A Museum For Photography–Let Me In

If I were to ask you who was Joseph Nicephore Niepce was you’d more than likely, like me say “Who”. Yet as photographers we should know his name and sing his praises. Why? Because good old Joseph was the man who first invented photography. Maybe not as we know it today,  but what Niepce did was to lay down the foundations for modern photography. Using a technique called heliography Niepce created a photographic process by making a print from a photengraved printing plate in 1825.

Joseph Nicephore Niepce

And so on to today and modern photography. How things have changed. Digital is the new medium. Modern cameras can be extremely complicated but ridiculously small compared to the early days of photography. Come with me on a short journey through the Museum of Photography in Chalon-sur- Saone, the birthplace of Joseph Nicephore Niepce. I should say at this point that most of the exhibits, descriptions were in French only, the museum was extremely hot and not very well-lit. I wasn’t allowed to use a tripod, either.

The journey through the museum starts with early examples of cameras and equipment. As you would expect, all of these exhibits are in glass cases, meaning that the reflections from lights around the room and even myself are shown in the glass. I did manage to get around most of these problems by reducing the highlights and using the dehaze slider and making it positive in Lightroom. Not too heavy, just enough to take out some of the glare and reflections

Old Camera

It’s just a wooden box but look at the brass work, it’s a thing of beauty and precision mechanical engineering.

An Early Camera

Of course, early photography used chemicals, some of them quite nasty, and lots of them to get the final results.

Developing Fluid

I loved this door, small windows,  with lots of examples of early photographs. Of course nowadays with modern software we can simulate some of those early style of photographs.

Window

Moving through the museum, did I mention it was really hot, we come to a more modern era. We’ve moved a way from single plates to rolls of film as this advert for Agfa film shows

Advertising Material

Equipment has moved on as well, cameras are much smaller and developing film is not as messy. Chemicals are still involved, though.

Glass Cases

Now we are starting to move into the Kodak zone, as I call it. In 1962 the Eastman Kodak Company established a production plant in Chalon-sur-Saone. At it’s peak the factory employed about 2500 employees mainly specialising in the manufacture of photo-sensitive surfaces used for consumer photos, cinefilm for the cinema and products used in medical radio.

But then in 2004, with the accelerated arrival of digital products, particularly in consumer photography, Eastman Kodak announced major cuts to the group and workforce. Then began a period of intense layoffs cutting the workforce and by 2006 there are only about 100 employees on the site. This was later cut to about thirty and by 2010 there is no one working for Kodak.

Kodak Colorama

You know I’m really impressed with the photograph above, or should I say my camera, the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark 2 and the 12-40mm Olympus PRO lens. This is hand-held at 1/15 second in a darkish sort of room. The in-body stabilisation has kicked in to give me a reasonably sharp  focused photograph.

Small Panoramas

One of the Kodak Coloramas projected onto the wall. I really liked being in this room, looking at all of the photographs and the good bit. I had the place to myself.

San Francisco Colorama

Last photograph and you can see another projected photograph of the Taj Mahal in the background.

Kodak Gallery

I spent hours in the museum, looking at the exhibits and taking loads of photographs. Best of all it was free entry, if only it wasn’t so hot. But you can’t have it all so I’m grateful that I was able to visit the museum.

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Hôtel-Dieu, Beaune

Once an alms-house for the poor, the Hotel Dieu is now a museum and at last I have found an ancient building in France that is not bare of furniture and fittings. Right from the start I knew there would be some good photo opportunities and it really was a shame that the sun wasn’t out. Instead i had to contend with gloomy grey skies throughout the day. But it’s a one-off visit so I had to make the most of it, stop moaning about the light and get on with it.

Courtyard

Of course like all museums and tourist attractions you just can’t get away from the crowds and this particular group always seemed to be just in front of me. But ignore the people and look at the ceiling. How beautiful is that?

The Ward

Those beds are were the sick and poor were quartered. Privacy, of which there is little, comes from drawing a curtain across. But when all’s said and done, it must have been a lot better to be in here, rather than being out on the streets.

Beds

So I finally had a stunning plan. Jump ahead of that group and stay ahead of them whilst I got my photographs. there were other people about but I could work around that. meanwhile I’m impressed with the level of fittings that are here in the museum, even down to the mannequins dressed as nuns. Although more on that later……

Private Ward

….and here’s where I think the mannequin doesn’t work. Red lipstick, beautifully shaped eye-brows, any nuns I’ve seen, and I’ve seen loads, having once lived very near Rome and the Vatican, just didn’t look like that.

