I used a long break from my blog until 2017 to travel back a century in time to the Marais district, here in Paris. This is the first image I have published of my journey, taken in Rue des Vertus. I really regret this long absence in sharing my passion with you and hope that you will again accompany me on my weekly, Friday photo blog.
Well…the truth is that I am somewhat lacking in virtues in giving you this story, since I am, more truthfully celebrating my return to blogging with an image that I captured only today of a street with virtually no visual intrusion of the 21st century.
Endurance of a Long Distance Photographer
I was celebrating by taking a stroll through the adjacent Marais, because I had just recovered my D800 and two of my most-used lenses from the Nikon Pro repair shop in Boulevard Beaumarchais.
This had been made necessary, because in 2016 I damaged my camera equipment and myself three times. Twice, by climbing on rocks at the shore side in Biarritz and later by slipping on ice in Iceland (seems to be somewhat of a warning in the name of the place?). The third shock was when I knocked a camera and lens 3 feet onto concrete during a photo shoot in a warehouse.
Nikon seems to be more robust than I am, since the equipment still worked (with some imaginative adjustments) until I could find a break in my programme and let them be taken away for repair. I, on the other hand, ended up in ER twice and needed a tetanus injection, stitches in my knee and two sessions of heavy antibiotics before I was “repaired”. The downside was that, whereas my medical repairs were financially painless, having come out of prepaid taxes, the Nikon repairs were a 100% deduction from disposable income.
I was itching to try out my newly-repaired and excellently cleaned and re-calibrated equipment, so I chose streets that I did not know well and let the serendipity of Paris do its magic.
There is a wonderful light phenomenon where the sun shines in a break in the clouds after rain, giving a strong, clear light which glistens on the wet ground. I was stopped in my tracks as I passed this side street because of the glistening, water-clean cobbles. In truth, the sky was blue, not rainy, but my black and white conversion creates the sense of a grey, wet sky passing by.
I was equally very much struck by the absence of modernity in this section of street. I immediately felt the timelessness of this old street in an even more ancient section of the city. In full disclosure, I can confirm that I have deleted two very small television aerials from the roofs, but these were still difficult to see without magnification.
Equally I exerted the patience to eliminate modern passers-by, so as to maintain the effect and I hurried home to complete the illusion by a black and white conversion.
The narrow street and low Winter sun generated a huge dynamic range disparity between the centre and the sides of the image. I therefore chose a combination of low ISO and “spot” metering of the over-exposed area to give the sensor the best chance to cover the range as well as to expose “to the right” in order to avoid “blowing out” the bright section. I was mindful of the corrective capabilities of my new post-processing software Capture One Pro 10, by Phase One.
Indeed, the image required strong treatment of the areas in shadow, which seemed to result in an unusual high level of noise for such a low ISO. I therefore added noise reduction, which is the first time I recollect having done so at low ISO.
The final “tweak” was the above-mentioned elimination of small, hard to see aerials using the “Heal” tool.
Camera: Nikon D800
Lens: 24-70mm f2.8G ED Zoom
Focal Length: 70 mm
Focus Mode: AF-C
Autofocus Area Mode: Single
Shutter Speed: 1/800s
Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority
Exposure Compensation: 0 EV
ISO Sensitivity: 320
Hand Held, resting on street furniture
Processing Software: Capture One 10
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