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NORMAND PRIMEAU, Photographer
Thanks for stopping by and sharing with me your passion for photography. You will find here stories of people I meet, places I visit and things I see. And boy, that means a lot!
Born and raised in Montreal (Canada), I moved to the French Riviera in 2010 and the adventure keeps getting more exciting every day. There is so much to see and learn.
I hope you find here some inspiration for photography and traveling. Or maybe just a few hints for when you visit this beautiful region in south of France.
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Tag Archives: Italy
We had many opportunities to go through Switzerland in the past, before getting to our final destination, but our preferences brought us through other countries. A couple weeks ago, though, we had an opportunity to travel through Switzerland as our final destination was set in Zug, in the canton of the same name. That’s about 7-8 hours (650 km) from Nice and makes it a great opportunity to stop on our way to relax and snap some good shots. Or so we hoped!
Going through Italy (near Milan, A8-A10-A26-A7-A9) we ended our first day near Lugano. This is an italian speaking canton, while in Switzerland. Lovely hotel by the lake and a welcome break. You have to taste Ticino wines, especially one called Castello Di Morcote: delicious !
The next day brought us to Zug directly and that’s where we spent most of our time. Unfortunately the weather was pretty boring, I rarely saw so much grey everywhere, for 2 days. But our attention switch completely from landscape to people and lifestyle. We met with great people, always kind and ready to help. Everybody seemed pretty relax actually, which is great. So we walked everywhere, visited the Clock Tower (built in the 13th century), discussed with salespeople in boutiques, waiters and servers in bistros and restaurants, which helped us learn more about the area.
The day after we got in the car and decided to go around “Zuger See” (Lake Zug), stopping everywhere we saw something interesting. That was the case in Arth (such a quiet place), Immensee (where we had a typical meal) and then Cham for a nice walk in a park by the lake. Grey, grey and grey again. That’s what we got. But I thought it would be an opportunity to look at everything from a monochrome perspective and build on that until we got some good light. Light we never got. But everything turns out to be very interesting when photos are converted to B&W in Lightroom.
Finally, I think my good old friend Pete was right: there will always be at least ONE good shot from a whole day shoot. Looking for that shot is what pushes us to walk and drive, whatever the weather is. I ended up selecting 10 photos out of the lot. Still wondering which one I’d pick if I had to choose only ONE. You tell me!
You can find the whole picture set on my website at www.normandprimeau.com
The last time I drove a car for such a long trip was a couple years ago, from Montreal (Quebec, Canada) to Fort Myers (Florida, USA). But we stayed for 2 weeks in the same place. Last week we did something a bit more demanding, but extremely exciting. For business purposes we had to drive from Nice to Warsaw and then back. The good news, we had a fast car (herrr.. VERY fast car!), and our own schedule. So why not make it an opportunity to visit places we haven’t seen before, and in the meantime, take some pictures.
We arranged our schedule not to exceed 1000 km per day, so we can get to town for dinner and spend some time walking and shooting before getting back to the hotel for some well deserved sleep. And to make things even more interesting, we took another route for the way back to Nice. This way we managed to see a lot of different countries, regions and cities.
On our way going to Warsaw we went through France, Italy, Austria, Czech Republic and Poland. On the way back we went straight from Poland to Germany, Austria, Italy and France.
While we stopped in lots of cities for a break, a meal or the night, most of the pictures we took were in Warsaw (Poland) and Nürnberg (Germany). But we came back with more pictures from Warsaw because we spent almost 3 days there.
Speaking of Warsaw, I was very surprised by what I saw and felt when I was there. First of all, there are fantastic people living there. On many occasions we had someone offering help and guidance when we were looking for our way in town. The service provided in all of the places we were was fantastic. And, as a photographer, I can add that Poland truly has some great places to visit. I recently saw a reportage on TV about the city of Gdansk. I can’t believe I was so close to it but didn’t have time to make it there for a shoot on the shores of the Baltic Sea. But it’s set in my mind and I will go back just for that! Poland is not what I thought it was, or at least it is changing for the good. Anyone can acknowledge that by the number of tourists in old Warsaw, the major works on the highways, new airports and building renovation. It’s great to see that.
All in all this trip was fantastic. We had absolutely no problem, we met with great people in every places we visited, we always felt secure and on top of everything! However, due to the short time we had to travel, I found it a bit sad to drive so close to Berlin, Munich, Vienna and Venice without being able to afford the time to stop and visit. Oh well, we have to plan for another trip!
You can find the whole picture set on my website at www.normandprimeau.com
The past 4-5 weeks have been completely overwhelming, mostly due to personal events (loss of family member) and administration. As you can expect, all my time and energy were spent in that direction. Now that most of this is behind, I can return to a normal schedule and, of course, grab the camera, go out and shoot. And I can tell you I felt a great relief doing it. I knew photography was part of my equilibrium, but these recent events brought full proof of it.
Which brings us straight to the topic of this new article titled « 48 Hours In Florence ». But why Florence? Very simple: proximity. Closer than Roma or Venice from home. We needed a break, a little getaway to relax and enjoy ourselves quietly. And we did!!
