It’s almost June again and that means “Bièvres International Photo Fair”! This time they are celebrating their 50th Anniversary the 1st and 2nd of June. If the weather is lovely, which it has always been when I went, it’s a wonderful place to visit, just for walking around, meeting other people, enjoying lovely French food and wine and just being between a whole lot of camera-everythingies!
This year, again, I won’t be able to make it. I have this fantastic opportunity planned for the 2nd of June which is a collodion shoot IN the tunnel of Maastricht which is currently being build. It’s a huge project which will come to an end in 2016 leaving Maastricht changed forever. You can find out more via the following link: Maastricht A2 Project. It is a massive undertaking and an honour to be enabled to photograph their on collodion. Sorry Bièvres but I like this better 😉
Anyway, back to the Photographic Fair. If you wish to have more information on the fair check this link. If you’ve never been there as a photo-enthusiast you should definitely go at least once in your lifetime. Have fun!
Oh, I forgot to add:
If you’re into nice food and willing to drive a little for it do visit Table d’Antan! It is well worth the drive!
Last Friday we left for Bièvres. Geer-Jan, Paula and Jeroen were already at the hotel in Igny so we would meet later that day to have some dinner together. The latter actually being the main reason we went to Bièvres 😉
The drive went fine, we arrived at our hotel, unpacked some stuff and took off for Bièvres to look around but mostly to grab a glass of wine and enjoy the weather.
After that we went back to the hotel, caught up with our friends and searched via the Michelin app on the iPhone which restaurant we would pick for the evening. St. Pierre in Longjumeau it would be. Since we all loved duck, on a plate, the choice was not hard and we had a great evening. After that we got “home” and prepared ourselves for Saturday, the first day of the fair, by going to bed fairly early.
We got up early, mostly because the bed was crap, so left early for the fair. Of course, a good day starts with a good cup-a-joe!
Then the time came to check out the fair. I wasn’t really looking for anything special. If I’d find a pretty looking daguerreotype for not too much money I would’ve bought it (as you can tell from this I didn’t). I did buy a Polaroid SX-70. I already have a 600 camera but it sucks. It uses its flash all the time so I upgraded. Now just have to get some film to see if it really works…
Not looking for any lenses or cameras or whatever, I have what I want maybe for just a bigger wide angle but that seems not the place to look for one. Quite a bit of lenses were bought up by a small group of people so you’ll probably soon see them somewhere on the net for double or triple the price they were on the fair. And on the fair the prices genuinely were already through the roof. Hasselblads 500CM with an old silver 100mm for €1300,- just to give you an exorbitant example. Oh well…lucikly I didn’t feel like spending lots a money except on food so on to the good part 😉
Oh..I said on to the good stuff…right… 😉
And then…we left for the restaurant, the same we went last year as it was THAT good. Luckily Paula came along this time and we had the night of our, well, weekend!
The owner recognized us from last year so we were headed off to a great night! We chose from the “Menu Tradition” just like last year which also seemed quite like last year:
Petites Pièces de Canard (cou farci, magret seché, friton et grattons)*
Velouté Froid aux Asperges, Raviolis au Chèvre Frais
Terrine de Tomates au Basilic, Tartine au Beurre d’Anchois
Gigot de Canard mijoté aux Bolets et aux Girolles*
Confit de Canard aux deux Pommes
Magret de Canard aux Groseilles
Cassoulet aux Soissons Géants
Poisson suivant le Marché
Craquant Glacé Banane et Chocolat, Nougatine aux Amandes
Soupe de Melon, Fruits Rafraîchis, Siphon Cassis
Sorbets, Turbinés au moment*
Pruneaux à l’Armagnac
The dished with the little star behind them is what I ate. This year I did feel like duck 😉
Again, the cheese in between the main and desert was simply fantastic! The magnificent Creme de Roquefort she had last year she didn’t have this time but if we were to come again she said we should call in advance to “order” it. Nice!
Again, all things came to an end and in the middle of a rising thunderstorm we headed back to the hotel. We installed ourselves downstairs with some wine and ended the night with a(nother) drink and a laugh.
Yes, this day started a little slower than the others but it started alright. Again with the crappy breakfast at the hotel but Jeroen was kind enough to get up early to score some lovely chocolate goodies from the local bakery. Unfortunately Jeroen headed back home shortly after that because he had to go to work again Monday morning. Geert-Jan and Paula would leave later that day but first we went to the fair again. Today the collodion booth would be set up by Vincent, Basile and Fabrice.
Fabrice was on one end of the three booths, Vincent on the other and in the middle there was Jacques Cousin with some of his work (?). Across the booth the wonderful pieces of Matthias Olmeta were displayed.
At around 4:30 we got tired and headed back to the hotel. We took a little nap after having made reservations at a Moroccan restaurant. This was really nice food! Different than the kitchens we are used to and that makes eating all the more fun. Thank god for our multi-cultural society: if all we had to eat was Dutch food we’d be utterly doomed!
