Photographing Statues At The Arc de Triomphe, Paris

A particularly heroic scene depicted in a statue at the base of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France

On my fist day photographing in Paris I took a walk from my hotel down to the Arc de Triomphe. I'd had a very hectic year and the Paris visit was both a precursor to a much bigger adventure and also an opportunity to see one of the world’s great cities.

Having never been to Paris my plan was to spend the time having a look around and taking a bit of a break prior to the rigors of an upcoming trip to Iceland and Greenland. I had no expectations of making amazing images and new that arriving in the city of light, during the middle of peak tourist season, was going to make photography at the most touristed locations problematic.

Beware Of Con Artists

I enjoyed the walk down to the Arc de Triomphe. It was a warm sunny day and a pleasant change from the Melbourne winter I’d left behind. Fortunately I'd been prepared for a range of tricks by con artists, whom I'd  been told were gypsies, along the route trying to elicit money from unsuspecting tourists.

There was the donate to the Albanian Orphaned Children's Fund, which I otherwise would have gladly donated to, and the "is this your watch I've just found on the street" scam. Apparently, before you known it, the watch is handed to you for inspection and, almost immediately another person comes forward and claims you must have stolen their watch. You are then, apparently, pushed for money to prevent the matter from escalating into violence.

Anyway, keeping my camera gear safely packed away I just kept moving while laughing them off. They new I was on to them and was not going to be drawn into the game and so, somewhat sheepishly, let me pass. I had four such interactions over about a 1 km walk with the final one only around 100 meters away from the Arc de Triomphe.

A striking black and white photo featuring a classic view of city living, as seen from the top of the Arc de Triomphe, in Paris, France

Overview From The Arc de Triomphe

Despite the fact that there were literally hundreds of people at the attraction, many of whom were in a queue to climb the staircase to the top, I very much enjoyed my time there. I started by photographing the structure, both front and back, from across the street, prior to taking the subway to the entrance just underneath the complex.

Next I moved around the structure, photographing the various statues and then joined the queue for the climb to the top. The reward for ascending the spiral staircase is a surprising large space to walk around that offers 360-degree views.

I was drawn to the scene at the top of this post by the emotive and life-like nature of the figures. I find the humanity displayed to be compelling and very much about the Human Condition.

It is, after all, at times of greatest adversity, that the most fundamental human emotions are displayed, pure and unadulterated.

I employed a Canon 70-200mm f/4 IS L series lens, at 121mm, to isolate the statues from their surrounds so that they now seem to exist in a world and time separate from those surroundings.

The higher magnification of the lens caused me to stand some distance away from the structure. Now here's an important point. The further back you stand the more the problems with perspective, associated with photographing upwards towards the structure, are diminished. Image processing was conducted in Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop.

Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru