be all those childhood Christmas cards, I suppose, and snowmen, and excited children running and laughing, and a certain feeling of the world stood still and things not being as bad as we thought they were, even if it's just for a moment.

P.S. I've just noticed that there is a green bin in this shot, but it kind of goes nicely with the door and the shutters, err, doesn't it?



And why not...
_________________________________________________________________________________
© 2012 
Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free - Contact me directly for photo tours, interviews, exhibitions, etc.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Fine-Tuning The F-Factor


Paris iPhone Photo Chronicles
~ Fine-Tuning The F-Factor ~



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I don't normally publish my 'Sab's Totally Crap Paris' photos here on my Paris and I blog, trying to keep things nice and tidy, but there's something irresistible about the way this bombshelled building bulges out its bolshiness towards me begging me to blah-blah about it or some related blether. Enough with the letter b already. It sometimes gets the better of me.

Believe it or not, the latest book I'm reading is called f**k it therapy, subtitled the profane way to profound happiness. Apropos of nothing in particular, it's just what I happen to have on my bedside table at the moment, although it strikes me that this is a bit of a f**k it building. Not giving a damn.

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The overriding philosophy of the book seems to be not giving a hoot (or a h**t) about what other people think; throwing off all the 'learned' shackles and constraints to our perception of ourselves and way of being, and breaking out of our self-imposed prisons to live the lives we really want to live. Cool. My sort of book.

There's also the idea that we'll be more successful if we f**k it because we will be more natural, happier and this will be recognised and appreciated by other people. We'll see. I'll give it a go. If even a little of their approach rubs off it should be a positive thing.

Grim reality can bite sometimes, but they use the metaphor of a prison, and in particular the ones we can't see or don't even realise we are in. With lots of examples. Like the prison of doing what other people want, or the prison of lack of self-esteem. It's all good stuff. The same stuff I often read wrapped up in new clothes, but good stuff nevertheless.

This blog's a bit of a f**k it blog. The asterisks are the author's, by the way. I take photos of what I like and say what I like, hoping I get some readers, of course, but not trying to please anyone in particular.

No doubt this building will eventually be renovated and normal Parisian streetside service will be resumed and few will be any the wiser. But we'll know that there was once a building on this corner that dared to say f**k it to the usual Paris norms of respectability! Are we brave enough to do the same?



And why not...
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© 2012 
Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free - Contact me directly for photo tours, interviews, exhibitions, etc.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

All In A Flurry


Paris iPhone Photo Chronicles
~ All In A Flurry ~

All In A Flurry by Paris Set Me Free
All In A Flurry, a photo by Paris Set Me Free on Flickr.


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Today is the first day for two months when I haven't needed to write at least two Paris Photo Chronicles and I can't tell you (well, ok, I'm about to) what a relief it is. It's a relief.

Around mid September I got behind. Big time. My iPhone - you know that fancy device I've been using to take photos with for this very blog for nearly three years... - conked out. Stopped working. Gave up the ghost. And so did this blog.

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It was only two months later, in mid-November, that I finally got my new iPhone 5 and was able to resume normal service. I was determined not to have a yawning gap in my Fabulous Output, and so I went at it at double quick time.

So for 60 days, including over the Christmas period, I produced an average of two Paris Photo Chronicles a day instead of one. That's 120 pieces in two months. Heaven knows what happened to the quality, if it had ever been there. I hardly dare go back and read what I wrote, but so be it. It's done.

Now I'm soaring like the bird in this picture - you knew I'd get a link in somewhere, didn't you? - with a feeling of freedom like a weight's been lifted.

One piece per day from now on, usually first thing in the morning, et voilà! My only worry is that I'm going away for over a month in a while - will I be able to keep up the production rate? Based on my recent painful experience I'm determined not to get behind again. In fact it's so easy to produce a significant body of work if you just do a little every day - frighteningly easy. But most people don't do it.

As you know, I'm an impulsive sort, and terribly impatient - can't stand hanging around for things like novels or even short stories to fall out of my head, and so I blog. It's the ideal medium for me. But that's enough about me and not enough about Paris. See you tomorrow, same time, same place for some more, probably snowy, flurrying Paris fun.



And why not...
_________________________________________________________________________________
© 2012 
Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free - Contact me directly for photo tours, interviews, exhibitions, etc.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

White Out


Paris iPhone Photo Chronicles
~ White Out ~

White Out by Paris Set Me Free
White Out, a photo by Paris Set Me Free on Flickr.


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Christmas trees still up outside the Mairie of the 18th arrondissement here in Paris. Covered in snow - very fetching, and it's not even fake.

I got to them very quickly from my start at Porte de Clignancourt up in the north. In fact my entire walk from the outskirts to the centre only took me an hour and a half, much less than I thought it would, even through heavy snow.

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Which brings home the fact that Paris is a fairly small city, as great cities go. Another hour and a half, maximum, and I could have been leaving by the southern door at Porte d'Orléans had I so wished; so much for the city of light.

Walking transversally or even following the Seine would probably take about the same time. I did a walk last year where, starting out at Pont National, we crossed all the bridges as we made our way into the centre. That was fun. Silly, but fun. I've yet to do the other half from the west, which will take longer.

