Sunday, 20 December 2009

Postcards from Church

The Red DoorI find churches absolutely inspiring. The artistry of the older churches, particularly in Europe is fantastic and affords a lot of subject matter for a photographer. Hit the jump to see my first batch of prints arranged on a "church" theme.

The first image is of an entrance doorway to St. Mary's Basilica in Halifax. The red of the door is unusual: I have not seen too many red doors in a church. The light streaming in from around the frame separated the door from the wall quite nicely.

Across town is St. George's, also known as "The Round Church". St. George's is on a hill so the entrance is below the main level. Standing inside and looking back put me above the central part of the door, allowing me to capture the wonderful, mysterious shadows that framed the upper part of the doorway.

The Entrance

Another doorway caught my eye at St. John's on Bethnal Green, in London. It seemed to beckon to the inner sanctum.

Doorway to the Sanctum

Doorways in churches always seem to be leading somewhere special and always seem to glow. This dark door lead to a small chapel in the Oude Kerk in Amsterdam. I liked how the darkness added to the weightiness of the steel door.

Doorway Beyond

This is a doorway of a different kind. It's the door to the vault at St. George's. The old weathered door belies its steel strength, much like the strength of the church which survived a nasty fire in 1994. The congregation, with the help of others from across Canada, rebuilt the damaged portions of this wonderful building.

Church Vault

I had finished taking the above shot of the vault door at St. George's and turned to go when I saw these wonderful vases on the shelf next to the vault.

Church Chalices

I guess pews could be considered doorways of another sort. It's not hard to tell what caught my eye here at St. George's.


This may have been a doorway at one time, but is now a cubbyhole for the nightwatchman at the Oude Kerk. I was hoping for a few people to gather around so I could make my own version of "The Night Watch".

Nachtwaker's Stoel

Pews make for lovely patterns, and in the case of Trinity in Kingston, NB, I found that the hymn books added an interesting counterpoint to the rectangular patterns of the pews. Trinity is the first Loyalist church in Canada.

Orderly Pews

I was shooting the above shot when the sun came out from behind a cloud and streamed into the church, giving the scene a very warm feeling. I quickly adjusted my position and shot across to the wall and windows.

The Spirit Outside

The golden ambiance created by the sun didn't last long. The sun went behind a cloud again, darkening the walls. I glanced up and saw these striped arches set off against the wonderful blue of the ceiling. I was amazed to have recorded three very different "keepers" in the space of a few minutes.


Not all pews are rectangular. Some are circular like these at my old church, Wesley United in St. John's. That's my mother waiting for Anne and I to finish taking pictures.

Pew Spotting

One of the photographs I took inside Wesley is this one of Anne and me, which I call "My Father's Hand".

My Father's Hand

I saved my favorite church shot for last. After attending a trade show in Harrogate, Angie and I made a short side visit to York and had a delightful tour inside the York Minster. The old Gothic church, the oldest in northern Europe, had a webbing of white supports I had not seen before. I guess they appeal to my engineer side.

Web of Support

I'm looking forward to matting and framing these prints and getting them up on my walls.


Sunday, 6 December 2009

Postcards: Through a Glass, Darkly

Through a Glass, Darkly (2)No doubt about it, our perceptions of the world are affected by the window through which we see. I was processing more of my photographs to print and hang on the wall and decided to group the following three photographs together under this theme.

Through a Glass Darkly

Through a Glass Darkly

Through a Glass Darkly

The first image is of two people eating in a restaurant in Penrith, U.K. The texture in the image is the texture of the glass in the window, which was used to afford the restaurant patrons some privacy from passers-by on the sidewalk. The second image is rain on my kitchen window with the leaves turning colour in the fall. The third image is of a set of coloured pail tops in Freeman Patterson's barn in Kingston, NB. Like the restaurant, the texture in the image is from the glass.


Saturday, 5 December 2009

Printing Postcards

Truck_02The era of digital photography means a photographer can share his images with everyone connected to the internet. That number is a staggering number of people. In the era of film photography, only a few of the very best photographers could ever hope to achieve that kind of audience. There is a price to this connectivity, however.

As a photographer, I see two issues with looking at photographs on the internet. The first issue is "repeatability". Web browsers are not colour managed, so what I see on my computer screen is not quite what you see on your computer. That is a pretty profound problem for a visual art!

The second issue is "detail". The size and resolution of internet images is such that many images cannot properly convey the richness of the message the photographer intends. Imagine reading Hamlet on your cellphone as a txt msg snt to U by Shkspre, speling errs andf all. You could get the gist of his story, but you may have to work harder than normal to get it and it might be missing some of the subtle points.

The implication, skill-wise, is that I don't have to be as good as if I was printing everything for viewing in a gallery. I have fallen into this trap these past few years: I have never finished my workflow with a print in mind.

To rectify this, I have selected a number of images to print and hang on my wall. I have grouped most of them into themes or studies and the first study I printed was a series on old abandoned trucks. I chose four to print in a black and white grouping and after I mat and frame them, I will hang them something like this:



I chose three to print in colour and intend to hang them in a group like this:




For the record, here is my workflow:

1. "Compose and Expose" in camera.
2. Transfer RAW files to laptop, add copyright and location metadata.
3. Back up transferred images.
4. Preview and select images worth pursuing further in Adobe Bridge.
5. Batch process RAW images for white balance using Adobe Camera Raw.
6. Back up images.
7. Process images in a batch for noise reduction and initial sharpening in Adobe Photoshop CS4.
8. Process each image individually, "Composing and Exposing" the basic image, as well as applying further sharpening in Adobe Photoshop CS4.
9. Back up images.
10.Choose output medium (web, book, print), resize and sharpen for this medium using Photoshop CS4.
11. Generate output image and post or print.
12. Back up images.
13. Transfer only selected, edited images to hard drive for long term storage.
14. Back up long term storage hard drive.
15 Delete images from laptop and laptop back-up.

I'm currently spending about 2 hours post-processing for every hour of shooting. That's still orders of magnitude less time than in the old days using a wet darkroom.

While the limitations on the internet will hinder your ablity to view these images exactly as I have printed them, I hope enough of their esseance makes it through to your screen to enjoy the grit and mystery of these old beauties. A Flickr slideshow is here.

Jay M asked me to help him with a photo he wanted to print, which made me realize that I was "cheating" in my workflow and on my images, so thanks Jay for the kick in the pants to get back to printing.