Weekly Photo Challenge: Intricate

One of the reasons I like photographing old churches is that you see many intricate patterns in the floors, stained glass windows, the stone and wood carvings.

Gloucester Cathedral Cloister

They often prove a challenge to photograph and sometimes I much prefer the simplicity of the simple old stone churches that can be found here in North Wales.

Photography has an amazing ability to capture the fine detail of surface textures. But far too often these intricate patterns are loved by the photographer for their own sake. The richness of texture fascinates the eye and the photographer falls easy prey to such quickly-caught complexities. The designs mean nothing in themselves and are merely pictorially attractive abstractions. A central problem in contemporary photography is to bring about a wider significance in purely textural imagery. – Arthur Tress

On my travels in Gloucestershire I found this amazing little 12th century. Quite simple inside with paintings of saints, coats of arms and hunting scenes from the 13th century.

Hailes Church

Although they are simple paintings there are many intricate patterns to be seen but compared to the photograph from Gloucester Cathedral above or Tewkesbury Abbey below, they really are very simple.

The Abbey Floor

I love the tiled floor at Tewkesbury but as Arthur Tress says it’s all too easy to get caught up by the intricate patterns and ruin a good photograph.

So I’m going to ask you a question…”what captures your eye the most in this photograph?”

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Twinkle

Normally at this time of the year I visit Saint Asaph Cathedral in North Wales to photograph the Christmas Tree. It’s a very large tree positioned just before the entrance to the Choir and twinkles with lots of Christmas lights. This year is no exception but there’s no tree. Just a small one in the corner of the cathedral, almost tucked away out of sight. To say I’m disappointed is an understatement. So I’ve decided to use one from a previous Christmas visit to the Cathedral which I’m sure will fit the challenge this week.

Christmas from the Cathedral at St Asaph

Whilst I was in the cathedral I took the opportunity to try out some ideas incorporating the lights in the Choir Stalls and whilst I was doing so spotted something I wasn’t expecting to see. In fact I’m amazed I haven’t spotted it before because I have stood in the same spot loads of times taking photographs. What am I talking about?

Cathedral Lights

There’s graffiti carved into the wood. Mainly initials, probably of choir boys. I say boys because traditionally in the past Church and Cathedral Choirs were made up of boys and adult males.

The use of choirboys in Christian liturgical music can be traced back to pre-Christian times. Saint Paul’s dictum that “women should be silent in churches” (mulieres in ecclesiis taceant) resonated with this largely patriarchal tradition; the development of vocal polyphony from the Middle Ages through the Renaissance and Baroque thus took place largely, though not exclusively, in the context of the all-male choir, in which all voice parts were sung by men and boys. – Source Wikipedia

That set me wondering. How long ago were the carvings done? It’s not recent, because nowadays there are cameras installed in the Cathedral for security purposes, so it is likely that no one would chance carving the wood now. But there again the carvings are not ancient as the writing looks modern. In the end we are left with a mystery – a sort of “Whodunnit” but without an ending.

Check, Check…..And Check Again

Stained Glass

I could kick myself. I was so intent on getting the exposure right for the stained glass windows that I forgot to check my surroundings. Can you see what’s bugging me? No! I’ll give you a clue. It’s white.

Why oh why did I not take time to do a final check and make sure everything was in place. Ruins the whole photograph, that slight imbalance.

I could probably correct it in Photoshop using the Clone Tool. But do I want to do that? Not really.

Moral of the story. Check, Check…..And Check Again

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Reflection

BBC Scotland

I had forgotten about this photograph which I took last year on a trip to my hometown of Glasgow. Whilst searching for something completely different this was thrown up by Lightroom based on the “keyword” red.

And so to the photograph. It was a sec exposure at f11 and ISO 100. I used a tripod and a remote shutter release as I couldn’t have any movement. otherwise it would have turned out blurred. But if you look at the clouds you can see that they are blurred due to them moving during the period the shutter was open. One of those things, can’t be helped, but I sort of like it anyway.

The building you can see reflected has, as you can guess, something to do with BBC Scotland, which is a division of the British Broadcasting Corporation, the publicly funded broadcaster of the United Kingdom. BBC Scotland is responsible for broadcasting in Scotland and produces about 15,000 hours of programming for television and radio in both Scotland and the rest of the UK.

It’s a bit of a short article this week as I’ve been working flat-out on a project to photograph 10 churches before the end of the month. The project requires specific items to be photographed in each church and so I’m spending two to three hours in each one, moving around taking photographs. It can be quite weird at times, these old building creak and groan, especially when it’s windy. Normally it doesn’t bother me but in one church I had a bit of scare. Maybe scare is not the right word here, more of a start.

Anyway, I’m in this beautiful church and I had just gone upstairs to the tiers above to take some photographs looking down to the pews and stained glass windows below.

