IN THE FIELD: Subtleties Of Light

By now you have probably noticed I have been on an architecture kick. Lately I have focused (every pun intended) on photographing older churches. I am fascinated with the steeples that reach for the sky, the traditional arched doorways, and the stained glass windows.

The stained glass window pictured in my previous post is one of a dozen in a church I recently spent several hours exploring. After photographing the exterior and several statues in the cemetery, I went inside. Upon asking if I could photograph the the interior of the church, I was told to have at it…just donโ€™t break anything. I will say I thought that comment was a little odd, but I went inside anyhow.

I finished up the shots of the windows, then began to look for other details, hoping to find a good close-up. The interior was not ornate, and was more simplistic in style. All the pews were angled towards the center aisle. Six hand-made wrought iron and white glass lamps, about two feet in diameter, hung from the ceiling. Wood accent mouldings were minimal, except around the sanctuary, and even that was not fancy. The organ was featured at the front of the church, with its pipes standing out against the stark white of the plaster walls.

The light filtering through the windows illuminating the organ pipes caught my attention and I knew I wanted to capture the subtleties of light and patterns. I made a number of exposures and each one depicted the pipes in a different way. Some brought out the detail in the shadows while others emphasized the contrast of dark and light within the shapes of the pipes.

I chose this photo because I like the metallic texture and tones, and the way the violet decorations are featured. It is more subtle, with less contrast than other exposures, but still has a strong light source, and maintained the drama I wanted to capture.


  1. Steve
    December 16, 2011 at 9:54 am

    Wow!!! I love this shot, David! Well framed and exposed! Churches have such a wealth of photo ops for us, don’t they? Cheers!

    • December 17, 2011 at 1:36 pm

      Hey thanks Steve! I spent several hours there and thankfully it’s only 45 minutes away, so a revisit is easily done. I want to spend more time in the cemetery…I have a few shots of the statues that I want to post but there are more to photograph!

  2. December 16, 2011 at 9:59 am

    Once I had a chance to take a picture in a church. But to be honest, there wasn’t enough time so I didn’t get a nice results in there. So, I can see now, how important to spend time in there… Light is a big item once again, especially in the churches… Windows seemed to me so easy but no, nothing easy in there. You really did great job by this photograph and also so nice of you, that share with us all details… I loved these steeples… Thank you dear David, with my love, nia

    • December 17, 2011 at 1:38 pm

      Thank You Nia, yes the light is the key and having time to compose your shots and get the settings correct is important also.

  3. December 16, 2011 at 10:08 am

    I like this, David! I see what you described above. Fun to explore what the soft light reveals. I found myself looking at the many geometric shapes in both the metal and decoration.

    • December 17, 2011 at 1:40 pm

      Thanks Karen, When I first saw these pipes from a distance I thought, oh neat organ pipes…then I went and got a closer look and said WOW look at this!

  4. Nandini
    December 16, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    I really like the colors here, so beautiful! And the light as well. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • December 17, 2011 at 1:41 pm

      Thanks Nandini, these were bathed in natural light. I truly was lucky and I am glad the sun was shining that day!

  5. December 16, 2011 at 3:55 pm

    Another lovely shot. Did you use a tripod for these indoor photos?

    • December 17, 2011 at 1:46 pm

      Thanks Lee, I did use a tripod for the indoor photos and I also used one for the outdoor photos as well. It helps me compose shots better. Funny thing…when I don’t use one Sharon (my wife) says “i see you weren’t in the zone with these shots.” Now, I don’t use one ALL the time but I would say 95% of the time I do.

  6. December 16, 2011 at 4:57 pm

    Love the lighting and framing on this image, David. Wonderful capture.

    • December 17, 2011 at 1:47 pm

      Thanks Gracie, the natural light sure was in my favor that day!

  7. December 17, 2011 at 9:52 am

    Nice catch on this detail shot, David. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • December 17, 2011 at 1:48 pm

      Thanks Katie, I couldn’t resist this one…the light and shapes really caught my eye!

  8. December 17, 2011 at 9:55 am

    I like the light and the soft colours.

    • December 17, 2011 at 1:50 pm

      Thanks Meanderer, the light cast on the pipes is from the abundance of blue and red glass in the windows. The whole interior of the church has a lavender hue because of the windows.

  9. December 17, 2011 at 3:30 pm

    I love this photo! The geometry of it makes it slightly abstract, while the motive is still obvious (that doesn’t really make sense in my ears either, but..) Anyway, great shot! I love the colours, the darkness of some parts of it and how the light hits and reflects on other parts

  10. December 18, 2011 at 10:14 am

    Thanks Anne, when I saw the light on the organ pipes creating highlights and shadows and reflections I just couldn’t resist getting a photo of them!

  11. December 21, 2011 at 8:02 am

    I hope you didn’t break anything David ๐Ÿ˜€ Love the patter ot the organ pipes, looks simple and captivating at the same time!

  12. December 21, 2011 at 8:25 am

    Nope, didn’t break anything. I guess when the lady saw the tripod it spooked her into thinking I was going to run around like a maniac in the church. ha ha. Odd thing for her to say I thought.

  13. January 13, 2012 at 6:14 pm

    I like the lighting and the repeating patterns. Nice shot!

  14. January 15, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    Hey thanks Mike! It’s amazing how much the color of the windows influence the overall color of the interior of the church!

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