Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Why vineyards look like this

When I was in France I didn't just visit Paris but I was also in the Cognac region. It was about four weeks after the harvest and it was starting to get cold but I thought I'd show you this photo of a vineyard just in case you haven't seen one. There is an advert on television which shows you a vineyard in New Zealand but these grapes become brandy.

It is not the best vineyard in the world and the grapes are not the best - and that's why there is a double distillation. They don't take care during the harvest. In fact the gaps between the vines are there to allow machines to drive by and rip the grapes of the vine. That's also why the vines are kept at this height. I understand that hand-picking takes care of the grapes if they are going into wine production.

Happy snapping

Monday, 29 November 2010

Almost a Morecambe Webcam

We had some light snow a few hours ago in Morecambe but for Morecambe this means heavy snow. I know things are a lot words around the country so I was going to take a photo of Eric's statue at night with snow on it. I took a look outside and decided to stay indoors.

I was supposed to watch Fylde on Saturday but the game was cancelled. I was checking their website and the webcams and the roads looked clear but I noticed that they didn't update their webcams very often. In fact these photos are a little like webcams as they were taken after 11pm yesterday. On the left you have the Shrimp roundabout and the snow is not particularly prominent. That's why you also have the side street view.

Happy snapping

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Negotiating the Place Charle de Gaule

This photo was taken near to the Arc de Triomphe on the Champs Elysees. There are six lanes in the photo but I think it goes to eight around the Place Charle de Gaule (around the Arc). It's difficult to tell because there are no road markings and every vehicle is moving at a different angle.

And this leads to the photo. It is a photo of two cars rouges (red buses) which take you around all the sites of Paris. You can get off and take a look round and you don't have to wait long for the next one. You can take red buses in many cities and there are othe companies that do a similar job. My favourite trip was on with a rival company in Liverpool. They didn't use recorded commentaries but had a running commentary from a guide. He interacted with the tourists and we heard jokes. You don't get that with a recording. The good news in Paris is that you don't have to negotiate those lanes.

Happy snapping

Saturday, 27 November 2010


If you take a close look at this photo you will see that the name of the boat company is Bateaux-Mouche. When I was a teenager I knew of this name and I was told (and I believed it) that the name boats-fly came about because some of the boats have glass-covered decks and the bird's eye view could look like a the fly's eye. I haven't heard this explanation since then.

It is generally felt that the name comes from marshy areas near Lyon which were called "mouches" and attracted flies, and also happens to be where the boats were first built. Mouche is also a slang word for spy. Could these boats be spy boats? However my money is on the explanation that the company was founded by Jean-S├ębastien Mouche.

Happy snapping

Friday, 26 November 2010

I wouldn't park there

As a visitor some things catch the eye. You won't see any mention of street sellers in tourist brochures for Paris but they are a common sight around the famous sites. The view on the left is one small area near the tower. There are dozens more to be seen nearby.

The view on the right is from the same point, but what is striking here is that soldiers are acting as traffic wardens. Even more striking is that Parisian traffic wardens feel the need to carry guns. I don't think I would park there.

happy snapping

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Perspective or Magnification

There were protests across the country yesterday and I happened to be in Lancaster. You can see my political comments at http://politicsfornovices.blogspot.com/ but here I will discuss the photos.

I am aware that some people may not want their picture on a blog so I wanted a photo which did not identify individuals. Having said that, these protesters should be willing to accept that they are advertising their cause.

I zoomed in to make it look like the policeman was closer to the crowd. Basically the zoom magnifies the image. It doesn't change the perspective as you are still in the same place however much you zoom in. In one sense it doesn't matter if you confuse perspective with magnification. The most important aspect of any photo is to like the photo.

Happy snapping

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Photos teach you to see.

The photo on the left is a typical view of the Eiffel Tower. On the right is a less typical view but this time you can see what anyone else can see who visits this popular tourist attraction, and that is there are names that are easily visible under the first balcony.

