Summer in Chicago

The weather here has been pretty miserable the past few days: cold, windy, rainy. Oh, and a mid-April snowstorm a few days ago. This time of year, summer can’t get here quickly enough. This photo just screams summer to me: green trees, flowers in bloom, a warm sunset, and people congregating in the park. Those days aren’t too far away, though it sure doesn’t feel like it right now.

Chicago skyline at sunset with a park in the foreground.

Notre Dame

Given today’s events, it seemed appropriate to post a photo of Notre Dame. We have been fortunate enough to visit Paris twice, both times making a stop at Notre Dame. I don’t have photos of Notre Dame I would consider great, both visits were part of busy days that were more focused on enjoying the city than taking a ton of time to get the perfect photo, but I like this photo taken from the back of the cathedral. Taken from the back and surrounded by greenery, it gives a more peaceful relaxing feel to the photo, hiding the fact that the front of the cathedral was swarming with tourists. It is sad knowing that taking this photo isn’t possible now, but I’m sure once the iconic structure is rebuilt, it will as impressive as it is in the many photos being shared today.

Notre Dame in Paris, France, viewed from the back of the cathedral

Siena from above

As I mentioned in a previous post, several years ago we spent a few days in Siena, Italy. This photo, taken from a tower you can climb, shows the old part of the city, with Piazza del Campo in the middle. As you can see, Siena is compact enough that it is easy to explore by foot and small enough that from above you can get photos that capture both the city and the rolling hills of the Tuscan countryside in the background. Siena has everything you would expect from an Italian city you would want to visit: beautiful historic buildings, towers rising high above the city, an impressive cathedral, and Italian food so delicious that thinking about it years later will make your mouth water.

View of Siena, Italy from above.

Reflections in Bassin Octogonal

This photo was taken in Jardin des Tuileries in Paris. At the west end of the garden is Bassin Octogonal, which in the right conditions provides a beautiful reflection of the obelisk of Place de la Concorde, with Arc de Triomphe off in the distance. The garden is a little more peaceful during the evening than during the daytime and the soft light of the early evening can make for a beautiful scene. In general, Paris is a beautiful city both during the day and at night, so if you ever visit the city, don’t wear yourself out so much exploring during the day that you don’t have energy to explore the city at night.

Reflection of the obelisk in Place de la Concorde in the early evening

Busy day at the Vatican

Many photographers post photos of St. Peter’s Basilica with a completely empty St. Peter’s Square. I’m not sure how they do it, whether the secret is getting there super early, taking multiple photos and merging them to remove people from the photo, using the erase tools in their photo editor of choice, or just getting lucky. Regardless, the times I was there, it looks pretty much the opposite of those photos, packed full of people. So, if there are going to be people in the photo, why not just go all out and get a photo when it was about as crowded as possible? This photo was taken shortly after The Pope had finished speaking, so St. Peter’s Square was filled with people, many of them making their way out as I was attempting to capture a photo that I liked.

Black and white photo of St. Peter's Basilica on a busy day

Painting in Paris

Paris is known for its museums filled with well known works of art like the Mona Lisa, and while those museums are impressive, to get a sense of how Parisians live their lives, it is better to visit the many gardens within the city. This photo was taken in Luxembourg Gardens, one of the most impressive gardens in Paris. Unlike the museums, Eiffel Tower, etc. which are dominated by tourists, the gardens are a mix of tourists and locals living their lives. This woman was wrapping up a session with her teacher as we walked by, paying no attention to us tourists.

Woman painting with her teacher in Luxembourg Gardens

Towers of San Gimignano

San Gimignano is a small medieval town not far from Siena, Italy. The town is known as the “Town of Beautiful Towers” due to the 14 towers that dominate the town’s skyline. The town sits atop a hill and provides wonderful views of the surrounding countryside. San Gimignano is surrounded by a medieval wall and is a very compact town, making a great place to visit for an afternoon or to spend a few days escaping the hustle and bustle of the larger tourist cities in Italy. On the day we visited, these beautiful tall clouds provided the perfect backdrop for a photo of this charming town.

Towers of San Gimignano

The Eiffel Tower bathing in warm afternoon light

I’m sure there have been millions of photos taken of the Eiffel Tower (or Tour Eiffel, if you prefer). The iconic landmark dominates the Paris cityscape from almost anywhere in the center of Paris, unless you’re in the Eiffel Tower itself. Most who visit Paris want to climb (or take the elevator up) the Eiffel Tower, and it is a great experience. While the views from the top are quite nice, the views aren’t quite as good as those from other spots in Paris, since they are lacking…the Eiffel Tower. This photo was taken from the top of the Arc de Triomphe, one of the better sites in Paris from which to get a good view of the Eiffel Tower, and it is also conveniently included in the Paris Museum Pass. I like how the lines of clouds are cutting across the background and the warmth of the scene due to the late afternoon sun.

The Eiffel Tower in the warm afternoon sun as seen from the top of the Arc de Triomphe.

Quiet streets of Provins

Provins is a medieval town a couple hour train ride outside of Paris, France. The town is a relatively large tourist attraction so it can be a little busy during the summer but the character of the town is well worth the visit and it is easy enough to escape the crowds and find a little peace and quiet to enjoy the charm of the town.

Empty street in the small medieval town of Provins, France.