That’s when I heard something scurrying away across the wooden floor of the balcony. I couldn’t see it but it sounded too big to be a mouse. Thoughts of “The Rats by James Herbert” came to mind at this point. If you’ve never read the book it opens by introducing the reader to an alcoholic vagrant, resting in an abandoned and forgotten lock-keeper’s house by a canal. As he is ruminating over the injustices inflicted upon him in his life, he is suddenly set upon by a pack of dog-sized rats.

Ugh! I hate rats…..


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52/2013 Week 25

52/2013 Week 25

Unlike many people when I go on holiday I don’t take too many photographs. Holiday for me is to spend time with my wife and just relax. However, I do take my camera gear with me and sometimes I’ll take the odd photograph but it’s not the top priority.

One of the reason we were in Yorkshire was to look at some areas that were important in both my wife’s and my own family history. In the village of Long Preston we came upon the pretty parish church of St Mary the Virgin which is a grade 1 listed building dating back to Norman times. The beautiful stained glass was just too good an opportunity to miss.


Weekly Photo Challenge: Escape

Just living in a place is not enough. You can live in a community and not understand it. Just looking at it wont do. I almost believe we don’t see anything until we understand it. Look into the history of the area – why it started, how it developed. The more research you can do the place, the more you may realize that you don’t know it as well as you thought you did. Let the subject speak for itself. Be true to the subject. Pretty pictures are only an escape from the subject. Don’t photograph a good-looking branch just because it looks nice; the branch should mean something about the community. Photography is statement; it has to tell us things about a place

Berenice Abbott, The Best of Popular Photography by Harvey V. Fondiller , ISBN: 0871650371 , Page: 280

How true. Before going out for the day I always do research about the area I am visiting to photograph. This serves several purposes. It gives me an idea what is available and how to find it. Some of the little churches I have photographed would never have made it onto this blog without the research. Google Street View and Google Maps are invaluable in giving location information, parking, road restrictions, terrain etc. Finally history. Wales has a rich history and we are more than blessed with medieval castles and churches as well as beautiful scenery. Fortunately there is a wealth of historical information available on the internet, including this web site just for our county

I must admit this weeks challenge has sort of stumped me. I don’t have photographs of people escaping, or animals either.  I haven’t escaped to a different time or place. I’m not lost in a maze, or stuck in a room, maybe I could be boxed in, but I’m not. I am however going on vacation at the end of the week and once again it’s a no phone, no internet type of break. So in a way I am escaping.

But what about this weeks photograph? What has that got to do with escaping? Well to be honest…absolutely nothing. There’s no hidden meaning or symbolism. The fact that I am in a Cathedral with stained glass and muted lighting means that I’m in a Cathedral with stained glass and muted lighting. I’m here to try a new technique for making sure that I capture all of the dynamic range of an image.

I have spoken about HDR before and the need to capture several images for the software to process. I use six images which is fine for outdoors photography but I have been finding that it’s not enough for inside where I might have really bright areas and really dark areas, such as in the photograph below.

The problem I was finding that 6 images still left me with bright areas looking over-exposed. To get round this I’ve switched the camera off auto-bracket and now work purely in manual. It takes longer to get my photograph set for the software to process but it is worth it as the results are definitely better.

The other thing I have done is change my processing software. Previously, I used a program called SNS-HDR Pro but over time I had drifted to other HDR software. When I rebuilt my PC late last year I didn’t install SNS-HDR Pro and to be honest I had forgotten how natural the output is and how well it handled highlights protection. Not any more. It’s back on my computer and the three images above were all processed with SNS-HDR Pro.

This will most likely be the last article for two weeks as once again I remind you that I will be on vacation with no telephone or internet access.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Pattern

A pattern, apart from the term’s use to mean “Template”, is a discernible regularity in the world or in a man-made design. As such, the elements of a pattern repeat in a predictable manner.

Soviet War Memorial, Berlin

In this photograph I particularly like the pattern of the tiled paving stones which leads you to the main monument. Taken as the sun was starting to set the gold writing is highlighted against the block patterns of the stone which make up the columns

Some patterns may only be observed by analysis such as abstract patterns in science, mathematics, or even language.

Nature is always creating patterns which are often chaotic, never exactly repeating, and often involve fractals.

Digital Art, blending the Tiger into the Jungle

The tigers camouflage, utilizes, stripes, light and dark areas to blend in with it’s natural environment.

Patterns in the sand left by the receding tide, create spirals, meanders and waves.

Talacre Beach and the Abandoned Lighthouse

In art and architecture, decorations or visual motifs may be combined and repeated to form patterns designed to have a chosen effect on the viewer.

Gloucester Cathedral Cloisters

Here in Gloucester Cathedral Cloisters there are repeating patterns in the stained glass windows, the carved stone, even the floor has a pattern.

My favourite pattern is the action of the waves on the beach. What is yours?