The Hall of Mirrors or as the French call it Galerie des Glaces of Versailles castle in HDR.
A few weeks ago I returned to Versailles with the family who had flown in from abroad and of course Versailles is always on the list of things to see. So for the second time in 2011 I was back in what I jokingly call the summit of extravagance. This castle is amazing, it is amazing in a movie, in a fairy tale in a book and in real-life its all more so. The gilding from top to toe, the velvet, the marble just everything is in there.
Now that doesn’t make it a fantastic subject for photography for a few reasons, not the least of which is the massive amount of tourists. The other reason is that the castle is just so absolutely huge that it’s never easy to find an interesting angle that fills the shot. But that said, I had been there and shot the halls of Versailles earlier that year so I was prepared for those problems. This time I took a wider lens with me.
I wanted to shoot the hall of mirrors a few times before but never could get it right due to the hundreds of people that are normally standing around taking it all in. This time I decided I would get it, and so with a lot of patience (and a few evil looks) I managed to get this shot with not too many tourists in the picture.
I shot it in HDR but handheld since I don’t think they allow tripods (they don’t allow much and babies have to be carried), but recently most of my HDR photos have been without tripod so I figured I could make it work. The picture was retouched in Lightroom, Photoshop, Topaz and then back to Lightroom and I’m quite happy with the results.
It is a very busy photo, but then again the decor, paintings, sculptures, gilding, chandeliers and all the rest make this a very busy sight. So its only as busy as the real thing. It feels a bit surreal, but that is how the place is – surreal. The picture is best enjoyed in highres so I’ve included a link to the highres hdr photo.
HDR Photography Tip for Versailles
1. Impose your presence, I know it sounds rude but the place has some 5 million visitors every year (that’s about 14,000 a day) so if you’re not making a stand for your spot and your picture you might as well just follow the crowd and get lots of head-shots (from the back).
2. Talk to the guards and ask them to help you on a shot, I borrowed the guards stool as a make-shift tripod for one picture and he was only too happy to help me out. But be polite with them, realize you’re one in 14 thousand and they’ll get paid even if you don’t get the shot. Never start with “Excuse me” but rather with “Monsieur, Madame or Mademoiselle” that’ll get you a long way.
3. Try to get other tourists to help you by standing still (and block the passage for the others) while you take your shot. And of course thank them for it.
4. Don’t worry too much about high ISOs, Versailles’ decoration is “noisy” so you can always fix it afterwards.