Creation through emulation
Sometimes you see a photograph where the elements of composition really leap out at you. A photograph of the Eiffel Tower is displayed in the foyer of my workplace - not altogether surprising for a company based in Paris - and it has caught my eye for a number of years. I've had the good fortune to travel to France many times for my work, and when the occasion arose again earlier this year, I decided that I'd explore the location for myself.
Tight business schedules usually means that these trips are no holiday. If I am lucky I will have a flight that arrives early in the morning, and after more than 24 hours of travel from Australia I am usually keen to spend the rest of the day walking around the city, trying to ward-off jet-lag. No such pressure this time though I was in Vienna the week before for a conference, so I had both days of the weekend to myself.
My plan for this image was to find the exact location on Champ de Mars and emulate the composition, while giving the image my own interpretation. I knew from previous trips that the hedge and lawn were now fenced off, unlike the days when the original was taken, but I thought it wouldn't be a picture-killer. Unfortunately, the unseasonably warm weather was a bit too perfect; with not a cloud in the sky, my composition ended up a bit static. The consolation was that this made up for an error in judgement made before I'd even left home.
I'd recently purchased a small Manfrotto "Befree" travel tripod to take with me, but as this was a longer trip than usual, my bags were already overstuffed with non-photography gear (clothes). At the last minute, I pulled the tripod out of the case, completely forgetting that the composition I was after demands a camera position 4-5 feet off the ground, in the middle of a wide path. This was confirmed when I was on-site, where I soon noticed that moving the camera only small amounts rapidly changed the composition from "working"to "not-working". With no clouds in the sky, the opportunity for a dramatic, people-erasing, long-exposure was not on the cards, so I was happy to wait and make a suitable hand-held shot.
Tourist areas of Paris such as Champ de Mars are busy almost all year-around, and weekends doubly so. I had to wait for ages until several teams of shell-game scammers (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shell_game), with their very obvious "fake-tourist" collaborators and meerkat-like lookouts were finally shooed away by gendarmes.
With the paths clear, I finally got an image I was pleased with. I am content to be upfront about the composition not being original, knowing that the exercise of finding the location and then emulating the work of another, along with solving my own particular problems on the day (weather and people), gave me enormous satisfaction. As a learning-to-see exercise, I highly recommend it. Who have you copied today?
*I have searched online, but have been unable to find out who the author is. Perhaps a reader will let me know, and I can make the correct attribution?