Monday, 12 November 2012

Shot Through The Heart

Nikon D800  F/5.6  1/1000s  ISO-1600  PrAP  EV +1  120mm
As clichés go, you can't do much better than the locks on Pont des Arts! But how to take a non-clichéd picture? Almost impossible. You'll find people snapping these things from every imaginable angle, so it just remains for me to show you four possibilities which came to mind in order to tell the story.

The most obvious shot is a straight on one, but even there you can do better than just a typical snap with the bins and everything. Zoom in. Fill the frame with locks. Don't include anything else.

Nikon D800  F/5.6  1/800s  ISO-1600  PrAP  EV +1  120mm
Which gives you the shot on the left. The only picture I've post-processed is the one at the top with the big red lock; all the others are as they came out of the camera. If I were really trying to show them off I'd attack them with contrast and saturation and goodness knows what else to make them punchier but these are just for the record, therefore as-was.

All of the locks in this shot are pretty similar. To add interest you could have chosen some more interesting specimens but as a record shot if gives a fairly good idea of what's going on.

The next picture gives, well, the big picture, as it were. The grandeur of Paris laid out for all to see with the omnipresent locks nicely framing the bottom of the shot.

Nikon D800  F/5.6  1/1000s  ISO-1600  PrAP  EV +1  34mm
They're a bit fuzzy - the boat's probably in focus - and you can see what a dull grey day it was, which was utterly unideal for any sort of real brochure or postcard work but I used what was in front of me, and as you can see with the first shot, it's possible to cheat to a fair extent. See the original shot of the big red lock at the end of this article for proof of that. I purposely tried not to go 'over the top' in my reviving of the original shot as it's so easy to get carried away and end up producing an obviously unnatural shot.

Another vital angle to any picture story is the human angle. Here I got a little boy interacting with the locks, obviously fascinated by them, as we adults are too if we admit it. He gets his hands dirty however, maybe trying to undo one of the combination locks or who knows, maybe even adding his own! Preenagers, and all that!

Nikon D800  F/5.6  1/1250s  ISO-1600  PrAP  EV +1  42mm
The thing about this shot is again to focus on what's important and eliminate the rest. Including his parent, just out of shot, or the litter bin, or even a higher-up angle with a boat would have weakened the image. What I wanted was this kid completely engrossed in and surrounded by hundreds of these little metal icons.

If I used this image in its own right I might even crop out the sky and simply have the entire image consist of the locks and the little boy.

The final shot, that is the first one, at the top of the page and below, is the classic Paris lock shot. It's taken from the side with an extremely narrow depth of field, focusing on a lock of particular interest, set off to one side; all pretty standard artistic stuff. Indeed, if you do just that with a lot of your photos the results will be more than satisfactory in many cases!

Despite exposure compensation of +1 the shot still came out depressingly dull, which is why I had to attack the settings to achieve the final result above.

I focused on the word Elena but the depth of field was so narrow that even her lover Olya has gone a bit wobbly, probably with emotion...

A better effect might have been not to have the locks on the right quite so fuzzy. To do this I could have used an aperture of F/8, say, to have more of a 'locky' effect going off into the distance as opposed to just fuzz.

There's also a lot of interference from Linda and Mario (forever) and Brett and Co., which I might have been able to lessen by turning the offending talismen, or even just finding another big red heart lock, of which there were several, but few as impressive as this one.

And with that I shall leave you, photography lovers, to shoot another day. Peace and love from Paris!


* 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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