Another Diversion: Macro Photography

We are still in photography class instead of travelling. This week, we worked with extensions tubes to use normal zoom lenses for macro work. We took some interesting pictures of liquid drops. Two of them are shown here. These pictures capture milk being added to coffee. We call the first E.T. and the second The Wizard.

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A little diversion: high-speed photography

We travel when we can and are mostly travel photographers. However, we are at home now and decided to take a photography class. One of our assignments required us to experiment with flash, so we decided to use sound-activated flash. Normally, sound triggers are pretty expensive. However, we found something called Trigger Trap that costs $47 at B&H (this isn’t an ad – we are just telling you what we used).

The Trigger Trap uses an iPad or iPhone  application to detect sound and emit a sound via the headphone jack (sorry iPhone 7 users). We put the camera in bulb mode in a dark room and attached the trigger to an off-camera flash.

We then got an unbreakable plastic glass, filled it with colored water, and dropped it into a plastic pan. The sound of the glass hitting the pan triggered the flash. Everything was set on manual in the camera (including focus) and the flash was in manual mode to minimize shooting delays. We had a lot of trials and the photos below show some of the better results.

As an aside, we also tried using the Trigger Trap with an Android phone. It very rarely worked. A little Googling showed us that, when sending sound to the headphones, Android phones have a longer time lag  than iPhones and iPads. Normally, this doesn’t make the slightest bit of difference, but it this case it caused us to miss too many shots.

We would include the photo specs for these images, but they don’t really mean much since the flash itself determined the exposure. With the flash at 1/8 power, we found that f/8 or f/9 was reasonable. A remote trigger was used to open the camera shutter and close it after dropping the glass. The shutter timing did not require any precision.

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The Acropolis of Athens

As almost every tourist in Athens does, we climbed the long hill to the Acropolis (i.e., High City) last September as part of a guided walking tour of the city.

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Acropolis of Athens

The entrance to the Acropolis is through a gateway called the Propylaea.

In 1975, reconstruction efforts began to fully restore the Acropolis and its artifacts from mechanical, chemical, and biological damage.  Restoration of the relatively small temple of Athena Nike, just south of the Propylaea gateway, was completed in 2010.

The greatest structure on the Acropolis, and the best known, is the Parthenon, which  was dedicated to Athena, the Greek goddess of war and wisdom.  In addition to on-going damage since its completion in 438 B.C., the Parthenon was further damaged by an earthquake in 1981.

Near the Parthenon is the temple known as the Erechtheion, which was actually the most holy place on the Acropolis. It is most famous for the columns on one porch  (the Kore) carved in the shape of women, the Caryatids. One of the early restoration projects, the Erechtheion was completely restored between 1979 and 1987.

There were originally six columns but one was “rescued” by the English in the early 1800s. That column is now on display in the British Museum.

The night after our tour, we took our cameras and captured various views of the Acropolis  from the city below. The renovation scaffolding will remain in view for future visitors for at least another decade.

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Acropolis of Athens

Rue Dénoyez: Paris Street Art

Before visiting Paris in September this year, I asked a fellow blogger where the best street art can be found. Without hesitation, the answer was Rue Dénoyez. This one-car-wide lane  is lined with abandoned stores with grilled and shuttered windows, with brick sidewalks indistinguishable from the street except for the shallow gutters and the stanchions that establish the pedestrian right-of-way on both sides.  A long stretch of sidewalk on one side is inexplicable blocked, tucked behind a temporary (?) metal panel and wire barrier, but the original wall behind is still visible. At least half of the length of this two-block street is covered in colorful street art – every wall, window, trash can, flower pot, and even some of the stanchions.

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Rue Dénoyez Long View from Rue de Belleville

At the entrance to the street from the Rue Ramponeau end, at 3 rue Dénoyez, is the trendy restaurant le Desnoyez.

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Restaurant le Desnoyez

While some of the foot traffic on Rue Dénoyez is clearly local citizenry taking a shortcut to somewhere else (this street is extremely convenient to the Paris Métro), there are usually a few tourists wandering slowly down the street and back, studying each image, trying to understand what it means to the person who created it. Is it a political statement or just humor? Who is the boy pictured lower right below? His eyes suggest a sad story.

We zigzagged slowly down the street, taking pictures of whatever caught our eye. There were only a few other persons on the street also interested in the art. It occurred to me that I might not want to be on this street after dark, but I felt safe enough in the bright sunlight. (Rue Dénoyez is located at the edge of the 20th arrondissement of Paris and is very near the locations of the terrorist attacks of November, 2015.)

Reaching the unofficial end of the display, I decided to take more pictures of art I had skipped on the first pass. I turned and worked my way back up the street, totally engrossed in capturing the extraordinary images. About halfway back, I became aware that we were the only two people on the street – except for four tall uniformed policemen carrying long automatic weapons and staring at us. They had appeared from nowhere! I “calmly” took one last photograph, and as we walked past them, I said “Bonjour” to one of them. We “calmly” walked back to the entrance of the street and turned to see the street empty behind us. They had vanished again.

If you are ever in Paris and would like to see the current version of this frequently-changing street art, then ride the Paris Métro to the Belleville station on Line 2 and Line 11. Exiting the Métro station, walk east one short block on Rue de Belleville, and then turn right (south) onto Rue Dénoyez.

You could combine a visit to Rue Dénoyez with a visit to Père Lachaise Cemetery, also a great photography destination. The cemetery is also on Paris Métro Line 2, only four stops away at the Philippe Auguste station, which exits at the main entrance to the cemetery. (The Père Lachaise station, while only three stops away on Line 2, exits near a side entrance that is closed to the public.)