Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Cité-U On Acid

This shot was for a quiz, so I wanted to make it difficult, but not impossible, to read the words above the arches. You can just about make out 'UNIVER...' which was enough for my purposes!

In trying to make the words difficult to read I inevitably had recourse to a classic artistic device: the Zappy Zoom!

I don't know if that's a new term for it, but it's been part of the creative photographer's arsenal for decades. The only thing is, it can be a little too much if every other shot has a zappy zoom effect, so use it sparingly and it will retain its surprise value.

You need to put your camera on shutter speed priority for this effect, and choose something like 15th of a second to start off with. I find the best way is to focus on something like the writing, start zooming with one hand, and take the shot as you continue to zoom. With a slow shutter speed you should hear quite clearly the opening and closing of the shutter and you will get to feel what sort of speed you need for the level of zoom effect you're looking for.

In this shot I've thrown in a bit of an angle to add to the wildness of the zoom and I could also have moved or rotated the camera itself, but that would have made it so blurred that you wouldn't be able to make anything out at all.

Needless to say I needed a few shots to get one I was reasonably happy with, and to be honest I wasn't planning this as an artistic shot, more of a fun one for one of my Paris photo quizzes, so I didn't spend too long on getting a specific result. I'm including un unblurred - but still unhorizontal - shot here too, by the way, so you can see what the thing really looks like.

And then finally we come to the post processing. An important detail is that the sun was behind this building, and so the entire facade was in relatively gloomy shadow, despite the bright daylight behind it. So for the final version below I dynamised the image by playing with contrast and adding a dash of saturation to make the colours even zappier than the zoom has done. I tried to restrain myself with this one, as I sometimes go too over the top with my post-treatment. It's obvious from the sun that this wall is in shadow, and if I'd tried to make it look as if it wasn't all the actually sunlit areas would have been totally blown out with no detail at all.

I also chose this one over another which didn't have people in the foreground, as they add interest and the feeling of a lively campus, as well as contrast to the purely architectural image without them.

So in the end for a quick shot which wasn't even meant to be artistic I'm quite pleased with the result.

Click to visit the Parc Montsouris Photo Quiz (coming soon) Paris Photo Walks!

Sab's Quick Photo Hints & Tips

   1) Look for new, crazy techniques and try them out - what have you got to lose?!
   2) Careful with post-processing. Know when to stop! Even go back a couple of steps...
   3) Never forget the importance of some human element in the picture.
   4) I overdo weird angles in my pictures... because I love them!
   5) Don't zoom so much that you can't see what the subject actually is.

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