Source : New York Times
By DAVID GONZALEZ
Forget what your parents told you: money does grow on trees. Well, at least for the street photographers who work the crowds around the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, it does. With digital cameras and ink-jet printers powered by car batteries, they churn out images at about $10 a pop.
Arrivistes, as far as Louis Mendes is concerned. Where is the skill in setting a camera to “automatic” and pushing a button? Where is the permanence in a shot printed with no-name ink on no-name paper? Where is the craft?
In his hands. Mr. Mendes works the same crowds — and parades, graduations and concerts — cradling like a piece of sculpture a vintage Speed Graphic camera outfitted with two flash units and a Polaroid back.
That’s right, instant film, a phrase that sounds almost as dated as “electric typewriter.” In an age when digital photography offers instant gratification and cameras come in most phones, who would have thought a decent living could be had taking pictures with a vanishing technology?
Mr. Mendes does, and well enough to do it full time. He can sometimes charge as much as $20 for a portrait, depending on the location.
“I’m the only one with this camera,” he said one afternoon last week as the sun set and the wind whipped through the streets. “This is about a moment for nostalgia. People see these cameras in movies, but they’ve never seen one in person. But when they see this, they go: ‘Ooh. Ahh. Wow.’ ”
As if on cue, a young man who had just taken a picture of his friends with a tiny digital camera looked longingly at Mr. Mendes’s rig the way an econobox owner might swoon over a vintage Benz.
“I get that a lot,” Mr. Mendes said. “I really don’t even have to talk to get customers.”
He had started the afternoon outside Dean & Deluca on 49th Street: “Picture with the tree? Picture with the tree?” Maureen Behnke, visiting from New Jersey with her children, took him up on it. He posed them, shot the frame, pulled the film from the camera and tucked it under his arm. As they waited, he offered tips on what to do in the area.
“It was about a moment,” she said of her decision to be photographed. “I told my son he would never be this little again. In 20 years, he’ll be an adult.”
“And you’ll have a classic,” Mr. Mendes said as he handed her back the 2-by-3-inch photo in a holiday frame.
Suitably suave at 70, he has been doing this for almost 40 years now. He is nothing if not stylish, decked out in a red turtleneck, gray blazer and long black leather coat. As always, he sports a black hat whose left brim is clipped up with — what else? — a pin shaped like a Speed Graphic. A fan on his Facebook group called him “Shaft with a camera.”
If you have been at any parade or major event in New York — or the Super Bowl or the Essence Music Festival in New Orleans — you have seen Mr. Mendes. You might even have had him snap your portrait. Though at this time of year he does straightforward images with the tree in the background, he has also specialized in double exposures in which the subject appears twice, sometimes in different outfits or different seasons.
Yes, he knows Photoshop can let a novice achieve a similar effect. But that’s cheating.
“I can do it on the spot,” he said. “You don’t need a lot of stuff to make a shot. You don’t need lights and tripods. Just look at your subject, look at the light and shoot. You don’t need to take a thousand pictures to get a good picture. You need one good picture. One shot.”
As for those other guys selling pictures on the street, he pays them no mind. Competition, they are not. Some of them don’t even take a single shot; like barkers working for a photographer, they instead weave through the crowds holding out a sample 8-by-10 to lure customers. Frankly, some of them look like their only photo experience was at Central Booking.
“They’re not really photographers, more like picture hustlers,” he said of the shooters who hire the barkers. “They just push a button. They don’t know aperture priority from shutter priority. This, this is me priority. All manual. I set it.”
Mr. Mendes plans to work the Rockefeller tree until Jan. 7, when it is scheduled to be taken down and turned to mulch. Then he will return to the sidewalk outside BH Photo orAdorama Camera. Taking pictures of people who already own cameras makes perfect sense to him, the guy with instant film and a classic rig in a sea of digital snappers.
“Most photographers don’t have a good picture of themselves,” he explained. “They think nobody can take as good a picture as they can. So, I prove them wrong. There’s good money there.”
