On-Line Digital Photography Course
story's strange, but then again, so are many librarians. I
should know, I'm the progeny of two.
A long time ago, the
Biblioteque Nationale de France was in a tricky position.
Dedicated to obtaining and archiving every publication in the
land, it was frequently embarrassed by some of the racier
titles. It placed these 'brown paper bag' items in a special,
secret area of the library and merrily named it 'Hell'.
The sinister 'X' which
chillingly adorns one side of the new BNF (you know, that
horrible building which is supposed to look like four open
books... good grief) symbolically tells any passing devils that
Enfer is now back in business, at least for the duration
of the exhibition, where you can admire all manner of naughties
from the past.
There's no doubting it:
it's got it! And this sort of thing doesn't last. I have
often cursed myself for not getting off my backside soon
enough only to find that yet another unique happening and
unrepeatable photo opportunity had slipped away.
I read the newspapers
constantly, because Paris, and I'm sure plenty of other big
cities, is constantly offering up these rare and wondrous
objects of artistic desire.
I left the house this
evening with the sole aim of shooting the beast and bringing
it back alive, and this is the result. Welcome to Hell,
as they say on the poster.
As I'm not a big fan of tripods, especially at night (when
they are most recommended, along with flash) I was
tripodless when I arrived at the BNF.
when bumping up the ISO to 1600 or more I was still getting
slight camera shake and was not totally convinced by the
results. So I decided to take things in hand and start
swinging the camera about a bit.
When you do this, you
have to make sure that there is still something identifiable and
not just a bunch of blurred lines. Here you can see I used a
circular motion as I squeezed the shutter button. I got loads of
unusable shots, but a couple more or less as I intended, as you
see here (click for a larger image, as always).
a nice tilt to the shot, and the 'X' respects the good old
rule of thirds, up there in the top left.
reason I chose this is that a light just above the 'X' has
turned into a kind of bird (a harbinger of doom,
perhaps?)which is intriguing.
see about three of the edges of the buildings, which is
important for those who know what this building looks like
to relate to, otherwise it could just be anywhere.
'X' is still X-like enough to inspire interest and surprise.
I was hoping for a rather spooky shot, and I'm not convinced
I've succeeded, but you don't lose marks for trying.
Then comment on this
lesson with a link to your best result - we all want to see
- Skim the local papers for
unusual happenings, especially outside where an everyday
place or monument is being temporarily tampered with in
- Throw your camera around a bit
when taking shots outside at night! I mean, move it in
any direction you like as you press the shutter button,
and the slow shutter speed needed will take care of the
- Make sure your camera isn't
automatically adding flash, or put it on a 'night-time'
setting if you have one, which generally gives you a bit
of flash then stays open for a while. This can give some
very interesting results.
- curiosity value
- look out for normal buildings or places in your town
being transformed for a limited period - this will
intrigue and amuse people
- technique - night time
is a great time to experiment - with flash or without,
hand-held or tripod, moving the camera or lens around,
etc. There are no rules!
- composition - remember
the two zooms: your lens and your legs. Even if doing
strange things as you take the pic, still remember what
the final result could look like and try to leave your
options open (by shooting with a wider angle lens than
necessary in order to be able to crop later
~ Comment on this lesson in the Photo Blog
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