On day 9 of this Paris photography adventure , I wanted to try shooting from the top of Notre Dame, as I had tried to do yesterday. This time I got here an hour earlier. Unfortunately, I wasted 1/2 hour in the wrong line. There are 2 lines at Notre Dame, a quickly moving line to the entrance and an abhorrently slow-moving line around the side to get to the top. This latter line was massive, so once again I could not complete my objective. I’ll get here when it opens at 10 tomorrow.
I took a few shots of Hôtel de Ville on my way back, which I stupidly thought was a big hotel. It turns out to be city hall. What grabbed me visually, as with so many buildings in Paris, was the enormity of the building. After some failed attempts at capturing the essence of “largeness”, I realized that the best way to do this was with a panorama. I took 3 side-to-side shots and stitched them together. In retrospect, I could’ve also used my iPhone, which really shines in this area.
The final image wasn’t particularly remarkable. However, I love what I got when I fed the wrong images into my HDR machine:
Meanwhile, I had a storage issue that created some mild panic. The SD slot in my MacBook Pro refused to recognize an SD card which had some valuable images.
My workaround was to buy an external USB card reader, which did the trick.
The Canon 5D Mk III has a great feature that would have avoided this panic. You can load two memory cards simultaneously into the camera, an SD card and a CF card. You have the option of recording to one or the other, or rolling over to the other card when one becomes full. The way I use it is to write to both cards simultaneously giving me an automatic backup. I cannot tell you how much peace of mind this provides. I wouldn’t have had the same panic scenario if the card had come out of my 5D Mk III. In this case the card had been in my Rebel T3i, which does not have that feature.
I take backing up very seriously. At a minimum, I aim to have a second copy of every image at all times, or create one as soon as practical. I also use CrashPlan Pro, one of many online storage sites which provide off-site backup. This provides a safehouse for my images for when the big earthquake finally hits San Francisco and destroys my apartment and my hard drives.
In the evening, I set out for Place de la Concorde to see if there might be some worthwhile night shots and indeed there were. You can even see the Eiffel Tower in the background, so my daily Eiffel Tower streak remains unbroken.
As I discovered, this is also a great spot to shoot the Arc de Triomphe staring right down the Champs-Élysées. The street buckles in such a way that the traffic lights don’t interfere, as they do further up the street. I may come back with my super telephoto to try this again. This image is not so different from the one I got earlier, but it’s such a great image that I want to perfect its capture.
Next, I tried hunting down the Grand Palais nearby. I had noticed during the daytime that it had a huge glass roof, and I somehow envisioned all this glass being lit up at night, but alas it was not. On the way however I got a nice shot looking down towards the Hôtel de Invalides. The exposure was tricky b/c of the oncoming headlights. I really couldn’t get the Hôtel exposed as brightly as I wanted, because the headlights were already blowing out the image (overexposing beyond repair). I might have tried overexposing even further, but it didn’t seem practical. I still like the image.
At this point I headed back home. Once I got to my final destination at the Republique stop, I decided to get a shot I’d always wanted to take in San Francisco, a long exposure showing the movement of a subway train (which in San Francisco would be the MUNI or BART). After several attempts, I succeeded.
Finally, as I was walking out of the station, I saw an eye-catching juxtaposition of a homeless man with a poster behind him. I added some grain in Lightroom to give it a more gritty social documentary look:
Tomorrow’s another day and I plan biting the bullet and taking some dawn shots of the Eiffel Tower, as well as a third (and hopefully final) attempt at the upper deck of Notre Dame.