Words and images by Dave Williams
The "Eiffel Tower Effect" is the name I’ve coined for things that are shot so frequently that it becomes tricky to get a unique perspective, just like the Eiffel Tower. There are tricks and techniques that we can use to help us overcome this difficult situation as photographers. One of my favorite is specifically useful for the Eiffel Tower, and it’s to shoot it as a feature of the image rather than as the subject. We could take in the wider Parisien skyline, for example, having the Eiffel Tower prominently featured in the scene so that it’s obviously a photo of the Eiffel Tower, but with enough other interest within our image, we could also use the power of composition to lead our viewer into the photo.
I’ve found Platypod to be a solution when I encounter "Eiffel Tower Effect" locations, most recently at Brei∂ermerkursandur in Iceland, more famously known as Diamond Beach. This black sand beach comprised of volcanic sand sits on the estuary outlet from Jökulsárlón, the Glacier Lagoon. Icebergs calve off the glacier and bob about in the lagoon, sometimes for years, before the current takes them out through the estuary and into the sea where an opposing current washes them back to the foreshore, leaving us with beautiful ice diamonds adorning the beach in contrast to the black sand.
Diamond Beach is suffering the "Eiffel Tower Effect" owing to its popularity among tourists and locals alike, which means it’s a challenge for a photographer to create an image that hasn’t before been seen. In response to this challenge I’ve found that a great solution is to think outside of the realms of most photographers' mindsets. If you visit the beach or any other "Eiffel Tower Effect" location, take a look around at what the other photographers are doing. Take note. Then, do something different! At Diamond Beach, most photographers are using a tripod and their camera is fronted with a ND filter, facing a chunk of ice on the beach at the water line. They’re capturing the smoothness of the water flowing around the ice and using those lines and the contrast of the ice on the sand to make their photos.
Here’s where Platypod comes in! To make something different I decided to do two main things:
Firstly, I needed to change my perspective. Dropping down low with my Platypod gave me a different perspective than everyone else. Rather than looking down on the ice, I was looking straight at it or up to it. Shooting it from down low and shooting upwards gave it a sense of being the hero of the shot, much in the same way that we shoot superheroes from a lower perspective to convey their power and strength. Additionally, this gave me more space in the frame to fill with ice and sky, flattening the beach at the foot of the frame.
The behind-the-scenes set up shots:
The resulting images:
Secondly, rather than smooth out the flowing water like everyone else, I noticed that there was a lot of drama and action with the power of the Atlantic Ocean crashing onto the shore and disturbing the ice. I wanted to capture that drama and movement, which meant speeding up the exposure relative to everyone else's, but not speeding it up so much that it was a snapshot akin to what I’d get if I’d whipped my phone out of my pocket and hit the shutter button.
The "Eiffel Tower Effect" is real. With the massive growth of social media as a release for like-minded photographers out there, countering it is a genuine consideration that we should give to our photography. It's especially important if we want to break away from the status quo and have our images sit above others, causing people to stop in their tracks when they see our shot on Instagram rather than scroll straight past it. Platypod is a piece of gear that helps us to easily create a unique image from a different perspective, giving us an advantage over the competition and helping us with minimal expense whilst occupying next to no space within our camera bag!