Palácio Nacional de Queluz

The Story
July, 2009. It was summer but it felt like it was Autumn. The weather was too bad for the beach so my wife suggested that we went to Palácio Nacional de Queluz (Queluz National Palace). Queluz is a location in the suburbs of Lisboa on the way to Sintra. The Lisboa area (as other parts of Portugal) is filled with palaces and I'd never went to this one so the idea seamed fine. I thought that I probably would get some good photos of the outside of the palace because the inside (I thought) would probably like any other palace that I've visited before. So I packed the gear and we went to Queluz to take a visit.
When we arrived at the palace there was very few visitors and we get in. First we visited the gardens (that were a bit of a disappointment because they were in need of a little care) and the outside of the palace from the gardens. I took some photos and then we went inside. (The gardens are on the back of the palace so to get there you must go through the palace).
Back inside, after a couple "usual" rooms, we get to a room called "Hall of Ambassadors". This room was very different from all the others: the floor was in black and white tiles, like a chess board. That immediately got my attention. I was looking forward to do a B&W photo with a floor like that one. So I rushed in before any humans would "pollute" the room and started taking some photos in different angles.
I became fascinated with this room. Later on I found out that there are comparisons to Versailles Palace. Queluz is nice, but the comparison to Versailles is a bit exaggerated.

Equipment / Technical Info
Nikon D80
Sigma 10-20mm F4-5.6 EX DC

1/20 second
10 mm

Original Photo

Post Processing
This photo was one of my top candidates from the ones I took in this great room. I imported it into Lightroom and started playing around with the presets, as usual. The one I liked best was COL Nikonians - Mode Illa (you can find it here: The idea was to make the photo show the colors I had seen on location. As I was very focused on black and white photos in the past months, I never took too much care with the actual colors when the photos were imported into Lightroom. But in this case I wanted to get the real colors and this preset was the better adjustment I found to this photo.
Note for Nikon users: both Lightroom and CS4 have lots of problems trying to reproduce the real colors from the NEF files (I red somewhere that Nikon didn't provided to Adobe the full algorithm that's used in NEF. That's why Adobe's software can't really reproduce the real colors of NEF files). Later on I discovered a turn around for this issue: instead of importing the NEF files into Lightroom, I convert the NEF files in ViewNX to TIFF and then import the TIFF into Lightroom (or CS4) . Back to post processing...
In this objective of trying to "fix" the photo colors I've adjusted almost everything: Vibrance, Saturation, Clarity, White Balance, Contrast, ... When I got the colors that I liked, I've also added some Fill Light and some brush strokes in the left hand side back corner of the room to remove a disturbing shadow that was in that area and was drawing to much attention there.
Finally, I added a graduated filter to lighten the ceiling and added some Vignetting.
In CS4, I've just done Auto Tone, Auto Contrast and Auto Color. Finally, I've increased the Contrast a bit.
The original idea was to convert it to black and white, but after some experiences, I preferred the colored version.
I usually publish my photos with 1024px in the largest size and use a great Photoshop action by Manyk to do the re-size.
You can find it here:

Final Photo

Link to image

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