I generally do not do any preparation before taking pictures in a church and Saint-Eustache was no exception. I was wondering around Paris on vacation looking for a church and I found a massive structure in the Les Halles area. Once inside, I was stuck by the high ceiling and intricate patterns. This picture attempts to capture the vast dimensions of the church. Like many of my shots, the camera was mounted on a Joby GorrillaPod about 12 inches from the ground. I used a 10-22 mm zoom lens at 10 mm (16 mm considering the 1.6X crop factor). I generally try to bracket 3 RAW shots (-2,0,2 exposures) but my camera misfired (blame the camera never the operator). I liked the shot and worked with it by overexposing and overexposing the RAW image in Aperture by 2 stops, then using the three images in Photomatix. In addition to this shot, I was able to capture the huge organ, Chapel of the Virgin Mary all in 13 minutes before a church official gave me the wagging finger signal, the international signal for “no tripods allowed” despite no signs that I could see prohibiting their use.
Saint-Eustache is named in memory of Saint Eustace, a Roman general who was burned along with his family after converting to Christianity. The church is located at the center of historic Paris. The church has its origins back to the early 1200’s with the construction of the current church commencing in 1532. The church was completed in 1637 with delays caused by religious war and lack of funds. Like most Paris churches during the French Revolution, Saint-Eustache was desecrated and looted, according to the church tourist literature. During this period, it was closed; one source says that it was transformed into the Temple of Agriculture while another says that it was used as a barn. The church was restored after the revolution.
The building is massive, with one source stating that it is the second largest church in Paris behind Notre Dame. The church measures 344 feet (105 mm) long, 143 feet (43.5 mm) wide and with a vault soaring 109 feet (33.5 mm) high. The cupola on top of the church reaches a height of about 190 feet (58 mm). The church follows a ground plan similar to Notre Dame and the style is Gothic. However, during its long construction phase, the Gothic style had gone out of fashion and Renaissance was the new style of choice. Hence the church has a Renaissance detail, especially the decorations and the arches. Significant art includes a fresco painted by Thomas Couture (1856-Master of Edouard Manet). Sculptures include the stature of the Virgin (1748), originally carved for the Chapel of the Invalides by Pigalle and a Keith Haring sculpture made of silver in memory of the epidemic of AIDS deaths.
Significant events and people: first Communion for Louis XIV, Mozart’s mother’s funeral, Richelieu, Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson, Moliere (also married there but could not be buried there for some reason) baptized as children, last rites for Anne of Austria, Turenne and Mirabeau, Colbert (first churchwarden of the parish) buried there.
churchcathedralphotoKent Beckernot my day job photographyParisFranceSaint Eustache