Millennium Biltmore (Los Angeles, California)

Opened in 1923, the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles, California was the largest hotel west of Chicago, Illinois for many years. At 70,000 square feet is a gigantic building but due to some additions made to the hotel (restaurants, larger rooms) the hotel now only has a fraction of the rooms it once had. I stayed here the last time I was out in Los Angeles for business. I normally stay out by the ocean but with additional work and our upcoming trip to Paris (we were leaving only a few days after my meeting) I figured I should just head right to the hotel and get some work done. Around 1 AM I snuck down to the lobby and took a few pictures of the opulently decorated hallways. Unfortunately, I was only able to take a few shots before the security notified me that taking pictures with a tripod was not allowed so I shrugged and headed back to my room for some sleep. I was disappointed to not be able to explore the hotel a bit more – rumors say it is haunted as well – but it just means I’ll have to stay there next time I’m in town and I’ll try to explore a little later when maybe the security staff is dozing off.

Millennium Biltmore (Los Angeles, California)

Millennium Biltmore (Los Angeles, California)

Carrousel at the Eiffel Tower (Paris, France)

The Eiffel Tower is one of those iconic monuments that is well known by about every person in the world. It is unmistakeable so using at the “anchor” for this photo immediately gives the location of this carrousel that sits at the base of it. After watching the sunset from the top of the tower my wife and I took a ride on the carrousel before having a pedi-cab take us back to our apartment on the other side of the city. The pedi-cab ride was insane but I must say that Paris drivers are among the most patient in the world. Our driver was weaving in and out of traffic – pulling out in front of buses and multiple times we heard the brakes of cars squeak as they came dangerously close to rear ending us but never once did they honk at the guy. We eventually made it to our apartment safe and sound and this was one of the first pictures I processed on the entire trip. I really loved the motion of the carrousel mixed with the iconic and obviously stationary Eiffel Tower. Paris just may be my favorite city in the world!

Carrousel at the Eiffel Tower (Paris, France)

Carrousel at the Eiffel Tower (Paris, France)

Stained Glass of Sainte-Chapelle (Paris, France)

Located in the heart of Paris, France the Holy Chapel (Sainte Chapelle) sits on the Ile de la Cité near the more popular and well known Notre Dame Cathedral. Sainte Chapelle was originally built to house the King’s collection of ‘Passion (of the Christ)’ relics – most notably the crown of thorns (which now rests in Notre Dame but is only brought out on specific holidays) – and to give the royal family a place to worship without the lower class with them.

Sainte Chapelle has two distinct chapels – unfortunately, the lower chapel (but the much less intricately decorated chapel) was under construction during our visit but the primary reason that I wanted to visit was to see the masterpiece below. When we visited four years ago we were turned away at the doors as they were having a private event at the church so this was the first place we visited on this trip. The upper chapel did not disappoint and was even better than I could have imagined. The stained glass windows are amongst the finest examples in the world.

Stained Glass of Sainte-Chapelle (Paris, France)

Stained Glass of Sainte Chapelle (Paris, France)

There are fifteen stained glass windows in all – stretching fifty meters high into the air. Each window stretches fifty feet high and combined they display scenes from over 1,100 scenes in the bible. 2/3 of the windows are original and they were removed during World War II to protect them from the war so that people like me could be awestruck in seeing them today. Unfortunately, parts of this chapel were also under construction and the windows behind where I stood to take this picture, and the large rose window that dominates the back wall, were all covered by scaffolding as well.

I could write much more about Sainte Chapelle but I took a lot of photos in here so I’ll post more over time.

Peaceful Morning on Lake Louise (Banff National Park)

Canoeing across Lake Louise in Banff National Park is one of the most popular things to do in the park during the summer months. From 11 AM – 7 PM you can often find a dozen or more groups of canoers out on the water paddling slowly along and taking in the views of Victoria Glacier.

