People really seem to be intrigued by what is happening in this image and mostly stunned that it was in fact taken in Paris.
This image is from one of the photowalks I used to organize, I wanted to explore the city with other eager photographers so I started a weekly photo walk. It was fun for one summer and some of my best images in my portfolio were taken during those walks.
When I captured this image the walk was focused in the Bercy area of Paris, it was midday with harsh sunlight, which meant all the shadows would have sharp edges and any white areas could be blown out or lack detail when photographed. The photowalks would meet in an area and just walk wherever inspiration led us. It was a small group and I prefered it that way because it was a small dedicated group and the other members were like me, not very chatty and focused on being in the moment.
On this particular walk we had planned to walk around the Bercy area of Paris, one that I did not know very well, and wanted to go explore. It was very different from what you found in your everyday parisian landscape. The buildings were tall, modern and built around a deck motif. All wooden planked walkways that opened into a big geometric square, full of lines and reflections.
A perfect place to practice strong and creative compositions, a photographer's playground filled with all of the elements one can want for: leading lines, triangles, squares, curves, repetition, shadow and light, movement and stillness, you name it and it was there at your beckon call.
We continued from the Bibliotheque Francois Mitterrand and walked over a curved, wooden bi-level bridge that connected with the near by park. Once you entered, you were at the foot of a water fountain leading down further into the park, on either side were stairs.
We went down the stairs and all silently decided to play with the movement of the water as it came running down the slope of the fountaine. So we unpacked our gear and started playing without tripods, ND filters and shutter remotes.
It was a fun experiment as those things always tend to be, and we stayed for quite awhile as we were playing with long exposures of 10, 20 and 30 second shutter speeds. As I mentioned it was midday and the light was quite strong; I was the first to give up on the water series, I wasn't getting anything that pleased me and began to get bored with it all. As the other two members continued their water trials I started to look else where and explored the near by surroundings.
There were people picnicking on the grass in front of us, teens skateboarding in the far back, groups working out, dogs running for various objects thrown by their human companions; A plethora of things to photograph.
We had been walking in the sun for nearly two hours and I think fatigue was creeping in on all of us and it would soon be time to end this walk. So i never ventured away from the group and into the possibilities in front of me. Not wanting to rush or intrude on the creativity of the group, I just rested and watched as the others tried to create an interesting image.
But I kept my eyes open and looked up at the top of the fountain where I could see people who just entered the park do as we did when we first arrived. Stand on the ledge and survey the area around them. I started taking interest in the comings and goings of these people and picked my camera back up and started documenting the visitors.
As I did three nuns had unexpectedly appeared and spent some time just on the edge of the fountain, I honestly can't tell you why they were there or even how they were sitting from my angle, as there was no public seating situated in that area. I took a few shoots and finally they fell into this pattern, together but separated by their own thoughts.
At that second I had a choice, to either jump back onto my tripod and try to capture the moment with a slow shutter speed to make the water smooth and soft or to catch the harsh moment of it. I decided for the later because of the clouds overhead. they looked a bit ragged and uneven and I liked the juxtaposition of the unruly elements surrounding these still and reflective nuns.
At the angle I was in I was shooting up into the raging sun, luckily the clouds had paused overhead just in time to give me a little covering and allowing me to get this semi-silhouette effect.
Even though I created this image, it still intrigues me. There’s so much about it I don't know, why were they there, where were they from, what were they thinking, and what were they sitting on?
I like not knowing these answers, it keeps the me and viewer interacting with the image, trying to fill in the blanks of this unfinished story.
Focal Length: 75mm
Time: 1/100 sec