Benjamin Antony Monn on shooting architecture

The image shown here is the Bibliothèque nationale de France (the National Library of France). With its origins traced back to 1368, the institution's main goal is for everything published in France to eventually be stored here. As you can imagine, this is a huge space. The photograph shows only one of the many locations to which the Bibliothèque nationale de France has expanded over the centuries. This particular image shows the Salle Ovale (Oval Hall), which first opened its doors in 1936 and still contains some of the country's most precious items, such as manuscripts and copper engravings. Originally built as a reading room, the atmosphere is very special. You can feel the history stored within. In my opinion, the Bibliothèque nationale de France with its Salle Ovale is one of the most beautiful libraries in the world.

I anticipated an atmosphere of history and humility would emanate from a place containing so many valuable texts, yet is still open for public use. This contrast was complemented by spectacular architecture — its image is still vivid in my mind several weeks after the visit, and gets stronger whenever I look at this photograph.

I feel that this photograph of the Salle Ovale captures its special atmosphere extremely well. Because of the sharpness and the quality of the details, the photograph looks almost three-dimensional. The quality of the RAW files allows me to create fine-art prints up to 120 cm x 180 cm without any compromises — suitable for any museum or gallery. This photograph is a good example of the camera's possibilities. It shows the details of an enormous space with remarkable sharpness. The image was taken from a very narrow gangway high above the floor. The camera's compact size made this shot much easier to realize when you consider the limited space I had to work with. I shot this in live view photography mode using the PC-E NIKKOR 24mm f/3.5D ED. Manual focus operation was more precise because I could visually confirm the focus by magnifying the image on a large LCD beforehand. This is extremely useful for the work that I do.

Architectural photography is a fascinating and growing field. Like other architectural photographers, I am always looking for a lightweight, compact and reliable camera system to fulfill the requirements my personal artistic and client expectations demand. For a successful piece of art, I consider high resolution, sharpness and dynamic range to be key success factors. A manageable camera size could be added to that list, as I am often working while standing on a ladder, crouching on the ground or climbing over fences. For my latest project, called "Endor" I have already climbed volcanoes, hiked glaciers and even hung like a trapeze artist out of an airborne helicopter. The lighter and more compact my equipment is, the further I can push my limits.

Benjamin Antony Monn

(Germany)