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Île de la Cité, Paris

Posted by
Ian Bramham (Manchester, United Kingdom) on 19 January 2011 in Cityscape & Urban and Portfolio.

The Île de la Cité photographed from the Pont des Arts.

Inspired by the wonderful versions by Cartier-Bresson and Michael Kenna.

I've tried many times over the last few years to get a decent version of this photo but I've never managed it until now (although I can still see things I'd like to do differently)

On this latest trip to Paris it seemed a lot easier so maybe my photography been improving without me noticing just goes to show that you should never give up.

With this version I deliberately composed it in my rectangular viewfinder with a square crop in mind and I used a 6 stop neutral density on the camera to get a 2 second exposure which I knew would remove some of the detail from the water surface without making it and the sky too smooth and featureless.

NIKON D700 2 seconds F/8.0 ISO 200 35 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.

Punit from Somewhere in, India

Good one Ian - yes, the long exposure seems balanced enough to bring in some smoothness yet not loose complete details and tones. Interesting choice of the square crop - just curious, any specific thought behind that?

19 Jan 2011 5:38am

@Punit: Thanks Punit!

I really like square crops as I think they can often help bring a sense of harmony but the main reason I did it here is that the bridge in the shot (Le Pont Neuf) looks very lopsided otherwise as you can see from Cartier Bresson's version from the 1950s:

I don't know if you've been to Paris but the Île de la Cité is the oldest part of the city. It is an island in the middle of the Seine river although the two branches of the river in this spot are of unequal width. The "Pont Neuf" bridge you can see here is about 400 years old and therefore has short span stone arches with 7 arches on one side of the river and 5 on the other.

sunstone_maria from California, United States

love it!!! beautiful well balanced composition and beautiful square format!

19 Jan 2011 6:06am

@sunstone_maria: Thanks Maria!

Punit from Somewhere in, India

Okay - I haven't been to paris but did look up this on the internet and got an idea on what you mean by the unequal width on two ends. Thanks for sharing.

Btw, Michael Kenna's version of this has a crop similar to yours.

19 Jan 2011 8:38am

@Punit: Hi Punit.....Michael Kenna's version was one of the main inspirations for this as I mentioned in the text under the photo and I believe that he in turn was inspired by Cartier-Bresson.

By the way, Kenna uses 6cm x 6cm square format film these days so would have composed his image naturally like that in the viewfinder.

Marie LC from Entre montagnes et Bretagne, France

Wonderful composition and processing. You take the relai of a series on Paris where I showed during a few days

19 Jan 2011 10:16am

Didier from Tubize, Belgium

A great variation on Cartier-Bresson!

19 Jan 2011 11:14am

Scene by Sharon Photography from Kingston, Ontario, Canada

fabulous image - the water and the sky ... perfect

19 Jan 2011 1:56pm

Joao Mourão from Lisboa, Portugal

It´s a fantastic photo. Superb work. Congratulations

19 Jan 2011 2:23pm

Rebecca from Beavercreek, United States

Beautiful, wistful. I appreciate the details of how you capture your images even if I don't always completely understand the description.

19 Jan 2011 4:10pm

Sonia Nansid from Barcelona Stockholm, Afghanistan

Whoa! Top class B&W.

19 Jan 2011 6:17pm

Curly from South Shields, United Kingdom

Simply fabulous Ian.
I eventually got to use my ND filters yesterday (2 stop plus 8 stop) although in the middle of a very bright afternoon, decent results, cannot wait to try early morning or dusk.

19 Jan 2011 7:21pm

@Curly: Hi Curly...I really enjoy using my nd filters. I have a 6 stop and two different 10 stops. They slow everything down and make the photography much more involving and contemplative don't they!

Ted from South Wales, United Kingdom

the filter's proved very effective the sky tones Ian.

19 Jan 2011 8:04pm

jeffrey from Haydenville, United States

very nice!

19 Jan 2011 9:57pm

DarkElf from Perth, Australia

i like the square format here - i think it does underline the geometrical order and also there is a nice symmetry between the sky and the water!

20 Jan 2011 3:16am

Ian Smith from London, United Kingdom

Great shot Ian! I prefer Bresson's version though ;-)

20 Jan 2011 1:55pm

@Ian Smith: :-) They obviously had a lot more smog air pollution back in the early 50's. I do love that misty look in his (and Kenna's) versions!

tom from Germany

Really like the horizontal vignette guiding the view into the picture.

21 Jan 2011 9:10pm

Daryl Johnson from New Malden, United Kingdom

So nicely framed with the darkness in the clouds and on the water... great result.

22 Jan 2011 12:59pm

Anna.C from LA ROCHELLE, France

a classic view but the long exposure change all the mood ! perfect shot !

24 Jan 2011 12:27pm

Magda from Vancouver, Canada

Wow! A Masterpiece! Bravo!

31 Jan 2011 6:15pm

Guido Steenkamp from Germany

You are showing some nice work here. Got to visit Paris one day, must be nice for some Street Photography

4 Feb 2011 7:49pm

2 seconds
ISO 200
35 mm (35mm equiv.)