John Sandell photography
in-the-cafe.jpg
In the Cafe

In the Café. The Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna (the 'Museum of Art History' or sometimes the 'Museum of Fine Arts') has an excellent café in the lavishly decorated space under its central octagonal cupola, and this is a wideangle view from the balcony – halfway to the dome – that surrounds it. With the tiny and very sharp 35-year-old 20mm f/3.5 AI lens on the D800, I used architectural features of the balcony to ensure that I was exactly on the centre line, and the viewfinder grid in the camera to make sure the picture was symmetrical and level. I was also careful not to drop the camera onto the customers below! There's an annoying amount of daylight flowing in through the open door at the top of the picture, but it starts to look unnatural if the blue tint is reduced any further.

The museum was built under Emperor Franz Joseph I to house the Habsburg's huge art collection and to make it available to the public. Completed in 1891, the building was designed by Baron Karl von Hasenauer and by Gottfried Semper, architect of the superb Semperoper opera house in Dresden which I visited on my 'Grand Tour' in 2008.

In competition – as a 2m wide projected digital image – I thought the judge might comment on the symmetry of the view, or the beauty of the late 19th century tiled floor, or the sharpness of the view through the central space to the floor below. Or even the social groupings of the customers as they enjoy their coffee and chocolate cake. Instead he was mostly concerned that an arm had been cropped off the man in the blue shirt at the bottom-left, and he generally dismissed the picture as, well, pretty hopeless!

Technical: NIKON D800, f=20.0 mm, ISO2200, 1/30 sec @ f5.6

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