Many people dream of a vacation in Paris, and I highly recommend it. If you learn a few words of French, that goes a long way towards building rapport with the locals, and they will be much friendlier (often even switching to English when you stumble). One fantastic monument that everyone visits is the Eiffel Tower (la Tour Eiffel, en Francais). But what you might not see in the travel guides is the recommendation to visit the Eiffel Tower at night.
First off, every so often (15 minutes?), the normally well-lit tower flashes with hundreds of strobe lights. This photo is handheld, hence the high ISO (and high ISO performs better on the Nikon D90 than on many other cameras):
The lines are shorter at night, so you probably won’t have to wait so long. See the official site link at the bottom of the article to double-check opening times before you go, to make sure you aren’t too late arriving. Here’s a view from the lower deck, where the first elevator stops. Interesting story: I recreated this from a picture I took in 1999 on my Canon EOS Rebel film camera. Sadly, I lost the negative of that photo and have only a print… so I decided to come as close as possible to the original photo with my Nikon D90. Mission accomplished!
Next up is a view along the Seine from the upper deck. Here I used a very long shutter speed to get the trails of car headlights. In order to avoid overexposure, I set a high f/stop.
The final shot is another favorite, recreating another shot I did long ago with my film camera. This was also a long exposure, though not as long as the river shot.
You might ask how I kept the camera so still. I don’t know how a normal tripod would do at the Eiffel Tower — there are a lot of people walking around vibrating the floor, and there isn’t much space. So I used a mini-tripod grip which I bought with that Canon Rebel long ago. There is a small wooden plank running all the way around the viewing balconies where you can set a mini-tripod. Just aim the lens between the spaces in the security fencing.
If you have a remote trigger for the camera, or use a short timer, you’ll avoid camera shake caused by your finger on the shutter. After taking each shot, view it on the camera’s LCD and zoom in on a distant point of light to make sure it’s really a tiny circle. If it’s a line or squiggle, that means there were vibrations from the tower or from you; delete and re-shoot. I did this many times.
In case you do visit the Eiffel Tower at night, I’d be interested to see your shots! Have a good trip, and happy shooting!
Official site: Eiffel Tower
Link to buy the D90 on Amazon (help a freelance writer make a few bucks):
Nikon D90 DX 12.3MP Digital SLR Camera with 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6G ED AF-S VR DX Nikkor Zoom Lens