For almost 20 years, I’ve wanted to go to Paris to see the Eiffel Tower. Nothing else – all I wanted to do was just see in person that iconic landmark. While staying in London, I knew I would be so close to Paris that I might as well just book a seat on the Eurostar and hop over to France for a couple of days. Below are variations on a theme, from sunrise to sunset over the course of 2 days (actually, just a day-and-a-half, not counting the travel time from London to Paris).
Continuing my 8-day stay in London. The museums and many of the other sights were closed the day after Christmas, “Boxing Day” in the UK, but I had tickets to the observation floors in the Shard. Yes, that’s two tickets. As a photographer, I naturally wanted to see the view during both the day and at night. Worth the price, IMO. The view is amazing, both day and night (although I believe I liked the day view better).
During the first visit, I walked all the way there, stopping at Southwark Catherdral to capture a photo before continuing on. (I wised up and took the Tube for my night visit).
Morning is an excellent time to go to the Shard. Crowds are minimal to practically non-existent. My ticket was for 10:00am and I think during my time there, I could count maybe 10-15 people at most. By the time I left, the crowd was starting to build.
Soft new-age mood music played both during the day and night. You could visit two floors. One is the main observation floor, totally enclosed. Heading up a couple of short flights of stairs brings you to the 72nd floor where, while you are still safely enclosed, the top and sides have open spaces and you can feel and hear the cool wind filtering through. It’s a neat feeling and I was a little sweaty after my walk there, so the breeze was a welcome relief.
The night view was lovely, but a little more crowded. The inside of the viewing areas is lit with a little bit of mood lighting (as well as mood music) in the enclosed observation area, so photos without reflections are a little more difficult to achieve. I brought along my polarizer filter thinking that would help, but it did not. Artful cropping helped to an extent.
If you ever visit London, I recommend a trip to the Shard. It’s not free, but the view is amazing.
Christmas Day in London was rainy, all day long. It was quiet, more or less, as well. I walked up the street and discovered Pret A Manger was open for business (bless them) and took back coffee and breakfast to my room, where I worked on more photos
before heading out for a little walk around Trafalgar Square.
That horse skeleton above is a part of a program called the Fourth Plinth (I think, I can’t exactly remember). Every so often, a new sculpture appears on that particular spot. When I was there July 2013, it was a neon purple cockerel from France. This piece of art is titled “Gift Horse” and is a replica of a horse skeleton with an actual working neon Nasdaq-type stock ticker as the ribbon around one of the skeleton’s legs.
I was still a little sleepy from the previous night, where I actually remained awake to attend Christmas Eve Service at Westminster Abbey, then couldn’t get to sleep until around 1:30am. So after breakfast, I edited a few more photos, including this one below that I took of the building sculptures across the narrow street from my room.
After that, it was time to get ready for my traditional Christmas Lunch in the hotel. Dress up, make up, heels, jewelry, the whole nine yards.
I will readily admit that while I totally enjoy all of my solo trips (I only travel solo unless it’s with an organized photo tour), I don’t particularly enjoy eating alone. So, while the food was quite good, I felt like the odd one out as I watched other diners, either in pairs or in groups, enjoy the lunch in a holiday spirit. I was glad to return to my room, change into my walking clothes, take my camera, and spend the remainder of the day walking the meal off (which consisted of an amuse bouche, ham hocks, sea bass, turkey with the trimmings, plum pudding, a glass of Tattinger, pre-meal and a glass of chardonnay with the entree).
Still a little rainy – enough so that it made some of the lights look a little “runny”, but a lovely Christmas Day nonetheless. I was right where I wanted to be on that holiday.
As is usual when I publish to my blog site, I don’t realize until after the fact that there are usually more photos to include that I haven’t even edited yet. Like the ones below. They go with my Dec 23rd walkabout. I stayed around the Globe area that evening because I had a ticket to see Cymbaline that night.
All that remains of Winchester Palace. Note how sunken the floor of the palace is next to the present-day walkway.
Christmas Decorations At Southwark Cathedral
En Route To The Clink. Lights on the ceiling overhead emulated fireworks and I stood there with my camera trying to get an expansive “fireworks” shot.
A Christmas Market In Front Of The Tate (one of the many markets sprinkled over London)
The Corinthia Hotel. I stayed there for business back in 2013, but for this trip, I opted to house myself in the building to the left – the Royal Horseguards. I was a little disappointed it was not as lit up as the Corinthia. To the right of the Corinthia is a theatre where I saw Spam-A-Lot back in July 2013. Good fun.
Still suffering from jet lag, I slept until about 7AM, got up, dawdled around, then grabbed my camera and set out for a day of walking and photography. My first trip was via the Underground to Hyde Park to see what the Winter Wonderland was all about. It was rainy and gray that morning – not at all like the late afternoon photo above.
After that, I took the Tube back to my hotel room where I warmed up with some hot tea before heading out again. The rain stopped, the sun was out, so were some clouds.
I bought something at one of the many Christmas markets and took it back to my room to eat. After that, I changed out of my day clothes, got all dressed up, and attended the midnight Christmas Eve service at Westminster Abbey. It was wonderful. Not only the service itself and the heavenly voices of the choir, but also the chance to be sitting there in such a historic piece of architecture, with the soaring vaulted ceilings, the carved stone pillars and statues, and the huge, stained-glass windows. What an experience!
2015 was a horrible year. So I wanted to do something to send off the year end with a bang. I happened to see a photo of the 2014 NYE London fireworks over the London Eye, and I knew that was where I needed to be for the final days of 2015. To that end, I took a 10-day trip to Europe: 8 days in London and 2 days in Paris.
What did I take with me for this trip? Too much. I’ll have you know, however, that I used almost every single piece of photographic equipment I lugged with me. So there!
- 3 camera bodies, all Canon: 1DX, 5DSR, 5DS (in case one body didn’t work, I had two others – redundancy is a photographer’s friend)
- 1 small flash: Canon Speedlite 270EX II
- 3 different wireless shutter releases (that redundancy thing, again)
- 5 lenses, all Canon: 11-24, 16-35 f4L IS, 50mm f1.2L, 24-70mm f2.8L, 24-105mm (I used the 24-105 by far the most as it was the best walk-around lens)
- My Induro 8X CT-414 carbon fiber tripod and BHD3 ballhead
- A gazillion memory cards (8, 16, 32 and 64 GB)
- All of my spare camera batteries for both the 1DX and 5DS cameras
- A couple of polarizer filters (which I think I used only once, but at least I had them)
- Lens hoods for each of the lenses
Of course I took my laptop, 2 portable HDs of 1TB each, and 2 memory card readers. I made copies of the photos onto both HDs and the laptop itself, since – again – redundancy is a photographer’s best friend.
Day 1 (Dec 23)