We still had a bottle of wine left at the hotel so enjoyed us a quite lonely evening. Well quite..that was until the weather changed…
Truly awesome, I love thunder and lightning! It was like a light bulb in heaven had gone bad and was constantly flickering, remarkable and a beautiful end to a wonderful weekend.
I had actually in mind visiting Paris on Monday as there was an exhibition at the MEP I would’ve loved to see but it was closed on Mondays and Tuesdays..darn..Collodion plates of Mark and Scully Osterman and Joni Sternbach were there as well as a large panoramic daguerreotype which is quite rare. Unfortunately that little plan didn’t happen we so we headed back home today. You can’t have it all 😉
Just a couple of days before the Foire à la photo de Bièvres 2011 will kick it off again!! Bièvres will be stuffed with old cameras, lenses, camera geeks and us!
This year I have chosen not to participate at the Collodion booth because it seemed quite crowded already. So it’ll be just about enjoying the market, meeting people, maybe scoop some stuff though I’m not really looking for something. Maybe a 4×5″ Shen Hao-like camera but doesn’t matter if I don’t find it. And of course…French food! And wine! Just like last year we’ll meet up with a couple of Dutch friends and have our tongues spoiled. I’m already looking forward to that!
If there is a way you can make it to Bièvres I’d highly recommend it!
Having read many horror stories concerning varnishing with the traditional stuff (sandarac, ethanol & lavender oil) which made images disappear at times I felt very lucky never to have encountered this. I began to think maybe other people were just being sloppy with their varnish. Up until yesterday.
Quinn made a plate of me the first time I went to the photo fair in Bièvres and it was beautiful. They just didn’t have time to varnish the photo but I offered to do so myself back home. Once back home I never dared to varnish it thinking something might go wrong and at a certain point even forgetting about it. Until yesterday.
My boyfriend went to varnish the plates, he has more fireproof hands than I have, and he came back up showing me the plate of Quinn partially having vanished. What caused it? I don’t know. The plates before and after that one came out just fine. Maybe the plate was too old? Maybe the ethanol used in my varnish decided to fight with the ethanol used in the collodion mix by Quinn? Who knows. It happened and this is the way it looks…
At least now I know the plate will live for over a 100 years 😉
This was it… Bièvres has come to an end. It was a wonderful weekend and beyond, absolutely worth everything! Met some great people, some familiar ones and some new ones and just had a wonderful “may-your-hands-always-be-black” couple of days.
We left for Bièvres at 9:30 in the morning. We arrived at around quarter past 2 so the journey went very well. We stayed at Novotel Saclay which was pretty good, unfortunately the swimming pool was closed due to unknown-to-me reasons and you had to pay 4 euros an hour for WIFI. The hotel last year was twice as cheap and had free WIFI, it just didn’t have any food on site and getting that at a later time turned out to be quite a hassle back then hence the Novotel choice. Anyway, we ate a sandwich and left for the city Bièvres to take a look and meet up with Jeroen. We actually sat on the terrace all day until it was time to eat and we got up to go to a restaurant nearby 😉
Pretty lazy that was but very nice. The weather was extremely good, around 30 degrees celcius. The terrace is located at the famous round-about in Bièvres and we watched cars coming and going all day long; there were a LOT of cars for such a small place. People were also building up the fair so lots of activity. The restaurant we went to had us take seats on their terrace and the view from there was truly stunning..
During our dinner we met Peter Loy and his father who joined the restaurant and we met last year. I bought a leather Rolleiflex strap from him for my TLR. After dinner we went to the hotel, watched a movie on the lappie and prepared a bit for Saturday, the first official day of the fair.
We left for Bièvres at around 10 I believe. We met Alex on the terrace with Ben and another friend. So, good excuse for some coffee 😉 We saw Quinn walking of the fair with a massive lens so we knew he had gotten what he came for and finally we walked over to the booth of Quinn where we met Jean, Summer, John and his wife and Violet (their cutie baby girl), Garret and his wife and so on. We decided to meet later on the day again to talk a bit about Sunday and to eat some and left for the fair.
We came looking for a lens hood for my new Darlot which we found in the shape of a hard leather lens case. A bit of modification and it’ll work perfectly. I also looked for waterhouse stops but that’s nearly impossible to find so I’ll just have them made somewhere soon. And we also found a clamp to mount my recently acquired head brace from Geert-Jan on a tripod. Then we went for dinner…same restaurant as the evening before (not much choice in Bièvres really but it was fine).
