Prague Light Bulb 1





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6 Comments | Report
edandaniphone PRO+
edandaniphone December 27, 2015
Ingenious. Very cool image.
RuthJollyphoto Platinum
RuthJollyphoto January 25, 2016
The angle sets the apart.Great photo.
lyoung403b January 26, 2016
aanygraphic May 17, 2016
Camus June 12, 2016
Very nice!
acevasco December 27, 2022
Check out my pague challenge!
See all

Behind The Lens

The lightbulb stairs are one of the more famous features of Prague, however it is also one of the more hidden. Its essentially hidden in plain sight in a restaurant that people go by every day (incidentally, if you ever go on a tour with me via praguephotoguides.com, I'll show you where it is) but it also points out an important lesson that we all need to be aware of as photographers, which is to be aware of your surroundings and every now and then look up ;)
If I'm not mistaken I took this image after I'd completed the Kelby Worldwide Photowalk one year, the guide at the photowalk took me there. We were a little footsore after walking around Prague for a couple of hours but it was worth it :) I think we got there around 3 in the afternoon because its one of those places where you need the sun to be relatively high to cast the light down into the staircase as without it, its not quite the same.
The corridor where the stairs are located are quite dark, so although the sun hits the skylight and highlights the light bulb, it doesnt reach down very far into the interior, so you really have to use a higher ISO or slower shutter speed to capture the image. What was problematic where the interior lights on the stairs as they kept either blowing out and creating unwanted bright, attention drawing blobs in the frame or they simply were distracting. I tried to find a composition that was interesting but also minimised their effect as much as possible.
This was shot with an older camera that I have since sold, the Sony A6000 (I'm using an A7II now) and I believe I was also using the Samyang 12mm lens, which was manual focus only and didnt record the F-stop I used in the EXIF. I think that I probably would have started at F8 and played around there. Otherwise as this is a corridor essentially, tripods are a no and its also quite a cramped space with a lot of people traffic. However in the centre of the stairs is a circular concrete podium that makes an excellent point for the camera. So you essentially set your camera settings, put a timer delay on the shutter and then place the camera on the podium and capture and image. Then its just a case of moving the camera around until you find the right spot :)
I've seen lots of pictures of this photo and I was always wondering where it was and so was happy to discover that its located in Prague where I live. I think what attracted me to it, is that its something so mundane and every day and yet when you lookup, theres this magical hidden lightbulb in plain site. I just like the idea that the architect dreamed this up and hid it in plain view for everyone to find. Which meant that of course I had to go and photograph it and give my take on it as well.
I did do some post processing on this in Lightroom, nothing too complicated though, I adjusted the white balance to compensate for the interior lights and then I added a tint to it as originally its more yellow/orange there because of the light but I wanted to make mine look different than everyone elses and give it a moodier feel, so I added a tint to it. Besides that it was just the standard tweaks that you might make to most photographs, adjusting the black point, white point, some contrast, highlights down slightly, shadows up and a touch of clarity and sharpening afterwards.
In my camera bag
My loadout then was a lot different to what it is now. In those days I believed in being prepared, so I carried everything with me. This typically meant the Sony A6000 body, a 55-210mm zoom, the Sony 50mm 1.8, the Samyang 12mm wide-angle, a Sigma 30mm, a Sigma 19mm, plus a gorilla-pod, extra batteries and cards, cleaning kit for the lens and sensor, polariser, ND filter (10 stop) and that was pretty much it. These days Im carrying a much smaller bag with me unless I have a relatively big job on and more often than not I have the Sony A7II body, the 28-70mm lens and the Zeiss Batis 85mm 1.8, along with 3 or 4 high-speed 32GB SD cards, 3 additional batteries (I have 6, one of the downsides of mirrorless is that they eat batteries if youre not careful) and a polariser and 10 stop ND filter. So its a much lighter kit and still lets me do what I need to do, that being said I do swap lenses out depending on what kind of thing Im shooting, i.e. if I need a zoom and so on.
For this particular location, first and foremost you need to wait for the afternoon as I mentioned, early morning there isnt enough light there and early evening either, so thats pretty much the only time to go. Otherwise it's mainly about being considerate as this is someones place of business, so be polite, be courteous, don't block the corridor for paying customers with your gear and generally make a nuisance of yourself. In terms of the image itself, it really helps if you shoot in manual mode so that you can control all aspects of your camera and then tweak until you get a good image. In this instance I'd go with ISO 100 to keep noise down, start at F8 to keep things in focus throughout and then just adjust your shutter speed until you find something that lets in enough light to get a good exposure. Dont forget you cant use a tripod here and it may be difficult to hand-hold, so using a 10 second self-timer on your shutter (usually built into most cameras), will give you enough time to press the shutter and place the camera on the podium. You could use a cable release but given the tight confines, you run the risk that someone passing will catch the cable and tug the camera onto the floor, which I didnt want to risk. A wide angle lens is a must here in order to capture the sweep of the stairs and the light bulb at the top. If you use a longer focal length, it doesnt have the same impact, so I'd look at using something around 12/14/19mm perhaps. The final advice that I would give here is the composition, every photo I have seen pretty much has the bulb at a perfect 90 degrees and while this is a nice shot, it is what attracted me to it after all, I wanted to do something a little different, so I was trying to come up with a composition where the sweep of the stairs drew the eye. To be honest I'd like to go back and play with it some more but thats on my todo list for when I have some time. So if you do get there, and I think this applies to any place, just take some time to look around first if you can and see what kinds of composition occur and appeal to you, by all means get the money shot but then try to experiment a little.

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