Kitchen

But the museum is well equipped and although I photographed a lot of rooms there’s only so much I can include here. Which takes me to the Apothecary. I could spend time in Photoshop cloning out the ropes and the sign with the number but I wanted to get this post out. Besides which you get to see the room as I did and that’s how it should be.

Apothecary

Anyway after a while I left the Hotel Dieu and went for a wander around Beaune. Such a nice little town, Narrow cobbled streets to walk around, not too much traffic and a lot of building associated with the wine industry, including a free museum you can walk around.

Streets

And of course, there’s always a church. As I had time to spare. I had a quick wander around

Basilique Notre Dame

It’s a typical French church, pretty ornate inside, with high vaulted ceiling and lots of stained glass.

Dome

Like most French churches, there are lots of private chapels, some very ornate, some quite simple.

Stained Glass

Well that’s it. I hope you enjoyed this quick tour with me – Mike

On the Beach In Black And White

This week it’s going to be a quick one with just two photographs. Circumstances and time have caught up with me. But hopefully you will like the photographs. Sunday afternoon saw me at Talacre, I managed to break away for a couple of hours to meet up with a group of photographers who, like me, are into long exposure photography.

Now you might be asking “what is he talking about”?. So let me explain in the most simplest of terms. By sticking an extremely dark filter in front of the camera lens. I can force the camera sensor into computing that I am effectively photographing my subject at night, even although it’s broad daylight. Therefore the camera computes that to get the right exposure for the photograph it need to take a lot longer to keep the shutter open. How long depends on a few factors, but suffice to say I was looking at exposures of between 2 seconds and 70 seconds throughout the day. To ensure the photograph is not blurred I am using a tripod and a remote control.

I am lucky that I can use Live View with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark 2 and watch the photograph develop on the rear screen. I let the camera do all the work. But other photographers have to calculate the exposure using charts, or these days, usually an app on their smart phone.

He [Brassai] times his long exposures by smoking cigarettes – when his smoke was out, he closed the shutter. – John G. Morris

First photograph. Taken as the tide was coming in. Even at two seconds you can see that the sea is beginning to be smoothed out. It wasn’t particularly rough that day, with almost no wave action to speak of.

Talacre Lighthouse

This second photograph is a seventy second exposure. It’s more noticeable in the clouds now as they have started to streak which is a characteristic of long exposures.

A snapshot steals life that it cannot return. A long exposure [creates] a form that never existed. – Dieter Appelt

It was a bit of a grey day and the colours weren’t that fantastic so to get more effect i have converted to Black and White using NIK Silver Efex.

Talacre Lighthouse

So that’s it for this week.  I hope you enjoyed the photographs – Mike

Château de Tournon

Once again I am disappointed by a French historical building that promised much and delivered so little.

Tournon Castle

Perched above the town of Tournon, the castle has views over the town and river.

View From

Inside though another historical building has been stripped of much of it’s original fixtures and fittings, only to be replaced by modern works of art.

Art Work

Nice as some of them are to look at, you can soon get bored wandering from room to room and finding only these. Where is all the magnificent furniture, the drapes, ornaments etc. I mean you only have to read about some of the historical homes I have photographed in the UK to see the difference. Despite being built during the 16th century the Castle at Tournon has so little. Even Wikipedia in it’s description of Tournon Castle strips it down to one lineittle. Even Wikipedia strips it down to one line.

The Château de Tournon is a listed castle in Tournon-sur-Rhône, Ardèche, France. It was built in the 16th century. It has been listed as an official historical monument since March 28, 1938

Anyway let’s have a look around the castle. After paying your entry fee the first thing you get to see is the courtyard. Like all museums there is a sort of suggested route and entry to the rooms of the castle are through the small door. We struggled to find the light switch at this point and you do need it, especially as you are met with a winding staircase. Also coming in from the bright sunlight to this dark area, you are at first as “blind as a bat”.

Castle Courtyard

First room, mind the step, you have to step down into the room. Lots of shields on the wall.

Shields

Through the door into the next room. There’s a table and two chairs. Moving on quickly….

A Room

At this point I stopped following the plan. Up until this point I was by myself and could take my time taking photographs. But suddenly a part of people turned up so I jumped ahead to other rooms to get some peace and quiet to photograph. Later I can double back once they have passed through. It’s one of those things, you can’t expect exclusive access when visiting buildings…..but there is always one who wants to linger and look at the carving on the clock. I mean ten minutes just to look at it, c’mon give me a break.

