The eerily quiet streets of Paris

Covid Spacing
Usually restaurants in Paris have tiny tables all crammed together against the banquette along the wall. Here’s the covid spacing in one restaurant I visited.

Paris in the time of Covid

I spent the Covid lockdown of late winter and spring 2020 in the rural South of France, in a region that had few cases and very few deaths. Ours was one of the first regions to be declared “green,” which meant that we got to ease out of the restrictions a little more quickly than other parts of France that were labelled orange or red.

As the confinement came to a close in mid-May, my friend Olivier suggested that this summer might be a good time to visit Paris. In my mind, Paris is always a good idea (thank you, Audrey Hepburn!), but I really waffled about whether to make this trip. Traveling from a region with low numbers for the disease into a red-zone city that saw a high number of cases and deaths was enough of a risk to give me pause. Eventually I decided to go, mainly to see what Paris would look like without the crowds. Today’s post is a little journal of my visit to the City of Light.

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New discoveries: wine

Barrel Stain
Wine barrels in the cave of the Pierre Fil winery in the South of France.

 

Checking out the bottling truck
A friend and I recently visited a local vineyard that we quite like, and while there, we learned that the bottling truck would arrive a few days later. I’ve been intrigued by these trucks since I first landed in the South of France, and had been hoping for an opportunity to photograph one in action.

Annabelle, our host, was very welcoming of the idea, giving me a big smile and opening her arms to say that I would be welcome to watch, learn and take a few photographs.

Gasp! You mean the wines aren’t tenderly bottled by hand at each winery?
Some wineries still do their own bottling, but it’s an expensive, time-consuming and error-prone process. Here’s a list of the necessary steps: clean and dry the bottles, fill with wine, cork and cap, add labels, place bottles in cartons. Each step requires its own machine and/or operator. The equipment is precise, it needs to be maintained, and it can break down during bottling. There is also the complication that different wine varietals require different bottles, along with their own unique labels. If someone inexperienced is operating the machine for corking the wine or for placing the labels, things can go wrong, which means that while the wine inside might be perfectly fine, the bottle doesn’t look good enough to sell, so it’s set aside, and if that happens too often, there’s a problem with profits. Of course, the entire process must be done under strict hygiene restrictions. It all adds up to a nightmare of organization that many vintners are happy to hand off to the experts.

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Valentine’s Day and Brexit

Blowsy

 

All things pink and red
Cupid’s arrows are zinging around with extra vigor because Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. To help you get into the mood—just in case you’ve missed all the advertising in shops and in every possible variety of media—I bring you a selection of my photographs, paying special attention to pink this year.

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Eight travel photo tips (and a bonus)

Eiffel Rorschach
A different view of the Eiffel Tower, taken from below and looking up at one corner of the gorgeous structure.

Planning a summer vacation?
Summer travel season + time with family = lots of opportunities for photography. I offer below a list of tips for upping your game to help you get even better photos from your once-in-a-lifetime vacation. This is not a list for the pros; these are tips for folks who take a camera with them when they travel, and that is everyone, because your phone has a great little camera in it that you already use a lot. There’s also a bonus tip for those who really want to go for it. The most important tip: have a fun vacation!

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Southeast Asia

Spent
A colorful cluster of artificial flowers artfully placed near a well-worn wall.

I spent the Christmas and New Year holidays with my cousins, who live in Singapore. They’d invited me for a visit, and did a stellar job of hosting me, showing me around Singapore and bustling me off to Malaysia for a week. I offer you a rewrite of a few scribbled diary-like notes, plus some photographs that cannot begin to convey the atmosphere. If only I could figure out how to create a digital scratch-and-sniff photograph that could move beyond rich visuals to include multi-sensory scratches for the strange and tantalizing scents, the mix-tape of sound, myriad flavors, and the heavy weight of non-stop heat and humidity.

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