Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Another Day, Another Demo


This while wandering down the ethereal canal St. Martin, one of the trendy/chic parts of Paris which sprouted out of an old working class area, and still inhabited by its fair share of 'clochards' (homeless).

Just round the corner from République, a traditional rallying point, it's not surprising to come across a demo like this. In this case someone told me it was the National Front, or maybe against the National Front, I'm really not sure, but they were vociferous, you have to give them that, whatever they were shouting about...

The rather scary CRS, the bulldogs of the security forces, were out in force having a good old time, and it has to be said that the poor NF dears were completely hedged in by ranks of the boys in black - no nonsense to be had there.

I chopped the top of this shot to make it more intense - I think by lowering the 'ceiling', as it were, it becomes more intense and claustrophobic - less space for people to move in, echoing the hemming in of the demonstrators by the CRS. I didn't want to chop the red flag though, or the other banner, which gives the sense of place and occasion.

The two cops striding, the blurred car, the bustle of the crowd and the harsh treatment of the colours add to the tension.

Don't you think?


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© 2008 Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free

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Mixed Emotions

A double exposure of two contiguous ads on one of those funky rolling ad thingies. Funnily enough, good old Sarkozy was on the cover of two mags which happened to be out at the same time, which isn't such an unusual occurrence, but since the Pres has hooked up with diva Carla Bruni they've just gone crazy.

As I gazed at the revolving ads, one after another, I thought it would be interesting to try and incorporate the two images in one.

'Le Point' has a rather stern looking Sarko crowned by the slyly sardonic title 'L'Acrobat', while L'Express is slightly less snidey with 'Le President People', which doesn't mean 'the people's president', but more 'the showbiz pres'.

Here we see an image which someone has slaved over to remove all extraneous detail to just have Sarko and Bruni looking happy and lurvely together enjoying some event.

I did the double exposure thing and the result is an interesting mix of the two images. By tilting the camera differently for the two shots, the rather sad-looking Sarko from 'Le Point' seems to be resting his head with a certain melancholy on Carla's shoulder. His mouth is transparently covered by his hand from the other shot, originally on his chin, which adds a bit of silent commentary - why is he covering his mouth...?

In any case, the great thing with double exposures is that you really have no idea how the different elements are going to marry and send out unexpected messages. If your camera allows it, give it a go, and see what happens. And let us know!

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© 2008 Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free

If you like this blog, you might appreciate this..!
Paris Set Me Free - The Ultimate Paris Photography Website

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Hotch Potch English - The Unique English Language Teaching Site

Self - Monitored


Monday, January 14, 2008

Ghost Train

This was taken in between my house and my local train station. As you can see I look down on the train tracks, and it was Christmas, hence the greenery.

The train seems to come out of nowhere, a kind of white explosion, which adds a sense of other-worldliness to the shot.

The double diagonals of the lines going across the tracks, and the train lines themselves, give a strong dynamism to the image. The saturated colours multiply the effect.

Self - Long Drink



_____________________________
© 2008 Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free

If you like this blog, you might appreciate this..!
Paris Set Me Free - The Ultimate Paris Photography Website

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Hotch Potch English - The Unique English Language Teaching Site

Dude !


This is a rather dangerous shot, grabbed, and combining...

... well it was obviously... a common enough street scene, and encouragingly enough, one we can stumble over every day, so no need to stress...

BUT don't forget to Snap! OK ?

___________________________
© 2008 Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free

If you like this blog, you might appreciate this..!
Paris Set Me Free - The Ultimate Paris Photography Website

And I also look after...
Hotch Potch English - The Unique English Language Teaching Site

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Photography Lesson - "The Power of Focus"

"To See Or Not To See" (the power of focus)

Introduction

These shots were actually taken in a couple of seconds to illustrate this specific point, and so won't make it into my official gallery due to the flat lighting and lack of care taken over the composition.

But in terms of showing what point of focus (and of course depth of field) is all about they are just fine.

Key points

Depth of field

When you point your camera at something and press your finger half-way down on the shutter release button, it normally snaps into focus. In the first shot here, I obviously pointed at the green woman (part of a famous Parisian Wallace water fountain), and in the second shot I pointed at the 'Shakespeare' shop name.

In the top shot, the green woman is sharp and 'Shakespeare' is fuzzy. The depth of field relates to how much of the photo behind and in front of the sharp subject will also be sharp.

In these shots we have a shallow depth of field, which means things behind and in front of the subject quickly go out of focus. A wide depth of field would have kept everything sharp.

Aperture priority

In these shots I just had my camera on the 'P' or 'Program' setting, because I knew (or suspected) that the prevailing lighting conditions (dull) would automatically give me a shallow depth of field. This comes from experience, and also trial and error.

However, if you want to be sure that your subject is sharp and your background (or foreground) is fuzzy, you need to use aperture priority. This is usually the 'A' setting on your camera dial, or the 'portrait' setting, often shown as a woman's head, on simpler cameras.