Furniture

Another table and chairs……

Desk

….and here’s some more

Table and Chairs

viewed from another angle.

Table

In one of the rooms, there was a large glass case with what looked like some remains of a bridge. Remember Marc Seguin? I couldn’t photograph it, because there was a party of people there being given a lecture by one of the museums curators so time to move on. I found the church. Yep! That’s it below. Enough said.

Church

That’s it for Tournon Castle. Another disappointment, although that’s not strictly true. I did enjoy wandering around, especially as it got me out of the heat of the day.

Où Est L’Oignon Johnny?

As a kid growing up in Glasgow I can remember when little Frenchmen with striped shirts and a black beret would cycle around the streets selling their onions. Each summer they would suddenly appear, their cycle bedecked with strings of onions, to us kids it was so exotic. How I wish I was into photography then.

It’s 9:15 in the morning, the sky is blue, the temperature is rapidly rising and I’m in Tournon during the annual onion festival. Held every year for more than 700 years on the 29 August and it is reckoned that more than 1000 people will be exhibiting their wares.

Onions, I’m in France, Onion Johnny is going to be here, I just know it, Johnny I’m coming to photograph you.

So here we are, down by the river I find a statue to probably the first Onion Johnny. But a quick bit of research soon proves me wrong and then to make matters worse I find out that the traditional Onion Johnnies come from Brittany and we’re definitely not in Brittany. Good old Marc here was a bit of an entrepreneur and inventor, being the first to develop a wired suspension bridge in continental Europe. In 1829 Seguin designed two steam locomotives that used an innovative multi-tube boiler design. This gave more power to the engines and allowed them to increase speed from about 4 mph to around 25 mph, making rail travel commercially more viable.

Marc Seguin

Did I mention that Tournon has a castle? More on that later with a second post from Tournon, probably about Wednesday.

Tournon Castle

Anyway moving on. Wandering around the market by the riverside it was already starting to get busy, but there certainly wasn’t a 1000 traders in the market space. No! There had to be more elsewhere? Round towels, can’t say I’ve seen them before.

On the Market

Ugh! Nutella. I don’t know what tastes worse, Vegemite or Nutella. The idea behind this stall is you buy the pastries (donuts, maybe) and they get filled with your choice of filling.  But I actually saw someone buying the pastries and then getting them warmed before eating them. So a little bit of research courtesy of Wikipedia and I find that a Beignet is the French term for a pastry made from deep-fried choux pastry and they are meant to be prepared and eaten right there and then.

Nuttella

It’s chocolate time and I’ve never seen this before. You buy the yellow carrier bag for 10 Euros (about USD $12) and then this market man goes around filling it with chocolate. There’s lots of talk and gesticulating and he was just starting to get in his stride when I came along. But just remember this. It was a hot day, later we were told the temperature had reached 40 degrees centigrade. I wonder how the chocolate survived.

Chocolate Heaven

Another one from the market before I set off to have a wander around the town. Apparently all local made.

Shoes For Sale

Getting away from the river I started to wind my way through the narrow streets looking for photo opportunities. Now I know where all those traders are. They’re in the streets of the town and of course so are all the townsfolk and tourists. It’s hot, sticky, there’s a lot of bumping going on and I have already worked out I’m going to be photographing crowd scenes.

People

That is until a find this narrow little street with no one in it. At last a bit of peace and quiet and I can take some photographs without people. Look at this, dark, narrow, winding and surprisingly cool, considering. Look at those pipes coming down the side of the buildings. Perfect.

Light and Shade

And then I found this before heading into the Eglise Notre Dame

Door and Window

The church was so cool and peaceful. It wasn’t my intention to take a photograph but I wanted to linger a while and just chill, excuse the pun. I’d had enough of crowds and the church was almost empty.

Eglise Notre Dame

But I couldn’t stay there all day. I had a hot date with a castle later in the afternoon so it was time to get back to the river, grab some lunch and cool off in my air-conditioned room before venturing forth again.

And there he is. “Onion Johnny”. Surprisingly although it’s the Onion Festival I saw very few onions for sale. But there again I wasn’t exactly going looking for them it was just too hot.

Onion Johnny

That’s it. Later this week I’ll take you on a trip around Tournon Castle.

Macon, Is That It?

