Paris is the “City of Lights,” which is a fitting moniker. It is perhaps no more fitting than when the Eiffel Tower is set aglow in twinkling lights during its hourly light show. Of course, being a crazy photographer, I wanted even more lights in my Eiffel Tower light show photo, so I stood in the median on the Pont d’Iéna Bridge with my tripod waiting for the perfect moment when just the right assortment of cars passed for light trails and the Eiffel Tower was twinkling just right. Luckily, this median was quite large, so it wasn’t all that dangerous (Sarah might disagree!), at least not compared to places I went later during the trip. Standing in medians to give my Paris photos a bit of added light-excitement became a motif of our trip, and I’m quite lucky I was never hit by any mopeds!
Tour Like a Tourist…or Like a Local?
Obviously, if visiting Paris, the Eiffel Tower is something you’ll want to see, and you should definitely go see it. I have to admit that the Eiffel Tower was a bit of a letdown for us. Not because it lacked beauty–it was absolutely gorgeous and I came away with a number of nice photos of it–but because it was such a “touristy” spot. Everywhere you turned, there were people trying to sell you little trinkets, there were long lines to go up the Tower, and there were masses of confused people wandering aimlessly. In other words, it felt just like a day at one of our favorite destinations, Walt Disney World! 😉
It’s odd that this type of experience doesn’t bother us much in the Disney parks, but it did at the Eiffel Tower. I guess we just wanted to approach Paris more from a local’s point of view than from a tourist. We did plenty of touristy things, but we also rented an apartment instead of staying in a hotel, bought our own groceries, explored the side-streets and found hole-in-the-wall cafes, bistros, and pâtisseries, and outright skipped a lot of popular tourist spots. We enjoyed the tourist spots and wouldn’t recommend skipping them, but we also liked seeing all of the unique little wrinkles to Parisian life.
For this photo, I used the Nikon D600 and the Rokinon 8mm fisheye lens. This fisheye is meant for crop sensor cameras, but it works fine on my full frame Nikon D600; the image is just a circle in the middle of some black space that needs to be cropped, but . This isn’t ideal, but I really like the Rokinon fisheye lens, and until my photography funds are replenished, this is my interim solution. I used this lens here because my Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 wasn’t quite wide enough to capture everything I wanted in this scene, and because those floodlights were giving me all sorts of wild lens flare when I tried the 14-24mm. The downside is that I have a bit of unnecessary “fisheye effect” on the horizon, but I don’t think it’s all that noticeable. As for processing, this is pretty much my standard style for editing in Adobe Camera Raw (fill light, black levels, vibrance) and then a curves adjustment in Photoshop to get the colors corrected and darken the murky nighttime sky, and some healing to remove a bit of distracting lens flare.
Do you try to avoid “touristy” experiences when you travel, or do you embrace them? Do you do whatever it takes (would you risk being hit by a moped?) to get the shot? Share your thoughts on these pressing issues…or anything else…in the comments. One lucky commenter might win a live chicken!