Architectural Interiors at the Freemason's Hall in Dublin

November 19, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

Recently, Offshoot’s got access to the Freemasons’ Hall in Molesworth Street in Dublin city centre. The building dates from the 1860’s and it has impressive interiors and a small group of us were given guided access to all of the halls in the building – with no restriction on our photography. You can see a selection of our group’s shots in the outing report, here. The interiors are so ornate that it took me a while to figure out how to shoot them and I didn’t get anything to do justice to the smaller chambers in the building.

As we headed to the upper levels, however, the stairs immediately caught my eye and, after some failed efforts, I got this two element composite by putting the centre arm of my tripod horizontal, like this, and then sticking the camera out over the banisters to look directly down. Of course, this meant the tripod was unbalanced – so I stabilised it by holding the other end of the centre arm. Even with the camera locked onto to the tripod head, I also kept a firm grip on the camera strap to eliminate any possibility of a three floor drop! The settings were 0.6 seconds as f8.0 at ISO 400 at 10mm using Canon’s EFS 10-22mm lens. Ideally, I would have used f11 for more depth of field and ISO 100 but this would have lengthened the exposure to about 4 seconds – and I was afraid I would cause camera shake holding the end of the centre arm for this long. Note to self:- if I’m doing interiors again - keep my camera bag with me for use as counterweight! The other problem was that one of my shoes and two of the tripod legs were unavoidably in the shot but quite a bit of fiddly cloning sorted that out. Finally stitching the shots, with so many items in the foreground and the background, proved a challenge for both Photoshop and Lightroom – the former was bit better but I had to do some tidying in one area – let me know in the comments if you can spot where I couldn't get it quite right!

001-Freemasons-stairs-panorama2-2-©-2016-John-Coveney001-Freemasons-stairs-panorama2-2-©-2016-John-Coveney The next three shots were all in the most impressive chamber -  the Grand Lodge Room.  The shot of the organ was another fiddly job to position the camera facing up from a kneeling position – it would be great if the 7D Mark II had an articulated LCD! Eventually, I got the organs pillars and the roof symmetrical – or near enough that I was able do final tweaks with Lightroom’s Auto Transform. I also made sure that the top centre pipe stayed below the gold border around the blue area. It’s a single shot and the settings are 4 seconds, f11, ISO 100 at 17mm – again with the 10-22mm lens. I white-balanced it off the ceiling. I was a bit dull out of the camera in the Adobe Standard Calibration but the  following Lightroom settings brought it up nicely:-+34 contrast, -100 highlights, +100 shadows,  +54 whites, -48 blacks, +35 clarity and +25 vibrance. I upped the saturation of orange, yellow, aqua and blue in the HSL panel by +15-20 and I added sharpening of 80 with masking of 71.

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The final two shots are of the chamber itself with the organ to my back – again with the 10-22mm lens and at 10mm and ISO 100mm. The first is the far end of the room from the organ and it’s a four shot stitch – each for four seconds and f11. For such wide angle shots, the Lightroom cylindrical panorama option (Ctrl M), followed by an auto transform did a surprisingly good job of the stitching.   The sides were quite curved but I cropped these out – although the side pillars at the crop edge are still a bit curved  and the ceiling rectangle is not quite parallel to the edge of the shot.

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Finally, I did another composite of the chamber from the organ end – this time there were five elements and the settings were 2.5 seconds and f11. The tone and saturation settings for both shots of the chamber were similar to those used for the organ. Again there is a little curvature of the nearest side columns but overall, I'm pretty pleased with my first serious  effort at architectural interiors without specialised tilt and shift lenses.

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Many thanks to Emily Gallagher for organizing the outing and to our guides Lionel & Keith. Tours of the hall are available during the summer for the princely sum of €2 - or by appointment at other times.


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