Wander around Macon in France and you’ll soon come to recognise that it does not offer a lot for photographers. Maybe I’m doing the town an injustice but without stretching to a bit of street photography I was really struggling to get a photograph. Now half of the problem was cars. They were parked everywhere and any building that was worth a click of the shutter had the inevitable car outside it. So I became a bit selective, maybe too selective, but it is what it is so here’s the photographs.

Chamber of Commerce

The first building I came across was the Chamber of Commerce, which seemed to be shut up. Getting low and close to the waterfall allowed me to get all of the building in, but I did have to do some perspective corrections in Adobe Lightroom to straighten the building.

Quite a few of streets are closed to traffic or so I thought. When I nearly stepped into the path of speeding moped I soon realised, there’s traffic and there’s traffic. But eventually I managed to negotiate my way to the Town Hall and those crazy but colourful plant pots.

Hotel de Ville

And right behind me was the Eglise St Pierre. I couldn’t get all of the building in with one shot. It was just too tall. So in the end I photographed the church in three sections, making sure each section overlapped by quite a bit. Then It was a simple task to combine the three sections using Adobe Lightroom’s “merge to panorama” module.

Eglise St Pierre

Inside the church, like many French churches, it’s quite ornate. Far more so than many of the simple churches I find in North Wales. There again, the churches in France are so much larger, almost cathedral-like in size.

Columns

Here’s a close-up of the area around the altar. Before you ask I have no idea of the significance of the green cloth. From a photography point of view id does add a welcome splash of colour.

Green Cloth

Sorry about this, but talking about cathedrals, Macon does have one. Well actually it has two. The 13th century one was demolished in 1799 leaving only two distinctive towers. Lot’s of cars parked outside so not worth a photograph. Then there’s the new cathedral of St Vincent.

Cathedrale St Vincent

Now if you want ornate, this is the place to go. All marble, lots of stained glass, well just look at it.

Ornate

So that’s Macon. No doubt I missed loads that I could photograph but to be honest as a town it didn’t really inspire me

Llanrwst And I Got Wet

Now you might have noticed that I’ve changed the blog theme and there’s a reason behind that. I had a conversation the other day with a new reader to Say It With A Camera and after a while it became evident to me that somehow the aim for my blog had sort of gone by the wayside. Say It With A Camera was always intended to be about the photographs and yet there was I using a theme that spent more time advertising how I’d been Discovered, Freshly Pressed and in the Top 100 Blogs. You know I can’t even remember if that was photography or not. Worst of all, the photographs were small.

So I’ve gone back to a simple theme called Plane, taken out all the Widgets to give me a single column that hopefully will show the photographs so much better. Talking of photographs. All of these are 3 shot HDR using the Olympus combination of the OM-D E-M1 Mk2 and the 12-40mm f2.8 PRO lens which is hardly ever off of the E-M1.

Anyway it’s that time of the year when the “little house” by the river in Llanrwst becomes probably one of the most photographed buildings in North Wales.

Tu Hwnt I'r Bont
1/180s, f11, ISO 200

The building does have a chequered history but it’s a tea room now and a very popular one at that. Oh! and the getting wet. First of all the river is in full flow, higher than normal. I came along the river side and had to wade across a large puddle were the river had burst it’s banks. Then to cap it all. I’d just got the tripod set up, the camera was on the tripod and suddenly the heavens opened. Driving rain and where I was standing there is just no shelter.

Not really that productive down by the river, so whilst I was in the area I decided to pay a quick visit to the church, more to dry out a little before going back to the car, than actually taking any photographs.

But seen as I was there, why not? The light wasn’t too bad, late afternoon sun, breaking through the clouds, giving some nice patches of light and shade, ideal for a bit of HDR. Just as a matter of interest the church was built in the late 15th century, although there have been more modern renovations to the church which were carried out in the 1840’s.

Church of St Grwst
2.0s, f11, ISO 200

Next door to the church is a small chapel which was built in the 17th century by Richard Wynn of Gwydir. Inside the chapel you can find 17th century stalls, a lectern and a communion table. Several stone monuments, dedicated to members of the Wynn family, as well as a 13th century stone coffin, supposedly that of Llywelyn the Great can be found.

Gwydir Chapel
1/40s, f8, ISO 200

So that’s it. All in all I got wet and to add insult to injury, walking back to the car the heaven opened again. Then to add even more insult. As soon as I left Llanrwst, the sun came out, the skies turned blue, with those beautiful white wispy clouds. It would have been perfect down by the river, especially with the sun starting to dip. But that’s the weather in Wales for you.