Jul 292017

Villach does not have a big park. It doesn’t need one. It’s small enough that you’re out of town and in the country in a few minutes.

Villach has a small park though with a fountain in a shallow pool. In autumn, when the pool is already empty and prepared for winter, I like to take photographs there. The russet dead leaves on the blue paint make for a very pleasing color contrast in times when nice colors are often hard to come by 🙂

3699 РAn Unexpected Cloister in Fr̩jus II

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Dec 052016

In earlier times I would have had bought a guide to the region, or more likely a few. I’m mostly interested in art, history and architecture, and the quality of guides varying.

Today I always start with a look into Wikipedia, and in order to be independent of Internet connections, I also have an offline copy of the German Wikipedia on my phone.

Basically the quality of that information is comparable to everything that a good tourist guide of the Provence would have revealed about a town like Fréjus. It told me that there is a cathedral, and it also told me about a cloister. I love cloisters, therefore we had to see it.

It’s a two story cloister. It’s not a big one, but it is extremely beautiful.

What makes a cloister beautiful? Well, twin columns are always nice, and of course much depends on the nature of the patio. This one has a lovely well, white gravel and a few small trees.

Fréjus is not a tourist center. We spent maybe 20 minutes in the cloister and for the whole time we were completely alone. That’s one of the benefits of visiting places off the beaten path.

One of the beautiful details was the wooden roof of the lower part of the cloister. It’s not completely uncommon, but most of the time you have gothic or romanesque vaults.

Originally the cloister was connected to the church, but that door is closed now. You reach thr cloister through the tourist office, just like we’ve seen it in Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume.

3698 РAn Unexpected Cloister in Fr̩jus I

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Dec 042016

Fréjus had not been on my radar. If you had asked me where that place is, I would have said it’s in the French Alps, just across the border from Torino, Italy. Which is also correct, because the mountain pass pass leading from Torino to France is called Col du Fréjus, and that’s the name that I had in mind.

It’s always irritating when two places have the same name. I don’t know the origin of the name of the mountain pass, but the city in Provence derives its name from Forum Julii. It’s one of the cities founded by Julius Caesar. From there, linguistically, it’s a long way to Fréjus, but that’s what 2000 years do to names.

It’s not a particularly interesting city, not a must-see in Provence, but it was one of the places where we could reach the sea. Cannes, half an hour on the highway to the east, would have been the next access to the Mediterranean, but we didn’t want to drive that far. We just wanted to drive an hour or two along the coast and probably sip a drink somewhere. Therefore Fréjus was it.

Nov 252016

Using a fisheye is hard. Before you look through the lens, you never know what you’ll get.

For the fountain the lens was ideal. Everything is round here anyway, you have to look twice to even see the fisheye effect.

The image from the chapter house is extreme, but then, in a certain way it conveys what I saw and how it felt to be there. That’s a funny thing to say about an image that’s totally distorted 🙂

The third image, looking from the cloister into the chapter house (yes, it was that dark in there) is somewhere in the middle.

For comparison I have an image taken from the church down into the cloister, also ultra-wide, but this time with the rectilinear 7-14/2.8.

Fisheyes: this is really stuff for experimentation. Try it out. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Predictions impossible 😀

3682 – Place des Quatre Dauphins

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Nov 172016

In France the heir apparent was traditionally called the Dauphin, which means dolfin. I guess that’s why we see so many of those animals on fountains, even if they don’t look like dolfins at all 🙂

We had them on the Rotonde, and here we have four of them on a small fountain in the center of Place des Quatre Dauphins, a tiny roundabout lined by sycamore trees.

From the height of the first floor of a house on the southern side a madonna with child quietly watches over the place. On the other side, on the road towards west, an impressive building displays a stately array of windows.

Aix-en-Provence is an old town, an important town, and wherever you look, you see it.

3679 – On Cours Mirabeau II

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Nov 142016

Here’s the promised “bigger fountain” at the western end of Cours Mirabeau.

It’s called “La Rotonde”, and the article on Wikipedia has an image of the whole structure. I wanted to take one myself, but because of all the traffic in the roundabout, I gave up quickly.

No problem, I was more interested in details and in using my 40-150/2.8 anyway 🙂

Nov 132016

Cours Mirabeau is a wide thoroughfare in Aix-en-Provence. It is named after Honoré Gabriel Riqueti, comte de Mirabeau, a demagogue, writer and politician at the time of the French Revolution.

The dove perches on top of a small fountain in the middle of the long stretch. At the western end the place is terminated by a much larger fountain at the center of a roundabout, but more of that tomorrow.

Jul 062016

I like these compositions. I think they are balanced and nicely fit in their respective frames.

In other news you may have heard that our presidential election between the final two candidates, Norbert Hofer and Alexander Van der Bellen, has to be repeated. After Hofer lost, his party, the right-populist FPÖ, appealed, and they did so by submitting a 150 pages tome of collected “irregularities”. And formally they were right.

For instance, the law says that counting of postal ballots must not begin before Monday, 9 am. In some districts they began earlier due to the immense pressure of having to provide early results.

In some cases the election supervisor did not wait for the official witnesses but used public servants as witnesses. Again that’s against the rules.

In its opinion the constitutional court finally gave one reason that alone would have rectified the annulment, and that was the fact that from 1 pm on preliminary results had been given to political parties and to scientists for the purpose of making projections. That’s also against a strict reading of the rules.

The problem is, every past election of the last 20 years has been executed that way. It was the consensus. It was accepted by all parties, FPÖ included. Now they broke the consensus.

Every political party could have done the same thing after every past election. They didn’t because it was just the way things were done – and by and large it worked perfectly.

Now you may ask, why did FPÖ break the consensus? For their voters they insinuate electional fraud, but in all their 150 pages they did not find a single incident that would point to fraud.

Meanwhile Erich Neuwirth, a professor emeritus of statistics and computer science at the University of Vienna, has demonstrated conclusively on his blog, that all disputed districts statistically lie in the mainstream. If you assume a manipulation to the amount that would have changed the result, all of those districts would have to have been extreme outliers before the manipulation. In other words, the insinuation of fraud is pretty laughable when you look at the hard facts.

Furthermore, even the witnesses of FPÖ have all signed under oath that everything went according to rules. Some of them may even face persecution. Therefore again: why did they do that?

I think the answer is, that they feel they are very near to their goal. Europe is crumbling, the Brits are out (are they?), France might fall to Marine Le Pen (heaven forbid!) and in general the extreme right seems to advance everywhere. Having a partisan president who would call for early general elections in times of refugees and an economic crisis, that is just too good a chance to pass it. Therefore the heavy push, therefore this “nuclear” weapon that you can only use once.

Well, it’s our job to stand united and to just say no. Let’s re-elect Alexander Van der Bellen and let’s do it even more decisively. I think it’s time to set a signal, time to stem the brown tide. They may think so, but in reality their victory is not a historic necessity. It would rather be a freak aberration like the Nazi reign has been. Thank you, we’ve had that, no need to go that route one more time.