In the 'A' position turn one of the dials to make the aperture number change - low numbers such as 4 or 5.6 are what you need for this effect. High numbers such as 16 or 22 will make everything sharp! The 'portrait' setting on simpler cameras will do this automatically.

Focus and reframe

This is a vital concept and something I do continuously throughout a shoot. It consists of pointing the camera at the thing you want sharp, pressing the button half-way down, and keeping the button pressed, moving the camera to put the sharp subject where you want in the frame. When you're happy with the composition, press the button the rest of the way down and take the shot.

This is essential if the thing you want sharp is not in the centre of the picture. If you don't do this, it will probably be fuzzy and the boring centre or background of the shot will be sharp. This is exactly what I did in the top shot, where the woman is sharp. In the second shot I didn't bother, because 'Shakespeare' was already in the centre of the shot, where the camera naturally focuses.

Photo Ideas

Get out there and choose the 'A' (aperture priority) or 'portrait' setting on your camera. Find a striking subject such as a statue some distance in front of a distinctive building or even another statue.

- Experiment with focusing on the thing nearest to you and reframing. Take one shot with the near thing in focus and another with the background in focus.

- Change the aperture number and see what happens to the sharpness. Walk right up to the near subject and take a shot. Walk back and take it again.

- Zoom in on a subject and take a shot. Without moving, zoom out and take the same shot. Compare the relative sharpness of the foreground and background again. Your brain will work it out!

Then comment on this lesson with a link to your best result - we all want to see them!

Summary

- depth of field - how much of the photo is sharp in front of and behind the point of focus - is a vital creative tool you must be familiar with

- the aperture priority (or portrait) mode on your camera is your magic doorway to achieving lovely selective focus effects

- become thoroughly familiar with focusing and reframing - and your subject will always be sharp

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The Paris Set Me Free - FREE On-Line Digital Photography Course is...

An on-going series of fun mini-photography lessons building up to form a comprehensive course on taking creative photos, wherever you are. The emphasis is always on 'developing the photographer's eye', although all aspects of this amazing activity are covered, from the technical stuff to 'pro' hints and tips. Most of the lessons use photographs to illustrate specific points and as I live in Paris, most of the photos were taken here! Enjoy your photography, enjoy Paris, and do send in your comments here! ~ Sab Will




___________________________
© 2008 Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free

If you like this blog, you might appreciate this..!
Paris Set Me Free - The Ultimate Paris Photography Website

And I also look after...
Hotch Potch English - The Unique English Language Teaching Site

Self - Common Mistakes

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Photography Lesson - "Chin Up!"


"Chin Up" (don't always look straight ahead)

It's amazing how many interesting things are found just... above our heads, especially in historic city centres with narrow winding streets. It's also amazing how often people, including those holding cameras, wander around looking precisely... straight ahead.

Now some may call me weird... thank you... but I actually wander around Paris on many a Sunday afternoon with my nose stuck up in the air looking for whatever strange gems might be hiding up there. And a city like Paris, or any place with an older district is marvellous for curios like this picture.

This sign is obviously not more than a century or so old, as it has the Eiffel Tower in it, the perpetual symbol of the city being once again put to good commercial effect. But that's actually great for us, because we want our photos to speak to us, to tell us something about where they were taken and all the emotions and impressions that might stir up.

The cat is also closely associated with the city as there was a famous cabaret and poster for the 'Tournée du Chat Noir' so it's another echo of times gone by.

There's also a nice repetition of motif with the second metal cat stealthily creeping along the top of the sign, beautifully silhouetted against the sky, and any repetition of theme only makes the image stronger.

Photo Ideas

Next time you are out with your camera make a point of looking up. You'll be surprised at how many interesting things there are up there, on the sides of buildings, strange lampposts, old ladies shaking out carpets, somebody's underwear drying, a pigeon perched on a ledge or a wonderful arrangement of higgledy-piggledy chimneys...

Then comment on this lesson with a link to your best result - I can't wait to see them!

Summary

- remember to look up as you walk around the streets
- look for repetitions to make your photos stronger
- include city symbols to allow the viewer to share your feelings

___________________________
© 2008 Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free

If you like this blog, you might appreciate this..!
Paris Set Me Free - The Ultimate Paris Photography Website

And I also look after...
Hotch Potch English - The Unique English Language Teaching Site

Self - The Hunter & The Hunted


And The Answer Is...

Life's looking pretty flushed today
Charged particles go rushing by
Past ruddy cheeks and setting jaws
It's January of the modern age

The Universe has lost its way
My mind's expanding uselessly
Expatriated brain cells fight
For 2008 strange thoughts

And Everything is speeding up
la caravane passe vite, said you
She asked me how old
I happened to be
So I answered her forty two


_____________________________
© 2008 Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free

If you like this blog, you might appreciate this..!
Paris Set Me Free - The Ultimate Paris Photography Website

And I also look after...
Hotch Potch English - The Unique English Language Teaching Site

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