Paris not for photographers?

Old Sep 9th, 2010, 02:22 PM
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Paris not for photographers?

Been 4 years since the last trip and I've upgraded my camera a couple of times.

So I pick up the 2-day museum pass, hoping to do better. First, St. Chappelle is closed for like 90 minutes for lunch, on top of the Draconian security checks making the queue long. I didn't wait, will try to hit it the next day.

Conciergerie doesn't object to my taking in a monopod but when I extend it, they wag the fingers. It's not a tripod, doesn't take up any bigger footprint than if I held the camera in my hands.

Pompidou is cool, photos allowed everywhere, including some people using flash (even though it doesn't do them any good in a lot of cases). One exhibition of very contemporary photos prohibit cameras, which is understandable.

Orsay has prohibited all cameras. They don't make you check it in but there are signs everywhere. Hoped to go out to the terrace and take some shots of the riverfront at dusk but the terrace is closed while they're renovating the 5th etage. Oh well.

After dark, I try the Arc de Triomphe, manage to get some long exposures of the Eiffel Tower lit up, but have to content with others firing off flashes. There is a platform which goes above the railing so that you get some unobstructed views but there is a queue. A worker finally gestures at a sign, which apparently prohibits tripods but isn't lit so didn't see it.

So I fold up my tripod and head towards the exit and she's still repeating that tripods are prohibited. I state a couple of times that I'm leaving. She keeps at it so I snap back at her. End of a long day.

I know the Louvre prohibits camera in certain galleries, at least as of my last trip. Not interested in photographing individual paintings (what's the point) but it would be nice to take pictures of some spaces like Cour Marly. Have they completely eliminated cameras by now?

So a lot of these institutions put up restrictions, in the guise of preserving the works or protecting copyrights or whatever the rationale. But when they have TV crews interested in airing a story or they hire pro photographers, they're using harsh artificial lighting on works which are fragile for the weak flash units on consumer cameras and these crews get to take up all kinds of space, with tripods, light stands, wiring, etc.

In the age of Flickr and Facebook, do they not understand that user-generated content does as much to raise the profile of these destinations as old media?
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Old Sep 9th, 2010, 02:34 PM
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I'm surprised that cameras are banned in the Musée d'Orsay. It did not used to be, although flashes and tripods were always banned. I do not see how they can enforce it. Photography is banned in the picture galleries of the Louvre, but not in the sculpture areas--or at least did not used to be. But that ban cannot be enforced except when someone is trying to use a big camera. I saw many people either with cell phones or very small cameras clicking away in the picture galleries. In my experience, the acceptance of cameras has been expanded rather than restricted.
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Old Sep 9th, 2010, 02:49 PM
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No there used to be no restrictions in the Louvre whatsoever -- I've been going for almost 20 years.

But with the advent of the Internet, they rationalized that you can view the works online so they banned photography of certain works.

The tide is definitely going the other way.

In one sense, I can see their thinking, that digital cameras are getting better and it's now cheap to just take picture after picture and share them infinitely, which may make people think that they don't have to visit since they have these pictures other people took.

But digital cameras has brought picture-taking to everyone -- you see tots have their own cameras now these days. So these amateur pictures could encourage others to want to visit at least as much as make some conclude they don't have to visit since they have these images.

Most people who visit to see the Mona Lisa and other famous works in museums all over the world know what these images look like. Yet they come in throngs so that rationale seems to have little credibility.
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Old Sep 9th, 2010, 02:51 PM
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Two years ago, I shot many objets d'art in the Musees d'Orsay and Rodin without anyone wagging a finger. This year, I encountered no problems at the Louvre or even the more "interesting" Pompidou exhibit, all with a largish DSLR + grip.

What the objections seem to be are related to the use of a tripod, even a small unobtrusive one. Maybe, they are considered quasi-weapons? It also depends upon who is being officious at the time of your visit.
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Old Sep 9th, 2010, 03:19 PM
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As long as a not extended monopod is allowed into the place, use it with a monopod pocket that attaches to your belt, for greater stability. A bit like what you see flag or standard bearers use. You hold your breath and you can be quite steady that way.
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Old Sep 9th, 2010, 03:22 PM
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when I carried a tripod years ago, I was told 'no' a few times. And yes, I was annoyed. I asked and was told that it is an additional permit that is required and somewhat expensive, so it discourages the 'average tourist'.

One place that tripods are allowed is the Trocadero - however, watch out for pickpockets and thieves! I had my tripod set up and a woman came up to me with her husband and started speaking... after talking to them, I finally understood that I was being watched and my gear was seconds away from disappearing. By them talking to me, they thwarted someone from stealing my bag and gear.

