City of Light

City of Light

A view of the Eiffel Tower and Seine River at night

We finally come to my favorite image from our trip to France. I knew I wanted a unique (to me) shot of the Eiffel Tower but I didn’t know exactly what it could be. So, as we traipsed around Paris I kept looking for views that would incorporate as many aspects of the the beautiful city as possible.

As we walked from the Left Bank to the Right Bank I noticed that the Eiffel Tower was clearly visible from the Place de la Concorde. I spent quite a bit of time on the beautiful Pont de la Concorde shooting the unique street lamps and the view of buildings on either bank from there. While there I began to wonder what the view of the Eiffel Tower would be like at night with the Pont Alexandre III in the foreground. I had some luck the night before shooting Notre Dame and including a passing river cruise boat in the foreground (image here). I began to wonder if I could have an equally interesting shot doing so from the Pont de la Concorde.

We waited until after dinner and after most of the sights had closed for the evening. Then we make our way to the bridge to await sunset. Once again, I hoped for a brilliant sunset that would turn the sky all shades of brilliant pastels. Alas, that was not to happen this night. The cloud cover was simply too thick. In fact, as we waited for the lights of the city to come on, a fairly intense rain shower passed over us. We simply turned up the hoods of our rain jackets, covered the camera gear, and waited it out.

Finally, the rain had passed and the lights of the city began to come on. I wanted to take as long an exposure as possible so I stacked my polarizer and a neutral density filter on my 24-70 f/2.8 lens. At one point I set my aperture to f/22 in order to get a 30 second exposure. But, as the gloom deepened I had to back off that setting to keep my exposure from running up to two minutes or more. Even though I wanted the water to be rendered silky smooth and for the lights on the Pont Alexandre III to show as starbursts, I didn’t want a passing bus or other traffic to shake my camera and ruin the image. 30 seconds between bursts of traffic seemed to be the right setting for my shutter.

After shooting a series of exposures in the growing dark, this one is my favorite. The Eiffel Tower is vibrant. A passing river cruise boat adds an interesting streak of color on the Seine. The lights on the Pont Alexandre III add some interesting pops of color. And, the reflection of those lights adds a lot of interest to the river itself. There’s still enough remaining daylight to show some texture in the sky. Overall, I’m very pleased with the shot. I hope it conveys some sense of the beauty of Paris, city of light.

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