Images from the Biltmore Estate – Part 2

At the Biltmore House, there is an almost overwhelming number of beautiful and ornate objects. Paintings, bronzes, and one of a kind hand-made furniture are everywhere. The Oak Sitting Room really exemplifies this density of rich furnishings. Only Mr. Vanderbilt’s bedroom (which we photographed, and which will be featured in a future post) exceeds the level of detail found in this room.

Jim Ryan and I agreed that the Oak Sitting Room was a “must-do” on our list of things to photograph!

Here I am going over a capture with Jim Ryan and Kara Warren:

Photographer Harold Ross light paints Biltmore Oak Sitting Room

Photograph by Vera Ross

This room is full of the most interesting things… but the centerpiece is the large ebony hand-carved cabinet-on-stand, which was crafted in Belgium in the 1600s. Behind the inlaid parquetry doors is a classically inspired miniature scene; a loggia with gold statues, marbleized columns and a frescoed ceiling, all overlooking a trompe-l’oeil landscape.

Next to the unique cabinet is a painting by John Singer Sargent of George Vanderbilt’s aunt, Mrs. Benjamin Kissam.

The room is between Mr. Vanderbilt’s and Mrs. Vanderbilt’s bedrooms, and served as a private sitting room for the couple.

The Oak Sitting Room

Harold Ross's light painted photograph of the Biltmore House Oak Sitting Room

Photograph by Harold Ross

A video clip showing me light painting the vase using a scrim and LED panel, a great solution for lighting reflective subjects:

A detail of the beautifully crafted miniature scene inside the cabinet:

Biltmore Oak Sitting Room Cabinet Detail

Photograph by Harold Ross

 The lovely inlaid chest and bronze figures below the Sargent painting:

Biltmore Oak Sitting Room Credenza detail

Photograph by Harold Ross

When walking through the Biltmore “scouting”, in order to decide what to photograph, we found ourselves in the Family Sitting Room, which we later photographed (I’ll feature that image in a future post), but to one side of the room is the most unusual fireplace (one of 65 in the house), and I was drawn to photograph it as soon as I saw it. I’ve always loved the color combination of gray and yellow, and that is one of the reasons I wanted to photograph this fireplace!

The Family Sitting Room Fireplace

Harold Ross's light painted photograph of the Biltmore Family Fireplace

Photograph by Harold Ross

The mantel is intricately carved:

Harold Ross's light painted photograph of the Biltmore Family Fireplace detail 1

Photograph by Harold Ross

A video clip showing the lighting of part of the fireplace. I’m using a 5″x24″ LED panel, powered by a belt mounted battery pack, and you can see the computer that I’m using for tethered capture. The trick is to learn to see the buildup of light over time, which takes some practice:

The massive cast iron reflective fireback:

Harold Ross's light painted photograph of the Biltmore Family Fireplace detail 2

Photograph by Harold Ross

What an amazing experience it was to light paint at the Biltmore House!

A huge THANKS to Jim Ryan who made this project possible, and who spent many late hours with me shooting and doing post production.

And, for logistical help on the shoot, thanks to Laura Overbey, Collections Manager at the Biltmore, who helped us coordinate everything, and stayed late for us;

For the Oak Sitting Room image, Aaron Hunt of Engineering Services, who managed house lights and stayed late; and Kara Warren of Museum Services, who also stayed late to assist us.

For the Fireplace image, Renee Jolly of Museum Services (Renee actually helped restore the fireplace), who stayed late to assist us, and Trip Hudgins and Adam Austin of Engineering Services for nudging the fireplace reflector plate, no easy task!

And, of course, thanks to my wife Vera for, as always, helping me every step of the way!

Stay tuned as we publish more images from the Biltmore House!

All material in this post © Harold Ross 2015

~ by Harold Ross on April 21, 2015.

5 Responses to “Images from the Biltmore Estate – Part 2”

  1. I love them, but
    a) I would like to see a conventional photo for comparison
    b) would a reflection on the floor have been possible as it is a highly polished?
    Keep showing me these lovely images as it lifts my soul
    Thank you

    • Hi Chris, thanks for your comment. And you bring up some very good points! To address them: Unfortunately, I just don’t normally have time to shoot a conventional image, unless it is just by the room lights (while choosing a composition), and essentially, the picture at the top of the post is just that, but from a different angle. To do anything else would require conventional lighting, and that takes a lot of extra time. I agree with you that it would make an interesting comparison. I think your suggestion will be a great basis for a blog post, showing some “before and after” images! Thanks. As for the reflections on the floor, yes, indeed it would be possible to have them. I made a conscious choice to not have them, as I was struggling with the fact that the image was so full of information already, and so I decided not to show the reflections to keep it a bit simpler. In some circumstances, however, such as in a simpler image, I might decide to have reflections in the floor. Thanks Chris!

  2. No comments, just amazing as usual.

  3. Oh I am really loving this series. The ornateness of the Biltmore is just so over the top! I love how you have photographed these areas.

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