Photo Talk 1

August 04, 2014

I have dozens of photos on my website, and ultimately I am planning to write a blog post for each one individually.  This next photo, titled "Beacon," has an interesting story and is a good way to start off my "Photo Talk" series.

 

Eiffel Tower

(Click to see on black  ::  Link to photo in gallery)

 

It is hard to take a unique-looking photo of something like the Eiffel Tower, a landmark which people photograph millions of times each year.  So, then, why have you probably never seen a photo of the Tower quite like this one?  

 

One word: timing.  A lot of people ask me if I created this photo in Photoshop, simply because they have never seen the Eiffel Tower look like this before. However, I did not use Photoshop on this image, and I did not digitally create the spotlight above the Tower.  Instead, I waited for the perfect moment so that the Tower looked as if it were shining a spotlight into the sky.

 

If you have ever seen the Eiffel Tower after dark, you would know that it is famous for having a giant spotlight which spins around the city at night.  I noticed, though, that for the smallest period of time (when the spotlight pointed directly towards me), it is at a high enough upwards angle that it appears to be pointing directly into the sky in a photo.  This is nothing more than an optical illusion, but it is a very dramatic one.  The trickiest part of this photo was making sure that the spotlight was shining directly towards me.  If I took the photo a half-second early or a half-second late, it appeared to be leaning off to one side rather than pointing directly upwards.

 

The other important part of this photo is composition.  People online always try to point towards the "rule" of thirds when they talk about composition, so why does this photo look better with the Eiffel Tower smack dab in the middle?  I don't know for sure, but I do know that when photos feature symmetry, they become much stronger.  In this case, the left and right halves of the photo are nearly identical, making the composition of the photo relatively strong.  (It is worth mentioning that my original composition of the photo positioned the Tower slightly off to the left, but that led to a weak, unbalanced frame).  

 

The timing and composition of this photo, as well as my pre-visualization for the exact moment I wanted, are the reasons that this photo is one of my favorites.  

 

My camera settings were as follows: 1/30 second shutter, f/1.4, ISO 800, 24mm (36mm full-frame equivalent).  I used the Nikon 24mm f/1.4 lens on my Nikon D7000 camera for the photo, no tripod (although I rested the camera on a concrete post to keep it steady for the long 1/30 second exposure.) 

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