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MIDNIGHT IN PARIS Well, that's what time we usually went to sleep anyway

I ONLY GET A CHANCE TO DO ONE OR TWO WORKSHOPS PER YEAR…

And I felt incredibly fortunate that one of them was in Paris this year. It's probably the most photogenic city in the world, and for our 12 participants, myself and co-instructor Mimo Meidany, it was the perfect backdrop for a week of laughing, learning, and loving every minute of it. We even had pretty great weather. Well, except for that day that it rained some, and it was kinda windy, but it was only one part of one day so I think we were pretty lucky. Heck, we were pretty lucky to be in Paris taking photos in the first place, right?

Hyper-realistic flight map above.

HERE'S THE PLAN (which got immediately tossed out the window)

The plan was; my son and I would fly from Tampa to Paris; get there a few days before the workshop to meet up with my co-teacher, KelbyOne Instructor Mimo Meidany and do some location scouting.

Then after the workshop, my son and I would take a train down to Marseille, France to shoot the Lavender fields there, then hop a flight to London where I would speak at the World Modeling Convention on June 16th. However, about a week before our trip, the organizers of the World Modeling Convention canceled the event altogether, (along with my hotel rooms in London). And my flight reimbursement. And my speaker's fee. And everything. I know, boo hoo — I still got to go to Europe (albeit on my dime), but regardless, we had a fantastic workshop, an incredible father/son trip, and we got to see lots of old friends (like Mimo), and we even made some new ones. All in all, it totally rocked!

This is Mimo. Incredibly great guy; excellent teacher; black and white master; composition superstar, but at the same time, he drinks a lot of water. He drinks water like he's drinking water. He'sOK with tap water, too. I'm afraid he may be water-based. That aside, everybody loves him. Even strangers. Especially strangers with water. He lives in Canada and Venice. Can't make up his mind, since they both have lots of water.
This is the view from the top of our hotel in Paris. Guests can go up there any time (you have to use your room key to access rooftop, which is sometimes a bar, but not while we were there), but come on — that is a pretty sweet and rarely seen view from up there). Unfortunately, there's what appears to be a large cell tower on the far left mucking up the scene. ;-)

I'm going all "Mimo" style.

I usually shoot in color, but you can't sit in a workshop classroom with Mimo teaching his Black & White image workflow and not wind up doing a few black and whites. He has a very specific look, and I sure do like it. He gave all our workshop participants his personal black and white Lightroom presets, and they are pretty darn awesome. Here's a few of my favorite "Mimo-Style" Black and whites, to get things rolling.

A row of Playpods at dawn, and a tiny puddle. That's all we need. :) BTW: I wasn't shooting four cameras — those are the cameras of the participants in the class. We are all on the lookout for small puddles anywhere we go now. It's a sickness.
Another puddle reflection shot. See below for the behind the scenes shot.
Mimo taught me a few years ago that you really need just the tiniest puddle for a good reflection shot. The real challenge, always, is waiting for tourists to stop taking selfies and move out of your frame. That usually takes a while.
The one time I forgot my Platypod. Had to lay my camera on the ground (in front of a tiny puddle to get the shot you saw previously) like some kind of savage. Never forgot it again, I can tell ya that! That's my new Canon EOS R Mirrorless camera on the job! Well, on the wet ground anyway. I totally love this camera, and especially it's fully articulating screen.
This was a three-minute walk from our hotel. In class, anytime a photo of this bridge (the Pont Neuf) came up, I would point out the window and say, "You know, it's right out there. Like, literally right out there!"
If you get there at dawn, nobody's at the Louvre. There are barricades that keep anyone that does show up from wandering into your shot.
That's my shot of Mimo photographing inside the Musée d'Orsay. You have to watch out for those rotating hands. You could really get clocked. Get it? Clocked? Oy. Sorry about that one.

But at heart…I'm still a color image guy

I really enjoyed going all "Mimo Style" but at heart, I'm still really drawn to color, so…I'm back to color.

A long exposure shot near dawn from the Pont d'Arts Bridge.
This is pretty much as close as we got to the Eiffel Tower. At dawn, there's virtually no one there. The next time we drove by, it was solid people wall-to-wall. At least 1,000+.
It's not the most beautiful bridge in Paris (that would be the Alexandre III), but I think it's my favorite — the Pont Neuf. This was about a three-minute walk from our hotel.
The Louvre just after dawn. I was so happy we had some clouds.
We've got some leading line action here, people! (in my best Peter Hurley impression).
The Pantheon Cathedral. Hands down one of the most un-friendly to photographers places we encountered in Paris. This and the French National Libraries. They both hate photographers.

SCOUTING LOCATIONS BEFORE THE WORKSHOP

Mimo and I always arrive a couple of days early to scout locations before the workshop kicks off. We do this every time so we can see if there are obstructions (scaffolding, closed-off areas, etc.), and for other nearby shooting opportunities. It's also a chance for us to get most of our shots out of the way, so once the workshop starts, we can concentrate on our students, instead of us always taking pictures.

I rented a classic old Citroën for a photo shoot for our workshop participants. I found the perfect place to position it by doing research online.
My pick for the most beautiful bridge in Paris — the Pont Alexandre III.
Hey, how about we park a bunch of awesome red sports cars in formation around the Trocadero. Photographers would probably dig that!
Some folks asked me on Facebook to get a shot of Notre Dame after the terrible fire. From the front it still looks fine.

THE WORKSHOP

It was a four-day travel photography workshop, and our biggest challenge was the Sunrise and Sunset times in Paris at this time of year. Sunrise is early — 5:45 am, and sunset is really late around 9:50 pm. This is why we had the workshop participants take a siesta each day from lunchtime to 5:30 pm. Remember — if Sunrise is 5:45 am, that's about when the shoot ENDS. We have to be on-location and shooting, starting around 5:10 am. Those siestas are very necessary and keep everybody from getting burned out. We're still working together for about 10-hours a day, but we're together more like 12 hours (with breakfast and lunch).

THE NIGHT BEFORE…

At our workshops, we treat all the participants to a casual get-together dinner the night before the workshop so we can all get to know each other over a great meal before the start of the workshop at dawn the next monring. We had such a great group of photographers, and that makes all the difference in the world at a workshop like this. Great people make for great times.

Before the workshop, we asked the participants to watch the wonderful movie "Midnight in Paris" (Directed by Woody Alan and starring Owen Wilson). We did this for two reasons:

(1) It's the perfect movie to watch before any trip to Paris. It's just so great. And…

(2) …thanks to Kalebra, we were able to get the Polidor Restaurant for that "get together" dinner. The Polidor was used in the movie "Midnight in Paris" when Owen Wilson's character meets Ernest Hemingway (seen below).

Hemingway at the Polidor restaurant from the movie "Midnight in Paris"
That's us at the Polidor (Well, except for Mimo who is taking the photo — that's his seat on the right).

Every day we're either shooting on location, or learning in the classroom.

We hired two professional models, on different days, for the class to photograph. In this case with the rooftops of Paris as our background.

One Of The Most Surprising Things…

…is that we can all be at the same location, at the same time, aiming in the same general direction, and yet come away with such different photos. I heard it time and again from the participants. We'd get back to the classroom, where we'd see each other's images, and everybody was surprised to see how different each other's images looked. Different angles, different lens, different compositions — just straight up different. Showing the same scene others are standing in front of, in the way you see that scene, that's part of the core what communiting visually like this is all about.

Our Group Shot (with most of our group. Mimo took the shot, and I think WIllie was assisting or cracking jokes. It was one or the other).

BEFORE THE WORKSHOP AND RIGHT AFTER, MIMO AND I GOT A CHANCE TO DO SOME SHOOTING.

Modern Architectural Black and White

There's an area of Paris called "La Defense" and it's filled with ultra modern high-rise buildings, and so it was on my list to shoot with an ND filter to get long exposures, and then process in Black and White. I used a similar technique to Mimo's for the black and whtie post part, but I added a post processing technique that accentuates the lighting in the scene and makes it look more dramatic. You've seen this look before. It's very different than the classic Paris shots you've seen thus far, but I assure you, they were all taken in Paris — literaly right down the road from the Arc D'Triomphe.

