When every other inch of Paris seems bathed in light, the rails exiting Gare Montparnasse make for an odd dark vein through the cityscape.
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.
Though additional cemeteries in Paris were banned in the late 18th century, the Montparnasse Cemetery was opened in 1824 because the area had not yet been incorporated into the city. Today, it’s an odd dark space in the otherwise bright city. The idea of adjacent blocks belonging to graves and apartments has a polite kind of symmetry.
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.
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.