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Arc De Triomphe, Paris

Posted by
Ian Bramham (Manchester, United Kingdom) on 29 January 2008 in Architecture and Portfolio.

Not an original photo I know but it was something I wanted to try and it was a lot of fun!

I set up the camera on a tripod in the middle of the Champs Elysees as I wanted to try and get some trails from the car lights passing through the image but this was very early in the morning and for once there wasn't a lot of traffic.

To get enough car light trails I had to set the f stop up at f22 to get a long enough exposure...as a result I don't think this image is as sharp as it might be due to diffraction. If I'd used an f stop more in the f5.6 - f8 range it would have been sharper. One to remember the next time I try this!

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This photo here is one of my favourite photos with my new DSLR. I've submitted it for publication in JPG magazine. You can vote for it's inclusion if you can manage to get through the registration process

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This blog has been 'nominated' for the 2008 Photoblogawards. If you like it, please take a moment and vote for it here :Photoblogawards.
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NIKON D40 6 seconds F/22.0 ISO 200 82 mm (35mm equiv.)

Like what you see here and are interested in photographic composition?.....the blog section of my website now has a complete set of 5 articles covering my personal approach to the subject: Ian Bramham Photography - Blog

For purchasing high quality archival prints of any of these photos you can send me an email by clicking here or by going to my website Ian Bramham - Fine Art Photography where prices are listed in the gallery sections under each individual photo.

Paul van der Meer from Netherlands

very moody and strong

29 Jan 2008 7:21am

@Paul van der Meer: Thanks very much Paul!

jkjond from Grange-over-Sands, United Kingdom

Whatever you do, don't let lack of originality prevent you from taking a good shot.

I wouldn't worry at all about originality, it will eventually drive you insane - assuming you aren't already. For added car trails you could take several shots and combine them using layers setting each one to 'lighten'. There's a shot I've been meaning to take for years which requires about 15 models with bowler hats... I realised the other day that now I have my remote all I'm missing is the bowler, and I'm not convinced that part it essential.

29 Jan 2008 8:38am

@jkjond: Hi John!....I do know what you mean :-) It was a lot of fun trying this technique for myself and I learnt a lot from it....I'd now like to try it on some city centre Manchester buildings. It's certainly not as easy as it looks when I've seen it on other peoples shots.

I did actually take quite a few shots of this one before moving the camera.....how on earth do you layer multiple shots into one?

(by the way I'd be really interested in what your view is on the comments that GJC left for me on yesterday's photo. It wasn't something I'd thought about and it's now got me thinking. I hardly ever agonise over whether to process a shot in colour or B&W as I just go with what feels right. That's what I'm going to stick to doing but the comment has made me think about the colour v B&W issue a lot more.)

jkjond from Grange-over-Sands, United Kingdom

In PS CS3 you can open a stack of images into one file 'File>Scripts>Load files into stack', then use 'edit>auto align layers' to make sure they are bang on top of each other. Its the same process for making panoramas. You can then select how each layer operates, so you can set them to darken only, lighten only, multiply... loads of options - and/or you can use masks to reveal the bits you want from each one.

Colour v B&W. How long have you got? It isn't practical to try every shot both ways, so I agree with your intuition approach. You just have to go with that feeling, and once in a while you'll change your mind and decide you got it wrong. For a lot of images I don't think it really matters which you do, the only two of yours which stand out in my mind as being possibly 'wrong' are a wishy washy colour Albert Dock pic, which I know you like, which is ultimately what matters, and one of your cockle picker shots in B&W - the colour ones all looked so right. Yet the B&Ws look fine in isolation. That could well be my prob with the AD shot, it had some strong competition from the others you posted in the same set.

Black and white is a curious choice in today's world of colour. I'm sure that there is a traditionalist photographer who grew up doing their own D&P in a corner of the house who will always like to see a good b&w shot. At the other extreme is the digital man whose senses reject any concept of visible grain and who needs to be bombarded with saturated colour and HDR in every shot. There is plenty of room for both!

Out of curiosity, take a look at Ansel Adams colour work. I've seen some, but could not tell you a single thing about them, yet I have a clear mental image of a number of his classic B&Ws. But it is a pretty meaningless exercise - the man's great strength was his manipulation in the darkroom - just what would he have produced in digital?

Heck, into ramble mode. One final thought. I'm convinced that any shot can be made to work in B&W, its just that some work better in colour... but not all. I'm sure this Arc de Triomphe shot would look great in colour, but I don't look at it wishing you had done it that way. Would it be better? I think it possibly could, or to put it in stronger, more definite words... er, maybe.

With my own work I'm tending to go all out on BLACK and WHITE with next to nowt inbetween - or this colour/BW hibrid thingy. But I'm sure its just a phase!

29 Jan 2008 9:51am

@jkjond: Thanks for very detailed reply John...I'll have a look at Photoshop Elements to see if it will let me stack photos in the way you describe.

Colour v B&W!....the link to Ansell Adams was really interesting as I wasn't aware of his colour work. It's hard to find much of it on the web so I'll keep looking. I did find this interesting discussion of his colour photography : http://www.hachettebookgroupusa.com/books/94/0821219804/chapter_excerpt13230.html .

