The Arc De Triomphe is located just north of the Eiffel Tower and east of La Défense (downtown district) of Paris, France. I knew that I was going to visit the Arc De Triomphe and try and capture an image of the Eiffel Tower at night but I needed to do some research so I can maximize my time while at the Arc De Triomphe and while staying in Paris. I knew that the Arc De Triomphe could offer some great views of Paris but the south view looking towards the Eiffel Tower (pictured above) and the west view looking towards the La Défense are the most powerful, still all the sides offer a great view of the city. I planned to arrive about 1.5 hours before to get the blue hour, this should leave me enough time to wait in line, walk up the stairs, find the right spot, and wait for the light to get just right.
So I had a plan and well… Everything went wrong. My wife and I ended up spending more time at the River bank of the Seine looking out at the Eiffel Tower at sunset (extra time well spent). So after watching the sunset, we hopped in a cab and went straight up to the Arc De Triomphe. Once we arrive at the roundabout, we realize that there was no way to cross the intersection to get to the base of the Arc De Triomphe. We looked around a little bit and realize that the entrance was down in the subway. Once you navigate and walk up some stairs you will arrive at the base, one of the pillars has a little window that you can buy tickets and walk up the stairs. The fee is €9.50 for adults and the climb up the stairs take about 10 minutes. Once you get to the top floors, it opens up to a large opening where they have some historical items along with some info you can read, PLUS some free restrooms. Next you’ll be going up two more flights of stairs to get to the last platform, the roof.
Once on the roof you’ll find that it is quite open and has a lot of flat spots for you to set up a mini tripod. I’m not quite sure if you could set up a large tripod but the tabletop one works just fine. We did arrive at the end part of the day so the crowd was not that bad. I imagine at sunset or in the peak time of the day this would be a little bit busier but a nighttime view is quite amazing. We walked around The roof top a little bit to see all the views this place has to offer, and then I proceeded to the south side of the building to set up for the lights of the Eiffel Tower. I wanted to use the lines of the roads and a foreground subject and have that leading to the Eiffel Tower for the middle and background. The lights of the Eiffel Tower does a light show every hour so I knew what time I needed to set up and what time the lights came on. The hard part was waiting for the people to kindly move so I could set up on a flat spot and be ready for the lights.
I knew I’d be doing a fair amount of blending to make this image look and feel the way I see but I had a plan on what I need to capture to make this work. So I proceeded to take 3-bracketed images of the scene to get a base layer of my HDR (high dynamic range). I shot a -2/0/+2 to capture the full spectrum of light. I also knew from shooting the Eiffel Tower that week, with the rotating light I would need a faster shutter speed to capture it correctly and stop it in one place in the sky. I lowered the shutter speed down to ½ second by just adjusting my Aperture down to F4 and raising my ISO 400. To capture the twinkle pattern of the Eiffel Tower I’d have to experiment while the light show was happening. I would later blend all these images together to create the final image that you see.
CAMERA SETTINGS / IMAGE INFO
The hard part is to separate the rotating light out of the sky while trying to keep the sky color the same. After a little bit of work, I was able to make a clean transition from one exposure to the other and am pleased with the look. I know that ISO 400 is not that high but I wanted the clouds and the color I got in the +2 image.
No. of Exposures: 5 images
EV Range: -2, 0, +2
Aperture: F/8 & F/4
Focal Length: 17mm
Lens: Canon 17-40 F/4
Camera: Sony A7R
Software: LR5, PS6, Nik Color Efex, onOne.
So that is how this image came about, If you have any questions about the area and how i captured this image, Please feel free to ask in the comments below.