MAN-BAGS, FRENCH FOOD, AND A WEEKEND IN PARIS | WITH PANASONIC LX100 PHOTO'S & 4K VIDEO
As my usual disclaimer, if you do not care to read my rambling about the trip or things such as man-bag accessories, French food, and cameras, and just want to see pretty motion images, then be my guest and scroll through to the bottom to view my 4k video of Paris. Go ahead and look at a couple of photo's while you are at it. They are on the way and kind of pretty too.
Recently some friends from the United States were visiting my girlfriend and I and staying at our place in Utrecht. For a majority of their trip we acted as overly enthusiastic tour guides and showed them around various places in the Netherlands, but for the end of their first European trip we all decided to spend a weekend in Paris. I was ready to play the part of a tourist for a bit.
The best part about this mini-vacation was that it would allow me to finally take my Panasonic DMC-LX100 on it's first holiday (Hurrah!). So after throwing some clothes and a toothbrush into my Qwstion backpack and loading my various LX100 paraphernalia into my expensive, waterproof, handmade camera bag, I was ready for the trip.
Okay, so I feel like I have to come clean. Only 1.5 of those things are actually true about the "camera" bag. It is actually a fanny pack that I purchased from a Chinese company via Amazon. I paid 20USD for it and ordered it to be "dark brown" in color. "Dark brown" was apparently lost in translation because the bag's color looks more like Popeye's, presumed, poop color. That said, the bag is actually somewhat handmade though, especially if you include the third-world children's hands that probably helped to assembled it, because I applied a couple layers of Greenland Wax to it to make it waterproof and protect it's precious contents from the wonderful weather of the Netherlands. So it was not ALL a lie.
Anyways, back to the trip...
While our friends left a day earlier and everything went smoothly for them during their trip, we were booked for a train ride out on Friday. Unfortunately, we were not quite as lucky as them and due to some confusion with the tickets I managed to cause us to miss our first train from Rotterdam to Brussels Midi. We caught the next train and arrived in Brussels Midi about 50 minutes after our next train's departure time. With only 10 minutes left until we would lose our refund on the tickets, and we would have to purchase new ones at full price, we managed squeeze through the customer service line at the last possible minute. For some reason the awesome servicewoman that helped us decided to book us new tickets on the next train to Paris at no charge. She even had to be sneaky about it. Following that incident we were feeling good about our change in luck and shopped a bit in the train station before catching our next train (on-time this time). One of my freshly purchased items, a 750ml bottle of sour beer, decided to shoot out its cork and exploded inside of my Qwstion backpack. Luckily, one of my pairs of socks took one for the team and managed to soak up most of the liquid. Normally this wouldn't have bothered me that much, but it was that this particular sour beer was one that a friend had told me to keep an eye out for while in Brussels; and when I finally find it I do not even get to taste it! As much as I may have wanted to, I assure you that I did not drink any from the socks. They were given a proper warrior's burial in the train's trash bin. So like I said, while it could have been much worse, things were definitely not starting out as smoothly as I would have liked. We did finally manage to arrive in Paris though; only a few hours later than expected and me reeking of sour beer.
As this was the second time that I was visiting the capital of France, I decided that the aim of this trip would be twofold: to not only make a 4k video of the places I saw, but to also stuff my face with as much delicious, and possibly strange, French cuisine as possible. While I do have video evidence of the former (as seen in the video below), I am still new enough to this "blog" thing — and maybe not hipster enough... yet — to make photographs of the food that I ate. So there is no evidence of the latter. In some cases I am not even sure you would want to see photo's of what I ate, but I can assure you that stuffing my face I did do aplenty.
We visited multiple brasseries, charcuteries, and boulangeries and sampled more French deliciousness from the land, sea, and air than I can concisely list here. Whenever it comes to eating in new countries (or just eating in general for me) I like to try interesting things that I have never tasted before or would normally be unable to eat at home. With that said, one meal that will definitely stick with me for awhile was one that I actually have previously enjoyed in both France and elsewhere. Steak tartare. In case you are not already aware, this dish is basically raw chopped up cow meat with an unfertilized (and uncooked) baby bird poured on top, but only the yellow part. Sound delicious, right?
Previously, I had only enjoyed it in this simple, unadulterated form, but on this fateful day I was to finally be formally educated about steak tartare. Apparently there is an extremely secret and detailed process in preparing the meal even after it has left the kitchen and has arrived on the table. Luckily, the Frenchman that was serving me was willing to share these secrets with me. When the server asked me if I knew how to prepare the steak tartare correct I, somewhat confused, gave a noncommittal response and shrugged my shoulders in answer to his question. I thought that what was on the plate was it: raw meat and raw egg yolk and some salt and pepper. What else do I need? He kindly asked in broken English, and using lots of pointing and gesturing, if I would like him to prepare it correctly for me. I incredulously nodded my head that he could do so, mostly because he seemed so eager to do it for me. I leaned back to allow him the room to pour and shake various condiments (ketchup, French mustard, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, and of course extra hot sauce) over my dish. He then picked up my fork and began to mash and mix these and other ingredients that were already on my plate (parsley, sliced cornichons, and diced onion) into my steak tartare, creating a mess that honestly looked less than appetizing. Since this was the first time as an adult that I have ever had a grown man, or anyone, mash my food up for me, I was obviously a bit taken aback. But I quickly recovered and showed my gratitude to him for bestowing these steak tartare secrets upon me. It was like my eyes were never truly open before.
