A Visit To The Louvre, Paris

Dynamic shapes and shadows providing the perfect setting for this Egyptian Sarcophagus within the Louvre in Paris, France

I photographed this spectacular Egyptian sarcophagus at the Louvre in Paris. The range of tones, shapes, textures and lines within the scene made it a good candidate for rendering into black and white and I'm really happy with the sense of life and energy that I've been able to bring to what is, otherwise, a relatively static scene.

Photographing The Sarcophagus

The image was made with a Canon 5D Mark II camera and Canon 24-105mm f4 lens at 24mm. I handheld the exposure at 1/13 second at an aperture of f/22 and at an ISO 400.

The reason for the use of f/22 was due to the fact that I wanted the Depth Of Field (i.e., the zone of apparent sharpness) to cover the very near foreground right through to the background.

I'm practiced at photographing without a tripod down to and including ⅛ second. When photographing inanimate objects I've confident working down to such a relatively slow shutter speed. However, with today's higher resolution cameras, computer monitors and display prints I'm getting to the stage where I'd consider increasing the camera's sensitivity to light, by increasing the ISO, so as to achieve a faster shutter speed and, thereby, reducing camera shake.

Back a few camera generations I was unhappy with the higher contrast and noise characteristics associated with ISO 800 and above. But that's becoming far less a concern today, particularly with appropriately exposed images.

There were three primary considerations in my mind when making this photo, which I can outline as follows:

  • The use of a wide-angle lens, up close, to place emphasis on the coffin
  • The need for careful composition to make sense of the shapes and lines, many of them shadows 
  • The need to retain the luminosity, inherent to the scene, with careful in-camera exposure and processing on the desktop.

My visit to the Louvre was short, just an afternoon. I could easily have spent a few days there. After the museum had closed I stayed around for the sunset and a night photography session which was great fun on a cool summer's evening in Paris, the city of light.

Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru