Monday, 24 September 2007

Of light and shadows and people

All my photos this week were taken in the tiny perimeter around the Popes' Palace, Avignon main tourist attraction, but with a few surprises along the way.

An early morning walk took me first to the Place de l'Horloge (Town Hall square) where the red and white banner hanging on the first floor balcony of this restaurant caught my eye: “Ouvert aux assoiffés de rugby”, Open to the rugby thirsty. That keeps me on the beer track I started last week! I’ve seen this banner outside a number of cafes and bars around town: could this be the official slogan for the places where you can watch the Rugby World Cup matches live on a wide screen? Is this an international slogan? Have you seen a similar one where you live? Is the World Cup followed much in your country? Here you can't see an ad on TV that isn't somehow related to it. The oval ball is everywhere!

From the Place de l'Horloge it's only a short stroll through a narrow pedestrian street to arrive to the spectacular Popes' Palace, whose façade you can see here. These impressive walls belong to one of the largest medieval Gothic buildings in Europe. Read more about the Popes' Palace here. I had planned to visit it on Sunday afternoon during Heritage weekend, but the large crowds queuing outside prompted me to change my plans. An outside shot will do for today. In the afternoon, the falling sun starts casting the shadow of the Conservatory of Music (located across the square) onto the golden wall - if you looked closely you'd see the details of its rooftop balustrade drawing a dark pattern on the Palace's facade.
My steps took me to the large marble courtyard outside the castle. Its smooth surface makes it a favourite spot for young skateboarders. I spent a short while there trying to catch an interesting shadow. Not bad, this one!

I then headed for the Jardin des Doms, the public gardens next to the Palace, where I saw a re-enactment of Spartacus, the movie. This was one of the numerous free shows offered in Avignon during Heritage weekend. Using the French-dubbed soundtrack of the movie, local actors mimed excerpts of Spartacus’ life as a slave and then as a gladiator, with a focus on spectacular gladiator fights. This actor was Julius Cesar watching the games. As an city photo blogger, I have more experience in photographing buildings than people so I enjoyed taking him as a model and practising my portraituring skills. I like his pose here.

Watching the show I met Daniel, a retired photo reporter from the local newpaper La Provence. We talked about photography of course. There are two things he told me:
1. The best thing you can teach your kids is curiosity - I couldn't agree more.
2. One of the key elements to a good photo is light. Many people forget about it, concentrating exclusively on the framing. I hope this week's photographic essay of mine does justice to his teachings...

Later on in the afternoon when I walked back the light was turning to golden red. In front of Notre-Dame des Doms cathedral a praying angel was already greying at dusk while the large dungeon at the back was catching the last pink rays of the sun.

And the end of the day treated me to the icing on the cake, a real fun shot. When he saw me in ambush at the bottom of the stairs waiting for passer-bys to cast interesting shadows on the wall, this young guy volunteered a great move. I only took one photo, and it turned out great. Thanks mate, you made my day!
Have a good week everyone.


32 comments:

oldmanlincoln said...

It looks like you had fun today shooing the different photos. They are all nice too.

Fénix (Bostonscapes DP) said...

What a great post, Nathalie. I really like the idea of a weekly post with multiple photos.

About your Julius Cesar, I think you did a very nice job and his pose is very convincing :). I also liked those cool people shadows you got.

Felicia said...

I enjoyed traveling around town as you took us along from sun up to sun down. You have a special gift for seeing light/shadows/reflections!

isabella said...

Thanks for letting us tag along for a full day in Avignon - what fun we had!

At first glance, I thought the shadow on the Pope's Palace was from the bridge...wouldn't that be cool (but I don't think it's possible since that's the inside courtyard wall, right?).

The skater shot is super...you could build a skateboard marketing campaign around it ;-)

Mme Benaut said...

Avignon looks like such a beautiful, enticing place Nathalie and I love your shadow shots, especially the conservatoire shadow on the Pope's palace. I guess I'm more into places than people although we had 35 people at our bonfire on Saturday night - there was nowhere to hide!

Bergson said...

A new very successful series a small preference for the boy with the skate, the two orange walls and the boys of the last photograph.

Nathalie I find that Avignon made burst your talent.

Marie said...

Nathalie your photos are superb. Je les trouve vraiment fantastiques. J'adore Avignon et je regrette de ne pas y aller plus souvent. J'aime beaucoup mieux Avignon que Montpellier (mais chut!).

Peter said...

Nice to see that you had time to stroll around for a while! Are you now really installed?

First an answer to your question about the banners: I see them all over the place also in Paris! ... and I watch the rugby, sometimes even with a beer or two!

So nice to see all these photos of this faboulous town, even nicer I believe when the festival is over and at least some of the toursits are gone!

You have perfectly played with the light and the shadows. The skater with the shadow is a master piece!

dot said...

Thanks for visiting my blog today. It's fun to see what it looks like in other parts of the world. I love your photos!

Olivier said...

me voila sous le charme (meme si il manque toujours une version française ;o)) ). tes photos d'ombres sont superbes, surtout celle du skater. et bravo pour l'originalite de la derniere. j'espere que tout ce passe bien dans notre cite des papes

CaBaCuRl said...

