My favorite part of a huge cityscape view is the way the tiny details of buildings (windows, lights, roofs) slowly become less and less distinct as you look farther away. I was inspired to get a “real” camera all those years ago in part from a desire to takes pictures that gave the viewer a feeling of being able to “zoom forever” and always see more detail.
Even as a slightly abstract bokeh, the shape of the Eiffel Tower is so iconic as to be (nearly) unmistakable. Given the origin of the word “bokeh,” perhaps the Tokyo Tower has a better claim on being the iconic delta-shaped bokeh building.
After nightfall, the Eiffel Tower puts on an hourly strobe light show that transforms the tower into a sparkly pillar in the city skyline. Much as a flash can brighten a photograph, this effect also means that long-exposure photographs of the tower make it the brightest object in the skyline by an order of magnitude.
There’s that perfect moment when the sky is still blue but the oranges of sodium vapor lamps begin to scatter from the surfaces of the clouds and the Eiffel Tower looks particularly otherworldly. When so many American cities have switched to lighting their streets with white LED lights, I was surprised at how much of Paris is still lit by sodium lamps.
A Parisian cliché says that the best view of the city comes from the top of the Tour Montparnasse—because it’s the only shot in which the enormous tower can’t be seen. My trip to Paris last week didn’t give me the time to establish that definitively, but I can certainly attest that the city looks fantastic from the deck. Cityscapes like this were what originally inspired me to get into HDR photography a decade ago, and they still fascinate me now.