AltaPerca

Blog photo de Pierre Girardeau

Accroche-coeurs

 

Every year in September, in my hometown, Angers, street artists of all sorts dive in the city for a weekend.

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It is called les Accroche-Coeurs and you basically wander in the streets as if suddenly you were in another world.

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I just loved the look of this girl in a human-powered machine.

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Even our cathedral dresses pretty for the occasion.

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Sacré cœur

Almost one year later, on the other side of Earth, is a chilly but sunny afternoon near Butte Montmartre, in the northern part of Paris.

ImageThis is one of Paris’s most recent churches (end of the 19th), and also one of the most visited, probably right after Notre Dame. Its history, and the reasons of its building, is quite remarkable, for those who want to spend a few minutes procrastinating on Wikipedia.

SONY DSCRight at the bottom of the hill is a gigantic market for fabrics (not sure that’s how you say it): the Marché Saint-Pierre.

SONY DSCAll around the neighborhood you can find beautiful, sometimes peculiar, buildings, and paved (Parisienne) walkways.

Vince and his D

Funny story, the one of Vince and his car. I was very surprised at first when he told me about his passion for the Citroën D (called DS in France). I mean, it is a classic in France notably because it used to be De Gaulle’s car. He actually got shot in that car, and because of its revolutionary suspension, the driver was able to continue driving with three tires for quite a while. But seeing a kiwi being so passionate about it really got me surprised.

This beautiful D is now 38 years old. It was built just the year before they stopped production. And it took Vince years to find one. For one good reason you might have guessed: money… These little babies are usually quite pricey. That’s when the funny story starts: the day after Vince tells his mechanic he stops searching for one because they’re just too expensive, this very mechanic gets a call from a 82-year old client who wants to sell one at a very reasonable price.

This guy had driven the D daily for 30 years! He had Vince come over at his place but he didn’t show him the car right away. First they had tea and even lunch: the owner wanted to talk and make sure the car would be looked after correctly. That’s the main thing he wanted; he wasn’t really after money for it.

Anyway, another (and last, promise) funny story about this car is how Vince planned years in advance how he could convince his wife it was worth spending so much on this car. Very simply, for their wedding day, he had a beautiful Citroën D to drive them around. I mean, no one could object it is a nice car for a wedding day. Then, some years after, when he found one to buy, his wife was naturally positive because it had been the car at her wedding. Bright guy, really!

Thanks Vince for letting me post these pictures, and for the good times we had chatting!

Tongariro (again)

New Zealand is famous for its wilderness activities and especially for hiking. One of the most celebrated day hikes you can do is the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. It is a 6 to 7 hour walk, south of the great lake Taupo, that leads you through emerald lakes, volcanic mountains and many other wonderful viewpoints.

All the pictures were taken quite high, right after the steepest part of the track (800m up a very windy path…). The first one is a view of what’s called the blue lake, on the left, and you can see a bit of the emerald lakes on the right. Their color is due to the presence of sulphur everywhere around. You can actually see some gas going up on the very right of the picture.

The second one is a closer view on the emerald lake (there are actually three of them there). As the shuttle driver told us : “You shouldn’t try to swim in these lakes, guys. Skin tends to melt in sulphuric water…

And the third one is while going down through the bush to the end of the trail. You can see the very definition of wilderness right here.

This was the second time I did the track and I was lucky with the weather twice! But this time there were a lot more people because it’s summer down here now. If you want to do it, I would recommend going in May or June. That’s definitely worth the trip. But be prepared. It’s not as easy as it looks like. There are also some natural hot pools around that are perfect to relax after the effort.

Eugeny

Last week, my friend Stephan called me to go and take pictures of the sunset over Auckland CBD from Mission Bay, which is a perfect viewpoint for that. Unfortunately, clouds were a bit too low for great sunset pictures.

But when we arrived on the spot there was this guy jumping like a gymnast and looking for people to take his picture. He was Russian and didn’t speak that much English so he explained to me the photo he wanted by drawing it on my notebook.

He is actually a Russian gymnast/journalist and takes pictures in this same position at every place he can get in the world.

People I showed this photo to all had a different reaction. So you might find it weird, you might find it fun. I found it unusual and fun enough to post it! Thanks, Eugeny, for letting me post this picture here.

Sonni on Piha beach

Yesterday was Auckland Anniversary here in New Zealand which, as you may guess, celebrates the birth of the city. It also means day off! And with the wonderful weather we finally had, it meant let’s go enjoy the black sand beach of Piha, some 45 minutes drive west of Auckland.

It’s been a long time I wanted to take pictures of my friend Sonni’s tattoos, and I had in mind a nice deserted landscape, maybe a lake surrounded by the bush. But after all Piha suited perfectly.

The first picture is just when we arrived on the beach, looking for a spot.

The tattoos he has actually cover his two arms, part of his chest and the top of his back. And the motifs are not random at all. They represent mythological northern gods taking the shape of snakes (one on each arm). He told me the whole story about them and I really wish I could tell it as well as he did. The thing I remember, though, is that there is neither good nor evil in northern mythology. Funny thing, really.