You don't normally get views like the photo on the right and even if you were there you may miss the names. And that's the beauty of photography. It allows you to see things that you would not normally see. You will still have to ask why the names are there and who they are. In fact they are French scientists and engineers and there are 72 names in total.

Happy snapping

Monday, 22 November 2010

Find the Centre Spot

We have a new supermarket in Morecambe and it opened last Wednesday. It was built on the site of Christie Park, the former home of Morecambe Football Club and the photo on the left is a nice touch. It is self-explanatory and I think most people who know Morecambe would know roughly where the centre spot was.

What would be more difficult to locate is the exact spot, and Sainsbury's have made it easy for shoppers. It is just outside the main door. However if you don't walk along this particular path you may miss it. At least you know where it is now.

Happy snapping

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Even More Motion

I am still thinking about the theme of motion. I took these photos during a pre-wedding meeting. We wanted some Morecambe landmarks in the background. We didn't particularly want the very windy weather or the kite surfing. I don't think the couple appreciated either surfers or wind but it was nice and calm on the day so it wasn't a day for surfers.

I think the monochrome versions of these photos is more dramatic than their colour versions. If you haven't got the sense of movement in the clouds then the kites and waves give the game away.

Happy snapping

Saturday, 20 November 2010

More Motion

Yesterday I told you about a photography competition on the theme of motion. I thought about the simple technique of movement indoors with an effect that is the result of simply switching off the flash.

I thought about this photo that I took recently of Andy Bell when he was warming up his muscles using an elastic exercise band. The trouble with this type of photo is that it is really hard to keep the rest of the body still so you get some blurring effect everywhere. It is much easier to keep still with yesterday's photo.

Happy snapping

Friday, 19 November 2010


I took this photo a couple of hours ago. It is not a computer technique but is a fairly easy manipulation with a camera. I set it up on a tripod and turned the flash off.

I took a similar photo of myself when I was a teenager. At that time I had a completely manual film SLR camera and I worked out the shutter speed from the meter reading and the aperture size. This time I just left it on automatic. Isn't life easy!

I saw an advert for a photo competition that had the theme of motion and I thought of this type of photo. Having seen it the only thing I can think of is that I need a haircut.

Happy snapping

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Any excuse to speak French

This is not the way you would normally see the Pont Alexandre III. Even if you have never been to Paris you may know this bridge. It has been seen in films such as Ronin, A View to a Kill and Anastasia. It is almost certainly the most beautiful of Parisian bridges even if you only get a photograph from the top deck of a bus.

On the right is a close-up of the parapet. I asked a French woman about the keys and she told me that it was traditional for lovers to place the lock here and throw the key into the Seine. This act symbolised the union between two people. I will take any excuse to speak French!

Happy snapping

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

The Musee d'Orsay 2

No photographs were allowed in the museum. I was pleased with this ruling because I had been round the Louvre a couple of years earlier and most of the visitors did not understand that flash photography would damage the canvases. Of course flash would not damage statues. Maybe constant touching would damage them as you do see steps that are worn in the centre. Howwever I wonder how long it would take for the statues to show signs of wear with light touch.

These statues are outside the main entrance to the Musee d'Orsay where there is no restriction on photography or on touching. I saw one person in the queue tapping the rhino. I don't think he did any damage but he did show that he could interact with art.

Happy snapping

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

The Musee d'Orsay

Talking of converging verticals (see yesterday's blog) you can see an obvious example on the right. It is probably the Musee d'Orsay's most distinctive feature. I mentioned that I went there in the blog on the 5th November and I would recommend going if you like your impressionists (and lots of other forms of art).

The last time that I was in Paris I went to the Louvre which probably has a better name but for me this was the better visit. On the left you can see the museum which is right in the centre of the photograph. Look closely and you can see the clock. There are no photos from inside the building but the outside is fairly impressive.