After dinner we went to check on Quinn’s car in the heat to see how all was doing and he showed us his latest purchase which he intents to use for his next project, probably executed back in The States, working King Size! And for that you’ll need something competing in size of course…
After that we went back to the booth and the fair. Time flew by. We talked about at what time we would meet on Sunday to start building up the booths etc. and Jeroen, Geert-Jan and us arranged to meet for dinner later that night after having refreshed ourselves back at the hotel. That dinner was a stunning success. We decided on a restaurant some 12 kms away from where we were staying and glad we did so.
It’s worth mentioning separately, really. It’s situated in a small residential in the kind of middle of nowhere. Staff was really great and surprised four dutch people came to visit them as it’s so of the map. The interior was pretty “ancient” looking but that certainly added to the ambiance.
We chose from the Menu Tradition:
Petites Pièces de Canard (cou farci, magret seché, friton et grattons)
Saumon façon Sushi, rattes Tièdes, Mesclum*
Courgettes en Blanc-Manger et Confites, Tomates et Olives
Gigot de Canard mijoté Bolets et Girolles
Confit de Canard aux deux Pommes
Magret de Canard aux fruits Rouges
Cassoulet au Soissons Géants
Poisson suivant le Marché*
Chocolat Noir Weiss 63%, Feuilletage en Ganache
Ananas, Orange, Sorbet Citron, Biscuit Sablé
Sorbets, Turbinés au moment*
Pruneaux à l’Armagnac
The dishes with the little star behind was what I ate that evening. I like duck but didn’t feel like it, what I tried from Bart though was really good. Before the desert was served the waitress came to ask if we’d like some cheese in between. Good thing we said yes! Oh my, a big platter on wheels came along with some beautiful cheeses from which we could choose. The creme of Roquefort was even house made. Anyway, what a treat!! Then came the real desert which was fantastic as well. Afterwards some coffee; unfortunately all nights have to end and so did ours. We headed back “home” after having enjoyed a wonderful evening! If you happen to be around, go there; it’s worth a detour!
We got up at around 8, got ready and looked out the window…rain in massive amounts accompanied by thunder and lightning. Huhum…that looked scary. We left for Bièvres, got some breakfast and the rain miraculously stopped and the sky sort of cleared up a bit. The booth was already built up and we started helping Quinn with photographing. I “ran” back to the car at one time to pick up my photos for display and helped further at the boot. At around 3 Quinn ended his session and we got ready to take over. Vincent, Geert-Jan and I made the rest of the photos and Bart did all the varnishing.
Some cool people I took photos of; a really great way to come in contact with new people and share the love for this process. Two of them were working for Photo, a large French magazine on photography who covered Quinn with his exhibition in Paris and had a stand a little further than ours. One man wanted his two young daughters photographed and he turned out to have a huge collection of collodion photography so knowing the process he wanted to have one of his beautiful girls. And I took a photo on request of the person who displayed his work across from our booth. His name is Christophe Hesters and makes wonderful street photography with his Leica MP mostly using Kodak Tri-X.
I actually had planned to bring all my stuff. I took all the things I have for making plates including chemicals to Bièvres but already 2 more people besides Quinn brought their stuff. I thought it would be overkill if I would bring my things Sunday to the booth, would’ve had to stash them somewhere and so on. I worked with Geert-Jan’s wonderful dark box which was great. It really was a handy thing to be working in. I also used Vincent’s camera once which was a cute little Shen Hao camera:
Vincent made a quarter plate insert for it and it worked really great. Very small and pretty weird when used to 18 x 24 😉 But slick camera, great focusing (as far as I could tell without my glasses…) and just very small, especially when folded.
Bart found the time somewhere to take my small Steinheil to the fair and find a flange for it. Quite special as matching ones are pretty rare. There’s supposed to be an original one on Ebay so have to check on that… Luckily the weather remained dry that day but the sun was constantly coming and going which made it utter hell determining exposure time. Most of the plates succeeded, some we had to redo, but that was a challenge on its very own.
The person mentioned below, Matthias Olmeta, came to show his work and to look around. What fantastic work! Large plates using clear plexi-glass to shoot the images on, then varnish them and then paint it black over the varnish. You then look at the image through the plexi-glass plate which also keeps you from seeing it mirror-inverted like normally. He also worked on projects contacting negatives on paper, but then lots of them on the same large sheet, and then developing the large sheet as a whole. Really cool stuff!
I also met Bruno Dubroqua, someone I already “knew” via Facebook, and without knowing until he recognized me, met for the first time in Bièvres.
I still keep thinking I forgot to mention people and things that happened…will add them later I guess. So much happened that long weekend it’s impossible to recollect these memories at once. And seeing my memory is not thàt good… 😉
At around seven in the evening we were done, cleaned up and went to the hotel, absolutely exhausted. We decided to eat some at the hotel, which was pretty okay, and rolled of to bed. I believe we fell asleep at around 10:30. Quite unique that early.
Well, that was it really. Packed our things and headed back home, still tired and actually still am now. Here are some photos from the “leaving of Paris Area”: