Images from the Biltmore Estate – Part 4

One of the interesting things about the Biltmore House is the abundance of color. There is color everywhere… in paintings, tapestries, furniture and fabric. In the Banquet Hall, color is seen throughout almost the entire room. Interestingly, I was drawn to a scene in that enormous room which is virtually monochromatic. At one end of the Hall is a series of three very large niches, each holding a collection of 18th- and 19th-century copper and brass vessels from Holland, France and Spain.

These niches are roughly 18 feet high, and made of ornately carved wood. I decided to photograph the center one of the three.

The Banquet Hall Display Niches

Harold Ross's light painted image of the Biltmore Banquet Hall Niche

Photograph by Harold Ross

The scalloped carvings in particular are quite amazing. As I was on top of my 12′ ladder while light painting, I looked carefully at them, and I just couldn’t imagine the level of craftsmanship required to carve these intricate shapes. Jim Ryan, a man who knows a lot about everything, explained how difficult it is just to lay out something like those scallops.

The lions’ heads, at roughly 18″, are very imposing, especially from just a few feet away from them, in the dark!

Here, you can get a sense for the skill needed to create these intricately carved features.

Harold Ross's light painted image of the Biltmore Banquet Hall Niche (detail)

Photograph by Harold Ross

Photographing this scene took some time, as it is very large and quite complex. I must have gone up and down the ladder 100 times!

In this video clip, I am lighting the right-hand column from the 12 foot ladder. You can get a sense for how large this wall actually is!

Here is a detail showing the beautiful 18th and 19th century European vessels of copper and brass:

Harold Ross's light painted image of the Biltmore Banquet Hall Niche (detail)

Photograph by Harold Ross

On the second floor, there is the most unusual gilded “cassone” or chest, made in Italy in the 1800s. The front of the chest houses a beautifully painted tooled leather panel, and the clawed feet are remarkable.

Vera is a fan of Harrison Ford and the Indiana Jones movies, so we couldn’t help but to refer to this unusual piece as “The Ark of the Covenant”. Above the “Ark” is the painting The Waltz by Anders Zorn (1860-1920). Flanking the painting are two very large ornate gilded sconces.

The Italian Cassone

Harold Ross's light painted image of the Biltmore Ark Chest

Photograph by Harold Ross

As with many of the images we shot at the Biltmore, the scale just isn’t apparent (this is a phenomenon I’ve noticed in other light painted images I’ve made in the past), but keep in mind that the chest is roughly 7 feet in length!

Detail of the cassone with its painted tooled leather.

Harold Ross's light painted image of the Biltmore Ark Chest (detail)

Photograph by Harold Ross

In this detail, we see one of the gilded sconces.

Harold Ross's light painted image of the Biltmore Ark Chest (detail of sconce)

Photograph by Harold Ross

Photographing at the Biltmore House was a terrific experience.

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 while we shot the Banquet Hall image.

Thanks to Renee Jolly of Museum Services, who assisted us in the image of the Ark Chest.

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 May 3, 2015.

5 Responses to “Images from the Biltmore Estate – Part 4”

  1. Not just amazing but professional photography, well lit and in total sharpness with full detail. A huge well done for your expertise in this matter of light painting technique. Mario Mifsud

  2. Way to en-light-en Harold !!

  3. Harold, this is an excellent post!! The monochromatic look ist perfect, what a nice sight. Lucky you to get the permit for photography.
    Wishing you a wonderful Sunday,
    Dina, Klausbernd, Siri & Selma

  4. Harold: I am just stunned at what you were able to do at the Biltmore! The images are gorgeous. And I love that you put in a video showing some of the light painting in action. More of that, please! You must have been totally exhausted by the time the night was over, not just from climbing up and down the ladder, but from moving the light around. Beautiful work. Hi to Vera! Kathy B.

  5. Fantastic work Harold (and Vera!) mesmerizing, as your work always is.

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