BTS: Wide Angle Lens. 10-stop ND Filter. F/11. Put it on a tripod and aim up.
OK, the camera technique may not be all that hard to master. LOL!!! Key tip: Aim up!

Next stop: the Lavender Fields of Provence

My son and I took the train from Paris down to Marseille, France (about three hours). Super comfortable seats; table to sit at; power, wi-fi. It was awesome. #FrenchTrainsForTheWin!

Ya know those amazing lavender fields in Provence, France (down in the South of France)? Yeah, those. Here's a tip: they're not in bloom now. Just so ya know. We were about 3 weeks or so early for the big lavendar bloom in Valensole (the epicenter of lavender fields in France and their accompanying Instagram photos). There was a tiny bit of lavendar on the top of some of the otherwise green rows of bushes, so at least there was that…well, that and Photoshop. Nevertheless, we loved the Provence area, and after one day in Valensole, we spent the rest just romaing throughout Provence, which is incredibly beautiful from end to end.

So, while we didn't get "lavender fest" we had a great father/son road trip among some of the most beautiful parts of France, so I cannot complain — it was a blast! (especially when your son speaks French — it was his Minor in college, so…that helped a bunch. He even talked a French cop out of giving me a parking ticket. That's ma-boy!. :-)

Hey, now that looks pretty lavender to me. It does. However, the Lavender color has been, shall we say, "Enhanced" a bit (ahem) in "post." That sky looks pretty decent too. It too was (ahem) enhanced. This should be named, "What I wished it had looked like out of camera." That would be a great name for this shot.
This one is "enhanced" as well, or you'd be looking at rolling fields of green.
Yeah, it wasn't nearly this lavender. More like a green version of lavender, but nobody would call them the "Green fields" so, ya know. Anyway, I tried to convice my son to put on a sun dress, a floppy hat, and stand out there so we could be Instagram hits, but he didn't bite. Worth a try. Did see Instagrammers doing that exact thing while I was there. I am not making this up. Hat. Sundress. And a tripod.
You know that saying "Don't shoot what it looks like. Shoot what it feels like." It feels to me, like these bales should be Lavender. Boom. Done.
Recognize this Monestary/Abbey place? Yup, we drove all the way out there. We had plenty of time on our hands due to the severe lack of Lavendar fields. In about four weeks, this would be an amazing picture. Today, not so much. Oh, and the abbey was closed becuase of construction so there's that. The gift shop was open though (mentally insert some emoji here that conveys what I'm feeling at this moment).

Dinner in Valensole

Well, after the shoot, we did drive into Valensole (the town) and had a wonderful dinner in at an outdoor cafe, and that was our view (below) from the restaurant. If you ever needed a demo image to show what 'Blue Hour' looks like, this one will surely do. This was taken after 10:00 pm at night.

We stayed at such a charming Bed & Breakfast —

It was called "Le jardin des Glycines" In the town of Mane, France. About 45 minutes from the Lavender fields of Valensol (well, at least by car). A wonderful couple runs the place, and they are as charming as the hotel. Beautiful gardens, and a super yummy French breakfast (crepes, homemade bread, juices, great coffee, croissants, homemade jellies, and jams, etc.) and served in such a beautiful room I had to take a few pictures of the place and the food.

ONE FOR THE ROAD FROM VALENSOLE

They're very big on Lavender in Valensole. By the way, if you go to Valensole, and you're looking for this door, it's right next to the restaurant where my son and I ate dinner, next to the fountain I showed earlier (it's a really small town, and it's right on the main road through town. You'll find it no problem. When you see this door in person, there are more signs and distracting stuff than you see here. You could say, this photo has been "dis-enhanced" a bit. ;-)

THANKS FOR LETTING ME SHARE THE FIRST PART OF MY TRIP WITH YOU

The first part? Are you kidding? I am not. We still haven't gotten to the London shots and stories, but that's for another day. Merci.

CAMERA INFO: Canon EOS R Mirrorless camera with control ring lens adapter. Two lenses: 16-35mm f/4 and a 7o-200mm f/2.8. Platypod camera support with a Really Right Stuff ballhead. Gitzo travel tripod and a Think Tank Photo 'Turnstyle 10' Sling Camera Bag.

Created By
Scott Kelby
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All photos ©2019 Scott Kelby

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