Nighttime in Paris

Around four years ago I bought my first DSLR camera – A Canon Rebel T1i – primarily because we were taking a trip to Europe for our one year anniversary and I wanted to have a ‘nice’ camera to capture all of the memories. I bought a couple different lenses but still didn’t really no what I was doing because I didn’t use it at all in Chicago before going because I didn’t want to ruin the camera by taking it out in the cold. Little did I know that as my hobby grew I’d take that same camera out in negative temperatures with negative wind chills while hiking in places like Estes Park and Banff. That little Canon Rebel though was the start of something magical for me. Photography has really become a very serious hobby – some people golf, sail, hunt, etc… for fun but this is what I truly enjoy doing with my leisure time. This morning at 5:45 AM I popped out of bed and headed out to take some pre-sunrise pictures in Chicago. It was ‘warm’ this morning (low 20s) so I figured I may as well get out there and try and make some beautiful photographs. The gear has changed a bit – I just invested in a whole new setup – Nikon D750 and a few really nice Nikon lenses so I was excited to head out and put the new gear to work. It was a (expensive) Christmas present to myself but as this hobby ha turned more serious I felt it was time to graduate from the consumer camera/lenses to the ‘prosumer’ camera/lenses. As my father always said about golf clubs – “it’s not the wand, it’s the magician” – referring to me always blaming the clubs as my shot sailed fifty yards out of bounds I don’t think the nicer camera would have made me better four years ago but certainly now when I understand the technical aspects of photography more it should help to improve the sharpness of my photos when I print them.

The picture below – Nighttime in Paris – is so technically poor (ISO 1600, f/3.5 and I think the flash may have even fired) but I think the composition is pretty good. The picture is saved by the fact that the Eiffel Tower is pretty recognizable so the fact that it isn’t in really great focus isn’t that big of an issue because it is hard to mistake it for something else (clearly the River Seine isn’t flowing through Vegas). However, like I said in the paragraph above I didn’t know any better – at the time I just thought that having the ‘nice’ camera would take beautiful pictures and all I had to do was point-and-shoot (my father saying “it’s not the wand, it’s the magician” continues to flow through my noggin). The past four years has taught me that isn’t farther from the truth and I hope that someday soon I’ll be able to head back to Paris and make some more photographs that are like the ones I’ve envisioned in my head since then.

Nighttime in Paris

Nighttime along the River Seine (Paris, France)

Looking back at the picture of the River Seine at night with the Eiffel Tower in the background I can still clearly remember this night with my wife. We had spent the night taking in the sunset from the Eiffel Tower before heading across the river to a carousel that was setup in the park. We arrived after the carousel had shut down for the evening but it was still lit up and the guys running the amusement area didn’t seem to upset when I had Gretchen climb up on it for a few pictures. Afterwards we headed up some steps and sat, with a bottle of wine and a few packed sandwiches, and ate a quiet not so quiet dinner as we were swarmed by people trying to sell us mini-versions of the Eiffel Tower and pot smoking teenagers. It was still a wonderful night though. Even my technically poor images can invoke great memories of our past.

A walk about Paris will provide lessons in history, beauty, and in the point of Life.

— Thomas Jefferson


2 thoughts on “Nighttime in Paris

  1. What a great post. It’s wonderful how an image can invoke such lovely memories,
    I just got my first DSLR (Canon Rebel SL1) over a year ago. I am at the stage now where I am planning to take some online courses after “playing around” and becoming comfortable with my camera for the year. Taking on this new hobby (the correct way) involves a lot of time of which I do not have and patience on the part of my family. But my husband and particularly my oldest daughter have been very supportive of this new found obsession of mine. I chuckled to myself when I read about your waking up early to catch a sunrise. Every morning I look out the window to see if I should throw on sweats and jump in the car should the pre-dawn light promise an amazing sunrise (I’ve done it once so far). Thank you for sharing your gift with us. I dream of being a photographer half as good as you are and your post gives me hope.

    • It does take a lot of time and we have the luxury now of not having any kids so I have a lot more time to myself to learn and try to teach myself the craft of photography. I do it to and of course I never am out on the right mornings! Yesterday morning the light was a dud over the city but I still got a few decent shots of the downtown area but just not what I had envisioned in my head. Like your husband my wife has had to be very patient (bless her heart) with my obsession which means planning our vacations around achieving the ‘best’ light even if that means eating dinner at 10 PM every night. She’s been a trooper!

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