Photography Guide to Paris
Weather – Don’t leave it to chance. Check the forecasts and make sure you’re prepared for it. You can still take good shots in the rain but think about getting a rain shield for your camera and a back that won’t get saturated. If you’re planning sunrise and sunset shots jot down the times of these and scout out suitable locations
Maps – Know your location. Work out where the areas are you wish to walk around and if so visit beforehand. If not don’t worry.
Travel – where are the bus and railways stations etc. Know where you’re going and how long it will take you to travel.
Clean your lenses and filters – Do this as often as possible. Specks of dust get on lenses and the sensors from time to time and you don’t want your shots ruined or time wasted in post-processing removing splodges.
Tripod – Get something sturdy especially for long exposures. Don’t be fooled by cheap tripods in a camera store as they won’t serve you in the long term and you’ll just end up spending more money. A remote release is also advisable.
Memory cards – invest in large size ones. A 32gb card can be picked up on ebay for a snip of the cost you would pay at large camera stores. You could go all day taking RAW and JPEG photos and still have plenty of room. If you have a laptop transfer them over when you get back to your hotel room so you’re card is fresh for the next day. Always have a spare card though just in case something goes wrong.
Batteries – Where possible pack a spare battery but make sure both of them
are fully charged. Long exposures drain battery life so be prepared.
On the other side of the church tucked away in a side street in the Lapin Agile which is an old cabaret place that really keeps the spirit of old France alive with many of the songs played there dating back hundreds of years. Externally it is a wonderful building, a bit of rural France in the middle of the city. A must see!
The Moulin Rouge with its famous red windmill is an iconic venue that
attracts thousands of visitors each year to see its cabaret acts. At night
it comes alive with its red neon lights and people waiting in long queues to
get in. This is a great time to take photos. Take a tripod and just wait for
the right moment. Be patient as the roads are busy and there are always
people around. Long exposures can be good but don’t necessarily do the
windmill sails justice so it’s better to wait.
Notre Dame area
I mentioned earlier about maybe adopting a flexible plan. Around Notre Dame
and the Latin Quartier is a great place to do this as it’s better just to
wander around and soak up the atmosphere and just see what happens. You will
find cafes, bars and restaurants that look very appealing both to take
photos of and when you’d finished to relax for a while. If you’re lucky
someone will walk by and start playing a French accordion. Things happen
spontaneously around here. For Notre Dame try and get pictures here at night
or with the Seine and bridges in view. There is some amazing gothic carving
on the cathedral so be sure to pack a telephoto lens. Take note, flash is
not permitted inside but photography is allowed. Make sure you take photos
of its beautiful rose windows.
Paris by Night
Paris is a dream by night. You will really enjoy it. I recommend starting your photography around the Place de la Concorde near the entrance to the Jardin des Tuileries. Do it just before sunset as you will enjoy what photographers term ‘the golden hour’ when day becomes night and you witness the gradual changing colour of the sky. From here you can see right up the Champs Elysees and the Arc de Triomphe standing at the top. When the street lights snap on and there’s still definition in the sky this is a great time for taking photos. Long exposures are good now and you can get some really nice light trails from passing cars. I used a neutral density filter which really brought the colours out, kept everything razor sharp and stopped too much light getting in and ruining the shots.
You will also see the Eiffel Tower again which will become spectacularly illuminated with shimmering white lights before turning golden. This was where we headed to afterwards. A long but enjoyable walk stopping by the bridges on the Seine taking more light trail shots with the tower in the background. Near the Eiffel Tower at the bottom of the Parc du Champ de Mars you can get some stunning shots. Go for a low ISO setting on your SLR but over a long exposure and use a tripod. These will turn out really well.
As I mentioned earlier, Paris is always busy with tourists but at night you
can turn this to your advantage. Using a tripod and going for longer
exposures you can create some wonderful ghost-like effects of movement
whilst retaining the sharpness of background objects.
ENJOY YOUR TIME IN PARIS
Whether you’re in Paris for a weekend or a week I hope I’ve given you some good advice on how to get the best out of your camera. It’s not always possible to take every photo we would like but experiencing Paris is not just about the photography and this beautiful city will definitely be looking forward to your return visit.
Capture the spirit of Paris in your pictures and have a wonderful time.
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Expect the Unexpected (21 Jul 2012)
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