Monday, January 27, 2014

Photography around Paris ~ Palais Garnier

I've been cranky lately.

My prior two posts have been rants and challenges about camera equipment, how we think about it, and what we really know about what's important in images.  You see, I made a mistake of looking at an on-line forum and saw that questions regarding what is "best" or what is the "sharpest" lens remain evergreen topics.  I shouldn't have looked.  Really.  I don't like being that worked up for other people's problems of reality.  I need to simply stay away so I can concentrate my energies on image making and the exploration of image art.

Yesterday, Jude suggested we visit the Palais Garnier Opera House.

We'd never been before.  Sure, we'd been to Paris as tourists many times and we moved here two years ago.  Somehow, the Palais Garnier never rose to the top of our list of things to do.  After discussing the possibility of visiting the Little Corporal at Invalids, the opera house won out.  There's always time for death and destruction and so little time for beauty.

Into a driving rain we dove and up to the metro we went.  It was nice and warm in the metro and we knew that would change at metro stop Opera when we re-emerged at ground level.

The good thing about rain, and cold and winter too for that matter, is that it tends to keep the Pesky Tourists to a minimum.  Sure, the Chinese Hoards still show up, but nearly everyone else stays away.  The ticket line was non-existent and we were "in like a cheap suit."

As we approached the staircase I knew I'd chosen the right way to photograph the adventure.  Floating ISO (200 to 1600 on this particular device), set to Program mode, with the image style set to B&W.  Saving files in both RAW and jpg is a great trick when using in-camera "filters", or whatever the marketing guys like to call such things.  If needed, I could always rework the RAW file as it retained all the original information of the scene in color.  Only the jpg was in this case saved in B&W.

I wasn't prepared for how incredible the Palais Garnier is.  I'd read about it, which didn't amount to much.  Reading and experiencing something can be two completely different things.  Such was this opera house.

The light in the Palais is beyond description.  The marble carved balustrades and stairs are lush and rich.  The bronze castings are voluptuous.  Incredible opulence, all of it.  I could see why the Rich and Famous love this place.

As I wandered from space to space, from room to room, I let each scene unfold before me.  When I saw something that I liked, I tried hard not to over-think the composition or the subject.  I simply raised the camera and hit the button.  I let all that modern technology that comes in current digital cameras do what it was meant to do, while freeing my mind and vision to respond on an emotional level.

The curator of the Portland, Oregon gallery that was started by students of Minor White has been following something called "miksang".  Doctor Scott Jones explained it to me as a way of photographing something without engaging it in what has become the traditional photographers way of making images.  Look at his site and perhaps you'll see what I mean.

I can't say I was able to enter the Open Mind state as I photographed the Palais Garnier.  What I can say is that I very much enjoy the fact that I now have over forty images that please me in ways I was unprepared to experience.

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