A few days ago, I posted a photo from la Tour Montparnasse in Paris—a broad, sweeping view of much of the city. I hope you liked that photo. I did, but it’s hard to express something new in this city that is constantly being photographed.
Many years ago, I took a photography workshop at the Grand Canyon Field Institute. One of the best pieces of advice was to not try to photograph the canyon with a wide angle lens; instead, use a telephoto lens. Rather than try to capture the vast expanse of the canyon, isolate a detail, and that will convey the spirit of place better.
Here’s a take on that idea. Do you know where this is?
It probably helps that I’ve mentioned Paris… it’s a detail of the Eiffel Tower. If you hadn’t already been thinking of Paris, would you have figured it out? Recalling this earlier blog post, would you have figured out the story on your own?
Here’s another take. I think here, almost everyone who’s seen the Eiffel Tower (or even a photo of it), would recognize it. This detail shot even gives us a chance to read the names of the scientists and engineers which appear under the first balcony. It’s a detail so easily missed when trying to take in the whole scene.
How about this? Do you recognize the place shown below? Hint: several of the names shown on the monument are places in Italy.
It’s a detail of the Arc de Triomphe de L’Etoile. It tells its own story of the many battles fought by French forces over the centuries, but unless you know your French military history, you might not recognize from the photo that this is Paris.
Here’s one last variation on the theme. An infrared photo (as are all four of these photos) of the Arc de Triomphe, with a menacing sky, and… what’s that?… a two-seater microcar driving around it. Doesn’t that scream “grand army”? “Military might”? To me, it’s the detail that makes this photo work.