The Manhattan Bridge is a suspension bridge that crosses the East River in New York City, connecting Lower Manhattan (at Canal Street) with Brooklyn (at Flatbush Avenue Extension) on Long Island. It was the last of the three suspension bridges built across the lower East River, following the Brooklyn and the Williamsburg bridges. The bridge was opened to traffic on December 31, 1909 and was designed by Leon Moisseiff, who later designed the infamous original Tacoma Narrows Bridge that opened and collapsed in 1940. It has four vehicle lanes on the upper level (split between two roadways). The lower level has three lanes, four subway tracks, a walkway and a bikeway. The upper level, originally used for streetcars, has two lanes in each direction, and the lower level is one-way and has three lanes in peak direction. It once carried New York State Route 27 and later was planned to carry Interstate 478. No tolls are charged for motor vehicles to use the Manhattan Bridge.
The original pedestrian walkway on the south side of the bridge was reopened after sixty years in June 2001. It was also used by bicycles until late summer 2004, when a dedicated bicycle path was opened on the north side of the bridge, and again in 2007 while the bike lane was used for truck access during repairs to the lower motor roadway.
* Main span: 1,470 ft (448 m)
* Length of suspension cables: 3224 ft (983 m)
* Total length: 6,855 ft (2,089 m)
The neighborhood near the bridge on the Brooklyn side, once known as Fulton Landing has been gentrified and is called DUMBO, an acronym for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass.
The Arc de Triomphe is a monument in Paris that stands in the centre of the Place Charles de Gaulle, also known as the « Place de l’Étoile ». It is at the western end of the Champs-Élysées. The triumphal arch honors those who fought for France, particularly during the Napoleonic Wars. On the inside and the top of the arc there are all of the names of generals and wars fought. Underneath is the tomb of the unknown soldier from World War I.
The Arc is the linchpin of the historic axis (Axe historique) — a sequence of monuments and grand thoroughfares on a route which goes from the courtyard of the Louvre Palace to the outskirts of Paris. The monument was designed by Jean Chalgrin in 1836, and its iconographic program pitted heroically nude French youths against bearded Germanic warriors in chain mail and set the tone for public monuments, with triumphant nationalistic messages, until World War I.
The monument stands 49.5 m (162 ft) in height, 45 m (150 ft) wide and 22 m (72 ft) deep. The large vault is 29.19 m (95.8 ft) high and 14.62 m (48.0 ft) wide. The big vault is 18.68 m (61.3 ft) high and 8.44 m (27.7 ft) wide. It is the second largest triumphal arch in existence. Its design was inspired by the Roman Arch of Titus. The Arc de Triomphe is so colossal that three weeks after the Paris victory parade in 1926, marking the end of hostilities in World War I, Charles Godefroy flew his Nieuport biplane through it, with the event captured on newsreel.
The Arc de Triomphe is one of the most famous monuments in Paris. It forms the backdrop for an impressive urban ensemble in Paris. The monument surmounts the hill of Chaillot at the center of a star-shaped configuration of radiating avenues. It was commissioned in 1806 after the victory at Austerlitz by Emperor Napoleon at the peak of his fortunes. Laying the foundations alone took two years, and in 1810 when Napoleon entered Paris from the west with his bride Archduchess Marie-Louise of Austria, he had a wooden mock-up of the completed arch constructed. The architect Jean Chalgrin died in 1811, and the work was taken over by Jean-Nicolas Huyot. During the Bourbon Restoration, construction was halted and it would not be completed until the reign of King Louis-Philippe, in 1833–36 when the architects on site were Goust, then Huyot, under the direction of Héricart de Thury. Napoleon’s body passed under it on 15 December 1840 on its way to its second and final resting place at the Invalides.
