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Friday Slide Show: A Suit Of Armor Share This on LinkedIn   Share This on Google   Tweet This   Forward This

10 August 2018

Visiting the current Truth & Beauty exhibit at the Legion of Honor, we were surprised to see two suits of armor standing in the corner of the last room where the security guards usually post themselves.

This is, by the way, an extraordinary exhibit featuring works by the Pre-Raphaelites William Holman Hunt, John Everett Millais and Dante Gabriel Rossetti alongside works by Raphael, Fra Angelico, Pietro Perugino, Jan van Eyck, Hans Memling, Botticelli, Titian and Veronese. You don't very often get to stand in front of a Fra Angelico or Titian, you know.

Allan Lavigne. A modern take (mouse over).

So we were in a bit of a daze as we stumbled into the last room, overcome by beauty if not truth. And there stood those two shining suits of armor.

Made of steel and leather, they herald from Nuremberg, Germany, having survived since the 16th century. That was about the end of the armor era as even hardened steel could no longer fight off the damage caused by constantly-improving firearms.

Still, what things of beauty they are. And how they repay attention to detail. We just had to pull out the Olympus E-PL1 and take a few shots. It's as close as we'll ever get to having a suit of armor.

Our shots in the dim light of the museum were all at ISO 1600 (about as sensitive as the E-PL1 gets) and wide open at various focal lengths. Shutter speeds went as low as 1/10 second, which means we relied on the E-PL1's image stabilization to get sharp shots.

Color balance is always an issue in a museum where the artificial lighting can confound a camera's auto white balance. We bring a WhiBal card along with us but we also have presets for various museums in our Lightroom collection.

Low light didn't mean there were no specular highlights, however. After all, suits of armor are shiny objects. But because we shot Raw, we were able to bring back quite a bit of detail in the highlights.

Finally, we couldn't help by include two images of modern armor designed by Allan Lavigne, studio head of the Bronze Armory Studios. That's currently on display at the Cartoon Art Museum.

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