Sunday, 11 November 2012

Points of View

Nikon D800  F/5.6  1/3s  ISO-400  PrAP  EV +1  120mm
Changing angle can sometimes produce surprising, even remarkable results. Here's a little example.

Looking down on this little disc on a recent photo tour of Paris I told the story of how it traces the once north to south Parisian meridian, now defunct, having been usurped by Greenwich many decades ago.

Anyway, the shot is ok as a record, but not much else. It's flat, grey and boring!

But look what happens when you get down low and shoot across the surface... magic!

What happens is that the light from the sky bounces off the smooth surfaces of the disc and the cement-embedded pebbles, creating some wonderful highlights.

In addition, to further enhance the effect, any texture is thrown into stark relief thanks to little shadows which pop up (or rather down) behind every raised pebble and indented letter.

The end result gives an infinitely more atmospheric shot where you could just about imagine Jack the Ripper, or his French equivalent's bloody footprints wandering across the top half of the picture.

Nikon D800  F/5.6  1/25s  ISO-400  PrAP  EV +1  120mm
These discs appeared in the Davinci Code movie but I can't remember how they were photographed on that occasion.

As you can see, my shooting more into the light caused the exposure to shut down radically. The light grey cement has turned black, all colour has been bled from the pebbles themselves, turning them slatey grey, and the dull bronze of the disc has been transformed into a gloriously glinting tarnished gold. The light grey 'N' and 'S' have likewise turned, effectively, black.

This technique works best when the surface is flat and there's a light sky to add the highlights, and so is ideally suited to making cobblestoned streets look their best. When it's been raining the effect works even better, even if you've only got street lights to reflect off the wet surface. Well worth a bit of a squat if you ask me.


* 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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