A little while ago, before the summer sun arrived in Lyon, we visited Marseille for the weekend. I was looking forward to a couple of warm, sunny days by the seaside. But I wasn’t prepared for the wind. Unrelenting, inescapable wind, which Marseille is apparently famous for, along with its soap.
Wind aside, we spent the weekend exploring the city, and took a local bus to visit the calanques. The calanques are rocky inlets along the coast. The water shimmers blue and turquoise, and they are dotted with fishing villages. The contrast with the sprawling city of Marseille is made even more remarkable by its proximity.
In the stairwell of our apartment building there is a plant. It sits on a windowsill in front of an old stained-glass window.
The plant was there when we first looked at the apartment, and I remember thinking it made the building feel more friendly. Then it appeared to die, and the pot was left on the windowsill, empty and abandoned. I assumed that whoever had left it there had moved on.
But spring revealed that the plant was not abandoned, just dormant. Green shoots emerged through the earth, and turned into thick, leafy stems, that now support an increasing number of flowers. Their perfume fills the stairwell, and it’s the first thing I notice whenever I open the door.
I don’t know who is responsible for this plant. Our apartment building, like many others, is fairly anonymous. We say hello as we pass on the stairs, but the relationships don’t extend beyond simple greetings. I’m happy with this arrangement. Nonetheless, I appreciate whoever is quietly tending this plant and making our stairwell more cheerful.
Thank you, anonymous neighbour, for sharing your delightful flowers with us.
My zoo video was an experiment on two fronts. It was the first one using the hybrid video mode on my new camera, and it was the first time I added a music track.
My initial videos used the audio that the camera recorded with the film. But, in places like the park, there is a lot of background noise; you pick up snippets of conversation, and the passing trains and traffic. In the interest of continuing my filming experiment, I decided to try adding a music track to the video. Partly to overcome the distracting background noise, and partly to add a new skill to my repertoire.
Choosing the music was difficult. It was easy to decide what didn’t work, but much harder to decide what did. On top of finding something I liked, there were other things to consider: the length of the music compared to the video, and the important question of licensing.
I was really surprised at the difference the music makes. It gives the video a very different feeling. It seems more cohesive and more interesting. The track I eventually settled on reminds me of a fair ground, and so it seemed appropriate for the zoo.
My new camera, (a Canon IXUS 265 HS) has a hybrid video mode, which I really like. This mode records a few seconds of video every time you take a photo. At the end of each day, you have a movie digest of all the photos you’ve taken and their video clips.
As you might imagine, the video clips on their own are not always great. Some sections are out of focus, some move around a lot as you zoom in or try to frame the photo. And sometimes, the final photo isn’t great, but the video clip captures the moment the photo missed. Somehow, this combination of video and photo works, even if neither are great on their own.
Here is a video of the zoo in the Lyon’s Parc de la Tête d’Or using the hybrid mode on the camera. I added the titles and music in iMovie.
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