Church of San Lorenzo in Palatio / Sancta Sanctorum
iGuzzini Lighting s.p.a.
Restoration works funded by Getty Foundation / Vatican Museums coordination
Rome, Italy. San Giovanni in Laterano
Architecture – Lightning – Cultural Heritage
Case Study: Photographs of the new lighting installation of the Church and Chapel of San Lorenzo in Palatio, Pontifical Sanctuary of Holy Stairs (Scala Sancta), in Rome, Italy.
The client – iGuzzini Lighting – needed a faithful representation of both the interior architectures and the frescoes, lit by their lighting system. They have been just restored with funds from the Getty Foundation and Vatican Museums coordinating the effort. iGuzzini innovative installation has been designed in order to increase the value of the notable restoration works and cultural assets.
Photos of the illuminating device mounts (mostly LED wallwashers, floodlights and spotlights) were also required.
A preliminary survey of the location highlighted the need for operating nighttime for most of the photographs, in order to avoid cold skylight radiation pollution and get uniform tone balance for the works of art in place. A perceptual approach has been preferred against a strict numerical color workflow, this latter more suitable for out-of-context art reproduction. The intent was indeed to render the visual impact of the lighting system and how it is overall perceived by the visitors in place. The night operation was authorized by the rectorate of the sanctuary. It has been a privilege and an experience to move at night in such a venerated place.
The spaces of the main nave of the church – dated 1589 A.C. – presented a number of asymmetries and misalignments between the main barrel vault, the lunette coves, tie bars and pavement that challenged the shooting.
The chapel of San Lorenzo in Palatio – the Sancta Sanctorum in Rome, Italy (date undetermined -first mention is in 772 A.C.) is the core architecture of the sanctuary and houses some of the most venerated relics of Christianity. It is placed on top of the 28 marble steps of the Holy Stairs, a destination for a multitude of pilgrims from all over the world. The chapel is presently still illuminated with old generation lighting devices and the photo taken of the main interior elevation will serve to keep track of the pre-renovation state and it will be used as a reference for comparison with the new condition, when completed.
The planar projection of the main elevation of the Sancta Sanctorum has been achieved through a mixed technique. The limited operating space, imposed both elevating the plane of film and shifting the optics all the way upwards. Eventually, shifting down and re-centering the optics with a precision slider plate, allowed to shoot other parts of the scene. References have been recorded in order the get later a matching projection, waiting for the new lighting system to be installed and ready to operate.
All photos and text: Riccardo Budini / Looma