Architecture

Mont Saint-Michel at Night

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Mont Saint-Michel was an unbelievable experience. Once the tourists emptied out, the town quieted down for the night. This was a 15 second exposure that was timed around the shuttle bus that travels back-and-forth along (and vibrates) the bridge.

Memorial Church and the Planets Saturn and Jupiter

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Planetary Alignment

The Moon (99% waxing gibbous), accompanied by Saturn and Jupiter, rises above Memorial Church at Stanford University. In terms of lining up the moon with a building, visit Photo Ephemeris, which is pretty accurate. In retrospect, I should have consulted it beforehand. Instead, I used the augmented reality feature in PhotoPills, which was not as precise.

James H. Clark Center at Stanford

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One of the cooler buildings on the Stanford campus, the Clark Center is home to Bio-X, a multi-disciplinary lab that pulls from researchers from the departments of biology, chemistry, physics, engineering and medicine.

Arc de Triomphe Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

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ICI REPOSE UN SOLDAT FRANCAIS MORT POUR LA PATRIE

At the Arc de Triomphe, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier honors a soldier who died for his country during World War I. I visited during Bastille Day when the tomb was adorned with ribbons and flowers.

Arc de Triomphe and Les Misérables

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Fans of Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables, the novel and the musical, should recognize this name on the Arc de Triomphe: Lamarque. The Paris riots that followed the funeral of General Jean Maximilien Lamarque is central to Les Misérables in that it provided Valjean the opportunity to save Javert and Marius Pontmercy.

Sunrise over Gilead Sciences Campus

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These buildings are located just to the right of the San Mateo-Hayward bridge. In the minutes before sunrise, the illumination from the building lights pair well with the emerging sunrise and the reflection in the waters of the San Francisco Bay.

I had to look up these buildings on Google Maps and they appear to be part of the Gilead Sciences campus in Foster City, California.

San Mateo-Hayward Bridge

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The last time I was at the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge, I was on the other side with the sunrise behind me. This time, I tried a new location and took a three-photo panorama.

With each passing week, the sun is starting to rise earlier and earlier. This shortens the shutter speed and the water ends up choppier. Will try again with an ND filter if the weather cooperates.

C-130 Hercules Soars Over Moffett Field

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During lunch, I saw a Lockheed C-130 Hercules circling around Moffett Field. I think the plane was performing a touch and go because I would see it descend and take-off shortly after. Because the landing was obscured by the surrounding buildings, I was not 100% certain.

During one of its revolutions, another plane took off from Moffett Field. I was tracking the C-130 through the viewfinder and the appearance of another plane startled me.

I saw the C-130 Hercules take off from Moffett Field a few times. This photo has a mix of the old and new. Google is building its Bay View campus in the foreground while Moffett Federal Airfield Hangar 2 and 3 are in the background. At the top of the mountain, you can even see Lick Observatory.

San Mateo-Hayward Bridge

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On a quiet morning, I stopped by the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge just before sunrise. I could see some cars beginning their daily commute across the bridge while the sky was faintly illuminated in pink and purple hues. The water was glassy and still, except for a few early rising ducks who were already gliding across the San Francisco Bay.

Le Mont-Saint-Michel

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Le Mont-Saint-Michel
  1. Take the Ouigo Train to Rennes. From the Paris Montparnasse station, SNCF offers a number of direct TGV trains to Rennes. The lowest cost option is the morning Ouigo train, which costs about $20 for a one-way ticket. The regular SNCF trains are much more expensive and cost $80-100 for a one-way ticket.
  2. Download the Ouigo App. The Ouigo train I traveled on was clean and comfortable. I paid a nominal fee for the large luggage I brought on board and also opted for the seats with an electrical outlet. Installing the Ouigo app was essential since I did not have access to a printer. I could just show my boarding pass from my phone.
  3. Rennes to Mont Saint-Michel Bus. The journey from Rennes train station (Gare de Rennes) to Mont Saint-Michel is serviced by a bus that runs four times a day: 9h45, 11h45, 12h45 and 16h45. So, the morning Ouigo train (7h06 – 9h07) is perfect for catching one of the connecting buses. The noon Ouigo train (12h14 – 13h53), on the other hand, drops off passengers right in the middle of the afternoon gap. If you don’t want to wait 3 hours, then the alternatives are hiring a private car or renting a car.
  4. Tidal Schedule. The Mont Saint-Michel Tourist Office publishes a tide schedule, if you want to plan your visit around high tide. I visited during low tide and it was quite dry around the island, except for that sliver of water I found that created the perfect reflection.
  5. Hotels. Staying overnight at Le Mont-Saint-Michel offers a number of advantages. In the evening, once the crowds depart, the restaurants and shops begin closing and the streets empty. As the pace slows, I was able to walk around the island without having to navigate through a sea of fellow tourists. During these hours, it’s easier to compose photos with nobody in them.
  6. Shuttle Bus. The complimentary navette travels from the parking lot to Mont Saint-Michel, with a stop at the off-island hotels and restaurants. The bus (and pedestrians) both cause vibrations on the bridge as they pass by. If you are using a tripod for long exposure photos, you need to take that into account.†
Complimentary Shuttle Bus (Navette) at Mont Saint Michel