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Photographing Paris

A year has now past since I was fortunate enough to be able to call Paris my home. I am now living in Toronto again where I spent most of my life growing up.

When I said farewell to Paris, I left feeling completely heartbroken that my journey had come to an end.  I lived in a quintessential Parisian flat in the 8th arrondissement of Paris just a short walk to Avenue des Champs-Élysées.  I would glance in one direction and be able to lay eyes on the stunning Arc de Triomphe and turn my head the other way and catch a glimpse of Place de la Concorde.

Needless to say, I was not looking forward to moving back to Toronto after living so many years abroad (8 years in the US before France).  I was frightened I would not be able to search deep enough to find any creative inspiration and truthfully, just be bored.  How could one possibly compare the two cities?  Paris is bursting with fascinating history,  extreme elegance and utter romance everywhere your eyes wonder.  As for Toronto, everything appears to be common, newly built and rather uninspiring.

View from top of Sacre Coeur | 1/40 sec f / 11, ISO 160 |

I remember being in Paris about seven years ago, strolling around and thinking to myself, “I could live here.”  I never would have dreamed that would one day it would be a reality.  The architecture is incredible. The streets are overflowing  with fashionably clad people. Everywhere you turn you are surrounded by beauty.

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Notre Dame from Love Locks Bridge | 1/160 sec at f / 8, ISO 100

It wasn’t until the end of my stay in Paris did I develop a deep passion for photography.  When my time in Paris came to a halt, I suddenly had a insatiable desire to return and shoot all the incredible places I would repeatedly pass.  This summer I spent the month of June working part time back in Paris.  After a tiresome day,  I would return to my temporary flat and want to sit back and relax with a nice glass of wine.

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I would then remind myself where I was and then opt to grab my camera and venture off into the Parisian streets.  The effort of lugging around a weighty camera bag along with my tripod required far greater strength when I was taking the metro.  I often take for granted the comfort of  conveniently hopping in and out of my car like I am now used to in Toronto.

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Louvre at sunset | 0.6 sec at f / 29, ISO 100 |

One night I headed out to capture the Eiffel Tower before the sunset.  I thought I would head back to my flat after the sunlight vanished.  I knew I would be too tired to venture off to a new location after.  However, while I was shooting,  my friend Sophia decided to surprise me and and ended up joining me last minute.   From the Eiffel Tower we ended up moving about by scooter in the warm summer night.  We stayed out late shooting, moving about to places such as the Princess Diana memorial and the fountain at Place de la Concorde.  Capturing light trails from the countless speeding cars and scooters down the Champs-Elysees admiring the Arc du Triomphe in the distance was exhilarating.

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Montmarte | 1/500 sec at f / 4, ISO 100 |

There were many evenings I would look out my Juliet balcony during sunset and snap numerous images before the sun finally disappeared below the horizon. There is something really alluring watching the sunlight shine off the Parisian rooftops just before the sun sets.  No matter how many times I looked out the window as the sun was setting, I could never resist grabbing my camera in hopes of capturing a different hued sky than the previous nights.

Arc de Triomphe |

A few times after nightfall, I would walk along the Seine stopping every so often to take images of the city lights reflecting off the meandering calm river.  Often I would wait for a boat to pass by to capture the luminous light trails.  I could walk for hours never getting bored and always finding something alluring to photograph.

Notre Dame along the Seine |

It always amazed me that no matter how many times I have roamed the city and seen the same things innumerable times, I would find myself having to pause, take a deep breath and acknowledge the moment.  It is often times like this when I would reflect back on certain memories and wish I would have taken the time to appreciate them more.  That is was why I promised myself to try and enjoy each moment before I returned to Paris the last time.  It is easy to get caught up behind the camera and countlessly snap images when it is also essential to take in the complete experience and be thankful for all the surrounding beauty.

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Madeleine | 4 sec at f / 25, ISO 100 |

On the days when the sun was hidden behind the clouds, I still wanted to take my camera out and be able to capture the city.  It is fascinating to be able to reflect on my photo gallery and see how different Paris can present itself.  It never disappoints me.

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After midnight at the Louvre | 16 sec at f / 13, ISO 400 |

Another thing I really wanted to do was wake up before sunrise, before the streets became crowed with people hustling about.  I wanted to ride down Champs-Elysees when the streets are scarce of people and witness the glow of the morning sun illuminate the streets.  One Sunday early morning, Sophia and I finally ventured off to the places I had never seen at that time of day.  The city was undoubtedly peaceful and serene at dawn.  I knew in a few hours all these places would be overcrowded with tourists moving about.  It was gratifying to sit in a hushed cafe by Notre Dame and appreciate the uninhabited streets we just finished capturing through our cameras. That particular morning will be a moment I will cherish forever.

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Last night in Paris | June 29th, 2014 |

Even though I had the whole month of June in Paris, towards the end of my stay I felt as if there were plentiful more things I wanted to observe and shoot.  On the eve of my final night, Sophia and I met just before the sun was setting at Musee D’Orsay.  I wanted to capture the final minutes of sunlight glistening off the buildings.  I had a desperate urge to want to seize everything that I hadn’t already done during my time there and felt panicky I was going to regret it once I departed.

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Sunset in Batignolles | 1/25 sec at f / 7.1, ISO 400 |

I left Paris feeling pacified but still yearning for more.  No matter how much time I spend in the city of lights I always leave feeling saddened.  There are not many cities that I have visited that can compare or come close to Paris.  I will always love Paris.  I have many great memories and will always feel like I am leaving a little piece of my heart there every time I say goodbye.

Until we meet again,

Alyssa

https://www.instagram.com/capricebianca

https://www.flickr.com/photos/alyssablack/

 

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