While some people would definitely not go for the steak tartate, I still wanted to try something that was even more decidedly-French and maybe a bit... different. I got my wish the following day at a another restaurant that we meticulously researched and then sought out for their exceptional and well heralded cuisine. What I of course mean is that the menu outside this restaurant showed that it was not ridiculously expensive and it was the first place that we stumbled upon that did not have a waiting list longer than 45 minutes.
After reading what little I could on the menu, I decided to order a caramelized pig's feet dish that would probably make any lover of "The Three Little Pigs" die a little bit on the inside (me included). When replying to my order the waiter inquired if I planned to "go on a long walk or run around the city" after eating. Even though I had no idea what he was talking about I managed to ingeniously reply "Uh... Yeah, I guess?". He did a less than satisfactory, but quite enthusiastic, job explaining what he meant exactly, so I did not understand until I finished eating my meal. I use the term "finished" loosely because even though it was just two relatively small piggly wigglies, I could not finish it all. Even then I still felt like I had instantly gained a couple kilos and would possibly never need to eat again. Persevering through the physical pain and cognitive guilt of eating another animals freaking feet, it was definitely still worth it in the end. If not just for how amazingly tasty those hoof meats were, but for the fact that the, possibly, coked up waiter told me that he was proud of me for finishing my meal. This was now the second time in as many days that I was treated like a well-behaved child at mealtime... It must have been my fanny pack.
Anyways enough about man-bags, French food, and details about the trip. Now a little about the Panasonic DMC-LX100. Here are a few photo's from the trip made with the LX100:
As usual, my LX100 was a pleasure to have with me. As I am sure the photo's above have started to show, the Leica lens produces amazingly sharp images and can sometimes get decent bokeh at the wider apertures. The 4k capabilities of the camera keep blowing me away too, and I don't even have a monitor capable of viewing the full 4k resolution yet.
The LX100 is such a pleasure to use for both photographs and videos and is a great camera to always have on me, for work and play. I love the manual controls. Even if I do not aways use them and leave some of the setting on auto when I want to snap faster and with less thought, it is still great to have the ability to quickly switch features manually whenever I want. One minor issue is that since the camera is so small, it is not the most stable when shooting video handheld. For this reason many of the video clips in the "Paris in 4k | Panasonic LX100" below were stabilized in post-production using the warp stabilizer. I knew this would be an issue when purchasing the camera and was obviously going more for a small, carry everywhere camera, so this bothers me minimally. It is also beneficial to put the LX100 up to my eye when shooting video since it adds another contact point and helps to stabilize the shots.
One other small issue that I notice more and more with this camera is that if it is left on autofocus, when in video, then often it will hunt on new things to focus on while recording. This can and has screwed up some shots of mine. This is less of an issue in a setting like on this trip because I can just use manual controls or clip around the unfocused parts of the clips. But it does become an issue occasionally as I discovered last week. I had the LX100 mounted for an overhead shot for a "how to" video, that I was helping to assist in the production of, and I needed to operating the camera remotely on my iPhone 6 and had it in a location that I was unable to quickly reach and make adjustments if I was to rely on focusing manually. Therefore, I had to depend on autofocus and would focus the camera by clicking my finger on my phone screen in the Panasonic remote control app. Unfortunately, even though I set the focus point the camera would still sometimes hunt which did mess up some nice shots. In the end though It is more an inconvenience rather than anything else, and maybe I will eventually figure out what settings to adjust or another a way around it.
With that, I leave you with my 4k video of Paris. Enjoy!
Unfortunately, due to time constraints, a bit of crappy weather, and my rather narrow-minded focus on documenting the trip via 4k video, I was unable to create a new photo for my "Living Out of a Suitcase" series in Paris.
Furthermore, as a city that recently just underwent some pretty messed up terrorist attacks, I figured that some bearded guy laying in the grass sticking his arms and/or legs through some sort of nondescript suitcase at the Eiffel Tower or Louvre would probably attract some unwanted attention. With good reason, I look ridiculous whenever I am creating the photographs for that series. I did not feel like explaining to any of the military guys or gals walking around holding assault rifles what exactly it was that I was doing. Hopefully next trip and in better times, Paris.
PHOTOGRAPHER, VIDEOGRAPHER, TRAVELER, ARCHAEOLOGIST, AND LOVER OF FERMENTED BEVERAGES & SPICY FOODS