Monday, March 30, 2009

I flit, I float, I fleetly flee, I fly

The photo Friday topic 'Extreme Closeup' was appropriate because I have just got a raynox dcr-250 supermacro lens.

This red eyed fly was sunning itself on a dead leaf and I was very impressed with the rainbow shimmer to its wings.
Flies are maybe not the most attractive subjects but I find them fascinating in extreme closeup.

I was really pleased to capture the facets of the compound eyes and its quite jolly grey and black striped torso like some kind of sport referee.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

O'er the hills and o'er the main

A couple of weekends ago we went to Golfe-Juan for the re-enactment of Napoleon's escape from Elba.
Napoleon Bonaparte had been exiled to the island of Elba off the coats of Italy in 1814.
His exile lasted less than a year and he managed to escape with 1,200 men on the 26th February 1815 . The group landed in Golfe-Juan a couple of days later.

This is Napoleon about to set foot on French mainland once more. I thought 'Napoleon' looked as if he was contemplating his next step and wondering how he would be received by the French people - good acting .

After landing Napoleon was given a horse and insepcted the regiments.
The real Napoleon was welcomed back with open arms as the army refused to fire on the deposed Emperor.
However, the new reign only lasted until the Battle of Waterloo -a period called Napoleon's Hundred Days although it actually lasted 111.

Sappers from the Grenadier Guards - or in French sapeurs - the engineering corps who traditionally wore beards to distinguish themselves from other soldiers. They also wore leather aprons , gauntlets and carried axes.

The French fire service are called sapeurs-pompiers because Napoleon created the fire brigade from a military engineering division and, of course, firemen still carry axes like the original sappers.
Grenadier Guards tent insignia -they have little grenade insignias around Napoleon's eagle [the word for explosive grenade comes from the french word for pomegranante [grenade] because the early greandes looked very similar in shape]

I am not sure which regiment this standard bearing soldier was from but I liked his expression and the distant tiny soldiers across the sea in the background.

Some drummers drumming.
There are a lot of re-enactors in Golfe Juan for the Napoleonic weekend. They camp in Napoleonic era tents on the beach and everything looks very authentic.

These soldiers were just waiting to take part in the parades later in the afternoon but I thought they looked like a museum tableau or maybe a still from the tv series 'Sharpe'.

Monday, March 02, 2009

And it burns, burns, burns: the ring of fire, the ring of fire

Here are some photos of a fire spinner at the night carnaval in Nice.
I was playing around with long exposures to capture the trail of light.

They were taken hand held rather than on a tripod which would have helped the photos but wouldn't have been too good in the crowd.

She was using fire batons rather than poi.

Hopefully I'll manage to learn from these and get better photos next time but I liked the firey shapes that appeared.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Nice carnaval- city life

Place Massena during the Nice carnaval - the sky was filled with confetti , streamers and thousands of spectators.
One of the statues in Place Massena

Lamp post and confetti
The carnval king - Roi des Masquerades. The cat mask in his hand is a reminder of last year's giant cat king. The king is ceremonially burned to mark the end of carnaval but tehre are often reminders of the previous king to symbolise the idea that 'the king is dead, long live the king'

The Queen float - towering above everyone in Place Massena. Her skirt was made up of a carnaval mask and underneath there were lots of teenagers dressed in venetian carnaval costimes. Its hard to appreciate how immense the float is , but the jester characters also attached to her skirts are much beigger than humans.
This band member's helmet is covered in silly string .

There have been some calls to ban silly string at the carnbaval since it makes such a mess , can stain costumes ,and not forgetting the chemical propellants and empty cans and lids.
I'm not sure if a ban is possible though i am not a great fan of the stuff.

A couple of bizarrely masked and costumed stilt walkers with the Queen in the background.
A traditional carnaval group playing strangely shaped natural gourd instruments.
Originally carnaval costumes were simple- a bag or stocking hat , a face blackened with soot and a gourd instrument to make a noise. Very different from the elabroate costumes today.
This balloon was controlled by people using ropes - it was raised and lowered while a woman dangled and spun above the crowd.
A closer view of the balloon woman acrobat. She posed in various gymnastic positions whilst dangling from the balloon.
The aftermath - tons of confetti, streamers and silly string containers cover the ground. You can seen part of the tram track is covered in debris. During the carnaval processions, the tram doesn't cross Place Massena.
The clean-up crew dressed in fluorescent yellow. Its amazing how quickly they get the carnaval route looking normal again .