Last two Images from the Biltmore Estate – Part 6

For those of you interested in the pictures that we did recently at the Biltmore House, America’s largest private residence, here are two additional (previously unpublished) images.

Interestingly, one of these images is the first one we shot on our arrival day, and it was another shot done in Mr. Vanderbilt’s bedroom. You may wonder why this first image is the last to be shown.

On that first day, Jim Ryan, Vera (my wife) and myself were not sure how things would go on the shoot, and we were concerned with several things, one being that we didn’t want to cause any inconvenience for the staff at Biltmore. We were “walking on eggshells” as it were, and so I was feeling a little bit of stress. Added to that was the unknown about just how I would light these challenging locations.

Well, you know what they say… when things can go wrong, they often do. I attached my camera to the tripod, began to compose the image, and Vera set up my laptop for tethered shooting. I’m a big fan of tethered shooting; you can see the image really well due to its large size, checking focus is much easier, and you can check details and straightness of the subject, but most important – the capture software works as what I call “The world’s best light meter”. That is to say, you can determine exactly how under or over-exposed the image is, and you can make a perfect correction in the next exposure. Anyway, back to the point of the story… it turns out that I forgot the thunderbolt-to-firewire cable (a first for me) that I needed to hook up the camera to the computer! Here we were, in the Biltmore House, ready to start the first shoot, all the while with curious visitors passing through the room, and asking questions! Not to mention that I was very cramped in the tight space between Mr. Vanderbilt’s bed and the dresser (I had to use a very wide angle lens.) The result of the forgotten cable was that I wasn’t able shoot tethered and had to rely on the camera screen to judge the image. My stress level went up at that point. Jim was great though – he very quickly went across town to the Apple store and bought a cable, but I still had to begin the shoot without it.

So, the captures made without tethering were more “on the fly” than I’m used to. I didn’t have the camera perfectly straight because the furnishings, having lived through a couple of centuries, were not perfectly straight and level, so it was impossible for me to judge this on the small camera screen. Also, I couldn’t really gauge my exposures. Hence, the post-processing was much more involved, so I did the normal thing – I procrastinated and did this image last!

On to the images…

This view is of one of Mr. Vanderbilt’s ornately carved walnut dressers. On it is a wonderful hand-carved Austrian tower clock, made in 1650. I shot this scene from just to the side of Mr. Vanderbilt’s bed, so this is what he would see as he awoke each morning. Seen behind the dresser are German, Dutch and Flemish engravings, 16th-17th century.

Light painted photograph of Mr. Vanderbilt's bedroom at the Biltmore House by Harold Ross

Photograph by Harold Ross

A detail image showing the beautiful (circa 1650) Austrian clock and gilded mirror.

Light painted photograph of Mr. Vanderbilt's bedroom (detail) at the Biltmore House by Harold Ross

Photograph by Harold Ross

Mrs. Vanderbilt’s bedroom was designed as a feminine counterpart to Mr. Vanderbilt’s bedroom. It was actually decorated in 1897-98 in preparation for the their upcoming wedding. After their wedding, it became Mrs. Vanderbilt’s private quarters. The oval-shaped room is filled with Louis XV furnishings, and among them, this beautiful inlaid walnut desk, where Mrs. Vanderbilt did her correspondence. The ornate woodwork and cut velvet draperies which are throughout the room can just be seen in the background. 

Light painted photograph of Mrs. Vanderbilt's desk at the Biltmore House by Harold Ross

Photograph by Harold Ross

In this detail shot, one can see the beautiful glass desk set, as well as the hand tooled leather book and some family photographs.

Light painted photograph of Mrs. Vanderbilt's desk (detail) at the Biltmore House by Harold Ross

Photograph by Harold Ross

Photographing at the Biltmore House was an honor and a rewarding experience.

Again, 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 photographed the Biltmore House.

Laura also helped us throughout the shoot in Mr. Vanderbilt’s bedroom.

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

All material in this post © Harold Ross 2015

~ by Harold Ross on October 15, 2015.

10 Responses to “Last two Images from the Biltmore Estate – Part 6”

  1. Photos from a Master of light painting. Amazing almost you can feel them in reality. Congratulations for your ability in this area of photography.

  2. As always, Harold….Spectacular!!!!!!

  3. What a treat to see two more images and their closeups as well, of the Biltmore. Your photographs really bring it to life for us. Going to the Biltmore is on my bucket list. I am excited to think that I might see the same places you took pictures of and therefore already seen because of it. Thank you so much for sharing this experience with us. I have found it to be marvelous! :)

  4. Wonderful – the richness of the tones and the alway-fantastic lighting are so ideal for this location. Extra-love the detail shot of the desk!

  5. So sumptious. I think my fave is the last pic, where I really like that tiny framed photo and also the beautiful glass container, on the right but left to the other one…you know! And bringing out the highlights in the walnut patterning. Beautigful. BTW, are these images going to be published in a book, or something?

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