"Traffic" An aerial view of Quai Branly from the Eifel Tower, Paris by John Reyment

"Traffic" An aerial view of Quai Branly from the Eifel Tower, Paris by John Reyment

Seeing a fabulous photograph is always a delight, but wouldn’t it be great to know the situation, place and thoughts of the photographer as they captured the image. Our weekly post “The Story Behind the Image” shares exactly this, plus some technical info for photographers.

The image above is of Quai Branly and was shot from the top level of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. This image caused an exciting debate and discussion during judging at the judging of the 2010 Epson Queensland Professional Photography Awards. Scoring “Gold with Distinction”, this image is now affectionately known as “Traffic”, it contributed to me winning the 2010 Epson Queensland Documentary Photographer of the Year Award.

Like many thousands of visitors to Paris, we went to The Eiffel Tower late in the day to enjoy the view from atop this magnificent landmark. And yes, there were thousands of people climbing the Eiffel Tower this warm August evening. Patience is a virtue, especially when there are so many tourists with cameras, and iphones wanting to photograph the view in front of you.

With the sunset just over an hour away, I could see the shadows lengthening. Facing Pont d’Iéna and looking down over Quai Branly, I watched the traffic flow for a couple of light changes. “There is an image here” I said to myself, “this is the Big Story”. In my mind, I saw a story of organised chaos unfolding directly below me. Stretching over the railing and watching through my camera, I watched the traffic flow. A test exposure; excellent, just right. Now wait for the moment, here it is I click when the car on the top right corner crossed the intersection. Got it, I move away from the railing and return to my family to watch the sunset.

Downloading the images from this shoot was a moment of anticipation, I was pretty sure I had a great image. When processing the raw image in Lightroom, very little was needed. Minor corrections for exposure, black and white conversion and a little cropping was all that was needed. When preparing images for photography awards, it is very important to look at all of the elements in an image and be clear about what should be in and what should be out. Each element must have a purpose and a relationship with another.

To me, “Traffic” has so many elements working together. I love this image; it is now a 6 foot canvas in my studio. The structure and interplay between painted lines, pedestrians, bicyclists, bus and cars, the shadows, it all comes together beautifully. Captured in just one image, “Traffic” shows how important “seeing” an image is when creating an image. For those travelling to popular tourist destinations or icons, when surrounded by so many other “photographers”, always look for the different. Watch what others are doing and deliberately try a different approach, you may just surprise yourself with what you see.

For those who like tech stuff, the technical details are:

Canon EOS 5D

Lens EF 70-200 2.8L IS

Focal length 200mm

Manual mode, natural light, ISO 125, 1/100 sec, f 8.0

Time of Capture 7.59pm

Please feel free to leave your comments; we look forward to your feedback