Chapel, Wieliczka Salt Mine, Poland

Deep inside the earth, this small chapel was carved from raw salt by the miners. At this UNESCO World Heritage site, the floors, walls, sculptures, even the chandeliers were carved from salt. This image, made without a tripod and using existing light only, is usually not possible under these circumstances. Would you believe it was more like a “grab shot” quickly taken after the guide and tour group left?

How I Got the Shot 

I took five bracketed images with the darkest exposed for detail in the chandelier and the lightest exposed for the shadows. I used a 16-35 mm lens at 28 mm.  Below are the other settings:

  1. f/6.3; 1/160 sec.
  2. f/5.0; 1/125 sec.
  3. f/4.5; 1/85 sec.
  4. f/3.5; 1/60 sec.
  5. f/3.2; 1/40 sec.

I merged the five exposures using HDR Effects Pro 2. After cropping and tweaking the brightness/contrast in Photoshop, the image was finished. What makes this image extraordinary is that the ISO was set at an outrageously high 25,600 and there is limited if any noise. The small amount of flare at the bottom doesn’t bother me enough to remove it with Photoshop. 

One reason I chose the Canon 5D Mark IV is that reviews said at high ISO it produced the least amount of noise of any other camera on the market. This is the first time I’ve tested those claims and I’m not disappointed.