Cartwheels in France

Posted in categories: Churches and monasteries, Europe

Continuing the cartwheels’ subject that I started two days ago. I was travelling with my family by car from Sorede in French Catalunya to Paris. This was the last part of a month long travelling around in France and Italy. During this time the standard family vacation pictures got a bit boring, so I started having my son doing cartwheels instead of the common poses. The idea injected some life into the pictures, but there was also a learning curve which I saw when downloading the pictures to the computer. I wanted to use a slow shutter-speed to inject the illusion of movement into the pictures, and I did not concentrate on holding the camera  steady enough for the background to stay in focus but instead followed the subject with the camera. On top of that I did not plan the shots good enough, so the composition on most pictures did not impress. In most places there were quite a few people walking around as well, so we had to wait for the opportune moment to arrive. Waiting means impatient kids, especially when visiting places that are not most entertaining for children.

So the following lessons were learned:

  1. Have the camera settings ready so you do not need several takes.
  2. Think careful about the composition before starting.
  3. Use either a tripod or concentrate on keeping the camera steady.
  4. If you follow the subject through the movement, think about what it does to the overall composition.
  5. If there is architecture in the background consider the verticals.
  6. When you get it right it looks cool.

I also wanted to use the pictures as a sequence, but did not consider the the different colors of the background. So I had to convert these to black and white, this is not a problem since b/w is kind of a favorite of mine. But my original plan was to use pictures in colors.

The first picture in the sequence (which is the second from the top) is from the path to the Statue de Notre-Dame de France in Le Puy, the statue in itself is an impressive monument on top of the hill overlooking the city. My first take was on the plateau on top. I tried to make the photo with my son taking cartwheels with the view as the background. In retrospect I should have used a wide angle from a low position to get both my son and the statue. On my way down we tried again with the Notre-Dame-de-l’Annonciation du Puy as the background. It worked a whole lot better. This picture is the best of the 15 i took. I especially like the cross on the top left corner of the picture. I am almost satisfied with the composition, I could have taken one step further back to get a bit more of the cross in the picture. The main problem with this second sequence is that the background got less sharp than ideal since I followed the movement with my camera a little to much.

The second photo is better. It is from the main portal of the church facing the city. This church used to function as one of the starting points on the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. Since the church is built in the middle of a steep hill the road and stairs up to it are steep. This meant standing below trying to take photos had have some consequences. The really surprising thing for me on this one was how much extra space you need to correct the verticals when you take photos of architecture uphill.

The third was the easiest. It had been raining buckets and whatnot’s all morning so the area around the Eiffel tower was strangely empty (this was in July). Enough space and by this time I was getting a little bit better at it. The composition is pretty much spot on how I wanted it, but still not the sharpest background.

The fourth photo was taken in front of Notre Dame de Paris and at last I managed to get the sharp fore and background. Of course the problem in the middle of the day at this place is composing, since the place in front of the church is full of people moving everywhere. I could have used more time on a better composition but there were also some slight impatience I had to deal with by that time.

As black and white photos I think they work well together. As a series I am satisfied with the result, and wow how much I learned.


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