Week 26: Inside the Observatory

Like Alex, I am rejoicing at reaching the half-way point on 52rolls. In fact, I have already shot more than 52 rolls this year. Writing a few lines each week and  finding one or two good photographs is the challenging part. I’ve been aided of course by my frequent travels. The only time I found it really hard was in the depths of winter where having only a few hours of daylight made challenging to get out and shoot. Since the start of the project, I have been keeping a few subjects on the back-burner just in case I found myself in a week in which “nothing special” happened and I had no travels to report, something I knew I could take pictures of and talk about if all else fails. This week was one of them.

I’m lucky enough to work at the Institut d’Astrophysique de Paris (IAP), which is one of the first scientific research institutes of the “CNRS” (the French national research council). It was founded in 1937. The IAP was built next to a much older building – the Observatoire de Paris, actually the oldest astronomical observatory in the world where real research is still being done. All the others have been transformed into museums or closed. The Observatory was founded in 1667 under royal decree from Louis XIV, in the south of Paris, in the XIV arrondissement. It is set in large grounds with a garden: such a thing would be impossible to think of in any large city today. Of course, that is because when the Observatoire was created, this part of Paris was open countryside. There were only windmills here, and in fact many of the scientists who were supposed to work at the Observatoire (which was intended to be a general scientific research institute) in the end didn’t want to come because it was too far from the centre of town (and we are only forty or so minutes’ walk from Notre Dame!)

There is a lot of history  which I won’t go into here. Suffice it to say I had a visitor on a Friday afternoon and I decided to make use of the opportunity to take some photographs inside the main building for 52rolls. With my 50mm lens inside of course I had to be creative. Here is the first set:

There is a dome on the main building, which was added by François Arago, one of the Observatory’s 19th century directors. Here is a picture from the of a corner of the dome, and through the windows you can see…the IAP.  The last one is my friend taking pictures of some ancient graffiti underneath the dome. I would like to post some nice photographs of Paris from the roof, but the skies were overcast that day: I prefer to return when the weather is nicer (and I have some Tri-X).


(I went back at the start of the next week to take these two photographs which I had missed). In front of the Observatory there is a statue of Le Verrier, one of the least popular directors in the history of the Observatory.  Here he is, reflected in the front door,and you can also see the reflections of an wooden telescope; and the picture on the right shows a part of famous Observatory staircase.

One other thing: the Saturday afterwards, I went for a quick walk around town with the Rolleflex 2.8 C that another friend had loaned me (yes I have generous friends), which I already mentioned in a previous post.  The same friend had also given me some rolls of TMAX-400-120 (yes more TMY)  ten years past the expiry date. Reading around in the internet I learned that you should supposedly overexpose by one stop for every ten years past the expiry date. Well, this was what I stupidly did – but in fact there was no reason to do this, and all my negatives came out overexposed.  This is one imagine I manage to salvage, but it is not great. Yes, it is a picture of a building – I am not yet at the level of taking street photography with this thing. I plan to try again soon with other film.


Museé D’Orsay, medium format


That’s it for this week.

Here are my previous posts on 52rolls.

This is my home on the interwebs.

Technical details:

 Still trying TMAX-400. It has been developed in D76 1+1 for 10mins25.   All photographs here are taken with an M6 with a 50mm lens, except of course the last one.

4 thoughts on “Week 26: Inside the Observatory

  1. Beautiful! And congrats on reaching the half-way mark!! Paris is on my list to visit, but probably not for another couple years. Maybe be in France for the 100th-anniversary celebrations of the end of The Great War for Civilization? (World War 1).

    Liked by 1 person

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