The Bright Side of a Dark Storm

Our first 8 days in France, punctuated by late autumn sunshine and unseasonably warm temperatures, and possibly believable only to photography buffs, were almost too sunny, creating lighting challenges left better to the experts. On the 9th day it rained. The early morning gloom and mist slowly evolved into a rain storm so impressive that it might have been able to compete with the great monsoon of 2014.  And it was with a certain weird satisfaction that I knew such a dramatic weather event would take place that day, like a psychic guaranteeing the worst as I clicked “confirm payment” two months ahead of my night photography lesson at the Louvre. Miserable, cold and with the inexplicable humiliation resulting from fighting an umbrella blown inside out and fractured by the wind, I arrived at the agreed meeting place in front of the grand pyramid at the Louvre. And like a happy ending to a fairy tale gone awry, I met Nadia, my unflappable, knowledgeable and more importantly, kind, instructor from the photo tour company, Better Travel Photos.

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For over four hours we huddled in and around the arched doorways of the Louvre, teacher and student, not letting the storm compete with the subject but to enhance it, and despite the weather challenges, I learned. Among many tips, I studied the best settings for night photography, grasped how to emphasize the star-like glow of street lamps, learned that setting up a tripod isn’t that difficult even for me, and had a few mysteries of my Nikon D600 revealed.  Making room in our covered haven for other dripping wet tripod wielding photographers, my mind wandered, contrasting our current digital technology with the history of the massive building. As I tried to imagine a likeness of King Philip Augustus, who ordered the construction of a fortress at the site in 1190, 824 years ago, I glimpsed the ghost of Napoleon III shooting me a startled glance from his windowed perch from the famous Napoleon apartments, as he wondered what’s become of the place.  Could he explain La Gioconda‘s elusive smile and lay to rest all speculation?

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Travel styles are personal. Some prefer to wander, there are thrill seekers, and history buffs who prefer an educational tour, the list makers, and relaxation specialists, and then there are those who attract a Chevy Chase Vacation kind of chaos.  Our family is guilty of all the above, but the vacations where we participated more, immersed ourselves in a culture or activity (which typically involves sweating and muscle aches) were the most memorable.  The instructional photography tour was both personally rewarding and fun, and I would sign-up again, rain or shine.

Check out the Better Travel Photos blog for photography tips, advice and news here:  Better Travel Photos

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