A Few Days in Paris

I had the opportunity to travel – I always consider travel a very fortunate opportunity – to Europe. The first place on the itinerary was Paris. In a way, such a heavily filmed and broadcast city was always going to give me an element of ummm…  deja vu without even having experienced it before.

Perhaps the things best discovered and best photographed are the familiar sights from new perspectives. When you have the chance to physically move around then you discover new little things – the viewpoints which are part of an immersive experience that the two dimensional world can’t convey.


The Eiffel Tower in the early light of dawn. Once called a glorified lamp post by a critique – and it had several of them – these days I suspect every night time lamp on the Tower, in a way, represents one of those critiques.

The Lamp Post


It’s only when you’re inside the structure that you realise how the Tower is a marvel of hollowness. Everything you take for granted as being solid is, in fact, thin cast iron plates and angles that have a standard size.

The Skeleton

The Skeleton


The month of February isn’t what you’d call the best time to visit Paris if you are looking for sunny weather. Fortunately there is ample space inside the entrance of the Lourve from which the stormy skies can be observed from a perfectly climate controlled environment.



There is one advantage to jet lag and wet weather – it does allow you to get up fresh as a daisy at 5 in the morning and walk to the very quiet river and parts of the city with camera and tripod.


On the emankments





There were three weeks in this trip and Paris was the first three days of them. I won’t spam you with posts about Europe, Europe, Europe all the time but keep tuned as I make my way through the image collection.



Posted in architectural, travel

Welcome to the 80’s

Cue the flashback…

Red suspender belts, Gordon Gekko, synthesized pop music, this was indeed the 80’s. In the midst of this decade was the time when photography was in a stage of transition. Not the big bang digital revolution that was yet to come, but a smaller one that was to set the stage for further change as the years progressed.

At this time I had the generosity of parental support to buy my first camera. For reasons I don’t quite remember it was a Minolta – the slightly featured X300 SLR (called the x370 in other parts of the world). The standard feature it had for the time was an inbuilt light meter and the ability to go manual or to switch the dial to “auto” to give the user aperture priority. The viewfinder gave the user a LED bar graph to judge exposure.

What we had here was a low end camera that had started to incorporate a level of electronics that was above the norm for cameras in the previous decade. In a way this camera represents a decade of transition where electronics and microprocessors, rather than mechanical devices, start to give more and more assistance to the photographer. I suspect that level of electronics unwittingly gave camera manufacturers the platform to better adapt cameras to the future digital world.


The X300 you see above isn’t my original one. I recently found this great condition unit in a camera swap meet. For the princely sum of $40 dollars I had to pick it up, if only to replace my missing one. It reminds me of where I have come from – and where the technology of what I use has come from.

Things that caught me by surprise when I returned to it were the amazing brightness of the viewfinder – invaluable since autofocus wasn’t an option on the old MD mount Minoltas. The viewfinder used a focus screen fitted with small “acute-matte” prisms to give the photographer a good idea of sharp focus. The machinery of taking a picture gives the unwitting feeling of a heavier mirror and shutter mechanism moving in a metal body. The tactility of advancing the film leaver is a paragon of a smooth and refined haptic action.

The unfortunate thing is that over time the little X300 will have a harder life to keep in working order than it’s mechanical predecessors. One of the capacitors in the Minolta X series cameras can fail but thankfully it can be repaired with a bit of skill. I hesitate to say that the more modern the camera the less chance for repairs when the increasingly complex electronics fail.

My Camera collection isn’t a huge one and it never will be (think fingers of one hand) but this X300 is now an important part for all those reasons above. It will be used regularly and enjoyed for being part of the little revolution.

Posted in film, history Tagged , , , |