I was disappointed about Orsay also. One of my favorite pictures is a silhouette of my girls in front of the large clock. They are holding hands looking out. I wanted to replicate the picture with all 3 of the kids, but couldn't do...
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Old Sep 9th, 2010, 03:39 PM
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I think tripods take up more footprint and could cause problems with traffic flow as photographers using them would take up more space and slow up others going through the public spaces.

There is also the potential for inadvertently causing damage while moving them around with the legs extended, perhaps the same reason backpacks are required to be checked in.

Monopod shouldn't have quite the same issues but I don't think most of the workers appreciate the differences.

I was able to use tripod at the Chartres cathedral, though I was there at times when there wasn't enough sunlight to make the stained glass really shine.
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Old Sep 9th, 2010, 04:11 PM
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There are quite a few people with digital camears that have no idea how to adjust them. Say "No flash" isn't much help when some users have no idea whether their flash is on or off and how to disable it.

The old days where you rationed your photo taking are gone and now everyone seems to take a picture of anything and everything and delete later. This often leads to hordes of people jockeying for postion for a phot. Many times they want members of their party in the pictures. This does spoil the visiting experience for many - even some of those taking the pics who wish all the others weren't in their way.

So I do see the point of view of venues where looking at the works are the "raison d'etre" - when those same works are already available in hard copy in the gift store.

I don't think the damaged caused by tripods is really the issue, more the extra time it takes setting up and fiddling with apertures. And much easier to police than the person who whips out an iphone.
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Old Sep 10th, 2010, 05:50 AM
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Was stopped cold at St. Chappelle when I tried to extend the monopod. Well it was morning and so the sun wasn't lighting up the stained glass. Plus the one end which is curved was covered up for restoration.

The Louvre, one person stopped me and said it was too long for the museum -- the legs were fully retracted and the monopod is about 21 inches when retracted. He insisted I detach the camera. But in another wing, I put it back on and nobody bothered me again. Went through a few galleries but didn't see any cameras being prohibited.

Went to Orangerie next, and was made to check in the monopod and the camera bag. Rodin just wanted all bags checked in.

All in all, not quite as bad as feared. Had planned to go to Versailles tomorrow but my legs are burned out. Will have to be another time.
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Old Sep 10th, 2010, 10:34 AM
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We visited Paris in June of this year.I was allowed to take photos without flash in the Orangerie, except for the special exhibits. We were not allowed to take any photos in Musee Jacquemart Andre - not even in the tea salon. Before we left for Paris, I checked with both the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe and was told no tripods were allowed in either. Finally, we were allowed to take cameras into Rolland Garros for the French Open.
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Old Sep 10th, 2010, 11:04 AM
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One of my own surprises is that photos are banned in Sacré Coeur, even more so because I was there one morning at 8am, long before any tourists arrive (and nothing else going on there at that time of day); I saw the signs saying no photos, but I am used to 'discreetly' ignoring such signs, and still, the moment I took out my camera, an Arab cleaning woman across the way was watching me and negatively wagging her finger.

It really seemed strange, because during the middle of the day when the place is full of tourists, there is absolutely no way to enforce the interdiction.
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Old Sep 10th, 2010, 11:46 AM
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I've taken lots of pictures at the Orsay, and the Louvre.Just no flash.
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Old Sep 10th, 2010, 12:50 PM
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Taking photos in Musee d'Orsay is now prohibited. I'm guessing this may be due to those who don't know how to disable the flash on their camera, which also turns itself back on each time the camera is turned on again. The guards seemed to spend full time admonishing those people, along with those who simply ignored "no flash".

I doubt any of these places are the least bit concerned with raising their profiles.

I no longer bother even carrying a camera in Paris, for a multitude of reasons.
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Old Sep 13th, 2010, 12:44 AM
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Well still got a lot of pictures this past week and most of them are geotagged. Still a bit disappointing that I couldn't take it inside all the venues. Especially regretted the Orsay's prohibition and the fact that the terrace was closed.

One of the lesser known venues in Paris is the Petit Palais. But it's a delight for photographers as there's always some interesting architectural detail, not only from the outside but in almost every corner you turn inside the structure. The works displayed aren't as famous as those in other museums but the exhibition space is glorious. They did have an exhibition of Alexandra Boulot's photojournalism which was interesting.

The Grand Palais was closed this week but looks like it'll be open to the public in a couple of weeks for a big exhibition. Too bad, wanted to see what it looked like under that glass dome.
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Old Sep 13th, 2010, 12:58 AM
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I wonder if some of this is to do with picture rights on some of the images?
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Old Sep 13th, 2010, 05:49 AM
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Yeah one thing I was going to mention is that the people who run the Eiffel Tower has copyrighted the animated light display that they put on for the Millennium celebrations.

So it's an interesting case where generally people can photograph anything in a public place but they're trying to assert copyright for anything involving this special light show.
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