This photo of Notre-Dame de Paris and Île de la Cité reflecting in the Seine river at sunrise is among the hardest ones I’ve managed to take since I started photography. It has taught me that tenacity is a key competence to get if you want to improve in landscape photography.
I’ve had this scenery in mind for almost 4 months now. I’ve made a lot of photos of Notre-Dame in the past, but surprisingly, I had never taken a picture of it in this configuration. The idea came to my mind while I was skimming Flickr photos on an evening, and thought I should try to take a picture of Notre-Dame reflecting in the Seine river at sunrise from Quai de l’Hôtel de Ville.
Unfortunately, the picture I had in my mind had two conditions that never met in the last 4 months : sunny morning, and reflections in the Seine river, which meant no riverboat should have sailed on the water for the past 2 hours.
With the sun rising up a minute later everyday, which increased the probability of a riverboat sailing on the river before sunrise, I had almost given up on taking the picture of my dreams, until one evening, as I was skimming Instagram photos on my mobile phone, I saw some beautiful photos of reflections on the Seine river that I thought were almost impossible to witness in Fall season. This prompted me give it a chance the following morning.
When I arrived on the banks of the Seine River at around 7:45 am , I was amazed, and thrilled, at what I had before my eyes : the picture I had been chasing for so long was no longer a dream but reality, ready to be taken into picture. I immediately took my camera out of my bag, set it on my tripod and shot the scenery multiple times.
After around 10 shots, I fortunately realised I had forgotten to set ISO to 100 : I was shooting at ISO 3200 ! This taught me another lesson : always check your camera settings before leaving home. I immediately set my camera at ISO 100, then proceeded with shooting the whole scenery again, right when the first rays of sunshine were reaching the cathedral and the surrounding buildings, giving them a golden hue. Finally ready for the perfect moment !
The result of this epic photo session is this one photo* that exactly matches what I had in my mind in the first place. But the most important part is the journey that led me to take this picture, and the lessons I’ve learnt : be tenacious, and be ready for when the moment comes.
*I used a Nex 6 with a Zeiss 24f1.8 set at ISO 100, f6.3 and 10 sec exposure time (I used a ND400 filter). The final picture is made of 5 vertical pictures stitched together and processed with Adobe Lightroom.