Saturday, March 8, 2014

White Nights Can't Be Wrong

So presently I found myself in Paris. As it is wont to do, the day job dictated the schedule, and so I was to be in the City of Light in mid-October. Columbus Day weekend to be precise. No matter, Paris sera toujours Paris and perhaps the fall weather would provide a better backdrop for photos.

I don't remember how I found out about it, but a few days before departure, it came to my attention that the same weekend which I would be in Paris, would be the Nuit Blanche - White Nights - festival. Now, I had, up to that point, never heard of a White Nights festival but imagine my interest when I learned that not only would Paris be staying open late that Saturday night but that as part of the event, the city would be opening buildings not normally open to the public. Some quick research showed that there were a lot of options - too many, to be honest. I would have to pick my shots.

However the Nuit Blanche folks were generous in not only listing the sites but in even providing photos from the locations. A plan came together: I'd go for the Pompidou Center, the Mayor's office of the 4th arrondissement, and - the potential prize - the Tour Morland. The tower houses the Paris Urban Planning offices and - more importantly - has a terrace on the 15th floor not normally accessible to the public. It was going to be a great night of shooting.

I turned out to be a miserable night. It was pouring rain almost the entire time and while I like the effects that rain give to a photo, I can't shoot in it if it's coming down too hard. Which it was. And then, all the lines, lines, lines! I easily spent more than half the night standing in line with about 30 pounds of camera gear on my shoulder. And then, the first two stops were flops. It turned out that the Pompidou Center wasn't letting you on the roof as had been implied, but only onto a terrace on the fourth floor. It was a different vantage point than what you could access to normally, but nothing special. Then the mayor's office...

Look, I speak French which makes what happened even more inexplicable - rather than go to the mayor's office of the 4th Arrondissement, I wound up at the mayor's office for the city of Paris. Which I didn't figure out until I got inside (though the ridiculous line should have clued me in). Now, the  Mayor of Paris' office IS spectacular (and suitably ostentatious) and while they let me shoot as much as I wanted in there, it was not at all what I was going for.

So by the time I got to the Tour Morland, I was tired, wet, and not in a particularly good mood. And standing around for another hour or so wasn't helping. In fact, it was getting so late (after midnight at this point) I was afraid that they were going to shut down. Well, they did in fact do that, but those of us who were already in line were allowed to stay. So after all of that, I was finally able to ascend to the 15th floor and head out to this terrace which I'd been waiting to see all night, whereupon I was greeted with this view:

Good Morning, Paris

Good Morning, Paris.

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