Driving to Florence is roughly 5 hours, including breaks (nature calls). Having an economic diesel vehicle, refuelling is not an issue because it’s almost a 2-way thing or very close. Roma would be too long (7 hours), about the same for Venice (6 hours). And we thought both of them justify more than 48 hours. But I hear you already. And don’t get me wrong: Florence is huge in all aspects and requires more than 2 days to visit. God, there is so much to see there! But for a short getaway, it offers plenty of « wow’s » for anybody.
I’m sharing some pictures with you today and I hope they will make you want to get there and see for yourself. The trip is really worth it and I found the people in « Firenze » really helpful and kind. And yes (yes!) most of them do speak english and some french too. Bravo!
While a longer trip to Florence would allow me to shoot monuments, something obvious there (it’s amazingly beautiful and stunning from an architectural point of view), I wanted to grab « slices of life » in the city. That’s why you will find here picture of people, markets, tools, bike and so on. Once again, the Leica M proved to be the perfect tool for that. How amazing to feel the final image in composition. This camera always amazes me. It’s intuitive, natural, unobtrusive and it has something special I still can’t explain.
I will certainly go back to Florence in the future, but for a longer trip, and I will focus on history and what makes this city such a monument.
You can see the whole picture set on my website at www.normandprimeau.com
See you soon, Firenze!
I honestly had this destination in mind for quite a while, and after being there for a short moment, my expectations were not met.
But why? Why would a place like this keep you on appetite? Or maybe it’s not the place itself? Ahh!
Portofino is a very well known little village located in the upper west coast of Italy. It’s only a couple hours by car from the French border. I heard about it for a couple months now and decided to give it a try. After all, I’m always interested in knowing more about small villages, and especially from a photographic perspective. Now, there are so many small villages along the shore, why Portofino? Simply because I heard about it from trusty people and looking at pictures on the web brought a desire to “be there” and look for myself. I had time to imagine what it was all about, the history, the architecture, the people and the quietness of the area. There’s a romantic aspect to it that can’t be neglected. Sail boat in the port, fishermen hard at work and tuning their equipment for the next fishing trip. Silence. Waves on the rocky shore. A blue lagoon!
So what’s the problem with all this? Reading this should help you make the decision Portofino is your next destination, isn’t it? Well, that’s fine. And to be honest with you, it’s as beautiful as the pictures show. The glitch here is YOU! Yes, the tourist that you are.. or more specifically the number of you’s rushing there. And I was one of them that day. Not your fault. That’s the way it is with highly touristic area. The problem comes from the fact that the village can only be access by a small road. One lane, both directions. The police will stop you a few kilometers before and manage the flow of traffic from and to Portofino. It took me close to one hour to be allowed to reach the village, and here is what was there for me: more police directing you to an underground parking (in Portofino??) where everybody wants the rare spots left. And at a cost. Leaving the car you end up in the administrative area (police, town hall, etc.) and more parking lots (and full, of course). The quantity of scooters you see there is awesome. Everywhere. Heading towards the sea will have you go through many brand store. Clothing mostly. The big names are there. I was shocked to find this kind of business in there. Not exactly the old man’s pizzeria, or quiet espresso café I imagined for months. And then you realize your stock in a huge crow of people, all there to see the same thing you wanted to see.
But don’t get me wrong. As I said in the first part of the article, everything the pictures show is there and it’s beautiful. But underground parking, fashion shops and over crowded streets is not aligned with the beauty of this place. Portofino is a beautiful place. But how shocking it is to find out quietness made place for noise and crowd.
But can this be avoided? Yes, absolutely! There’s a few things to know. You go there early in the morning, not during vacation periods, holidays, etc., and don’t use the car to reach Portofino. You should park in a bay earlier on the road (Via Paraggi a Monte, Santa Margherita Liguria) and take the small boat that brings you straight in the port. That will save you a lot of time, and entering the port from the sea is much better than the parking lot.
One portion of this area that you might you to visit is the extreme south section, the cape. There is a path that goes there and is usually less crowdy. Oh yeah, spots that require a bit of work are more quiet, that’s how it is. Anyways, the view is spectacular and offers another perspective of Portofino. Keep in mind there is a lot of history there. Its name appears in documents as far as 986. and it was founded by the Romans who named it Port Of The Dolphin (Portus Delphini) because of the large quantity of dolphins found in the gulf.
In 1954, a statue was sent to the port’s sea bed at 17 meters. “Christ Of The Abyss” (its name) was placed there to protect divers and fishermen.
There is also a castle at the top of the hill, “Castello Brown”, and it was built and used as harbor defense as early as the 15th century. The picture below gives you a good idea of what it is.
Now, would I go back there? I think I should. But at the right time/period of the year, by boat and only after a bit of research for historical event. For those of you who read the articles on this site, you know I always want to know more about a village. I knew nothing at all about Portofino, beside its natural beauty and location. I think it pays off to learn a bit before going somewhere like that, because it gives dimension, perspective, understanding, and makes the trip worthwhile. If you think of it, it’s like judging someone only by looking at him/her. Unfair! Portofino deserves a second chance, no doubt about it.