During my road trip through Florida, I visited the Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg to capture photographs of the staircase. I enjoy staircases and have compiled a collection of staircase photographs. And, the spiral staircase inside the Dali Museum is certainly one of the more unique staircases that I've seen.
Not unexpectedly, I was told that I wouldn't be permitted to bring my tripod inside the museum. Also prohibited was my camera backpack. Since I had walked a great distance to get to the museum, I had no way of returning to my car to store these items. The security guard suggested that I use the storage lockers which were situated outside the building. As my gear is quite expensive, I was hesitant to do so. But, the security guard assured me that the items would be safe. He said that nothing has ever been stolen from the lockers in the history of the museum! I took a chance by storing my tripod along with three or four lenses in the locker--and everything worked out OK.
There were several challenges to overcome in photographing the staircase. First, the scene is very crowded. Not only are people constantly on the steps, but there's quite a crowd standing near the information desk right under the stairs. There's also a small cafe in the lobby which made it difficult to set up. Finally, a security guard is stationed at the top of the staircase. I was able to overcome most of these issues by being patient. I also revisited just before closing--and the security guard tended to wander away from his chair at that hour as very few new visitors were entering the building.
My next challenge was dealing with the wide range of light. Ordinarily, I would stabilize my camera with the tripod and bracket some exposures to create a high dynamic range (HDR) image. Since I couldn't use a tripod, I tried another approach. I set my Nikon D850 to a continuous burst of 9 frames per second with bracketed exposures (1 stop apart). With the frames blasting so quickly, I hoped that I could keep the camera steady enough to allow me to align the images later in post processing. Later, I used Photoshop to align the images...and it worked! The only downside of hand-holding the camera for these shots was that I had to raise the ISO setting to achieve fast enough shutter speeds. Instead of using the base ISO setting of 64 for the D850, I boosted the ISO to 800. ISO 800 is still very reasonable and fully capable of creating photographs of high image quality.
Here are a few photographs of the staircase: