Notre Dame, Improvements and Progress

5 min read

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kuschelirmel's avatar
Progress is a strange thing. It can be so incremental that you don't realize you are making it :giggle:

I've been looking through some old pictures I took these past 10 or so years since I've had a DSLR, particularly to see if there was something I would like to put up as exclusive stock for my upcoming contest (over at @kuschelirmel-stock - it'll start this weekend! :w00t: ). I stumbled upon our visits to Paris, where I found my Notre Dame pictures. I uploaded three here into my gallery (as well as making them available part of an exclusive stock pack - coming soon!):

Notre Dame 03
Notre Dame 02
Notre Dame 01

I still cannot fathom that a lot of it burned down in April 2019 (with no one getting seriously injured). It was one of my favorite places to visit in Paris; even with all the tourists inside, it felt super divine to be there.

Notre Dame

On a side note, despite large donations, the 2024 date set by French president Emmanuel Macron is seen as an impossible time frame, and especially so after the announcement in July 2020 that the church will be rebuilt historically accurate (instead of with a glass roof which I would honestly have loved to see). It is not just going to cost a lot of money, but also require very specialized skills that may be hard to come by, even in a pre-COVID world. For more info see this article.

In Awe

Anyway, nostalgia for a church that was after all just brick and mortar and (unfortunately very flammable) wood aside, I first found some images from 2017 from inside Notre Dame that I had taken with my Nikon D7200 and the wide angle lense I had just bought prior to that trip (I think I used nothing but that one lense when we were there :D ) and found some absolutely stunning images (see the three at the top).

I could have sworn that I had already uploaded some stock images from Notre Dame, but it turns out all I ever uploaded was one print here on my main account (see image above) and one stock image on @kuschelirmel-stock (see image on the right). Both of these were from our 2012 visit, still with the Nikon D90 and the kit lense.

And the stock image... let's just say I would do a lot quite differently these days.

For one, I wasn't paying attention to my ISO settings. I always shoot half-automated, usually choosing aperture (low numbers, i.e. wide open to let the most light in) and ISO and letting the camera pick the shutter speed ("A" mode on my Nikon). The problem with this method for me used to be that I would wander through an amazing church and forget to think about regularly checking the combination chosen. In daylight this method works great, since you can just pick one (low) ISO and stick with it, but in a dimly lit church, not so much.

To make sure that your images are sharp even when not using a tripod (forbidden inside most tourist sites), you need a shutter speed shorter than 1/30 s (sometimes you need even a little faster, sometimes a little slower is also ok - depending on the stabilizer of your camera and how shaky you are in a given situation). And you usually cannot tell if it is blurry or not on the back screen (unless you zoom in). So for the 2012 pictures, I ended up with a lot (!) of blurry ones. And this one is actually also a bit on the blurry side (ISO 400 and shutter speed 1/6 s, it was just luck that it was not more blurry).

Another side note: why don't I just fix the shutter speed instead of the aperture? Because I want the aperture to be as wide open as possible to let the maximum amount of light in. The ISO can only be changed manually if you want decent results. My camera will sometimes randomly increase the ISO when shooting fully manual and close the aperture at the same time while often still not getting a short enough shutter speed for handheld. If your ISO is much higher than you need it you will end up with lots of noise in your image.

And the second thing is that I have learned a lot about how I want my images processed. I say "I want processed" on purpose because a great part of it is aesthetics preferences which change with time. But then again, for me the stock image is way too dark overall - especially being a stock image. The shadowy parts are almost black, losing a lot of details and contours are hard to see (always bad when you're trying to cut sth out) while the chandelier shines super bright in contrast.


The funny thing is, without seeing this comparison of the pictures from 2012 and those from 2017, post-processed now, I would not have realized that I had made any progress at all - or I would have dismissed any changes as being just aesthetic preferences changing over time. On top, if I look at the bulk of images I took on these two visits, the takeaway for me is that while the new camera and especially the new lense also make a difference (nothing beats a wide angle lense in such spaces to capture more of what you can see when you are actually standing there in one picture), the bigger difference is in how I handle my gear, camera as well as Lightroom. :w00t:

I hope you are doing ok, despite the new lockdowns happening everywhere :hug:

Hope to see you enter my contest at @kuschelirmel-stock


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