I certainly agree with the photo reporter's 2 tips. Always being drawn to colour firstly, my favourite of your photos is the late afternoon light on the Notre-Dame des Doms and the different tonings, set against the blue sky that has just the slightest hint of pinky/purple in it....ethereal.(Sorry, just re-read that...was a bit of a rave! ;-)

Spica said...

Great shots. Can't agree more with lesson #2. That's what "photography" actually means, isn't it ?

For the rugby slogans, I haven't seen this banner anywhere for the moment (but I have been much in town lately...).

claude said...

Beaucoup plus jeune, j'ai visité le Palais des Papes un jour aussi qu'il faisait super beau. J'aime beaucoup la photo de la terrace du Café avec toutes ces couleurs rouges !

Sally said...

I giggles at the re-enactiment of the movie Spartacus, and admired your portraiture very much :-)

Peter said...

So, did you visit cuckoo's nest yesterday? No trace left. (I say this to encourage cuckoo's efforts.)

Thib said...

I had lunch some time ago at this red terrace ! Weather was nice and warm. It was a nice break in a long busy day !
The rugby banners are linked to the Rugby world cup of course. When you see one, you know you can watch the game there and drink a few (?) beers...

Kate said...

Natalie, I keep losing your blog site, but now will bookmark it so I can visit often. Enjoyed the photos, and would love to have eaten at the fine looking restaurant!

Chuckeroon said...

You certainly caught "Julius Caesar" nicely...in the end.

Isn't the Rugby World Cup superb? It's so good that France took up Rugby, and that it's grown into a cup like the 6 Nations and also the World Cup. I wnonder how England will do...the opener against Samoa was a bit "iffy".

Cergie said...

Un message sur l’ombre et la lumière, s’il faut trouver un thème pour cette fois.
L’on s’assiérait volontiers dans cette chaleureuse ambiance rouge, et surtout sous ce magnifique platane que promet ce tronc énorme. Les platanes font chanter le soleil et portent ombre, comme ici, sur la façade.
Les ombres qui ont une vie propre. Qui surprennent (comme celle de l’oiseau à ombre de poisson). Les deux tableaux en offrent de surprenantes (le skate se transforme en sac à main de dame). On s’attendrait presque à ce qu’elles prennent leur essor et s’éloignent de leurs propriétaires. D’ailleurs ceux-ci le savent, ils les surveillent.
Belles tranches de vie, à l’ombre des imperturbables bâtiments séculaires

AH ! J’oubliais : César ressuscité, est en pleine lumière, lui !

ruth said...

I'll remember this post for the shadow photos, but the others are equally fine. Love that modern day Julias Caesar and his poses. You have such a beautiful eye, so it's always a pleasure when I see a new post.

I hope you are settled into a new place?

Maxime said...

Quand tu ne nous étonnes pas avec des reflets, tu le fais avec des ombres !
La lumière du soir est particulièrement belle sur la dernière photo.

Jilly said...

Just caught up with you Nathalie. Some wonderful photos here. I love the way you catch a moment in people's lives and show Avignon at the same time.

richard said...

Hi Nathalie - had some problems making comments, so a bit delayed with this. Two photos especially catch my eye. The skateboarder is fantastic - although we see alot of these, this has something extra. Because it is taken from above, because the background is uniform except for the nice triangle of paving and of course the shadow which tells us what's going on. I also like the portrait. Nice pose, and well shot from the low viewpoint. I'm not 100% sure about the last one - the idea's nice but maybe it's a little too staged

Dsole said...

what a great set of pics, Nathalie!
I think the last one is funny but what an awesome light! Isn't it beautiful?
I hope you are great in your new city!

GMG said...

Great serie! Avignon is a lovely town, and now we'll have the chance to have the wonderful details through your lens. The colours of the Pope's palace are stunning!
Just left Bali and I’m posting on Singapore at Blogtrotter.
Enjoy, and have a great weekend!

M.Benaut said...

WOW, Nathalie,

You should be retained by the French tourism authorities.
Your photos are just superbe!
Madame et moi will be coming down there in August 2008 and really look forward to meeting you, avec des photos de Bondi Junction !!

Rauf said...

Julius Caesar is simply magestic Nathalie, a great portrait, warm light. More than Perfect. i love the warm tone in the pictures.
i am not surprised that people are too willing to please you by posing and volunteering for your experiments.

What a romantic restaurant ! red chairs are beautiful
Hope you are doing fine Nathalie, did you get the broad band connection ? Please give my love to your little daughter, i don't know her name. must have made many friends by now.

Nikon said...

Wow, that is a really great series!
The lighting is amazing - you could probably sell some of these to a stock agency.

kheoh yee wei said...

Great photo series ! I especially like the skateboard one :D

catherine said...

de belles images de corps
Spartacus a ma préférence pour son cadrage mais cet ombreur chinois t'a procuré une bien jolie photo !

Ming the Merciless said...

Your photos are spectacular! All of them! Thanks for sharing them with us.

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