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Photographing the Dark: Nadar’s Descent into the Paris Catacombs

- October 24, 2019 in catacombs, death, nadar, ossuary, paris catacombs, Photography, subterranean, underground

Today the Paris Catacombs are illuminated by electric lights and friendly guides. But when Félix Nadar descended into this “empire of death” in the 1860s artificial lighting was still in its infancy: the pioneering photographer had to face the quandary of how to take photographs in the subterranean dark. Allison C. Meier explores Nadar’s determined efforts (which involved Bunsen batteries, mannequins, and a good deal of patience) to document the beauty and terror of this realm of the dead.