On day 13 of my Paris photography adventure, I headed back to the Eiffel Tower for a few more shots. Of all of the Eiffel Tower shots I’ve taken so far, this one was going to require the most footwork, as I had absolutely no idea where to take it. There’s a picture of the Beatles I’ve seen with Paris buildings in the foreground and the Eiffel Tower towering in the background, and I liked the composition so much that I wanted to duplicate it. As I looked on the map, I could only come up with a few places where I thought it could have been taken, but they weren’t very close to each other. Seeking out this shot epitomizes the photographic adventure to me: using a map, my eyes, and my feet to track down a spot that matches a mental image.
Today, I had brought a solid neutral density filter along, and I thought it would be fun to play with it. A neutral density filter blocks out light. Why, you may ask, would you possibly want to block out light? The reason to do that is it allows you to perform long exposures on a bright day. This can allow you to create some interesting images when there are scattered clouds floating by.
You get a streaky look to the clouds which I enjoy capturing. Here are two shots I got using this technique.
These were taken at f/22, ISO 50, and 30 seconds with a 9-stop Hoya ND 400 filter. A “stop” is the equivalent of double (or half) the exposure, so a 9 stop filter reduces the exposure by 2 to the 9th power. That’s a lot! I have a 10-stop B+W ND 110 filter which I like even better, but I didn’t have it with me on this trip. “Neutral density” just means that it is solid grey, i.e. it will not affect the color of the image. “Solid” means the filter reduces the amount of light evenly across the image. You can also buy “graduated” neutral density filters, which gradually reduce the amount of light blocked from one side of the filter to the other. This kind of filter is useful for landscape photography if you have a bright sky and you want to reduce the exposure of the sky without reducing the exposure of the landscape. I don’t use mine any more because it’s easy to replicate that effect in software.
I tracked down a spot which at least seemed similar to that Beatles shot in mind, and got this shot:
The lighting is much different from the Beatles photo, plus the Beatles weren’t available for my shoot.
Then it was back to Montmartre. Luckily for me, the weather was much nicer, plus I had a better idea of what I wanted to shoot.
I’ve had to do a lot of climbing during this adventure, and getting to the top of Montmartre was no joke, especially with my heavy bag of gear. Just getting out of the Abbesse Metro station involved climbing the equivalent of several flights of stairs.
You may see the following picture in many tour books, and in case you want to capture it, it is taken just outside the Abbesse Metro station:
As soon as you get up to the surface, very nearby is a park with the “Love Wall.” The words “I love you” are inscribed here in a bazillion different languages.
And what luck – I captured a bridal couple during their photo shoot. I really love this picture:
There’s a tram nearby which will take you up the hill, but I chose to get some exercise. There are a number of cafés, restaurants, and art galleries at the Place du Tertre which also serve as good photographic subjects.
The Sacré-cœur Basilica is just a block away, and I had planned my visit for the “golden hour” just before sunset. I wasn’t disappointed. The light was just magnificent, a huge contrast to the day before.
And here’s a tip: walk around to the back for some more excellent views.
There’s a spot nearby on the corner of Rue Saint-Eleuthere and Rue Azaïs which is a favorite amongst photographers for capturing the sun setting behind the Eiffel Tower. Unfortunately, the sun wasn’t in the right position this time of year, but if this is something you’re interested in, there are apps available such as “Sun Seeker” and “Helios” which help you determine when to visit Paris to get that shot. The spot looks like this:
You might politely ask them to take down that antenna when you go.
It’s a 15 minute walk from there to Moulin Rouge, and I timed it to get this 30 second exposure at the blue hour.
Finally, I headed back to Montmartre to get a shot of some lanterns and stairs.
Tomorrow I’m going to take a night bus tour to see if I’ve missed anything, and if I have time there’s another Eiffel Tower shot I might try.