I am not a morning person. In fact, I am the kind of guy who looks forward to that extra hour of sleep on the weekends and certainly dreads waking up in the wee hours when forced to take a morning flight. This poses a bit of a problem when it comes to photography. Not only do I miss out on the opportunity to take a decent picture at sunrise, but also miss out on the only time of day when one can avoid crowds at a famous tourist attraction.
The former, I can’t really do much about. It is no coincidence that I take most of my pictures at sunset. For the latter however, there is a surprisingly simple solution. The key to this David Blaine-style trick is the camera’s shutter speed. Slow the shutter speed enough (upwards of 15-20 seconds) and anything that is moving within the frame, will not get recorded on the camera’s sensor. It is that easy!
Here is a picture of the famous Louvre Museum in Paris. It was a busy Wednesday afternoon at the museum and swarms of people were wondering around the plaza near the famous glass pyramid entrance. Eager to take a picture, I decided to mount my camera on a tripod and closed my aperture down to F14. This gave me a meter reading of 25 secs – long enough to make everyone not standing still, disappear!
Shot with my tripod mounted Canon 60D and my Sigma 10-20mm F4-5.6 DC HSM lens, at ISO 100, F14, at 25 sec.
Below is the second picture taken of the Eiffel tower – this one from a lower vantage point and in black & white. From a composition perspective, I tried to center the tower dead in the middle, to give the picture a bit of balance and symmetry.
Shot handheld with my Canon 60D and my Sigma 10-20mm F4-5.6 DC HSM lens, at ISO 800, F6.3, at 1/30 sec.
When traveling abroad I often find myself in a bit of a predicament. How do I go about taking a picture of a city’s iconic landmark, in a way that’s different from the myriads of other pictures taken before me?
To me, this is all about creativity and the ability to play around with composition. I find that there is no recipe for success, other than just work the scene, find a unique perspective and just simply experiment. The rules of composition i.e. patterns, leading lines, rule of thirds can be your friends, but breaking these rules might sometimes help as well. Silhouettes, reflections, framing with trees, the possibilities are endless.
Here is my attempt from my trip to Paris two weeks ago. I arrived at the Eiffel Tower right before sunset and stayed for a short time until the twilight hour. I’ve managed to capture two decent shots, one of which is the below. I will be posting my second shot in a couple of weeks. It’s not as unique as I was hoping for, but given the short window of opportunity I had, I am pretty happy with the results.
Shot with my tripod mounted Canon 60D and my Sigma 10-20mm F4-5.6 DC HSM lens, at ISO 100, F8, at 3.2 secs (exposed at -2/0/+2).