Friday, 9 November 2012

Heart of Darkness

Nikon D800  F/5.6  1/13s  ISO-400  PrAP  EV +1  120mm
A dark, downward-facing statue surrounded by a luminous backdrop; not the easiest exposure conditions I've ever come across.

I shy away from flash in most circumstances, especially ones where natural light is so important like here, so a compromise had to be made.

The choice was basically a correctly exposed statue with the background totally over-exposed, or the background correct with the statue a silhouette. As you can see I went for the former.

Nikon D800  F/5.6  1/250s  ISO-400  PrAP  EV 0  24mm
As a matter of interest, I'm including a few other options I had here.

On the left is a classic shot which because of the vast circular glass dome has rendered the statue almost as black as night.

This may be atmospheric and even evocative, but the position of the statue doesn't really give us enough to go on to create a story in our minds, so I didn't go with this one in the end.

Having said that, a judicious crop leaving just the head surrounded and dwarfed by the impressive spider's web would have been an option to dramatise things a bit.

This second shot, whilst on the face of it eye-catching, is a good example of trying to have it all ways (your cake and eat it) and ending up with a weaker shot because of it.

Effectively, if you want all the window and all the statue, something's gonna have to give, and in this case it's the intensity and power of the picture.

Another option is to frame the statue by one of the semi-circular windows which line the sides of the dome. This can work well, and it's almost what I did in my final shot, but not quite.

Nikon D800  F/5.6  1/15s  ISO-400  PrAP  EV 0  120mm
The shot on the right shows what I'm talking about. While this can be very effective you have to watch out for it looking a bit kitch and obviously set up that way. My picture here is also looking a bit seasick and the angle of the statue has ended up being slightly weird and not particularly flattering.

In the shot I chose, I decided to have the woman breaking the semi-circular line, nicely off to one side but facing in to the middle of the picture, and with pleasant light modelling her all-important curves and delicate facial features.

The background's completely blown out as mentioned earlier but here it goes to increase the drama of the shot and take it that one vital step away from grim reality and snapshot territory we really have to avoid like the plague.

Nikon D800  F/5.6  1/50s  ISO-400  PrAP  EV 0  95mm
Although the picture was almost monochrome anyway I decided to apply a nice sepia / bronze tone to her which goes well with the subject matter I think and again moves it away from the mundane.

The final shot on the left here shows another possibility I tried. The statue is out of focus and an interesting bas relief beehive is sharp.

This would be ok for an article on the beehive, giving situational context, but if you want the statue to be the subject then she really has to be the one in focus unless the composition is strong enough to support her fuzzy.


* 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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