Thursday, May 24, 2012

...but officer...

Yesterday evening I decided to make a few images of la tour Eiffel from out the front window doors.  This time I wanted to make some very high resolution photographs.  This involves taking multiple overlapping photographs of a scene and then stitching them together after the work is downloaded off the camera.

I set up the tripod and worked on the scene from around sunset until just after 2200h.

At 2230 the door bells rings.

Ancient Photographer (me): "Qui est-ce?"

La Police (the oldest of them): "La police."

Thinking as fast as I could about home invasion robberies and the likelihood that these aren't the police, I took a chance and opened the door.  I was greeted by three men in normal street clothes.  One showed me their badge and said...

LP:  "Vous prenez des photos, n'est pas?  Votre voisin nous téléphonons.  Vous avez une télescope, oui?"

100percent crop - la tour Eiffel

 Center section of la tour Eiffel - 100% crop

It turns out, someone across the street from us in the general direction of la tour was concerned I was taking their photo!

AP: "Non.  Je n'ai pas une télescope.  Mais, oui.  J'ai pris des photos.  Et, je ne m’intéresse pas de mes voisins.  Ce qui m’intéresse est la tour Eiffel."

If the man wanted to see a real telescope, I could have showed him a big brass monster that someone across the way keeps in their window.  No doubt for star gazing purposes.  Hah!

LP: "La tour Eiffel?"

AP: "Oui."

He then asked me to show some ID and show him the photos.  But I was a little peeved and asked about how they were clothed.

LP: "Vous n'avez pas de police dans les États-Unis?"

AP: [gestering to my clothing] "Pas comme ça!  Et, ce qui concerne votre identité..."

There must have been just the right tone inflection and indignation as the officer went on to explain they were from the Municipal Police and all they were going to do was go back to the caller and explain I wasn't taking a photo or acting as a "peeping Tom."  The other two police showed me their badges as well.

100percent crop - la tour Eiffel

 Near the very top of la tour Eiffel - 100% crop

About this time, Jude shows up at my elbow and peeks around me to have a look.  She, it turns out, was concerned about the same thing I was.  Home invasion.

AP: "Bouge pas!" [turning to get my passport and camera]

My wife locked the door behind me, but not before I heard the officer saying "... oh, rest assured, I'm not going anywhere..."  I knew I'd hit a cord, yet I had no idea if it was "good" or "bad".  AND having the door locked behind me must have really driven home a point.  Again, I'm still not sure which point that might have been.

la tour Eiffel ~ Creative Commons Licensed

 The Offending Photo at 1/4 resolution of the final result 
~ over 7500x17000 pixels ~

After showing my passport, giving our telephone number, and showing the officer the images of la tour, they bid us a "bon soir" and left.

Jude asked me "Did they really think you would be taking photos of someone in their apartment?  You should've told them "If the person who phoned you is so pretty that they need to be concerned about other people sneaking photos of them, you should have brought them with you so we could've had a look-see for ourselves.""

Funny thing was, while being indignant and trying hard not to be too condescending, I was thinking exactly the same thing.

Alas, my French language skills are several light-years away from that level of banter. Particularly with the "authorities".


  1. Wow - not in Paris long enough to unpack and already getting visits from the police. And there aren't any Ducatis involved! ;-)

    1. You know? You'd think people living in a city where 75,000,000 visitors come every single year that they'd get used to people with cameras.

      There's a happy ending to this story:
      The gardienne of our building thinks whomever complained to the police is nuts. It turns out that there is a "retired" African leader and his entire entourage across the way. And one of his "assistants" is very likely the crazy one. I love our gardienne. She's so utterly completely Parisienne that she conveys the nature of the complainer's insanity by putting her forefinger to her temple and gives it a very properly slight twist.

    2. No Ducatis where involved. The flat black Monster derivative 1100cc Duc was silently sitting at the base of our apartment building when all this came down. :-)