It was shortly after sunrise and the lake was calm – there were not any canoes out yet (they also offer sunrise tours but I’ve yet to see one out that early) – so I worked my way over to the other side of the lake and photographed the boathouse. I was attracted to the near perfect reflection in the water. I cropped it tight on the left hand side to eliminate a few folks who were standing there having their morning coffee. I didn’t think they added anything to the scene and would rather have the uninterrupted stillness of the morning to remember.

Peaceful Morning on Lake Louise (Banff National Park)

Lake Louise Boathouse (Banff National Park)

Lake Helene Sunrise (Rocky Mountain National Park)

Last August while spending a weekend out in Rocky Mountain National Park I woke up before 4 AM to make the moderately difficult hike to Lake Helene. I had visited the lake on the prior day to make sure that I knew exactly where it was but still got a little lost a couple of times and had to backtrack to find the trail. Eventually, I made it out to a spot where I could capture the first light hitting the peaks and reflecting back down on the lake below it. There was another photographer standing on the far edge of the lake taking a different angle on the 12,000+ foot Notchtop Mountain which dominates the scenery from this position.

Lake Helene Sunrise (Rocky Mountain National Park)

Lake Helene Sunrise (Rocky Mountain National Park)

I’m not sure I’ll have a chance to make it out to Rocky Mountain National Park this summer but I’m hoping to get the chance to go to Banff in June and September. I usually go every six months but the March meeting got moved to June so hopefully the weather will be more cooperative there than it was last week in Paris where we didn’t see too many sunrises or sunsets because of low hanging grey skies.

Opera House (Paris, France)

The Palais Garnier located in Paris, France was built in the mid/late 1800s for the Paris opera and served as the primary opera location in Paris until 1989 when another larger opera house opened across town. The opera house today primarily features ballets due to its limited seating capacity (less than 2,000 total seats).

We took a tour of the opera house (10 Euros per person) on our last day in Paris, France. They do have guided tours as well but there weren’t any on the morning that we went – however, they offer free audio guides in many languages that help explain what each item in the opera house is.

Palais Garnier (Opera House) in Paris, France

Paris Opera House (Palais Garnier)

The opera houses opulence is well known throughout the world and it certainly didn’t disappoint. This image is a panoramic shot (14 individual photos, shot at ISO 3200) taken and merged in Photoshop in an attempt to get the all-encompassing view of the theater from the balcony. It turned out better than I expected although if I was doing it over again I may have taken the photo with a little more coverage of the ceiling since it really stood out (the modern feel didn’t seem to mesh with the rest of the decor) and was odd. However, for not doing panoramic shots all that often I’m pleased with how easy it was to automatically merge the photos in Photoshop.

Frame within a Frame of the Eiffel Tower (Paris, France)

I woke up this morning to try and catch what seems to be the ever allusive Paris sunrise. The weather this week just hasn’t much cooperated for outdoor pictures as we’ve seen very little blue sky. However, that is the risk you take traveling in ‘shoulder season’ when everything is cheaper and less crowded. On the bright side we’ve avoided rain for the most part – a few sprinkles but nothing that has caused us to stay indoors most of the day.

I found this spot through a blog post written by Parisian photographer Serge Ramelli for ‘Guest Blog Wednesday’ on Scott Kelby’s Website. The best part of the post was that it had addresses for where to go to take some good shots so all I had to do was pop it into the GPS on my phone and walk from the train station to this spot. One of my favorite pictures from our last trip to Paris was one where the Eiffel Tower just happened to be in the background – it was more of an accent point than the focal point of the photo. There were neat Parisian buildings around and the Eiffel Tower just happened to be there. This photo is a little more transparent that the Eiffel Tower is the focal point but I like that the traditional Parisian buildings are acting as a frame for the tower in the distance. I spent another hour or so circling the Eiffel Tower looking for unique and interesting angles (not easy to do given all the photos that pop up when you do a Google search but hopefully I found some).

Frame Within a Frame of the Eiffel Tower (Paris, France)

Eiffel Tower Framed (Paris, France)