The Gates of Hell

Hope Abandoned

One of the places I wanted to go while in Paris was the Musée Rodin which was formerly Rodin’s residence. It is a stately manor in need of repair, but a wonderful place to visit while in Paris if you enjoy sculpture and you have the museum pass. Easily the most striking piece in the place is The Gates of Hell. Rodin spent much of the latter part of his life (37 years) working on the sculpture and never completed the work. There is a heavy presence surrounding the gate. Many of the 180 bronze figures on the structure writhe in pain and suffer for their worldly transgressions. I had an odd feeling that I was glad Rodin never completed the work as I am not sure I would like to see what was on its other side.

Creative License

I have often said, I am interested in creating a feeling of a place and time in my photos rather than a snapshot representing how it looked. I want to transport viewers to how I felt at the time, how a place made an impact on me and try and convey that through my images. If I am successful, herein lies success in my mind.

Inferno – Canto III

Through me the way to the suffering city,
Through me the everlasting pain;
Through me the way that runs among the Lost.
Justice urged on my exalted Creator: Divine Power made me,
The Supreme Wisdom and the Primal Love.
Nothing was made before me but eternal things And I endure eternally.
Abandon all hope – You Who Enter Here.


There Must Be More Than This Provincial Life

Disney Dork

Ok…I freely admit, I have a soft spot for the Disney movies of my younger years (and not so younger years). The Hamlet, located on the grounds of the Palace of Versailles was built for Marie Antoinette’s strange desire to experience the common life of a peasant. This distinctly reminded me of a particular Disney song…can you guess which one? I kept milling about taking photos of the great little village singing like the proverbial idiot. Good things we were there early and it was just us. The baker wasn’t even up yet, with his tray (like always).

Strange Surroundings

This is one of the odd homes built in the Hamlet. The village consists of a working farm, vineyard and several buildings representing a small French Provincial village. The proportions are, however, very wrong. If you happen to glance inside, the rooms are built more for entertaining than real living. Another example of the fabled…”Qu’ils mangent de la brioche” (let them eat cake) attitude of the French aristocracy. As a side note, there is actually not real evidence that Marie Antoinette ever uttered those words.

A Path to the Palace

The Path

While at Versailles we did quite a bit of walking. You can’t really help it…well you can rent a golf cart, but that didn’t see very regal or fitting. One of the many paths to the various palaces can be seen below.

Hugging Trees

I love the simplicity of the trees at Versailles. They are placed simply, but with great purpose and intent. Control of nature is one of the many reoccurring themes of Versailles. You can see it all around. The monarchy was in control of all things (until that whole revolution thing happened).

La Conciergerie

Of Palaces and Prisons

One of the interesting places we visited in Paris was the La Conciergerie. Build in the Middle Ages as a Merovingian Palace, it was later converted to a prison when Charles V decided the Louvre was much better digs. It had a bit of a notorious reputation, from the torture, to its roll as a holding cell for prisoners before meeting the guillotine during the reign of terror. This staircase is located in the main hall and leads up to the upper stories…we weren’t allowed to use them.

A Wonderful Place for Children

The day we visited there were these interesting blue lights strategically places all around the main hall. There was some sort of arts and crafts workshop for children going on. I thought it strange, given the heinous reputation of the place that it would now be used as a playground for kids, but perhaps a prison might be the best place to keep them…I am kidding…maybe. As a side note, I found it very interesting how well behaved the children and dogs where in Paris. Perhaps its just a product of being in a big European city, but everyone…and everything was just so darn polite.

Entering the Temple of Love

It’s Almost Valentine’s Day

Not that I am oblivious or anything, but Pamela asked me what HDR photo I was working on and I said one of the shots of The Temple of Love. “Oh,” she said, “for Valentine’s Day!” Right! Valentine’s Day! In retrospect, it was probably some sort of subconscious observation that put the holiday together with the temple at Versailles dedicated to love.

History of Love

The Temple of Love was commissioned by Marie Antoinette to be part of her Hameau (place, often a rural area). It is made of marble and contains a dozen Corinthian columns that support the structure. In the center is a statue of Cupid, (the Roman god of love, desire, and erotic love) fashioning his bow from the club of Hercules. Marie Antoinette fancied the life of the peasants. Well, she rather fancied some aristocratic washing over of how wonderfully simple it must be to be a peasant. She didn’t actually fancy being poor or doing manual labor… that was far beneath her. She built a fantasy playground at the Trianon Palaces this temple is but one of the amusements of the Domaine de Marie-Antoinette.

La Tour Eiffel

A Wonderful Night

Both Pamela and I are really busy these days. Getting to spend time in Paris together was wonderful mostly because we didn’t have a bunch of distractions, well except for Paris. One night we wandered down the the Champ de Mars to have a picnic and for me to take pictures. It was a great evening and out spirits were high, despite the waves of Nigerian and Indian Eiffel Tower key chain peddlers that continuously pestered you in languages neither they, nor you could understand.

It’s The Small Things

Often its the simplest things that bring you happiness. One of the best memories we both share, is sitting on the ground, eating a simple dinner and gazing up at the tower together. I got to be with my best lady and I got to flutter around taking pictures of the wonderful scene. I don’t think I could have been happier in that moment if I tried.

A Night in Paris

One Night

Paris is beautiful, but I really love the nights. There are fewer people milling about, and most (excluding the tourists) are busy eating dinner. The Parisians eat a bit late for my tastes, but we kept pushing dinner back further and further to really get into the swing of French life. The cafe’s even at late hours are full of people eating, drinking, talking and having a grand time. This shot was taken just South across the bridge from Île de la Cité on Rue du Petit Pont.

The Bored Little Monster

Gargling Gargoyles

The word gargoyle comes from the French work gargouille which has to do with the throat. Many of these little monsters are there to usher water away from the Gothic cathedrals and their name may have been derived from the gurgle of water flowing from their mouths. Hardly inspiring fear in the learned. Legend also has it they possess the power to ward off evil spirits. This guy is one was of the ornamental (evil spooking) variety.

Fame Monster

This gargoyle is also perhaps the most photographed gargoyle in the world. Over the centuries, it appears he has become bored of both the attention and the spectacular view of Paris he enjoys everyday. I don’t know for sure if this has always been the case or a stance that has evolved over time, but I for one was blown away by the view, despite the crisp Autumn air blowing around the first observation level of Notre Dame.

A Leaf at the Feet of the Arc de Triomphe

Standing in the Streets of Paris

For some reason, French drivers don’t seem a bit phased to find a number of foreign tourists standing in the middle of their Boulevards taking photos of their monuments. Even, it seems, if those same tourists are photographing at night. I took a number of photographs on the streets surrounding the Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile, namely I camped out in the middle of the Avenue des Champs-Élysées. Somehow I felt safer with the Parisian drivers than I do with my local Springfield drivers!

Side Shooter

This photo is from the side of the Arc where I became fascinated with this leaf that planted itself in my shot. Enjoy!

The Best Door in Paris


One of our unintended great finds while visiting Paris was the at 29 Avenue Rapp in the 7th arrondissement, very close to the Eiffel Tower. Built in 1901, this Art Nouveau masterpiece by Jules Lavirotte is quite striking. The detailed door was designed by sculptor Jean-Baptiste Larrive and sculpted by a variety of others. If you happen to be in Paris, seek this beauty out!

What…You Want a Picture?

We waited for what seemed like ever for a man on the sidewalk outside to move. He just kept talking on his mobile and didn’t see at all impressed that I wanted to take a photograph of this door. I guess he was used to tourists snapping photos and moving on. I wanted something for my website that didn’t include his funny mustache!