First Flight

This morning we watched a fluffy young bird learn to fly.

The parents waited anxiously calling to their little one. Over the next minutes the calls increased back and forth, then a hop, leap, and flutter.

A little chick was learning to fly outside our window. We were lucky to be in the right place and right time to watch.

Little bird prepares to fly.
Little bird prepares to fly.
Little bird waits before learning to fly.
Little bird waits before learning to fly.
Parent beckons its little one over.
Parent beckons its little one over.

Pérouges – French medieval hilltop town

Pérouges is a stunningly preserved medieval hilltop town in the Rhône Alpes region of France.

Last weekend we visited Pérouges. Embedded below is a short film of our visit. The short film Pérouges – French medieval hilltop town is also available on my YouTube channel.

Faster Easier Editing

I am trying to get faster at putting together these short films. Final Cut Pro is a complex beast of an editing application.

This is the first video to use a compressor within Final Cut Pro for parts of the audio; previously I did this in Audacity. While a small step towards better sound, it is nice to be able to do as much as possible within one application.

I also learnt that L & J cuts do not require detaching audio first. By expanding the audio tracks of a video, it becomes possible to trim or expand the visual and audio elements independently of each other.

Pérouges – Medieval Hilltop Town

Pérouges is a stunning medieval hilltop town located half an hour by train from central Lyon, France.

Our schedules have been overwhelming this year and looking ahead there may not be a pause for some time to come. Our commitment to continue travelling and doing new things needed a boost, so this last weekend we went to Pérouges.

Pérouges fitted the bill nicely. Visiting the town is a day trip from Lyon. From Part Dieu train station the journey took thirty minutes on a regular commuter TER train. The destination station is Meximieux – Pérouges.

From Meximieux to Pérouges

Meximieux is the closest stop with a train station. To reach Pérouges from the station, a short walk of either 20 minutes or 40 minutes awaits. One route is more direct but less scenic. I recommend the scenic route as it wanders through countryside and you pass by an attractive lake.

Pérouges in the distance.
Pérouges in the distance.
Countryside on the way to Pérouges.
Countryside on the way to Pérouges.
Lake on the way to Pérouges.
Lake on the way to Pérouges.
Path leading towards Pérouges.
Path leading towards Pérouges.
Pérouges beyond a field.
Pérouges beyond a field.

Pérouges

Pérouges feels deliberately suspended in the medieval period. The town is clearly maintained as a tourist destination. The buildings are restored and maintained; the construction style makes use of the thousands of small rocks that litter fields all around.

Pérouges
Pérouges
Pérouges
Pérouges
Pérouges
Pérouges
Pérouges
Pérouges
Pérouges
Pérouges

Yoko Ono’s lumière de l’aube

With renewed museum cards in hand, we visited the contemporary art gallery to see Yoko Ono’s lumière de l’aube show.

With less than a year to go before we leave Lyon, we have renewed our annual museum cards for the final time. These cards give us access to six galleries and museums around the city. They are great value and having them provides an extra push to trek to galleries at the weekends.

This Sunday we visited our nearest gallery, Musée d’Art Contemporain de Lyon (MAC). This typically challenging destination was hosting an exhibit by Yoko Ono. For once an artist’s name that I recognised. Being a contemporary gallery, and combined with my lack of recent art knowledge, visiting tends to be a gamble. We have seen some very strange exhibits at MAC. This is not your typical paintings on a wall type of place.

Despite some irksome security theatre, I was allowed to photograph and film freely. The organisers explicitly asked shared content to be tagged with #YokoOnoLyon; so, I have.

A short film of Yoko Ono’s lumière de l’aube show is embedded below and on my YouTube channel:

Putting together a film without a story is difficult. You have nothing to edit around and nothing to travel through the footage with. What I ended up with is more a memory of our visit, than a gripping short film. Music certainly helps bind it together. In this case the music is Before I Sleep by Muciojad (CC BY-SA 3.0).

Nails in a Conference Table

We enjoyed the exhibit asking us to hammer a nail into a conference table. Others had taken to hammering nails into the walls and anything else they could lodge the nail into. A sign noted that because the gallery refused liability and responsibility for the public’s actions, you were thus free to augment the table.

Conference table and nails
Conference table and nails
Detail of nails in conference table
Detail of nails in conference table

Halved

The halved dining room table and accompanying place settings was surprisingly engaging.

Halved dining table and setting
Halved dining table and setting
Halved dining room
Halved dining room
Detail of a halved dining chair
Detail of a halved dining chair

Mixed Bag

The exhibit was enjoyable. The tone of the first floor was fun and engaging. The last exhibits were somber and dark in tone. We left wondering if that content would have been better on the middle floor. Something to give us time to recover before leaving the gallery.

I did get to go on a tiny slide built into a wall. That was fun.

Exhibition space in MAC, Lyon
Exhibition space in MAC, Lyon
Plants embedded in seats
Plants embedded in seats
Shelves of broken ceramics
Shelves of broken ceramics
Household items suspended
Household items suspended

Furry Beetle

This big beetle caught Megan’s eye during our walk this morning.

We had a beetle[1] themed morning . On our return from the Yoko Ono exhibition at Musée d’Art Contemporain de Lyon, Megan noticed this furry beetle on the pavement.

