Weekend Wanderings: Colmar’s Old Town

Colmar France

Place de l’Ancienne-Douane in Colmar, France, at dusk

I am thrilled that I finally managed to visit Colmar in the East of France! The city is known to be one of the top tourist destinations on the Alsace Wine Route. But once you leave the vineyards and the suburbs behind, you will actually enter a very lively old town with colourful half-timbered houses neatly lining cobblestone streets and a canal giving it its reputation of the “Little Venice of Alsace”.

During my visit, Colmar had just gone through a heat wave, which is why the canal’s water level was rather low. In the evening, the town saw crowds of visitors though, dancing and singing on the tunes of the yearly “Fête de la musique”

If you like this post, you might also like Weekend Wanderings: Annecy’s Old Town

Photo Essay: Dijon’s Owl Trail In Winter Look

Dijon is chouette. Literally!

I visited Burgundy’s capital during the Christmas holidays last year, aiming for some good wine, maybe a Kir or two and of cause a good sausage with Dijon mustard. Little else did I know about that place.

So like the majority of tourists I started exploring the city by following the owl trail (La Chouette), which leads through the town’s center and stops at 22 different points to make everyone discover Dijon’s history and charm.

Right there, on day 1, I was totally blown away how photogenic Dijon is. I thought it was so fabulous (chouette in French) indeed that I did not only climb up the old Tour Philippe le Bon in the heart of the town to marvel at the view above its rooftops, but I also revisited the same corners with my tripod after sunset.

Please browse my photo gallery for location descriptions:

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Weekend Wanderings: Sunset Hour At St Leu d’Esserent

Equipped with my brand new travel lens I headed out last weekend for a photo session in a small community in the French Oise region

What I like most about my new Sigma lens is its large zoom (18-300 mm). While one may argue that this results in lower light sensitivity and vignetting, I am intrigued by another bonus: the weight of my camera bag. I now can travel with one lens only and don’t need a complete set (which can be tedious to carry on some hikes).

What travel photographer type are you?
Do you take one or several lenses?
Do you take the time to exchange lenses on different locations?
And how much time do you take for post-processing your travel shots? (I am becoming more and more fan of working on my photos on my iPad using either Snapseed or Lightroom Mobile)

Anyhow, I am glad to announce that my new travel lens passed its first test in the narrow alleys of Saint Leu d’Esserent during the blue hour:

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Weekend Wanderings: Sun King Exhibition At Film Location In Maisons-Laffitte

Since the 1970s, the castle in Maisons-Laffitte (northwest of Paris) has been a popular location for at least a dozen films, including Love and Death by Woody Allen.  

Its architecture influenced the look of the Château de Franconville in Saint-Martin-du-Tertre (France), the Zhang-Laffitte in Beijing (China) and the Plaza Constitución terminal train station in Buenos Aires (Argentina).

Built in the 17th century, this castle is a prime example of French baroque architecture. In 1651, Louis XIV, the King of France visited the Château de Maisons-Laffitte.

On the occasion of the 300th anniversary of the death of le Roi-Soleil (the Sun King), the town of Maisons-Laffitte and the Château de Maisons partnered up for an exhibition of 530 sculptures (40 tons of stone) at the entrance of the castle. Stéphane Vigny’s Totalement désARçonnés — Louis XIV… Oméga III can be visited until October 12. His installation is a homage to art created during the years of King Louis XIV.

Please follow me on Instagram for more photos of the Maisons-Laffitte castle and its surroundings.

If you like this post you might also like Weekend Wanderings: Louvre At Dusk

Weekend Wanderings: Louvre At Dusk

It is probably needless to mention that the Louvre Palace and the Louvre Pyramids are one of the most popular photography spots in Paris — not only at dusk. I counted at least a dozen photographers (excluding tourists and museum visitors) while walking around the Cour Napoléon. Surprisingly, not many of them bothered to bring a tripod along. So if you want your photos to stand out, make sure to bring one for long exposures while the day’s last rays of sun hit the museum and its surroundings.

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Cour Napoléon as seen from inside the Louvre Palace

The red neon light installation, which currently decorates the biggest of all Louvre Pyramids and can be seen in all photos below, has been created by Claude Lévêque. More light installations by the Frecnh artist are planned in throughout the year. His exhibition will stay till January 4, 2016.

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Pastel-coloured sunset behind the Louvre Pyramids

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Symmetrical perfection

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Buzzing atmosphere — the Louvre museum is open till 9:45pm every Wednesday and Friday

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Zooming in on Claude Lévêque’s bolt of light

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The day’s last rays of sun are bathing the Louvre Palace in warm light

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Walking from the street towards the inner courtyard and the Pyramids — HDR out of 3 long exposures to highlight the architecture of that entrance

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Sunset behind the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, just opposite the Louvre

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View from the Court Napoléon towards the sunset behind the Eiffel Tower

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Weekend Wanderings: Sacre-Coeur At Night

The Basilica in Montmartre, Paris, is always a vibrant place to visit, but especially great at night, when locals, tourists and street artists gather here to marvel at the City of Lights.

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The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris is located at the highest point of the city and therefore a good place to actually turn around and gaze at the City of Lights.

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You can climb the hill of Montmartre by foot, or you can hop onto the funiculare. Each year, 2 million passengers make use of this railway as alternative to climbing over 300 steps.

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Sacre-Coeur from the back. It integrates well into the quarter’s architecture.

What is your favorite Paris location to visit at night?

If you like this post you might also like Auckland Skyline: Photo Locations

Auckland Skyline: Photo Locations

Auckland Skyline

What would the Auckland skyline be without the Sky Tower? Well, there is actually an interesting piece from The New Zealand Herald allowing you to scroll over an interactive photo to look at Auckland’s skyline before and after the Sky Tower has been opened in 1997. But during the past 15 years it became hard to imagine New Zealand’s biggest town without its lanky landmark, which makes the skyline so much more interesting for photographers.

Photo forums are filled with the question where to get the best view over Auckland and which locations to visit for the best skyline pictures including the Sky Tower. I got curious myself. So I went out and explored some spots surrounding the city’s CBD. Here are my favourite skyline photos and Sky Tower facts (click on a photo to view it in large).

Some of these photo locations are actually worth being photographed themselves from the Sky Tower. At 220m above ground you can get a 360 degree view right across Auckland. Have a look at how impressive the Spaghetti Junction looks like from here. You can also try capturing the opening / closing Wynyard Crossing when ships are leaving the harbour or coming back from the sea.

I visited two more locations: Shelly Beach Road and Mount Eden. Both are good spots to have a view over Auckland City. Check out the two panoramas below to get an idea of the view. However, you need a very good zoom lens for both because the skyline is rather far away. Alternatively it could be worth trying a fish eye on Shelly Beach Road as it might allow you to capture the Sky Tower and the Harbour Bridge in one photo.

All photos for this post have been taken with my 17-70mm lens.

Shelly Beach Road

On the Shelly Beach Road Bridge above the Northern Motorway

Mount Eden

View over Auckland from Mount Eden

I would be happy to test more Auckland skyline photo locations if you share them with me.

More Urban Photography!