Here is a pro photographer that used only an iPhone for 6 months. I love this…
I took a picture of this church along one of the lesser-known highways in Florida. I just thought it looked kind of old-school.
When driving in the country, I look for things that stand out, and this fit the bill. It was, in fact, a Sunday but late enough that it was empty. It doesn’t look to me like it has airconditioning so, on a summer day in Florida, it’s probably hotter than purgatory inside, give or take a few degrees.
Not long after this stop, I started entering the suburbs of Orlando, and from that point on, everything is new-school. The only things that look old are facades made to look that way. So, getting out of the city to see throw-backs is pretty cool, even if it is hotter than the devil’s den.
That building on the mountain is a church known as Santa Cova de Montserrat. What’s impressive is that it’s only accessible by trail. Also, it’s very near the Abbey of Montserrat in the Catalonian region of Spain. When I took this photo, I was standing not far from the abbey on an overlook near the top of Montserrat. To get up the mountain, we had to drive a precariously steep and winding road.
The landscape here is extreme and, try as I do, still can’t imagine how places such as this get built. The construction must take many generations. Projects like this are not something we are likely to see again.
The Abbey of Montserrat is just an hour from Barcelona, and you can see the outskirts of the city in the distance. We didn’t plan it right and arrived in the afternoon which meant we only had a couple of hours to explore. But now that we know, next time we’ll spend the day exploring much more of this unbelievable monastery in the mountains.
A few years ago, I was in San Francisco and while walking around I stopped at Grace Cathedral. It’s in an area called Nob Hill which is a nice little hike up from my hotel in Union Square. I was looking for a place to rest and the cathedral seemed like a good option.
Because of the hushed atmosphere, I didn’t feel comfortable just walking around taking photos, although it probably would have been okay. However, my camera has silent shutter mode that allows me to take photos without making a sound. Churches are one place I use that, I used it a lot while visiting cathedrals in Europe. But it’s also useful at weddings during the ceremony.
For an American city, San Francisco has some nice cathedrals. My other favorite in the city is Cathedral Of Saint Mary Of The Assumption which I saw on a subsequent trip. I think the best time to photograph cathedrals is on a weekday when no one is there and the sounds are hushed. I suppose we could say that both sights AND sounds played a role in the making of this image.
Here are a couple of shots inside the Cathedral of Barcelona. I took these on our first trip when we stayed right across the street. I walked over first thing in the morning, which was apparently a good idea because soon thereafter the crowds began grow. This cathedral is the centerpiece of the city’s gothic section and is a huge attraction.
These were shot handheld because I didn’t bring a tripod. Actually, I didn’t think it would be allowed so I didn’t even try. But as I recall, someone else did have one. Nevertheless, I shot these with the help of stabilization on the Sony sensor and the images came out fine. I have two very expensive tripods, but I’m finding I use them less and less these days due to the advancements in the digital sensors.
After looking around I went back to the hotel for breakfast. Then returned about an hour or so later. By that time the crowds were enormous. I was glad to have made the early visit and take these pictures. And maybe if I ever do that again I’ll bring a tripod, or maybe not.
A couple of years ago I was in the small fishing village of Ucluelet, British Columbia. In the center of town on a hill, I noticed this old church that seems to be in need of a paint job. Its rustic appearance piqued my interest and I took a photo that I haven’t processed until now.
The reason I waited so long is that the church is actually obscured by all kinds of wires. What I did was to use Photoshop to remove all of the wires. Because there were so many it took me hours of detailed work to get this image. To get a sense of what the scene really looked like, take a look at this image from Google Maps.
For me, I prefer the version without the wires. I know it’s not real, but I do these things because it resonates with me as I look for an aesthetic amongst the chaos. I think the image is more interesting now, even though it’s not completely real. And besides, the process of removing the wires was almost like a meditation on removing complexity. There is probably a nugget of wisdom in there somewhere.
This is from the inside of the Basílica de Santa Maria del Pi in Barcelona. It’s a 14th century church that features elaborate stained-glass windows. I was walking around the gothic quarter and “found” the church in one of the squares. Many of the squares have churches and this is one of the larger ones. I think there are as many churches in Barcelona as Starbucks.
