The Making of "Bordeaux - Pont de pierre"

How the winning photo of the "Bridges" contest was made

By Christophe in Photo Contests on Aug 27, 2023

"Bordeaux - Pont de Pierre"

First of all, I would like to thank all the people who participated in the contest and I'm a especially very grateful to the people who voted for my picture. There was a lot of really amazing pictures and I never thought I could win this contest. This is a great honour for me because it has been a long time since I've been reading and this is only the second time that I have sent a picture to a monthly contest.

Now let's talk about the picture.
I was looking for a shot of this bridge for a while but this place is generally crowded so I chose a night in March 2018 when the cold can help me to obtain a picture without too many people or cars moving by.

I wandered a while from one side to the other to get a good shot of the arches of the bridge with the best background possible. I finally decided to be slightly shifted from the axis of the bridge and zoom to place the tower of Saint Michel in the background so as to add some extra features to look at.

I used a tripod (Manfrotto) with my K-1 and the D-FA 24-70mm F2.8 which I used stopped down to F8 with an exposure time of 6s and ISO 200. The tricky point with this picture was at the same time to get a good exposure of the highlights where the spotlights were headed and the shadows under the arches. In this particular case, the HDR mode of the K1 is very useful. My goal was to have a picture where the highlights were preserved and with enough signal in the shadows that I could get back the shadow detail in post-processing. I had to take multiple pictures in manual mode and try different settings in order to get the correct exposure. If I had to take this picture now, I would definitely choose a longer exposure time so the light trails in the water would be smoother.

I'm really sorry that I didn't keep the original picture but the picture below will give you a good idea of the shots I took before I took the picture I submitted.

I didn't know at the time that I would love the black and white tones, I was more looking to take some panoramas. I especially liked the 2:3 and 1:3 ratios:

Pano 1

Pano 2

The post processing was done in Lightroom :

  • lens correction,
  • white balance correction (as nothing is white in the city at night, I chose the settings that kept the colours as naturals as possible but I tend to keep a warm tone with a little boost in yellow)
  • the whites and the highlights are decreased to keep some details in the highlights
  • on the contrary, the blacks and the shadows are pushed to get back the details in the arches and in the buildings in the background. As the ISO is low, the shadows can be pushed without adding too much noise.

At first I wanted to keep the colors as I like the warm tones of the bricks from the bridge, but the different lightings on the bridge and on the buildings made it disturbing to look at, so I chose to turn to black and white. I don't remember which presets I used but I chose the one which kept the contrasts and the details in the arches.

The completion of the processing was standard: a small addition of clarity, sharpness and saturation.

Once again I would like to thank all the participants of the forum for their inspiring pictures and voting. I'd also like to thank all the administrators and all the people who take their personal time to make this forum such interesting and active.

Thank you,

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