Cour Napoleon

Cour Napoleon, The Louvre, Paris

[Update: By popular demand I cropped the original image (which is now at the bottom of the post) to remove the railing.  Once I did that crop, I really felt like the fountain was too close to the edge of the frame so I cropped that out too.  Hated to lose it, but it needed to go.  I also used Lightroom’s healing brush to get rid of a few heads and such which were on the edge of the frame due to the crop.  Finally, I cropped out the top of the sky to get an aspect ratio I liked and added a touch of vignette.  If I were reworking this image I’d probably do some cloning in the sky to make it “fit” better on the edges of the frame but I’m not going to go through that effort for this shot.  Thanks everyone for the input!]

My wife and I are planning a trip this summer with three of our older girls.  We haven’t settled on a destination yet but in the process of thinking about  the upcoming trip I couldn’t help but reminisce about our trip to Paris two years ago.  I would happily go to Paris again — so many things I didn’t get to see last time (and so many I’d like to see again).

I took the shot above (an HDR processed from three handheld exposures) on our first day in Paris.  This one is almost impressionist in feel.  The edges are soft and I only partially masked in some of the ghosted people from the various exposure.  It would be unacceptable as a print but makes a nice, moody image when viewed at the appropriate size (smallish).

Cour Napoleon, Paris

11 responses

  1. brianhawley365

    you should do the “HDR” yourself in photoshop. make 3 masks 1 for the ground (the people) 1 for the building and 1 for the sky. then you will have the same picture, but it will look much better IMO. then you could make a 40 inch print with the people all clear.

    April 3, 2012 at 10:29 pm

    • Thanks for the input — you’re right depending on the look one is going for. I typically do all sorts of masking (see theses images — one a manual HDR like you suggest doing and one an actual tone mapped image: and but I wasn’t really going for the clean look in this one and actually liked the feel of it. If I were, I might actually mask a bit differently than you suggest though. For the people, ground, and maybe the building I’d start with a layer containing the brightest exposure (i.e. fastest shutter speed) which has the least motion, bring the exposure down to “normal” relative to the scene, then mask that in. The reason I’d use the same exposure for the building is that there aren’t really any blown highlights (or shadows that I’m attempting to eliminate) so it should be the proper relative exposure with the ground and people. Again, it would depend on how I wanted it to look overall and there are several legitimate paths to get there. The sky would get treated differently for sure. On top of that I typically do any number of local adjustments with masked curves…until I force myself to stop tweaking 🙂

      April 3, 2012 at 11:13 pm

      • Replying to my own comment (rather than editing)…it would have been obvious once I started the photoshop edit — should’ve said I’d used the darkest frame, bringing the exposure *up*. Duh…

        April 4, 2012 at 8:40 am

  2. Incredible photo! A breath of fresh air to see it from this perspective rather than the endless shots of the pyramid head-on (of which I’m also guilty). Paris is definitely worth multiple trips; I’ve been here for a year and a half now and I’m still constantly surprised with the new stuff I find!

    April 4, 2012 at 5:26 am

  3. Ian Beattie

    I like the moody feel of this shot. Haven’t made up my mind if I like the portion of balcony in the bottom left or not. It gives perspective as to where the shot is taken from which I like but at the same time I find it distracts from the rest of the picture. Maybe you have 2 shots here, the touristy/street photography one with the balcony and the clean fine art pano without it. That’s it, my thought for the day, I can relax now 🙂

    April 4, 2012 at 6:29 am

    • I agree — the rail is kind of a distraction. To be honest I hadn’t thought of cropping to a pano aspect ratio on this one but that may just work. I had thought that if I were back in the same spot I’d actually step back to get MORE of the window and rail to make it an integral part of the picture (can’t remember enough about the interior to know if that would work though). Shortly after we returned from Paris I wrote a post about how the trip was absolutely non-photography-focused (it was husband/wife focused) and as a result I spent very little time evaluating scenes before the shot — and I was a fairly new at photography to boot — and the casualties consist of things like rails in the frame 😦

      April 4, 2012 at 8:33 am

  4. Photography is a continual learning process. The image look great and works excellently as a mood piece. I’m sure you’re wife appreciates that the trip focused more on her than on your photography. Keep up the good snaps. Cheers.

    April 4, 2012 at 1:09 pm

  5. Nice work Michael, I can criticize my own shots, I see something I should have done different in every one, maybe I am too critical on myself who knows. I like this one though, the clouds are very dramatic. I probably would have cropped that railing out at the bottom, but thats just me and please dont take that as a critical comment, cause I really like the mood of this shot and would love to go there. Well done!

    April 4, 2012 at 7:45 pm

    • Shoot — no offense taken in the least. As I mentioned in one of the above comments, I was being very narrow-minded and only ever considered what I’d ADD to the frame as opposed to cropping things out. In general I’m not the least bit shy about cropping — I’m always making a conscious choice about what to leave in the frame — but in this one it just didn’t seem like an option for some reason.

      April 4, 2012 at 8:55 pm

  6. Alright, I’ve updated the post with a cropped and slightly edited version of the image. Hope you all like it better!

    April 4, 2012 at 8:57 pm

  7. Wow, this is expansive. While the tonality varies, there seems to be a slight commonality that really ties this all together. Intense mood and absolutely love it.

    April 5, 2012 at 11:42 pm

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