While going through the 15th and 16th century paintings from the Netherlands and Germany in the Richelieu wing of the Louvre, I started looking at the many portraits of men and wondered if I could find a painting of a man similar to the Mona Lisa. The problem with most portraits of the period is that the subjects tend to be in a detached, documentary pose and are rarely looking at the viewer. I was about to give up on the idea, but then I came across a self portrait of Albrecht Dürer which struct me as Mona Lisa-like. It was Dürer’s first painted self portrait, done when he was 22 years old and most likely to be sent to his fiancée, Agnes Frey. A marriage had been arranged for Dürer while he was living with his brother in Basel in 1493, and Dürer and Ms. Frey were married upon his return to Nuremberg in 1494. While Dürer’s self portrait predates Mona Lisa by about 10 years, he paints himself in a similar pose and light, and he engages the viewer with his direct eye contact and pleasant countenance. I may find other male Mona Lisa’s, but so far Dürer’s self portrait is the front runner.
After the Louvre we went to the Musée l’Orsay, which is an old train station converted into a museum. Photographs are prohibited in the Orsay, but I managed to get a shot of the inside and the shot through the clock looking at the northern skyline of Paris. One commentator described train stations as being secular cathedrals to modernism with the clocks being their alters. In the evening we went to the Center Pompidou, and looked at the modern art. It’s interesting to go from the Louvre and Orsay’s formal, hands-off settings to the Pompidou’s modern, more interactive environment. You get a nice view of the Paris skyline from the Pompidou and the last photo with the Eiffel Tower in the distance is from the 4th level inside the Pompidou.
I went to the Ash Wednesday service tonight and the second I walked in the door, Jerri snagged me and said “I need you to run sound,” and quickly showed me which channels controlled the mics, guitar and video, then she went off to direct the music. I don’t how long it’s been since I’ve gone to an Ash Wednesday service, but I decided to try some self portraits with the ash cross on my forehead when I got home. I find self portraits are challenging, especially in the mirror without having the camera show. Since I couldn’t see my composition or focus, I just took my chances. These two came out the best, although, I can’t seem to smile and press the shutter at the same time. It’s like the corners of my mouth and my fingers are connected, because I start with a smile, but moving my finger down to press on the shutter, pulls the corners of my mouth down.
I got out my big tripod, got all bundled up, put on my 17-40mm super-wide angle lens, snapped a self portrait, and headed out into the sub-freezing temperatures to attempt to photograph the Quadrantids Meteor Shower last night starting at 9:30 pm, thinking I could get photos in the darkness before the moon came up at 11:00 pm. But when I got outside, I discovered there was a light cloud cover reflecting a lot of light off the city from the south, southeast. I followed the suggestions about how to photograph meteor showers on Spacedex.com’s Meteor Shower Guides, but it looks like I failed to capture anything but stars, planets and clouds. After an hour making exposures from different angles, I got pretty cold and went back inside. I woke up at 2:15 am, bundled up in the dark and went out the front door and tried some exposures from the front porch. The moon, at 65% full, was up to about 10 o’clock in the southeastern sky, so I made my exposures looking west and north. I got a nice shot of the Dig Dipper in the northern skies at 2:30 am, but again failed to get anything that looked like a meteors.
Here we are in the middle of November, which is the month of “Movember” where some men grow mustaches to raise money for prostate cancer research and men’s health. Last year I grew a mustache for Movember, and put up weekly, often creative, self portraits of my mustache’s progress (see above); however, besides the donations that Laurie and I made to Movember, only two other people, one a fellow cancer survivor, made a donation on my MoBro page — all that work and creativity turned out to be a bust. Which I suppose was because everyone had given all their money to breast cancer research with all those walks, runs, and trots for Tatas that thousands of people turn out for. It seems to me that everyone places their bets on boobs and let those poor, pathetic prostates be damned.
Nevertheless, I signed on to Movember again, but I’m not doing anything more than giving a donation. Besides, I still have a mustache — I certainly wasn’t going to shave it off and grow it again for nothing. But if you have a few dollars to spare, my MoBro page is at http://mobro.co/Elcheo.
The main Movember site is at http://us.movember.com/.
Finally, if you want a good laugh, I helped Ben Lolli film a trailer called “Mustache Empire” back in the fall of 2011. That was my first venture into cinematography.