Saturday, 10 November 2012

Cleaning Up The Image

Nikon D800  F/8  1/15s  ISO-400  PrAP  EV +0.7  95mm
My adopted city is famous for its passages, but we shouldn't forget that there are lots of these arcade type things too which make splendid photos.

The Rue de Rivoli has them; the Place des Vosges has them; and of course the Palais Royal has them (here), but this blog isn't about Paris, so I'll move on!

Nothing much to say about these shots other than that it's up to you to make the most of the opportunity which lies before you.

Options include overexposing with a ghostly black-clad figure drifting towards you or going for a classic straightforward 'picture postcard' shot.

In the end, after trying an upright shot (below) to complement the architecture I decided to go for a landscape format view with a twist thrown in for good measure.

Using zappy angles, especially of classical architecture, certainly isn't everyone's plate of snails, but that's the whole point; in trying to be original, or at the very least different, you have to move away from the averagely acceptable proposition. This means some people will appreciate it and others loathe or like it less, and that's fine.

Personally, I like the way it's turned out with the stunningly strong lines being thrown off kilter by the funky tilt.

Composition-wise, it's no surprise if I tell you that there's some form of visual interest top left and bottom right. I like diagonals. And there's nothing to stop us from making them ourselves, even in the most banal-looking circumstances.

The big yellow rectangle in the top left gives us a feeling of chivalry and knights and yesteryear; the distant rectangle bottom right and its 'foredrop' tells a story of a humble guy sweeping as a couple of passers-by window shop a world away from daggers and cloaks and intrigue. And I created it.

I'll be honest with you, and this isn't an excuse: this was a grab shot. I was with someone I was coaching to actually take the time to frame interestingly and wait for the decisive moment and suchlike and couldn't resist grabbing this one over her shoulder.

The danger with these sort of shots is that the place is awesome, the potential massive, but the touristic pollution is chronic; they're everywhere. Ideally, I'd have just wanted the sweeping guy, with his brush far more obvious than it is. And it's a shame he is blocking the window shoppers, although I think the shot would be better off without them at all - just a lone figure leading his sweeping life for the benefit of others, whether they thank him for it or not. That's the story.

A wide range of other cropping choices are available, like this little shot on the right, notwithstanding dodgy focusing, and I'm certainly not claiming mine's the best or only possibility by a long shot.

You might be wondering why I used such a slow shutter speed. The answer's that I didn't. I mean, not on purpose. As I said, I grabbed this shot using whatever the camera was already set to and the passage was darker than it seems (thanks +0.7 exposure compensation, I think it works...) and the ISO quite slow and the F-stop not totally open hence... 1/15th of a second and not a jitter in sight ;~S

Focusing on the sign (unless it was the cleaning cart - I can't remember) has caused the passageway to fuzz into the distance, but I don't think it's detrimental to the final image. It needed dreamifying a bit anyway.

Remember that more is in focus beyond your focal point than in front of it, by the way, when you take your shots with specific spot focusing as I almost always do...

So, as I lied, not much to say about this shot (but I always manage somehow, don't I?), except that the possibilities are always there and the rest is up to us.


* Sab Will runs Photo and Curios Tours in Paris, and also manages a variety of Paris and photography-themed sites and blogs. He writes an illustrated Paris Chronicle every day, runs a Meetup group for Paris lovers, interviews Paris personalities and reviews Paris books (on this blog), and even contributes to the city's street art (shh), so feel free to browse some of the links below and in the right-hand column to find out more about what he gets up to out there...

© 2012 Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free - Contact me directly for photo tours, interviews, exhibitions, etc.

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