He was obviously living in a different era but, as you say, just what would he have produced in digital?....his agonising over the colour issue is neatly summarised by this Adam's quote from the link :
"I have done no color of consequence for thirty years! I have a problem with color—I cannot adjust to the limited controls of values and colors. With black–and–white I feel free and confident of results."

jkjond from Grange-over-Sands, United Kingdom

A good link - lots of info there that I'd not read before. If nothing else, it is fascinating to think of Adams and Moholy-Nagy as contemporaries, but it also makes me want to see more of Adams colour work. It highlights how much I take colour photography for granted, whereas he was right in the pioneering stages. My view of early colour work often overlooks the technology available at the time, and, possibly more important, any degradation over the years.

Ah, it beats grumbling about Nikon's short sighted marketing and how the 60 will never be worthy of photographing the cat. Why do I read so much of that rubbish?

29 Jan 2008 12:00pm

@jkjond: :-)....the comment about the D60 and the cats....priceless!

Steven from Chicagoland, United States

Great composition, regardless!

29 Jan 2008 2:33pm

@Steven: Thanks Steven....It was a lot of fun to try this type of shot!

Laurie from New Jersey, United States

Maybe not original but nicely done regardless.

29 Jan 2008 3:02pm

@Laurie: Thanks very much Laurie!

Lorraine from Gatineau, Canada

The lights look like miniatures worlds of their own, protecting the great Arc, it's a phenomenal photo and I don't care how many times it's been taken...

29 Jan 2008 3:23pm

@Lorraine: Thanks Lorraine....I'm really pleased that you liked it!

amy from Rocky Mountain House, Canada

I think Lorraine articulated it best for me. (or I'm just too damn lazy to put it into my own words LOL) Very fascinating reading, however, between you and jkjond. I'm not sure you can use Elements for layering. It does have it's draw backs. I really think you should consider buying the full version of Photoshop. It really is a digital darkroom. ;-)

29 Jan 2008 5:32pm

@amy: Thank you Amy!

Regarding Photoshop.... I'm only just starting to get to grips with layers so the full version may be too much for me to get my head around just at the moment...I'll see how things progress with Elements just for the moment but it's certainly an ambition of mine to be able to improove my post processing ability.

Michael Rawluk from Prince George, Canada

Very cool shot. The lights are wonderful stars.

29 Jan 2008 5:51pm

@Michael Rawluk: Thanks Michael....there are no special filters involved, just the natural effect produced by the Nikon kit lens.

standley from brou-sur-chantereine, France

Not original but very well captured with the star lights

29 Jan 2008 9:41pm

@standley: Thank you very much Standley!

tom from Germany

I very much like the light here. Wonderful shot.

29 Jan 2008 10:49pm

@tom: Thanks very much Tom!

GJC from Kyoto, Japan

Thanks for posting this and for starting some discussion on b&w and color. For me, I don't see that they are interchangeable because they require (as Ansel Adams was suggesting in the quote above) a different way of thinking about what the image can speak. So it doesn't seem realistic to shoot in color and, if one doesn't like the results, to then try reprocessing it in b&w as if a good b&w photo is simply a "failed" color one (or the reverse). Each requires its own set of skills and, more importantly, photographic vision, which is why (in my opinion) you don't see many of the great photographers excelling in both color and b&w.
Regarding the "originality" of this shot, I wonder why that should be relevant unless one is trying to sell images. If art is for the self, to help the self come into more immediate contact with the thing photographed, then one is always original insomuch as one is taking the image for the first time. If we all had to be original to the rest of the world, most everyone on this blog, myself included, would have to put down the camera (another cat picture or another sunset? another winter scene? another mountain valley or old man in a peculiar hat?) The point, it seems to me, is not originality in the rather pedestrian sense of producing an image that has never been seen before. It's in the act of photography -- the act of giving yourself to the image -- itself. You've never taken that photograph before. Isn't that enough? Photography, it seems, is not an image; it's really about the process of seeing that leads to one.

30 Jan 2008 2:18am

jkjond from Grange-over-Sands, United Kingdom

To GJC - I like the concept of questioning whether a good B&W is a failed colour photo, or reverse. So I started by looking at your portfolio here... but you don't have any images which I would even consider changing to B&W. I'm not sure why not, maybe because there is some truth in your idea, which shows through in your work. So I looked at my own shots on flickr, the 10 which I like best http://www.flickr.com/photos/leechypics/sets/72157600213351510/

These are a complete mix of straight black and white, traditional black and white, monochrome with a hint of colour retained, traditional colour and enhanced colour. None were not taken with any processing in mind at the time (other than the montage), nor for commercial reasons. Now most of these could have worked if reprocessed - though I think the two traditional black and whites are the only two which may be dramatically improved if reprocessed... which rather fits in with what you said to Ian in the first place. Maybe we do live in an increasingly colourful world and the use of at least some colour can enhance an image. But I don't see either of those as failed black and whites.

The other point you raised was concerning the difference between commercial photography and art. My opinion is that commercial photography is a rather predictable and formulaic entity. OK, there are some exceptional commercial photos, but for the most part a solid commercial shot is of the 'chocolate box' variety where traditional representation is king. They may be very nice images, but overall they lack any interpretation and personal statement from the photographer, they are solely concerned about being in the right place at the right time and presenting exactly what they saw. Something which is also mentioned in Ian's link.

30 Jan 2008 8:28am

NIKON D40
6 seconds
F/22.0
ISO 200
82 mm (35mm equiv.)