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Paris sous la neige

Overnight, Paris underwent a most magnificent transformation.

I got up really early this morning, put on layers of clothes and headed out when it was still dark outside. The plan was to get to a couple of spots within the city where snow would not be cleared away too quickly, and while they were tourist-free. I should have a good couple of hours to try to grab some photos of a Parisian winter wonderland.

January snow in Paris

January snow in Paris

January snow in Paris

January snow in Paris

January snow in Paris

The first series of shots was incredibly difficult to execute. The frigid cold threatened to freeze my fingers off each time I peeled away the mitt part of my glove/mitten but I could not exactly hurry things up, given the low light condition that necessitated longer exposure time as well as a pair of very steady hands. Sure I could set up a tripod but I could not keep setting it up and fold it back every few minutes. Carrying a totally expanded tripod also seemed silly when you see the size of my actual camera.

At this point, I truly wished for a kick-ass dSLR instead of the practical and easy-to-bring compact PnS. Something that reacts faster, can be better controlled, and also not makes me look like an idiot carrying an unfolded and pretty kick-ass Manfrotto tripod which Frédéric has got for me last year.

January snow in Paris

January snow in Paris

January snow in Paris

January snow in Paris

January snow in Paris

As the day proceeded, the hues of the sky began to change. The initial orange-y glow turned softer – akin a mixture of violet and blue – before giving way to lighter shade of blue which blended into grey and white. It was fascinating to observe the progression of this colour-relay.

At approximately 8.30am, while at Pont Alexandre III, however, the street lights went into a synchronised shut down and I lost the warm glow conferred by the bulbs. It took me a second to realise why the sudden change in the scenes before my very eyes. Rather disconcerting, I must say. The streets were still relatively silent bar from a few vehicles that were manouvred cautiously along the icy roads.

January snow in Paris

January snow in Paris

January snow in Paris

January snow in Paris

January snow in Paris

Of all places I was at this morning, Cours la Reine was my favourite spot. Inches of fresh uncompacted snow was a delight to walk on, not to mention the calm and quiet as few passed by this part of the city despite its close proximity to the Grand Palais and Pont Alexandre III. Even on a typical day, the foot traffic just never get terribly busy here.

I did bump into a funny Anglophone here though. He was hardly dressed for the cold, biking through the snow with one hand on the bike and the other holding a videocam that was recording his valiant effort. He also provided a commentary for the video. “Good morning! This is me on my bike in Paris, cycling through the snow…” and he was out of my hearing.

January snow in Paris

January snow in Paris

January snow in Paris

January snow in Paris

January snow in Paris

Reviewing through my photos, the natural light of 9am certainly improved the quality of the photos taken. This prompted me to head back towards the Champ de Mars for a few last shots of the morning. I wasn’t able to stay out for too much longer. My fingers were starting to feel numb from the cold, the juice in the batteries for my camera was draining fast, and Frédéric was also wondering where I’ve disappeared to for some 3 hours.

I came home happy and was pretty proud of what I’ve managed to accomplish with my trusty old PnS. They were quite a few blurry shots (expected), and there were some which I really like. I’ve uploaded a set to Flickr as usual, half of them displayed directly in this post and the other half can be viewed by clicking the Flickr link.

Of course then I found a blogpost by a photographer/blogger and got semi-depressed. Her photos are great and oh, how I wish I could shoot images half as good as those. More snow forecasted for the weekend so maybe I can get a second chance?



Category: Paris

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14 scribbles & notes

  1. Rich Edwards says:

    That blog you linked to has some very pretty/arty photos but I think yours make Paris look nicer!

  2. David says:

    Nice.
    It reminds me back when I lived in Paris, and it would often snow just as I would guide our new batch of students (coming straight from Florida) through the streets of the city.
    One of the few moments when I liked Paris.

    • Lil says:

      i am biased since i normally already like paris, and paris with snow is simply wonderful! until you have to go to work and the sidewalk is all slushy… ;)

    • David says:

      Going to work is one of the best parts I think. When Parisian bourgeois still wear their every day shoes (and women their high heels) and fall miserably. ;-)

    • Lil says:

      lol… i did spot some women in crazy shoes and pondered how could they walk with those spiky heels! i’m staying comfy in my snow boots – ugly but practical ;)

  3. Carina says:

    Thanks for linking to my images. Your photos are absolutely gorgeous.

    Drop me an email and let’s catch up. We can talk about getting that tripod out. :)

  4. med says:

    Beautiful lil and thank you very much for sharing…very very very very nice indeed and as always, you and ur PnS turned out to be a great partner hehehehe….is that lone lil snowman your doing? ;)

    • Lil says:

      i’m glad you like them, and well it’s me and PnS and PS ;)

      alas, i can’t claim credit for the snowman. it was already there when i got there at 7am, but by 9.30am someone has added eyes to it, so there are at least 2 unknown snowman-makers out there :D

  5. Really lovely photos, Lilian! Look forward to meeting you next week!

  6. Selena says:

    mmmmmm…. Paris looks very pretty in the snow!

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