A Few of My Favorite Shots of Cathedrals in Paris

The shot above was taken inside the Sainte-Chapelle in Paris. I had never been, and was really taken with the fact that it’s all stained glass (and tells a story, reading from left to right, bottom to top in each pane of the stained glass). While it’s looks really large here, I’ll bet it’s not 100 feet deep from end to end (but the ceilings are really high). NOTE: make sure you click on these to see a much larger version.

Above: Here’s the view if you turned 180° around from where I took the other shot. Again, the same amazing stained glass, and shot hand-held (it wasn’t as bright as it looks here — I had to brighten it up a bit in post). 

Above: Here’s a different church — this one is the St-Germain-des-Pr©s in Paris, and we filmed a small part of my travel photography glass there. The view here is off the right side of the alter, which is why the chairs all are facing to the left.

Above: here’s a pano of the back of that same church — you can tell from this photo, but that pipe organ is pretty darn huge!

Above: This is the chapel out at the Palace of Versailles, about 30 miles outside of Paris. Again, handheld since tripods were forbidden big time — they literally had flashing signs outside “No Tripods!”

Jay Maisel wanted to take us to Sainte-Chapelle (none of us had ever been), and Jay told me, “You’re going to walk up a small, dark spiral staircase, and when you come out and see the stained glass surrounding you on all sides, and the incredible light in that room, I promise you won’t be able to wipe the smile off your face.” He was absolutely right. It was truly spectacular.

Of course, we shot a lot more than churches during our week in Paris, but I thought it would be fun to share at least a few of my favorites here (also —- while we did see the outside of Notre Dame, we didn’t have a chance to get inside. We had a busy shooting schedule).

More on Friday. Au revoir!


  1. Great photos but the photos of Sainte-Chapelle don’t really capture the feeling of being there.  Maybe it’s because it’s such a wide angle shot and makes it look so much bigger than it really is.  Not saying they’re bad, just that they don’t really look how I remember it being there.

    You didn’t miss much in Notre Dame, if not for the fact that it’s Notre Dame, it wouldn’t be anything out of the ordinary.  It’s not bad but it’s really no more special than any of the other cathedrals in Europe.  The view from the towers was quite nice, though.

  2. Great Photo’s! Can you tel a bit more about how you made these?
    The look like HDR but jou say you where shooting handheld so probably just one shot…
    Just wondering ;)

  3. Ooh, I hope while you were at Saint Germain des Près that Kalebra was with you and you stopped across the street at Les Deux Maggots (that’s monkeys, not maggots!). They have the best hot chocolate of any place I’ve ever been. And the people watching is fun too!

  4. Beautiful shots. I am also interested in the post processing since you mentioned hand held and maybe they are not multiple exposure HDR’s ??  

  5. To Al, Henk and Ethan: These are all 3-shot bracketed photos, shot at 800 ISO so I could handhold them, but the files from the D4 look so clean you can’t even see the noise, and merged into a single HDR using Photoshop CS6’s new HDR feature (in particular, the new Edge Softness checkbox that gives it a smoother, less harsh look). In each of the photos, I added back some of the original un-HDR’d image so it doesn’t look too HDR. To Ethan: If you take a look at the photos again, you’ll see that the angle I took them at was just above the heads of the people in the chapel. If I tipped the camera down even just a slight bit, you’d see the top of about 100 people’s heads. :)

  6. I love these photos. In my head I’m thinking “if it looks this great in a photo I can’t imagine how beautiful it is in person.” Now I have yet another place to add to my list of things I hope to experience/photograph some day. Thanks for sharing. -Craig

  7. Fantastic shots, Scott. I’ve done a lot of travelling recently in Belgium/Netherlands and visited some very interesting cathedrals. Nothing so stunning as Sainte-Chappelle, but I do recommend De Krijtberg in Amsterdam. Oh, and for the best pipe organ i’ve seen, try St.Bavokerk in Haarlem :)

    I did my best to photograph them, but I realise now what i really wanted was just like your first shot of St.Germain. Thanks for the inspiration, I shall try again soon :)

  8. Scott, these are lovely images.  I cried the first time I saw the interior of St. Chapelle.  I’ve been back to Paris many times over the years and love visiting the churches.  Once i took a train to the Loire Valley and came upon a church on a misty morning.  The choir was practicing and I was like walking in and hearing angels sing.  Paris is one of my favorite cities.  Nice job on the hand held HDR’s.

  9. Having been to all these places let me say these photos are amazing.  Actually, what’s even more amazing is you managed to shoot a room in Versailles with no tourists in it.  There’s a secret I’d love to know.

  10. They are AMAZING SHOTS Scott! Damn!! The mood they create make them amazing! The colors are so wealthy the details everything make them just WOW! 

    D. Tucker | YachtLife | Miami, Florida | Nassau, Bahamas

  11. Scott, when did you take the first Ste Chapel shot? I was there 26 May 2012 and the whole left side of your shot was covered up with construction sheets / scaffoldings, and I asked the workers there and they said it has been like that for months. The restoration actually goes from 2008 to 2013. See the URL here –

    The second Ste Chapel shot is possible and I was able to take a similar one. The first one is what baffles me.

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