Bug on a path in Lyon, France
Bug on a path in Lyon, France

No idea what it is but I did not notice the fur until seeing this photo. Spring has brought shifting temperatures. The warmer days are bringing out the insects.

[1] Apologies for the terrible beetle/Beatles pun.

Hailstorm over Lyon

We had our first hail storm of the season this week.

Spring has arrived in Lyon and with Spring comes the occasional afternoon storm. I hesitated before grabbing my camera and filming this first hailstorm of the season. Storms are not rare so I hesitated trying to decide if this storm justified the effort. The opportunity to practice filming and editing won out, and I am glad it did.

A short film of the hailstorm over Lyon is below and also on my YouTube channel.

This storm lasted just long enough for me to frantically grab my Zoom H2n audio recorder, put in new batteries, and record a few minutes of rumbling thunder. I have come to love this little recorder. I knew nothing about audio equipment before buying it. My choice was based solely on a couple of hours of research online – and the low price helped. Since then I have discovered how well regarded Zoom recorders are and how versatile this particular model is.

This short film mixes the audio from the camera with an audio track recorded by the Zoom. The result works well. I tried using only the Zoom’s recording but the mismatch between visuals and audio jarred.

Hail stones pile up on the roof tops.
Hail stones pile up on the roof tops.
Hail stones collect and flow along the gutter.
Hail stones collect and flow along the gutter.

Aerial Acrobatics on the Library

A platform suspended from the top of the 3e municipal library in Lyon became a stage yesterday. A performer entertained onlookers as traffic passed by unknowing beneath.

We watched a woman performing acrobatic stunts on the side of the public library in Lyon.

Acrobatics on the side of the public library in Lyon, France
Acrobatics on the side of the public library in Lyon, France

We stopped and enjoyed the performance for a few minutes. I filmed what I could of the acrobatics on the library wall. The distance made it difficult to capture much usable footage. After a moment I remembered my Gorilla Pod; I set up and filmed the final shots using the impromptu tripod closer to the building.

Most of the people milling into and out of the big train station did not seem to notice her. It was busy and the building site between the library and station obstructed much of the view. It did not help that anyone stopping in front the train station tends to be approached and overwhelmed by chuggers and others asking for money.

View of the library from the train station forecourt
View of the library from the train station forecourt
A performer stands on a suspended platform
A performer stands on a suspended platform
Aerial acrobatics on the side of la Bibliothèque municipale de Lyon 3eme
Aerial acrobatics on the side of la Bibliothèque municipale de Lyon 3eme

Searching on the library’s web site did not reveal any information about the event; I presume it must have been organised and part of something formal. Do you know? If so, please get in touch.

Film Credits

– Filmed on my Canon PowerShot SX700.
– Edited with Final Cut Pro.
– Music by SubtactAway [NCS Release]

After the Rain

A beautiful photo looking down Cours Lafayette towards the centre of Lyon. Unadjusted and unedited, the colour is as I saw it.

It had stopped raining a few moments before, the sun was setting, and the light was just so. We were walking back with our groceries when I had to stop to take this photo.

Cours Lafayette in Lyon after the rain
Cours Lafayette in Lyon after the rain

Unadjusted and unedited, the colour is as I saw it. I was delighted the camera captured the moment so perfectly.

The location is the same as the recent tree felling; the photo looks down Cours Lafayette towards the city.

Street Tree Felling

The trees along Cours Lafayette have been cut down. The view down the street has been dramatically altered.

I have read that the difference between a boulevard and a street in France are the trees. If the street is lined with trees, it typically becomes a boulevard. I am sure this definition is not perfect but it works well enough.

So where does that leave poor Cours Lafayette? The trees along its sides were being felled on Friday. Notices pinned to trees along the street suggest more trees are yet to be cut down.

We stopped and watched the team finish the cutting down of one tree. A short film of the tree felling is on my YouTube channel and embedded below:

The approach to public safety is surprising. I suspect a simple, if you think it too dangerous to approach then don’t. A reliance on common sense I would not expect in the UK or Australia. In those countries I imagine one side of the road fenced off and those on foot kept a long distance away.

Regardless, the tree felling looked controlled and no-one around seemed to care. Cars passed and pedestrians watched or wandered on by.

The team clean up after felling a tree.
The team clean up after felling a tree.
A tree lies on the road outside a bakery.
A tree lies on the road outside a bakery.
Cours Lafayette, now treeless in Lyon.
Cours Lafayette, now treeless in Lyon.

Whirlwind Through Our Schedules

I have learnt that with French strikes, it is better to wait and see before cancelling plans.

With our recent purchase of land in France, our world has become fiendishly busy. The sudden switch from waiting to action has taken our breath away. In a few weeks we will settle back into a routine but for now it feels like a whirlwind is tearing through our schedules.

Two regional French TER train engines.
Two regional French TER train engines.

This morning we confirmed an appointment, booked our hire car, and only then discovered potential train strikes may make our travels impossible. Having gone to some effort to clear our schedules for that appointment, the possibility of re-scheduling and moving the bookings is frustrating.

This is an uncertainly I dislike but have to endure.