Anyway, the second one is Sonni stretching up on the beach.

And the last one is him taking pictures. Coz I didn’t tell you: not only has he beautiful massive tattoos, but he can also make pictures!

Thanks Sonni for letting me put these pictures here!

Sailing in Auckland Harbour

One of the many advantages of living in Auckland is that the sea is everywhere around you. The city is situated on a very thin piece of land (it’s actually an isthmus, thanks Tony!) between the Tasman Sea on the West and the Pacific Ocean on the East. And the best view you can have of the city is from the sea.

Every Wednesday, several yacht clubs organize races in Auckland Harbour and I got lucky enough to be part of a crew yesterday. Twice lucky actually, because there were so many sailors on the boat that I didn’t have anything to do but to take pictures. It wasn’t the best time though, because it is summer here and the sun sets quite late. But I managed to get a few pictures I quite like.

The first two are from the very beginning of the race, with the famous Sky Tower in the background.

The last one was taken while going back to the Marina, the sun setting on the CBD.

I think there’s something about the sea air that makes you sleep quite well after sailing. I can hereby confirm it. I slept like a baby last night!

Gannets on Muriwai Beach

This morning I had one problem: I had no idea of what I could show here this week! I thought about taking some from my archives but since the point of this blog is also to make me go out, shoot pictures, and test new stuff, I felt it would have been kind of cheating.

Tonight I have a new problem: which pictures should I choose from this very nice late afternoon session up Muriwai beach? So thanks Jo, if you’re reading this, for inviting me to go up there with you! Hope you like the result. It was really hard picking the three I liked most.

Last thing, I was a bit disappointed when I realized I had forgotten my 17-50mm at home and only had my 50mm and 90mm with me, because I wanted to do some tests for the upcoming wedding of (great) friends of mine on this very same beach… Anyway, it’s a great place so I don’t mind having to come back.

So the point in this session was to shoot everything I could with the 90mm Macro. Well, I was actually quite surprised. This lens is much faster than I thought and most of the photos of the birds flying I took are perfectly sharp.

Ok, enough talking. The first one is Jo trying out her fancy new lenses, while all the gannets are nesting down there. I quite liked the colours and the composition in this one, with this bird flying high around.

The second one is a gannet from below. It was so quick I didn’t really realize it was looking at me when I took the shot, just when I came home.

And, just in case you thought there were only three birds in this place, you can see on this last picture that there are actually heaps of them.

Each year they come back to the very same (huge) rocks to nest and raise the kids, and then they fly God knows where. Great place, really.

Things you can see in South Island

After a short truce for New Year’s (Happy New Year to you, reader!), here are a few photos taken last week while in South Island for holidays, around Queenstown and Fiordland. The whole South Island is pretty wild and deserted, with breathtaking sceneries every few kilometers. But the south end is especially famous to lovers of nature for its fjords and hikes around them. You have to book months in advance if you want to walk the Milford or Kepler tracks.

Anyway, this first picture was taken while on a boat on Milford Sound. We got pretty lucky with the weather: it rains 200 days a year there and the annual rainfall is something around 6 meters!

This second picture is a NZ robin, not shy at all, while walking in a forest near lake Manapouri. It seemed like it was attracted by the noise of the focus and kept moving towards my camera like a curious little child after a colorful toy. It then jumped on my shoe and tried to untie my laces with its beak.

And the last one looks more from Texas than from New Zealand. But it was yet a rodeo attraction in the middle of the desert between Queenstown and Wanaka, where heaps of people gathered on a sunny Sunday afternoon to watch some dudes trying to ride bulls. I wouldn’t want to be that guy in blue… (nothing happened to him though)

Happy new year to you all!

Bay of Islands

First, merry Christmas from the sunny side of the Earth! Here are a few more shots taken while my parents were (and, actually, still are) visiting me for the holidays. We were in Bay of Islands for the weekend, which is a couple hours north of Auckland, New Zealand.

The first one is a close shot of a carving on a war canoe (a waka, in Maori language) built 70 years ago to celebrate the treaty that brought peace between Maoris and Europeans back in 1840. I believe the eyes are made of what they call green stone here, which is a kind of jade. The wood is from a giant kauri tree.

The second one is an old boat (I’m not good at naming kinds of boats) you can actually sail on if you want to have the old school pirate experience!

And the last one was taken after a few hours on a more modern sailboat with our fantastic captain, Mike. The best way to discover Bay of Islands is by sea. And that’s even better on a sailboat. No noise at all (beside the waves…), dolphins swimming around (we got them last time, not this one unfortunately). Anyway, to make things short, Mike brought us to this wonderful little desert island to have lunch, with three lovely (and warm!) lagoons to dive in.

Did I mention it was just a few days before Christmas? If you’re from the Northern Hemisphere as I am, you should be looking at plane tickets right now!