#398. Exploring La Vilette with our shiny new cameras

By pascaljappy | Travel Photography

Sep 07

It’s hard to talk about anything else when you’re in love. And since both Philippe and I are in love with the same body … (camera body, phew) here’s the two of us bantering on about our shiny new Sony A7rII again.

It’s not all fun and games though, as this walk was also meant to put the finishing touches to the upcoming InSight: Paris guide. Yay us.

DSC05257So here we are, panting under the combined load of too many lenses and a fierce sun, walking along the canals of Paris in a territory made glorious by Peter Turnley and Marcel Carné with almost a whole day to ourselves and too many attractions on the way to describe.

We’ll be splitting the tale-telling. Philippe will discuss the gear while I do my best to describe the location. Onwards. DSC05229

Top Gear

[Philippe, picking up the mike] Onwards, indeed. Readers of DearSusan already know what an odd couple (of photographers) Pascal and I are. When we shoot together the results are rarely even remotely close. Which has something to do with the fact that Pascal is first and foremost a creator, whereas I am more than anything a storyteller.

Which is why some of you may find somewhat cheeky that I suggested Pascal review the Zeiss ZF.2 Distagon 15mm f:2.8. A lens that is so wide that it is exceptionally difficult to do anything other than make the most of what you have (in the viewfinder). Tough, for a creator. And, true to form, at first Pascal struggled. But then, when he and I strolled along the canal, his struggling started producing interesting results. So, unlikely as it sounds, he used nothing but his ultra-wide, while I availed myself exclusively of my Zeiss ZM 35mm f:1.4. A normal focal length, and an ultra-wide… hmmmm….


La Géode with a 15mm focal length

One amusing example, la Géode. It is a huge metallic sphere, with serves as 360° cinema. With his 15mm, Pascal framed the sphere with outside elements, making it look and feel smaller than it is. While I on the contrary played on the reflections off the sphere to extend its borders to the sky, making it look larger. Larger with a 35mm, smaller with a 15mm, go figger…. Let me show you. First, Pascal’s Géode, then mine


La Géode at 35mm foca length


Relax, Come to it – Sony A7rII & Zeiss Distagon 2.8/15 ZF.2

Another example, street photography. 35mm should be ideal, and 15mm embarrassingly oversize, right? Well, results don’t exactly say that. Pascal still managed very interesting shots, whether a quiet fisherman, or a trail of incoming cyclists.


Bump – Sony A7IIr & Zeiss Distagon 2.8/15 ZF.2

Another example of our differences. Street art. All about amosphere, right? See how much atomsphere Pascal gets shooting his naval gun of a lens, and my choices with a lens designed for just this… Pascal first, of course. Noblesse oblige…

DSC05227DSC00909One more example. Once again, the wider guy is not the one one might think…

Pascal Jappy - A7RII Zeiss Distagon 15mm f2.8

Pascal Jappy – A7RII Zeiss Distagon 15mm f2.8


Location, Location, Location

[Pascal, back on air] Well, having be called noble for the first time in a very long time (and uncertain that I approve), let me continue and tell you more about the location itself.


The third bike – Sony A7rII & Zeiss Distagon 2.8/15 ZF.2

The original plan was to follow a canal North from its Southern (non-underground) point through what used to be a working-class area featured in old French films and now on the brink of gentrification and into a huge slaughterhouse park converted into pleasant ode to music, science and technology.


Hidden man, Crouching lady – Sony A7rII & Zeiss Distagon 2.8/15 ZF.2

The French being … the French (a.k.a food-centric), we convened instead roughly around the mid-point where a good restaurant was to serve as our base for organising our gear and trip.


Inside Camarade Boris – Sony A7rII & Zeiss Distagon 1.4/35 ZM

Duly replenished and refreshed, we embarked upon our long walk starting by the Northern half of our route, following Philippe’s hunch that it might be more rewarding. And how right he was …

Luckily for us, orientation amounted to following the water’s edge. We have been known to get lost inside a room with one door, each one of us in a separate corner, but the railings on one side and water on the other kept us safely in check for most of the afternoon.


Cafe Corso – Sony A7rII & Zeiss Distagon 2.8/15 ZF.2



Barge colours – Sony A7rII & Zeiss Distagon 2.8/15 ZF.2

The first part of the trip takes you through residential areas interspersed with boating harbours for kids, barges, waterfront cinemas and cafés. Photo opportunities abound for anyone in search of the Parisian look, slightly off the beaten path.


The second has a more touristy feel to it but, given the (little) patience to wait for scenes to clear of fellow visitors, can give you lovely views of very photogenic, if a little less “idiomatic” material.


Cité de la science et de l’industrie, Paris – Sony A7rII & Zeiss C-Sonnar 1.5/50 ZM


Parc de La Villette – Sony A7rII & Zeiss Distagon 2.8/15 ZF.2


Parc de La Villette – Sony A7rII & Zeiss Distagon 2.8/15 ZF.2

DSC05060The Argonaute, in La Villette, Paris. Sony A7rII & Zeiss Distagon 15/2.8 ZF2In between, enter cafés for a refreshment and you’ll be greeted by interesting scenes, whether charming …

DSC05148… or not quite so.


Only the French – Sony A7rII & Zeiss Distagon 2.8/15 ZF.2

The InSight: Paris Guide will be out soon with all the details on this walk and many others but, in the mean time, a quick Google search will give you the gist of the location. Have fun.


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  • paulperton says:

    Very nice and call me jealous – especially as InSight: Paris will come together under my very own fingers.

    Next time you two go walkabout I’ll try to be in town.

  • Bstrom says:

    Hmmm, no need for any excess flattery to spoil your collective styles. Au contraire, your ho-hum sampling of shots taken in a city as gloriously photogenic as Paris are not of the inspiring sort. In fact, if you had not mentioned location I would have never known where you were….sorry to be so frank but then, the French are like that too.

    I’m sure you have many other pix that merit our admiration…

    • pascaljappy says:

      Bstrom, we expect you to be frank, no worries. Just a note, though, we purposely shy away from the famous sites so it’s barely surprising that you don’t recognise Paris. That the shots are not to your liking is something else altogether. Maybe they are not very good, or maybe not your cup of tea. Tell us what you think is wrong with them. After all, we want to learn from others as much as we want to teach. Cheers, Pascal

  • artcrosby35 says:

    But, if it has a chip in the top or in the handle, you may want to pass it by. Save the video and watch video on your cell phone using the video player you meet. Laughter, by the way, is not the same thing as humor.

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