Paris in the Rain

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I love photography. I especially love taking photos in Paris. So, when I heard of a photography workshop that was actually going to take place in Paris, I thought it would be perfect. A friend and fellow photographer was going to take it with me. We could learn more about Paris, maybe some secret little courtyards and streets new to us, and more about photography. Somehow, it turned out that neither would be the case. I won’t mention the name of the teacher or his class, but it turned out basically, to be a waste of time and money. It didn’t help that the three days of the class were held in torrential rain. We are talking wet shoes, dripping hair, water through the raincoat, and umbrellas turned inside-out rain. We frantically took photos anytime it stopped but didn’t have those wonderful blue skies behind monuments that can look so great, such as Sacre Cour. Somehow, the drama of the cathedral is diminished with a gray backdrop. On the last day, we were trudging through the rain along the Seine and the sun magically came out. We had a joyful half hour of sun pouring under the bridges to sparkle on the water, glistening cobblestones, and light reflecting off of buildings. Then it started raining again. We were due to take a trip down the Seine on a Batobus to get a different perspective and we did, but with gray skies behind any monument and rain drops getting on our lenses. I finally got a half-way decent shot of the Eiffel Tower though a window covered in raindrops. We got off the boat at the Eiffel Tower. We thought we would just be going underneath to get some unusual angles until the teacher got in line to go up. That is when the class, except for one student, had a rebellion. I have been on top of the tower on a warm summer day, and stood with chattering teeth in the wind and shade waiting in line to go up to another level or come down. I know it is breezy up there and that, unless the skies are clear and pollution is low, the chances of getting any good photographs is just about zero. I didn’t want to go up and I wasn’t alone. The teacher had a little meltdown of his own going on about how we weren’t ever going to learn anything from him. We didn’t, but it wasn’t because of our failure to go up the Eiffel Tower. So, he and the poor student went up and we went to a nearby restaurant to dry off and warm up. Later, my friend and I got to talking about some things that could have been done differently with the class due to the rain. We planned our own “Rainy Day Tour”. One place that is always great for photos are  museum, like the Louvre or the Orsay. They are full of spectacular sculptures, interesting ceilings and people looking at the art. Photos are not supposed to be taken of paintings using flash, although that certainly doesn’t stop some tourists. I’ve gotten some good photos using my digital camera. Paris is full of wonderful galleries, the first shopping malls, where Parisians loved to be able to shop under a roof without worrying about the weather. The walkways are beautiful and timeless, a reminder of times gone by. Palais Royal is another covered walkway with great shots. If it should stop raining, get out there and get water dripping off some of the green metal chairs or of one reflected in a puddle of water. While I only got one good shot on the tour boat on the Seine, I still think this has possibilities and, if nothing else, it is a way to stay dry while looking at Paris drift by. Buses can be good for this, too, although it isn’t fun to be stuck in a traffic jam. Food markets are always photogenic and most have coverings that keep most of the rain off. There is even an interesting covered market at Place de l’Aligre where fowl can be seen for sale hanging by their feet, often still covered with their plumage. Sometimes, at the right time of year, there is also a boar or two hanging. Flash is needed and higher speed film, but there are still great photo ops. There is only one thing I don’t recommend. Do not go to the top of the Eiffel Tower for photo taking on a rainy day. It will be cold and windy, and you will possibly be inside a cloud. Just because Paris is “under the rain” as they say, doesn’t mean it has to spoil any photography plans. It just takes a little creative thinking. —You can see some of Linda’s photos are her web site, www.lindamathieu.com. She also gives walking tours of Paris, including a Rainy Day Tour, and can be reached at [email protected]     Bonjour Paris is pleased to have Linda Mathieu as a contributor.  
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