Since the fall of Napoleon (1815), the sculpture representing Peace is interpreted as commemorating the Peace of 1815. The astylar design is by Jean Chalgrin (1739–1811), in the Neoclassical version of ancient Roman architecture (see, for example, the triumphal Arch of Titus at right). Major academic sculptors of France are represented in the sculpture of the Arc de Triomphe: Jean-Pierre Cortot; François Rude; Antoine Étex; James Pradier and Philippe Joseph Henri Lemaire. The main sculptures are not integral friezes but are treated as independent trophies applied to the vast ashlar masonry masses, not unlike the gilt-bronze appliqués on Empire furniture. The four sculptural groups at the base of the Arc are The Triumph of 1810 (Cortot), Resistance and Peace (both by Antoine Étex) and the most renowned of them all, Departure of the Volunteers of 1792 commonly called La Marseillaise (François Rude). The face of the allegorical representation of France calling forth her people on this last was used as the belt buckle for the seven-star rank of Marshal of France.
In the attic above the richly sculptured frieze of soldiers are 30 shields engraved with the names of major Revolutionary and Napoleonic military victories. (The Battle of Fuentes de Onoro is described as a French victory, instead of the tactical draw). The inside walls of the monument list the names of 660 persons, among which 558 French generals of the First French Empire; the names of those who died in battle are underlined. Also inscribed, on the shorter sides of the four supporting columns, are the names of the major victorious battles of the Napoleonic Wars. The battles which took place in the period between the departure of Napoleon from Elba and his final defeat at Waterloo are not included.
The sword carried by the Republic in the Marseillaise relief broke off on the day, it is said, that the Battle of Verdun began in 1916. The relief was immediately hidden by tarpaulins to conceal the accident and avoid any undesired ominous interpretations. Famous victory marches past the Arc have included the Germans in 1871, the French in 1918, the Germans in 1940, and the French and Allies in 1944 and 1945. Charles de Gaulle survived an attack upon him at the Arc de Triomphe during a parade[when?].
 The Unknown Soldier
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier beneath the Arc de Triomphe, Paris
Beneath the Arc is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from the First World War. Interred here on Armistice Day 1920, it has the first eternal flame lit in Western and Eastern Europe since the Vestal Virgins’ fire was extinguished in the year 394. It burns in memory of the dead who were never identified (now in both World Wars). The French model inspired the United Kingdom’s tomb of The Unknown Warrior in Westminster Abbey. A ceremony is held there every 11 November on the anniversary of the armistice signed between France and Germany in 1918. It was originally decided on 12 November 1919 to bury the unknown soldier’s remains in the Panthéon, but a public letter-writing campaign led to the decision to bury him beneath the Arc de Triomphe. The coffin was put in the chapel on the first floor of the Arc on 10 November 1920, and put in its final resting place on 28 January 1921. The slab on top carries the inscription ICI REPOSE UN SOLDAT FRANÇAIS MORT POUR LA PATRIE 1914–1918 (« Here lies a French soldier who died for the fatherland 1914–1918″).
In 1961, President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy of the United States paid their respects at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, accompanied by French President de Gaulle. After the 1963 assassination of President Kennedy, Mrs. Kennedy remembered the eternal flame at the Arc de Triomphe and requested that an eternal flame be placed next to her husband’s grave at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. President de Gaulle went to Washington to attend the state funeral, and he was able to witness Jacqueline Kennedy lighting the eternal flame that was inspired by her visit to France.
The flame was extinguished in 1998 during the FIFA World Cup by a drunk Mexican national who peed on it. He was arrested and charged with Public Intoxication.
By the early 1960s, the monument had grown very blackened from coal soot and automobile exhaust, and during 1965–1966 the it was thoroughly cleaned through bleaching. By 2007, some darkening was again apparent. The arc is planned to be bleached again in 2011
Île des Cygnes (English: Isle of the Swans) is a small island in the Seine in Paris, France, located in the 15th and 16th arrondissement. It is an artificially-created island, formed in 1827 to protect the port of Grenelle. It derives its name from an earlier Île des Cygnes which was attached to the Champ de Mars in the late 18th century.