Happy snapping

Monday, 15 November 2010

A Distorted Notre Dame

On Thursday I showed you point zero, from where they measure all the distances to Paris. It is a plaque on the floor which is very close to the main door of Notre Dame. I am not showing you Notre Dame for this reason, but I want to show you converging verticals.

A standard lens on a camera tries to reproduce the way we see, but you can see from the photo on the left that Notre Dame looks like it is falling backwards. Our brain adapts the information it receives and tells us that it is upright. So I have adapted the building for you on the right.

If you were asked which of the two photos had been distorted then you may well choose the wrong one.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Image isn't everything

I bought a collapsible background this week. Don't worry as I am still a miser and my prices aren't going up, but I was looking at the blog from Tuesday and thought I could improve my image. Well it's not difficult if you re carrying a piece of black cloth with you.

It may look so much more professional to have a collapsible background that springs up into this fine background. It is not perfect. The material has to be light in order to collapse. Take a look at the inset if you can't see through the background in the image of the whole background. The frame of the door is clearly visible.

I can work on each photo as I have shown you earlier this week, but at least this background wasn't particularly expensive and my image from a complete miser may have now improved.

Happy snapping

Saturday, 13 November 2010

The Obelisk of Luxor

This was the busiest that I saw the traffic in the centre of Paris, and that was because of traffic lights. In fact there were no jams and traffic was always moving freely. It made me think of the problems we have between Morecambe and Lancaster. The photo on the left is, of course, the Champs Elysees. It is a really long road and I have zoomed in. There are a lot of vehicles in the photo but I was looking for a photo with a lot of vehicles (and there is a lot of road).

The photo on the right shows the far end of the Champs Elysees. It is the Place de la Concorde and the Obelisk of Luxor is clearly visible. If you look closely you can also see it on the left.

The coach came from Morecambe and the roads were generally like the photo on the right with next to no vehicles on them. It would be interesting to get a Morecambe coach driver's view but I don't have a problem driving in France. The only trouble with road works and congestion is in England, particularly Morecambe to the motorway.

Happy snapping

P.S. I have removed registration numbers to protect the identity of vehicles - well that's what editors seem to do.

Friday, 12 November 2010

Monet was here

I took the photo on the left simply because I liked the building. It is almost the way Walt Disney viewed Parisian buildings and the lighting was good so it was time to take a photo.

The lighting wasn't bad for the Church of Saint-Germain l'Auxerrois which is near the Louvre and that means that it was the parish church for French kings. Monet painted this church but you could take many many buildings and famous artists could have been there first.
Happy snapping

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Back to Paris

You may have guessed that I am back in Paris even though these are not usual angles. On the left we have - well I think you can guess the main structure. In the background is the Palais de Chaillot and right in the centre between the main buildings of the Palais is the Trocadero. You saw a photo from the Trocadero a few days ago.

On the right is the point in front of Notre Dame Cathedral at the Place du Parvis - that's the pedestrianised area in front of the main door - would we call it a square? This is the point from which all distances to Paris are measured. I suppose the literal translation refers to French roads. Well you don't see many mileage signs for Paris in Lancashire. As for the photo itself, I don't usually crop photos into squares but I felt it was appropriate here. You can also see shadows but you would have to get up very early to beat the crowds - and then there wouldn't be any shadows.

Happy snapping

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Last two of Andy Bell

It is really easy to take photos of Andy Bell or I would guess any body builder for that matter, as they routinely know how to pose. In the space of thirty minutes on Saturday I was able to take lots of photos and I gave him 101 prints back on Monday.

The photo on the left may not be a routine pose. Andy is tensing his muscles but it could just be preparation in case the trophy and medals fell. The photo on the right clearly shows the medals and muscle definition.

Happy snapping

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

The £2.50 Studio

Now you can see that the photos of Andy Bell were not taken in a studio but in an ordinary living room. On the left you can see the dark cloth that cost £2.50 from the local market. It is resting on a picture but it gave me enough background to create the photos that you have already seen. Now go back, take a close look and see if you can see where the join starts.

On the right it is even more obvious that I have used a living room. You can see the wallpaper. I have made it less significant by making the background lighter with less contrast and then putting in a white vignette.

Happy snapping

Monday, 8 November 2010

Instant suntan

I may show you the cloth that I bought from the market for £2.50. In fact you are seeing it now but I have manipulated the photo to make it look huge. Then I made it look even bigger with the photo on the right.

The photos were taken in an ordinary living room. The lighting is from a window plus camera flash pointed to the ceiling and that's why the top of the photo is brighter than the bottom. That's also why I often found it difficult to stand back enough to a Andy fully into the frame. It would be difficult enough for anyone but Andy is bigger than your average model.

As for the choice of photos, I think sepia works well. Body builders have better definition when they are tanned but it is much easier to manipulate a photo on a computer than it is to get a tan. Simply make the photo darker and sepia and you have an instant suntan.

Happy snapping

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Andy Bell

I will go back to Paris at a later date, but I want to show you some photos that I took yesterday of Andy Bell. I have taken photos of Andy previously and put them on this blog and on the gallery page at www.gradwellphotography.co.uk

The reason for these photos is seen in the photo. Andy won Mr England a few weeks ago and the trophy is in his hands. As for the photos, it was no problem at all getting as many poses as I wanted as this is what Andy does routinely.

Happy snapping

Saturday, 6 November 2010

The answers from yesterday

Here are the answers to yesterday's photos. Napoleon is in the centre of the photo on the left and the statue is to be found on the left side of the Arc de Triomphe. The monument was built after Napoleon's victory at Austerlitz. Take another look at yesterday's photo. Doesn't Napoleon look like Marlon Brando?

On the right is the Assemblee Nationale. Unfortunately the statue that you saw yesterday is just off this photo. If you could see a few mor yards to the right you would see the statue from yesterday. You'll just have to trust me, This is where it is situated.

Happy snapping

Friday, 5 November 2010

Can you guess what it is yet?

We are still in Paris. There is art everywhere and one morning I went to the Musee d'Orsay, but the problem for this blog was that I could not take any photos within the building. I didn't mind as on a previous visit to Paris I went to the Louvre and there were hundreds of photographers who did not realise that their flash damages paint. Flash has little affect on statues but the decision had been made to ban all photography.

These statues are outdoors and sunlight is a little bit harsher than flash. Much worse for the statues is the effect of weathering. You know how hard rain can fall. I want people to interact with art. I saw someone tapping a statue with an umbrella. You can't touch statues in museums. Getting a balance between appreciation and protection of art works is not easy. I believe that touching statues would not do them great harm. I believe that the public cannot be trusted to stop using their flash near canvas and an outright ban on photography in museums is a justified step.

As for the photos, I'll let you know where they were taken tomorrow but take a look and see if you recognise them.

Happy snapping

Thursday, 4 November 2010

The tallest Eiffel Tower

Paris is full of long, straight avenues following the reconstruction of the city by Baron Haussmann in the ninteenth century. You get great views from long distances and believe it or not the view on the left of the Eiffel Tower is from a long distance.

The photo was taken from a place called the Trocadero and just a few yards from where this photo was taken is the metro station the entrance to which you can see on the right.

As for the photo on the left, when you take a photo it is really difficult to match up finger and tip of the tower. I manipulatated the height of the tower so you are looking at the tallest Eiffel Tower ever.

Happy snapping

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Pont de la Concorde.

You may not recognise this bridge but you could guess its name. In the distance is the Place de la Concorde which is at one end of the Champs Elysees. The bridge takes its name from the Place and is called the Pont de la Concorde.

I prefer the monochrome version on the right with its tighter cropping as I am distracted on the left by the flag. Most people who are colour blind consider this a disadvantage. It's not always the case.

Happy snapping