Thursday, 15 November 2012

Just Hanging Around

Nikon D700  F/5.6  1/640s  ISO-400  PrAP  EV +0.3  120mm
There's this crazy guy up at the Sacré Coeur who dangles off lamp posts balancing a ball on various parts of his body. It's pretty impressive.

It's one of those things that is pretty amazing and yet the amount of time he must have had to practise will have necessarily stopped him from getting equally good at many other things. But that's my brain going off on a tangent and this isn't the place for that.

This is the place for deciding how best to show off this guy's talents, as well as his impressive physique, taken from a long way away with all the compromises that engenders.

He's a bit fuzzy. He's very small in the shot. And he's wonky. Apart from that, the image is almost perfect!

So our challenge is to decide what the best cropping option is, given the fact that the original, shown here, certainly needs to be cropped if we're to do this athlete justice.

The original shot
The first shot, above, is certainly the most immediately eye-catching, not to mention eye-candy for the ladies! I've unwonked the lamposts as you can see but they still splay out slightly as this shot was taken from above, which is fine.

The square composition with the two lamps equidistant from the sides, the guy in the centre at the bottom and the roofs of Paris as backdrop is pretty cool considering what I was starting from.

What the first shot doesn't have, however, is the audience. They are an important part of the image and the reason he is monkeying around in the first place, after all. The funny thing is, the further out we zoom, the more gawping gobs there are but the smaller the object of their fascination gets in the process. You can't have everything, as is so often the case.

For that reason, perhaps the picture on the right is the best compromise. He's fairly big in the shot, dominating the top half, the bottom third has the audience and the vertical composition complements the long tall lamp posts admirably.

The final shot, below, has more audience but less of him, although there's more of Paris too, and the image is still arresting. In the end, though, I'm going to go for the other two as being ultimately more satisfying, and the one on the right, at a push, if I only had to choose one.

The thing with the audience is, it both shows why he's doing what he's doing and the effect he's having on people, and allows us to place us in the image along with the other onlookers and thus feel some of what they're feeling and feel it more strongly ourselves too.

It's fairly rare that you can look down on a street performer who is himself high up in the air, but it's just this sort of out of the ordinary image you should be on the look out for and try to grab even if the conditions don't seem propitious. I almost didn't take the shot as I thought he was too far away to make anything of it. In the end I'm glad I did.

Although I had the lens open to its widest aperture, the background hasn't gone unacceptably fuzzy, which is probably good, because the backdrop of the roofs and chimneys of Paris works really well.

The 1/640 of a second has more or less frozen what must have been a pretty fast-moving action although the distance and relative size of the guy in the image helped keep him sharp.

Finally, the background, helped by the unifying effect of the atmosphere, is a pleasant uniform slightly washed out grey which helps the sun-kissed bare-torsoed Adonis stand out great.

And one more observation, the horizontal position of his body contrasts nicely with the uprights of the lamp posts.

This isn't the same sort of shot at all than one taken from one of the classic high points in the city like the Eiffel Tower or the Montparnasse Tower or the Arc de Triomphe because from these latter there is nothing you can place in the middle distance to put the scale of things into perspective.

For this reason finding a place in your city with step steps and street performers and a city backdrop can produce some very eye-catching images for your portfolio - look out for them and use your imagination to take advantage of them when you can.


* 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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