The narrow island is 850 meters (2,789 ft) long and 11 meters (36 ft) at its widest point. A tree-lined walkway, named « l’Allée des Cygnes », runs the length of the island.
The island is served by the Passy and Bir-Hakeim Métro stations. It is crossed by three bridges: the Pont de Grenelle, the Pont Rouelle and the Pont de Bir-Hakeim.
A notable feature is a small replica of the Statue of Liberty, 22 meters high and facing west in the direction of its larger sibling in New York City. This statue, which was inaugurated at its site on 15 November 1889 (three years after its counterpart), was given by the French community living in the United States to commemorate the centennial of the French Revolution. It initially faced east, toward the Eiffel Tower, but it was turned west in 1937, for the exposition universelle hosted by Paris that year. Its base carries a commemorative plate, and the booklet it holds in its left hand carries the inscription IV Juillet 1776 = XIV Juillet 1789, recognizing the American Independence Day and Bastille Day, respectively. Another statue is sited in Jardin du Luxembourg.
Pont Alexandre III is an arch bridge that spans the Seine, connecting the Champs-Élysées quarter and the Invalides and Eiffel Tower quarter, widely regarded as the most ornate, extravagant bridge in Paris .
The bridge, with its exuberant Art Nouveau lamps, cherubs, nymphs and winged horses at either end, was built between 1896 and 1900. It is named after Tsar Alexander III, who had concluded the Franco-Russian Alliance in 1892. His son Nicholas II laid the foundation stone in October 1896. The style of the bridge reflects that of the Grand Palais, to which it leads on the right bank.
The construction of the bridge is a marvel of 19th century engineering, consisting of a six-metre high single span steel arch. The design, by the architects Joseph Cassien-Bernard and Gaston Cousin, was subject to strict controls that prevented the bridge from obscuring the view of the Champs-Élysées or the Invalides.
Pont Alexandre III; the Grand Palais can be seen in the background.
The bridge was built by the engineers Jean Résal and Amédée d’Alby and inaugurated in 1900 for the Universal Exhibition (as were the nearby Grand Palais and Petit Palais). The Pont Alexandre III is classified as a historical monument.
Numerous sculptors provided the sculpture that features prominently in the bridge. Four gilt-bronze statues of Fames watch over the bridge, supported on massive 17-meter socles, that provide stabilizing counterweight for the arch, without interfering with monumental views. The socles are crowned by Fames restraining Pegasus : on the Right Bank, Renommée des Sciences (« Fame of the Sciences ») and the Renommée des Arts (« Fame of the Arts ») both by Emmanuel Frémiet; at their bases, La France Contemporaine (« Contemporary France ») by Gustave Michel and France de Charlemagne (« France of Charlemagne ») by Alfred Lenoir. The lions groups are by Georges Gardet.
Detail of gilded sculpture and one of the masonry counterweights
On the Left Bank, the Renommée du Commerce (« Fame of Commerce ») by Pierre Granet and the Renommée de l’Industrie (« Fame of Industry ») by Clément Steiner; at their bases France de la Renaissance (« France of the Renaissance ») by Jules Coutan and La France de Louis XIV (« France of Louis XIV ») by Laurent Honoré Marqueste. The lions groups are by Jules Dalou.
At the centres of the arches, Nymphs of the Seine with the arms of France correspond with Nymphs of the Neva with the arms of Imperial Russia on the other face; both are executed in hammered copper over forms by Georges Récipon.
A little boy on Luxembourg Gardens’ playground, watching a basketball game but being a part of it as soon as possible….
An old picture from 2007 that I found when I was cleaning my NAS.
The Prize of the President of the Republic is a race horse trotting up that takes place in June on the Hippodrome de Vincennes in Paris.
It is a Group I race reserved for 4-years-old horses, Geldings excluded, having won at least 38 000 € (in 2009 terms).
It runs on the distance of 2 850 meters (great track). The 2009 allocation is € 240 000, 120 000 € for the winner. (Source Wikipedia)