All of this to introduce the fact that I'll be doing quite a few walks this year if all goes accordiing to plan so if you happen to be in town look out for them on the Paris If You Please Meet Up group and come along - it'll be great to see you. But leave the snow at home if you don't mind. Until next winter in any case.



And why not...
_________________________________________________________________________________
© 2012 
Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free - Contact me directly for photo tours, interviews, exhibitions, etc.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Cut The Pooh, Dude


Paris iPhone Photo Chronicles
~ Cut The Pooh, Dude ~

Cut The Pooh, Dude by Paris Set Me Free
Cut The Pooh, Dude, a photo by Paris Set Me Free on Flickr.


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Well, I finished the book I told you about at the beginning of the year - 'The 10-Second Philosophy' - the one I was excited about, but in the end I was a bit disappointed.

I should have got the warning signals from the sub-title: A Practical Guide to Releasing Your Inner Genius. It sounded great in the bookshop, but then again, that's what blurb writers are paid for, isn't it?

He kept going on for so long and so often about the need to live in 'your TrueSelf' as opposed to your NonSelf, not to mention how brilliant he is now that he does so 'all the time', he started to lose me and it was as much as I could do to finish the thing. Here's an example:

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"With practice you'll be able to access your inner self or Truth in seconds, and then just by thinking about it - then you will have TrueSelf access. When it feels right you'll be able to access this place with your eyes open and in conversation, presenting, watching, reading or studying. When you do this, you'll begin noticing what you notice, and this will cause you to pay more relaxed attention to your TrueSelf and trust whatever positive messages come from that place - whether it's knowledge, an impulse, or an idea."

And so it went on. I liked his initial idea about not being obsessed by goals but more by living by daily standards so that you get the most out of each moment. That sounds fine. 'So live for today - Tomorrow never comes...' as Black Sabbath sang once, but even that's hardly earth-shatteringly original.

And he likes capitalisation of Important Words. The only person I've ever trusted who did that was Winnie the Pooh, as in "It's a Useful Pot," said Pooh. "Here it is." That's straightforward and unthreatening. TrueSelf and NonSelf sound cabalistic and cunning.

Which is a shame because there was some good stuff in there. It was just drowning under a ton of fuddled new-agey spiritu-psychobabble. And if there's someone that don't wash well with... well, you know who. Not that I'm the insensitive kind, you understand...



And why not...
_________________________________________________________________________________
© 2012 
Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free - Contact me directly for photo tours, interviews, exhibitions, etc.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Split Rails & Finger Nails


Paris iPhone Photo Chronicles
~ Split Rails & Finger Nails ~



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There was a guy lying in his sleeping bag, under a tarpaulin, motionless, outside the boulangerie I got my pain au raisin at this morning just off Nation in eastern Paris.

He could have been dead; the snow was piled up against his (hopefully) slumbering bulk.

It's a tough time for the homeless, but also for all those who have to work outside, like these characters I passed on the train on my way into the city this morning.

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Standing in the middle of the mass of spaghetti known as Juvisy, they were probably checking for split rails which, surprisingly, we don't seem to have had the pleasure of enduring so far this cold spell.

If you look closely, their uniforms match the colours of the doors on the train behind them. I know, I know...

Street sweepers would share their lot but I haven't seen too many of them out there, for pretty obvious reasons. What I have seen all over the place is everyone from little old ladies to teams of a dozen pompiers (firemen) tackling the snow and ice with everything from old brooms and picks to professional looking gadgets and gizmos. In no particular order.

And brave teams of 'rescue workers' checking on as many of those on the street as possible.

Luckily, and I'm grateful for it, frozen fingered photographers can pop into any given café for some warm relief in the form of a café crème and a croissant. The right side of the city of light. If you happen to be on it.



And why not...
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© 2013 
Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free - Contact me directly for photo tours, interviews, exhibitions, etc.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Road To Nowhere


Paris iPhone Photo Chronicles
~ Road To Nowhere ~

Road To Nowhere by Paris Set Me Free
Road To Nowhere, a photo by Paris Set Me Free on Flickr.


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I organised two walks today as part of a very innovative concept.

One group would set off from the very south of Paris and the other from the very north. And guess what? We'd meet in the middle for coffee - great!

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Only God decided to dump a few million tons of snow on the city and no-one came. So I walked the route alone, and jolly nice it was too! You'll be seeing some of the shots I got over the next few days.

Scared off by a light sprinkling of the white stuff, I ask you. Pathetic! Oh, and it was damn cold of course. Thanks again God.

I was surprised at how quickly I covered the snow-encrusted ground from the Porte de Clignancourt to Ile de la Cité - it only took me an hour and a half - amazing. But I wasn't hanging around, you understand, not with temperatures like ours.

The friendly Aussie who gave me a great write-up the other day risked getting seriously stranded on her way back down under, so I hope she made it. And to cap it all, they had the natural disaster film The Day After on the telly this evening. How apt.



And why not...
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© 2012 
Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free - Contact me directly for photo tours, interviews, exhibitions, etc.
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