I came inside to take some photos and get a break from the summer heat. It might have been a little cooler inside but not by much. Nevertheless the real attraction was the light coming through the large multicolored windows.
On a side note, I just finished the latest novel by Dan Brown called Origin and most of plot takes place in Barcelona. Having been there several times in the last couple of years the book was especially fun to read. I haven’t been everywhere in Barcelona but the gothic quarter is one of my favorite places.
I took this inside the 8th century Le sette Chiese at the center of Bologna. It’s a complex of buildings including a seminary, cathedral and museum. It’s worth a visit if you’re in the area.
I will say that Italy has a lot of is Catholic churches and it’s easy to get overwhelmed with so may. Before you know it they all start running together and you can’t remember one form the other. At least that happens with me, so I look for things to take pictures of to remind me of something unique. In this case there were monks walking around attending to duties and I thought that was interesting.
I try to be as discrete as possible in situations like this by putting the camera into silent shutter mode. That’s a camera setting and a way to take photos without any shutter noise. More and more cameras have that these days because it’s useful in a lot of settings, not just churches. Think for a moment of a golf swing or a recital and you can imagine how any sound might ruin the moment. Anyway, I’ve even set a button the camera to turn on silent shutter mode so I can quickly and quietly capture moments like this.
I’m embarrassed to say I have no idea where in Rome this is, nor the name of it. I ran in here to escape the rain and was astonished by the architecture and frescos, not to mention the silence as compared to the busy street just outside.
A vertorama is like a panorama, only vertical. I took three images, the first at eye level and the third straight up. When they are stitched together they create a perspective that shows more than you normally see at a glance. It’s a little disorienting but fun to look at just the same.
There were no signs warning against photography so I felt free to take my time and compose the image. Some churches will charge a small photo fee that I’m more than happy to pay. These churches are studies in architecture and art, it seems to me the more they are shared the better. I’d like to think I’m doing my small part to share this amazing cathedral with the rest of the world, completely free of charge.
This is the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute in Venice, Italy. I took this from a cruise ship as we pulled out of Venice in the evening. One advantage of coming and leaving on a large ship is it provides an aerial perspective of the city. The ship I was on is about twelve to fifteen stories high so it easily rises above the buildings of the city. The only other way to get such a perspective would be to use a drone but they are illegal here.
There is a lot about this sixteenth century church that I should probably know but my short stay prevented me from exploring it. However I do know that it was built after the plague when nearly a third of the population died. When I hear things like that it makes me feel fortunate to live in an age of medicine, technology and science.
It boggles my mind that such buildings were even constructed. What would it cost to build something like this today? The closest example we have is the Sagrada Familia in Spain and construction for that has been ongoing for decades. We are now a quickly evolving society that is constantly in a race with obsolescence. The commitment to build a structure like this is counter to our planetary pace.
So maybe that’s why we find these old architectures so fascinating. They are monuments of a time when progress was measured in decades and the order of things did not change much from one century to another. I am happy I live in the present time but the artifacts of our evolution as a society also fascinate me.
This is a large chandelier in the Cathedral of St Mary of the Assumption in San Francisco. Without a doubt it is the first think you notice when you walk in. It’s positioned above the alter and reflects the light from the windows of four corners. When I walked in it was all I could do to stand there and look up. I imagine that’s the intended effect; to give pause and a feeling that this is an extraordinary space.
My Sony A7rII camera has a silent shooting mode. I turn that on whenever I enter a house of worship or any place where the sound of a shutter might break the mood. I try to respect places like this even though I want to take photos. My desire to get a good photo does not trump my manners or sense of reverence. As much as I love to get a good photo, I’ll walk away if I feel I’b be crossing some line.
That’s not to say that happens a lot. In the vast majority of cases its cool. Even if I have to take a few chances, sometimes it’s better to get forgiveness than permission. But invading someone’s space when taking photos is not cool. If I find someone in contemplation when I walk up with my camera, I’ll walk away if I cannot capture the scene without disrupting it.