Tom KELLIE: Blog en-us (C) Tom KELLIE (Tom KELLIE) Mon, 03 Feb 2014 11:45:00 GMT Mon, 03 Feb 2014 11:45:00 GMT Tom KELLIE: Blog 110 120 12 year old French Collège Students Visit Venice One of the joys of travel is seeing firsthand evidence of positive aspects of humanity. Such was the case during the journey to Venice. 

Waiting at Gate F31 of Charles DeGaulle International Airport for the early morning flight to Venice Marco Polo International Airport a group of students arrived accompanied by several teachers. All male, they appeared to be 11 or 12 years old, from various ethnic backgrounds, in sizes from petite to above average.
From the outset their behavior, both as a group and as thirty individuals, was noticeably different from comparable students in either China or the United States. They were cheerful, high-spirited yet conspicuously courteous with one another as well as with other passengers in the waiting area. In place of annoying horseplay, friendly conversation of the most genial sort was their style.
They lacked any overt “attitude”, in the sense of irritating media-derived mannerisms. What most impressed me were the nearly non-stop smiles, expressing happiness as one rarely observes in Beijing. There was no tussling, jostling, snubbing or exclusion. As a group they were a mix of individual independence and sophisticated cohesion.
How did students of their age turn out so well? I sensed intelligence, curiosity and lively minds, yet no evidence of oppressed spirits from study pressures. Their mix of individuality and cooperativeness reminded me of my own childhood school experience. Not one of them seemed to show off in any way, nor did any wear branded clothing – they were sensibly dressed without being fashionable.
After boarding the aircraft they promptly settled down without their teachers having to intervene. As in the waiting area, they largely took care of their own needs, without heavy-handed supervision. When the jet lifted off they reacting with a low-key sound, but otherwise were as well-mannered as any school age students I’ve seen. As with students I’ve seen visiting Nairobi’s National Museum of Kenya, they radiated energy, warmth and bright minds, yet lacked the sour, irritable, anxious mannerisms that I’ve often observed elsewhere.
What kind of families produce such exemplary children? What are the core values of their school? How do teachers prepare students to behave in such mature ways for children of their age? Do they reflect contemporary French cultural values, or were they an atypical anomaly? 
If they to any degree reflect contemporary French cultural values, France is blessed with a well-grounded future generation. They were easily the best group of students that I’ve seen in decades. After landing in Venice, I walked past them in the luggage arrival hall hoping that I’d meet them again during my stay.
As it turned out, our paths crossed again late the next afternoon which resulted in several of the finest group photos I’ve ever taken. I was heading out to the eastern terminus of the Zattere, across from Giudecca, with the EOS 1D X camera and Zeiss Apo-Sonnar T* 135mm f/2 ZE telephoto lens, eager to photograph late afternoon sunset colors. I spotted the French students, recognizing them, their teachers and hearing French spoken. 
On an impulse I asked a male teacher if he spoke English, to which he replied “only a little”. A female teacher or professeur, Mme. Hélène Jonnard, very kindly talked with me, confirming that the 12 year old students were visiting Venice on a school trip. They attend a private Catholic collège-lycée named La Salle Passy Buzenval located in Rueil-Malmaison in the western suburbs of Paris. Mme. Jonnard and her fellow professeurs very kindly agreed to assemble the students for a group photograph – I suggested on white stairs, for a pleasing color contrast – which resulted in the images in my Zenfolio Gallery. After taking the formal photos, I shouted “Be Happy! Be Crazy!” which resulted in a final vivacious group portrait.
The most lively, smiling student posed for a quick portrait, showing the smile which had caught my attention. If his parents ever see the portrait, it captured their son on a happy afternoon in Venice. Off they went on their way after an exchange of “au revoir” and “merci beaucoup”. As Mme. Jonnard said, it was a remarkable occurrence to meet twice. One of fate’s gifts to fortune.
For me, visiting Venice is an anti-toxin which purges the residual frustration and disillusion of working in a tough environment. It’s reassuring to see such self-disciplined, active, lively yet well-behaved students. I was so impressed that I wished that I was an English teacher for such exemplary students. The French students enhanced my Venetian visit by exemplifying the égalité and fraternité for which France is well-known and reaffirming that training solid values results in outstanding individuals. May all of them continue to thrive as students and as French citizens!


(Tom KELLIE) 12 year old French Pupils Collège La Salle Passy Buzenval Venice Thu, 30 Jan 2014 09:37:30 GMT
Zenfolio Gallery Renewal ~ Very generously, my long-time friend QIU Wenhui graciously paid for the renewal of my Zenfolio Gallery for 2013-2014. His kind gift makes it possible for me to continue posting nature photos from my travels.

Thanks SO MUCH, Wenhui!

During the first one year of operation, my Zenfolio Gallery had the following results, as of 21 March, 2013:

- 12342 images uploaded and available for visitor viewing

- 1591 visitors

- 1584 albums of images grouped by topic

I've been satisfied with all aspects of the Zenfolio Gallery throughout the first 12 months of use. I'd unhesitatingly recommend Zenfolio to any photographer interested in high quality display of their work.

May the next year embrace improved photography of the the many types of natural beauty throughout the World!

(Tom KELLIE) Zenfolio Renewal Thu, 21 Mar 2013 17:42:44 GMT
ZHANG Cheng's EOS 600D Purchase ~ After more than 1 1/2 years of creative photography with his PowerShot S95, ZHANG Cheng bought a Canon EOS 600D DSLR with an EF-S 18-135MM zoom lens. The experience of photographing Cheng's purchase process was especially meaningful, as Cheng will leave Beijing within ten days, after completing his law course at UIBE. As ever, Ms. CHU Pei was cheerfully helpful. We're fortunate to have a reliable camera dealer in notorious Zhongguancun. Our new sharpshooter friend, ZHANG Yin, was there, asking about a possible DSLR purchase. The progress of our sharpshooter friends in photography is steady. 

(Tom KELLIE) Beijing Canon DSLR EF 18-135mm EOS 600D Purchase Zhongguancun Tue, 24 Apr 2012 10:16:08 GMT
After Visiting River Towns, Consolidation... ~ After visiting traditional river towns in Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces, there was a 5-hour train ride back to Beijing from Suzhou. Thinking about the tightly organized lives of canal dwellers, I was inspired to reorganize the Zenfolio Gallery through consolidation of like topics into 'Groups'. Doing so reduces visual clutter.


Editing photos from the river towns, to prepare them for uploading to the Zenfolio Gallery, it is readily apparent that the fine art of judicious cropping of images is a major component of my photography. It's not so much to remove undesirable features as it is to tighten each composition.

(Tom KELLIE) Fri, 06 Apr 2012 04:11:14 GMT
Spring Arrives, A New Photo Gallery Opens ~ With the upcoming termination of Apple's MobileMe Gallery service, it was time to migrate to another photo sharing site. After a week of reviewing options, Zenfolio seemed like the best fit.

As time becomes available, more images will be uploaded.

(Tom KELLIE) new web site Thu, 22 Mar 2012 04:37:06 GMT