Parisians are very proud of their culture. It can be observed everywhere you turn in their magnificent city. In a cafe, bakery, and in the architecture, even the street musicians. “Joie de vivre” or joy of life as they say. And that’s what I say too after documenting my trip to lovely Paris!
One of the things I really enjoyed was observing how Parisians live and savor everyday moments. At sunset they sit along the banks of the Seine river with a bottle of wine and some food and sing songs with guitars and accordians until the sun has set. On weekends the party continues into the night.
Our Paris flat was located one block from the Louvre, the Seine River and Rue de Rivoli and right across the street from this lovely little bakery called Bulanger Patissier. Every morning I’d stumble out of bed and shuffle over for my breakfast fix of hot baguettes and the most delicious pain aux raisin I’ve ever tasted. I actually lost weight on this diet because I didn’t gorge myself and did quite a bit of walking for two weeks straight. We walked the entire city. And that’s exactly why I’m so glad I traveled light. No heavy tripod or large format proper video cameras.
I was only planning to shoot some stills with my Canon 60D, but being as obsessed with moving pictures as I am, especially in a location such as this… Well you know the rest. But it was liberating not to have pelican cases full of gear to lug around. I set the 60D up for shooting stills. But then I thought I might also set the movie mode for 60fps at 720p and after shooting the still shot of my subject I could switch over and blast off a quick 10 second burst in slow motion. It seemed to work most of the time. And I didn’t over shoot, so the edit was rather simple. The most difficult problem I encountered was trying to find the ideal soundtrack!
This accordian player was gracious enough to allow me to film him. He was an interesting looking fellow and I love filming faces like this! Most people were very easy to work with. I tried my best to greet them in French and ask before shooting. Afterwards I always left them some euros.
There are so many areas of interest in Paris but I have to say my favorite spot was Montmartre. It’s the highest point in the city and the views are spectacular. It’s also an artists’ haven. I found that most of the sketch artists and painters did not want their photos taken nor did they want to be filmed.
Love shooting with my Tokina 11-16mm f2.8 and Canon 50mm f1.4 lenses, the later especially in low light. As long as your critical focus is spot on, it’s very sharp. I also brought along a 70-200mm f2.8 but left it at the flat after carrying it around the city the first day. Having fewer lenses makes you work a little harder to get the shots by having to move the camera more but it’s always good practice. Especially if you want to do closeup moving portraits of faces. You need to get in really close and intimate and you can only get those shots by building a rapport with a person in a very short period of time. As a photojournalist I’ve been doing that with total strangers for years so it comes natural to me now. Some newbies may feel a bit uncomfortable approaching strangers for a portrait. Again, practice makes perfect!
It was amazing to watch the ferver around the Mona Lisa exhibit at the Louvre. I was so fascinated by the flood of people moving down the long hallways heading to this tiny painting on the wall, that I became more interested in them! She’s a rock star for sure!
Every night after sunset the Eiffel Tower has an amazing display of colored lights on the hour until 1 am. It’s a fabulous nightly ritual where Parisians and tourists all gather around the tower with food and beverages and wait for the show to begin.
In post for the slow motion shots I conformed the 60fps to 24p in Cinema Tools then converted to Pro Res 422. I know it’s not ideal for picture quality but I wasn’t about to bring a C300 with me on this trip or any other camera for that matter other than the 60D. The post ramping was done in fcp7 simply by modifying the speed. The camera is set for neutral with the sharpness down so I could apply a light grade in MB Looks.
Enjoy the sights and sounds!
Filmed and edited by Rick Macomber and assisted by Nora Raza’ai
Canon 60D DSLR 60fps overcrank mostly handheld – some small travel tripod shots
Tokina 11-16mm f2.8
Canon 50mm f1.4