Paris: Place de la Concorde at Night

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Fontaine de la Concorde at Night

The Place de la Concorde is the largest square in Paris and is best known for its obelisk with the golden tip.  But the obelisk is flanked on the north and south by a pair of ornate fountains and I have been trying to get a decent picture of one of them for seven years, ever since I first saw them.  It’s always been something:  fountains turned off, lights turned off, lousy light, etc.  In fact, when I came here late yesterday afternoon, it looked like  it might be a repetition of the same story.   The south fountain was both dry and dark.  But the north fountain was running.  Now, I only had to wait and hope they would turn the lights on when it got dark.

Fortunately, they did and the image above is the result.  The building in the background  is the Hotel de Crillon which apparently is being renovated.  The brightly colored design is actually a scrim to hide the unsightly construction work.  In the past, these scrims were graphic designs, often a replication of the structure being repaired, but now the French have taken the opportunity to help finance their renovation projects by renting the scrims as advertising billboards.  In this case, the company is Swatch.

The photograph is another photomerge (two images), primarily because my chosen shooting location (to block out some unwanted objects) put me a little too close to get it all in one shot.  (Technical Data: Nikon 800E on tripod with 24-70mm f/2.8 lens set at 24mm. Exposure: 5 secs. @ f/16, EV= -1.33, ISO 200)

24 thoughts on “Paris: Place de la Concorde at Night

    • Thanks, Ben. Yes. I was pretty happy with the way this one turned out. I’ve been struck by the absence of other photographers (excluding tourists using smart-phones and tablets) in this city. There were 4-5 at the fountain when I showed up, but they were gone before the light got really good. At the peak moment, there was only one other fellow with a tripod and he was also from the U.S.

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      • That’s odd, as I would have thought Paris would be really popular with photographers! Definitely one of the most photogenic cities in Europe. I have to say I very rarely see people about with a tripod. Maybe I’m just not looking out for them, but they do seem scarce.

        Here in Geneva I have never seen anyone else by the fantastic lake. I guess there could be some other amazing spots that I haven’t discovered yet!

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      • I don’t know either. In Washington DC, it seems like the tripods are there when a moonrise is going to be in an interesting spot, probably due to those apps that tell you where to be. I was at the Pont Alexander III this evening and there was what seemed to be a workshop going on–about 6 shooters with tripods. That is the most I’ve seen here.

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    • Thanks very much. I appreciate your comments. The multiple image technique sometimes can be used to exclude tourists that don’t add to the scene and at other times when backing up any more would place you in heavy traffic. The slow speed has a lot of benefits: it enables greater depth of field, gives a nice feel to the movement of the water, and if you use f/16, it produces that star effect with bright lights.

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  1. I loved these fountains and he Place de la Concorde during our trip to Paris last year. Our hotel on Rue de la Paix was just a few blocks from here and we walked by here frequently. Your image is another spectacular shot, Robin. I hope you do a Paris At Night suite when you get back.

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  2. I was really looking forward to your Paris photographs and they have been absolutely magnificent. Absolutely love the water trails and the background car trails in this shot, it forms a sort of ring around the fountain and the absence of people is great! 🙂

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    • Thanks very much Manai. I appreciate your thoughts very much. Removing the people sometimes is difficult, but it wasn’t too bad in this case. I recall one time where a 2-image shot would have been enough with a wide angle (35mm) lens, but there were so many people coming and going that I ended up using a telephoto lens and shot 17 small sections and then put it all together. My poor computer had to work hard on that one.

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      • Thanks for the tip, usually I try and wait it out to find an opportune time when no one is in the shot (although that rarely happens) so I will definitely try this technique. And 17 photos is indeed a lot, I doubt my computer could handle that!

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  3. These photos are exquisite, esp. the Fontaine de la Concorde and the Eiffel Tower shots. I do have a question. Where did you get that 70-2000mm f 2.8 zoom {wink wink}? It must be huge! Looks like you are having loads of fun in France.

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    • Thanks, Don. I bought the 70-200 from Penn Camera (now bankrupt) a few years back. It is pretty large, but nothing like the 300mm f/2.8 fixed length monster I bought used many years ago. That beast weighs 7 pounds and it doesn’t go on trips out of town.

