The Money Shot: Part Two
A while ago I wrote about how you sometimes have to go for the money shot, the famous view that everyone takes. If you're in Prague in the Czech Republic you could take photos of the Astronomical Clock or the Charles Bridge, but the really big view is of all the bridges over the river Vltava. But it's taken until my third trip to actually nail it.
The problem is the location. I'd seen the view before, but was never sure exactly where it was. After quizzing a local photographer on a previous trip, I discovered it was from an overlook in the elevated Letna Park, and I made careful note of the closest station for my next trip. In the end I didn't need the station at all as it's actually within walking distance of the old town. If you're starting in the Old Town Square, just walk about ten minutes along Parizska, then continue straight over the Czech Bridge. At the end of the bridge you'll see paths leading up to the Prague Metronome. Head upwards and after a few minutes you'll be up in Letna Park. Turn left, walk along for about 50m and you'll come across various openings to the big view of the bridges. Some have a few bushes in the way, but when I visited, there was a small clearing where the foliage had been trimmed for a clear view. Scores of tourists and locals will come and go, but it's easy to find a corner to place a tripod and wait for the perfect light of sunset or sunrise. I reckon the perfect viewing location was less than half an hour's walk from the Astronomical Clock in the Old Town Square. I also felt safe there even when the park became quite dark.
I'm terrible in the mornings, so I took this shortly after Sunset just as the blue hour was beginning. Even though the light wasn't what I had in mind I took a shot every few minutes as you never know how the conditions will change. As darkness approached I expected the bridges to become brightly illuminated, but it never actually happened. Dim lamps came on, but nothing dramatic. I kept shooting, but I never saw the view I expected. As the blue sky faded into blackness, I knew my chance had gone, so I reviewed the images I'd taken and found that those just after sunset looked the best. The moral here is to always keep shooting just in case the conditions you're expecting never happen - it may be that the best you'll get are right at the beginning of a session.
As for the technical side, I knew the view would be fairly distant and would need a longer lens. I shot this with the Sony A7r Mark II and FE 70-200mm f4G OSS at 182mm. I wanted a long exposure to blur the water, but without an ND filter that fitted the lens, I was forced to choose the lowest ISO value and as small an aperture as I dared (to avoid diffraction). So here the metered exposure at 50 ISO and f11 was 25 seconds. The result was slightly underexposed so, unusually for me, I've taken the RAW file and boosted the exposure a little, while also adding a tad of clarity and saturation. I also retrieved a little highlight detail from the brightly-lit tower on the left. No significant adjustments though as I like to keep things natural and in-camera.
While I was a little disappointed the bridges weren't illuminated the way I expected, I was still very happy with this shot. Sure, almost every visitor to Prague has the same view, but it doesn't mean it's not worth capturing for yourself.
I've been adding photos in Prague to my Sony A7r II samples page at the link below!#SonyAlphahttp://www.cameralabs.com/reviews/Sony_Alpha_A7r_II/