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Photographer's Note

This is the most expensive photograph that I have posted to TrekEarth to date. Yesterday (Sunday) I arrived in Paris to attend a conference today (Monday), so I decided to take advantage of the opportunity to go out to Chartres to see the light show at its famous cathedral. I had seen the photographs posted by Didi Massoud last month, and it looked very impressive. Didi said he had difficulty getting the whole cathedral in, so I brought a wide angle and a fisheye lens to see if I could get some shots of the whole building.

I left Paris about 5.30 pm and it took about an hour on the train to reach Chartres. The cathedral dominates the Chartres skyline, situated on top of a hill overlooking the old town. I spent a few hours photographing around the cathedral until the sun went down, and then waited for the light show to start. It didn’t start until 9.30 pm, but was very impressive as three massive projectors lit up the whole cathedral in glorious technicolour. I stayed until about 10.20 pm, when I felt I had enough shots, and then walked back down to the station to catch a train back to Paris. I got to the station at 10.30 pm. I put my credit card into the ticket machine, but was puzzled when it showed the next departure for Paris was at 4.45 am. So I checked the departures board and was horrified to see that the last train to Paris was at 10.27 pm. I had missed it by three minutes!

I hadn’t bothered to check the train times back to Paris when I arrived in Chartres because I had assumed that, like in most countries, it would be sometime around midnight – I didn’t realise that France went to bed so early. The ticket office was closed, but the station master was still in his office. I asked him whether there was a bus back to Paris, but he said no. I would either have to wait until 4.45 am or get a taxi.

There was just one taxi left on the rank outside the station so I asked him how much it would cost to go to Paris. He told me that it would be around 200 euros. In hindsight, it probably would have been cheaper to stay at a hotel in Chartres and take the 4.45 am train back, but at the time I was feeling quite jet-lagged and my body clock was still on Kuala Lumpur time (it was 4.30 am back home) so maybe I wasn’t thinking as clearly as I should.

As the taxi headed towards Paris, I watched the meter clock up the euros – 50, 100, 150 and then at last, as we came over a hill, I saw the lights of Paris in the distance. As the meter clocked 170 euros I could see the Eiffel Tower illuminated in the distance, and let out a sigh of relief that the fare wasn’t going to be too much more than 200 euros. Fortunately it wasn’t, as I was staying on the western side of the city not far from the Eiffel Tower, but it was still the most expensive taxi ride I had ever taken.

200 euros might not seem a lot to some, but it certainly burnt a large hole in my back pocket. To me, coming from Malaysia, and finding nearly everything in Europe 2-3 times more expensive than back home, paying 200 euros for a taxi felt like what it would to Europeans paying 500 euros or Americans 500 dollars. Ouch!

The shot I have posted was taken with a fisheye lens. It is not quite symmetrical as I couldn’t place my tripod immediately in front of the middle door, but the lack of symmetry is also because one spire is taller than the other. For those who don’t like the distortion of a fisheye lens, I have placed a wide angle shot taken from further back in the workshop. I’ve also placed a daylight view of the cathedral there too.

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Additional Photos by David Astley (banyanman) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1237 W: 108 N: 2568] (7789)
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