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  4. I got back from Paris a couple of weeks ago and was not happy because the second fountain is dry. I was in Paris two years ago and the fountain was dry also. Why do you think that they haven’t fixed it. The sight with both fountains is so gorgeous 1 Your photo is very beautiful. How much more beautiful it would look if both fountains were working ! Don’t you agree ? Wish I knew who to write to in Paris about this !!!

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    • Hi Annette, thanks for your comments. I understand your frustration about going to Paris and finding some of the key sights not working, under renovation, or just not turned on. I don’t know who to contact about this, but I can also understand why these things happen. France is going through some difficult economic times. Living in the Washington DC area, my prime photo subjects are the major sights of the city. Yet in the past 15 years there has been no time when all of the major sights have been “photo-ready.” Renovation projects typically take 2 years or more and in recent years I have waited this long for places such as the Reflection Pool, the Washington Monument, the Bartholdi Fountain, the Supreme Court, and others to be repaired. At present, the National Cathedral, lacking the necessary funds, is likely to be under repair for another 3-5 years following the 2011 earthquake. The US Capitol is beginning a major repair of the dome which will take several years, Union Station has at least another year to go on its renovation and there are no plans to repair the once-magnificent Columbus Fountain on the entrance plaza which has not worked since I began shooting the city back in 2001. The Old Post Office, a subject of an earlier post, is now closed for a renovation that will take a few years and there is no guarantee that the outcome will be positive given the fact that the Trump organization is now the lease holder. So my philosophy has been to figure out what is available and work hard to get good pictures of those places. While you saw a number of successful results on my blog, I didn’t post the failures and there were more than few. I have tried on at least 4 separate trips to get a great shot of the fountains at Trocadero and have yet to succeed. But the positive aspect is that it gives me an excuse to go back and try again. At any rate, thanks for your feedback and I hope you will be a frequent visitor to my blog. If you ever plan a visit to Washington,let me know in advance and I can help you get to the “photo-ready” spots when you are in town.

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      • Thank you so much, Robin, for your extensive reply ! I know that there are some good reasons why things don’t get fixed; yet there always seems to be money for pay raises for the “big shots” in government and corporate life. But I don’t want to spend time talking about that because that is so very depressing. I just remembered, because of how you replied to me, that the fountains at Trocadero are not working either ! I had forgotten how unhappy I was when I saw that they were not on. I wish I knew who to write to. It might not help but it certainly could not hurt to try to “pester’ the French authorities at little ! Again, thank you for your reply and I want to compliment you once more on your spectacular photograph of the one fountain at the Place de la Concorde.

        Best regards,

        Annette

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      • Hi, Annette: Thanks very much for your reply. The Trocadero fountains (which I recently learned are actually named the Warsaw Fountain-but no one calls them that) seem to be random as to when they are on. On this last trip they were running, including the cannons, on the evening I rode the bus over to the Eiffel Tower for a twilight shooting session. By the time I got to my vantage point the majority of the jets and the cannons had been turned off. I then went over to Trocadero a night or so later and the big cannons were on, but were shut off before I had a chance to take more than a couple shots. I tried again the following morning about 9 AM and nothing was turned on. I did some checking on the web, but found nothing that gave any specific information. For what it’s worth, the fountains at Versailles have a very reliable schedule for their special musical programs, but it’s like any scheduled paid-for performance–surrounded by a big audience. Anyway, it occurred to me that one place you might want to contact is the central Paris Tourist Office. Their web site is parisinfo.com and way down at the bottom in tiny type is a “Contact US” link. Here is the URL: http://en.parisinfo.com/footer/full/98376. Just go to the main site if this link doesn’t work. And if you get any kind of response, let me know and I’ll do the same.

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      • I just wrote to the “parisinfo”. As soon as I hear from them I will write back to you. As far as the Trocadero fountains, sometimes people say they are trying to save money ! I only mentioned the fountain at Place de la Concorde in my e-mail to parisinfo. I hope I will be writing back to you very soon. Annette P.S. Thanks for your lengthy answer.

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      • Sounds great. I hope they are responsive. And thanks for the “Follow.” Now that I’m back home, I’ll be putting up a few more posts on Paris. Things got pretty hectic towards the end so wasn’t able to post as often as I would have liked.

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      • Robin, Paris is my favorite city in the whole world, and I have been all over the world. Every time I go there it is as if I have never been there…..everything is so beautiful to me. So I will be looking for more photos soon.
        Annette

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